The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Anti-equality argument 2 – Children need a mother and a father

This argument is probably just as common as “marriage is between a man and a woman”, but its proponents are convinced it’s impossible to shake. Well I’m about to shake the shit out of it.

The argument in a nutshell
WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!

What they’re really trying to say
Get your filthy gay hands off our kids. Also, gay love is gross. It says so in the bible.

The Smackdown- Part 1
The first thing to note is that this argument has nothing to do with same sex marriage. Nothing. Much like straight couples, same sex couples simply don’t need marriage to have children. They are already free to adopt (in the ACT, WA and NSW at least), and there is nothing to stop a lesbian couple, for example, obtaining sperm from one of their male friends and conceiving a child, with a turkey baster the apparent weapon of choice. In fact, I know of three couples that have done just that – my uncle is gay, and donated his sperm to two lesbian friends; another of my gay friends did the same; and a lesbian friend obtained the sperm of her partner’s brother. Obviously, none of these couples are married. Gay couples will continue to adopt, or conceive children of their own, with or without same sex marriage.

If you want to argue against same sex parenting, go and do that somewhere else. You’ll still lose, but at least you’ll just be wrong, rather than wrong and irrelevant.

The Smackdown – Part 2
That should be the end of the argument, but, unfortunately, it’s not. As misguided as it is, it seems to have some traction, and not just with the religious bigots. Indeed, I have spoken with many liberal, open-minded people who not only agree that children need a mother and a father, but also think that it’s somehow relevant to the same sex marriage debate. So, let’s assume for the moment that it is relevant, and allowing same sex marriage will lead to a significant increase in same sex parenting. There are, then, two components to the argument:

  1. Premise
    All other things being equal, any children raised by same sex parents are likely to be worse off than the children of straight parents; and
  2. Conclusion
    The degree to which they are worse off is large enough that we want to actively prevent same sex couples from raising children.

Let’s look at the conclusion first. If we temporarily accept the premise, and we say that same sex couples don’t fit our definition of “ideal” parents, should we actively prevent them from raising children?

To answer that, let’s go ahead and construct this set of “ideal” parents. What traits would we give them? Well, for starters, it’s probably a good idea that they actually want children. We’d probably also want them to be loving, compassionate, dedicated, generally responsible, of a certain age, financially independent, and have a strong support network (grandparents, aunts, uncles etc). We also wouldn’t want them to be racist, or walruses, or Jim Wallace. If we really sat down and thought about it, we could probably list 1,000 things that we’d want our ideal parents to be (or not to be, as Hamlet would say).

We could then rank all of our desirable and undesirable characteristics in order of importance. For example, we could say that having walruses for parents would be marginally better than having Jim Wallace, and therefore place “Not Jim Wallace” above “Not walruses” on our list. If we proceeded in this way for each combination, we would eventually have a list of all 1,000 characteristics in order of relative importance. Such a list may look something like this:

    Ideal parents should:
    1. Not be Jim Wallace;
    2. Not be walruses;
    3. Actually want children;
    4. Love and respect each other;
    5. Be responsible;
    6. Be older than, say, 16;
    .
    .
    .
    999. Love Deepak Chopra;
    1000. Know what “transubstantiation” is.

Now, the opponents of same sex marriage will tell you that “Must have parents of opposite gender” is pretty important – so important, in fact, that they want to actively prevent same sex couples from raising children. Which brings us to the crux of the matter – where would they place it on our list? Would they say it was the most important?

I seriously doubt it. Surely even the most intractable bigot would admit that a child would be worse off with a couple of white-supremacist heteros than some nice, clean-cut queers. If that is indeed the case (and I would love to meet someone who disagreed), they must argue that there are potentially quite a few reasons to actively prevent people from parenting. But they don’t argue that at all.

If “white-supremacist heteros” seem a bit far-fetched for you, how about this? A lot of the opposition to same sex marriage comes from Christians. Now, if you’re a Christian, and you believe that the fate of your eternal soul depends on an abject submission to Jesus, wouldn’t you consider being Christian as the most important thing for parents to be? I mean, what’s worse, having gay parents or spending eternity in hell? If these guys had any intellectual honesty at all, or even the vaguest idea of argumentative consistency, they would be out there campaigning to ban all non-Christians from having children. Especially atheists. And Scientologists. But, as I said, they don’t.

Even Jim Wallace isn’t that stupid.

The bottom line is that, as a society, there are many things we’d like parents to be. But it’s simply illogical to single out same sex couples for exclusion, when any two lazy, irresponsible, violent, drug-addled, Satan-worshipping anti-vaxers can have as many children as they like… as long as they have the right “bits”.

The Smackdown – Part 3
So… We’ve just seen that even if we accept the premise that children raised by same sex parents are worse off, there are still no good reasons to prevent them from becoming parents.

But, do we have to accept the premise? Absolutely not.

Study after study after study has shown that children raised by same sex couples have psychosocial outcomes no worse than the children of heterosexual couples. In fact:

The scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has been remarkably consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.
Wikipedia

Or, if you don’t believe Wikipedia, how about the Australian Psychological Society, who said that:

The family studies literature indicates that it is family processes (such as the quality of parenting and relationships within the family) that contribute to determining children’s wellbeing and ‘outcomes’, rather than family structures, per se, such as the number, gender, sexuality and co-habitation status of parents. The research indicates that parenting practices and children’s outcomes in families parented by lesbian and gay parents are likely to be at least as favourable as those in families of heterosexual parents, despite the reality that considerable legal discrimination and inequity remain significant challenges for these families.

Or, if won’t take their word for it, what about the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, or the Canadian Psychological Association? And that’s just North America.

But here’s the kicker, and the ultimate reason why this whole argument is completely bogus. It wouldn’t matter how much evidence you gathered to show that same sex couples are just as good at parenting as their heterosexual peers, the majority of the people who make this argument – that is, religious people – will never change their minds.

And if you’re not willing to enter an argument with a view that’s amenable to change, you’re simply not worth arguing with.
___

So, what are we left with? An argument that is not only irrelevant, but has a false premise and an illogical conclusion, made by close-minded, dogmatic bigots. In short, this argument couldn’t be more wrong if it was made by Bill O’Reilly in a sequined mankini.

And that’s pretty damn wrong.

Anti-equality argument 1 – Marriage is between a man and a woman

Let’s start with the most common – marriage is between a man and a woman.

The argument in a nutshell
When arguing for changing the definition of something, you can just repeat the existing definition over and over again.

What they’re really trying to say
Gay love is gross. It says so in the bible.

The Smackdown
This has to be one of the most juvenile, illogical, anti-intellectual and downright idiotic arguments I have ever seen… for anything… ever. It’s exactly the sort of thing Lionel Hutz would say:

    Judge
    Mr. Hutz, we’ve been in here for four hours. Do you have any evidence at all?

    Hutz
    Well, your Honor, we’ve got plenty of hearsay and conjecture, those are kinds of evidence…

Sure, lots of things have definitions that we don’t really want to change. For example, if I ask you to pass me the salt, I want to know that you and I have the same definition of “salt”. I mean, let’s face it, dinner would be really awkward if you’ve defined “salt” as your penis. Social constructs just aren’t like that. We invent them, we can change them.

To give you an idea of just how stupid this argument is, let’s go back in time, and see if it would have worked against the changing of some other socially-determined definition.

    Women:
    We want the vote!

    Men:
    Haha, that’s funny!

    Women:
    Umm… why is that funny?

    Men:
    Because only men can vote!

    Women:
    Yeah we know, that’s what we’re trying to change.

    Men:
    You can’t change it, silly! Look… I have the law right here. See? Right there… “Only men may vote in elections”.

    Women:
    You’re not getting it. That’s what we want to change. We want to vote, too.

    Men:
    But you can’t – only men can vote!

Need some more examples? How about these:

    Aborigines:
    We want to be counted as citizens!

    Whites:
    Sorry, but only white people can be citizens.

    .
    Women:
    Equal pay for equal work!

    Men:
    Sorry, but we get paid more than you.

    .
    African Americans:
    We don’t want to be slaves!

    White Americans:
    Sorry, but you are.

How do those arguments all sound? Stupid. Incredibly stupid.

Arguing against change by simply acknowledging the existence of an arbitrary status quo is one of the dumbest things you can do. If the “Marriage is between a man and a woman” argument is sound, then we may as well just go back to being cavemen, because it renders invalid every single social advancement our species has ever made.

But perhaps that’s exactly what the opponents of same-sex marriage are after.

That’s IT!

OK, I’ve finally had enough of the same-sex marriage “debate”. It’s not a debate. A debate is what occurs when an inconclusive proposition is put forward for rational discussion. But nothing about this debate is inconclusive. And only one side is discussing it rationally (that’s the affirmative, in case you’re wondering).

It’s time to beat this “debate” into submission. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be ripping the “arguments” against same-sex marriage apart.

Starting with this one.

So what’s the lesson here?

Now, I’m not an expert, but I think the lesson is that a relationship suffering from a full-on bout of gayness is grosser than one with a mild case of incest.

Or, maybe it’s that it’s better to have an aunt for a mother-in-law than a dad for a mother.

On the other hand, the lesson could be that the slippery slope actually runs backwards, i.e., we don’t want to allow same-sex marriage because it might lead to people not being able to marry their relatives.

Or maybe it’s just an accident of history that is crying out for correction.

It’s the trees, stupid

You may have missed it, but Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace was given an opportunity to parade his incoherent buffoonery on Sunrise earlier this week. The bad news is that his microphone was working, but the good news is that I managed to obtain the full transcript of exclusive, behind the scenes footage not shown on television!

So here it is…
_____

Jim:
So what should I say today? I don’t know why, but I’m thinking I should try and throw something in about trees.

Jim’s media adviser:
Two words for you, Jim – word salad.

Jim:
Salad’s for pooftas!

Adviser:
Yes, yes, but don’t use that word.

Jim:
There’s another word for salad?

Adviser:
Probably – but it’s too late to start learning new words. You know you can’t learn anything after 7am.

Jim:
Learning’s for pooftas!

Adviser:
Quite. Anyway, remember when you were just a humble speechwriter for Miss Carolina Teen USA?

Jim:
Ah, those were word salad days… some of my best stuff. “I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, our education over HERE in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children”. Haha, gold.

Adviser:
Exactly. So just substitute “the Iraq” for “marriage” and “maps” for “Jesus” and you’ll be fine. Oh, and try not to come across as a dick this time.

Jim:
Dicks are for pooftas!

Kochie:
What was that, Jim?

Jim:
Nothing, Kochie, nothing! Let’s do this, shall we?

[Now follows the bit that was actually shown on TV…]

Kochie:
So, Jim, why is the church so against same sex marriage?

Jim:
Well, ah, Kochie, the reality is that, ah, the scriptures are very clear about the fact that, ah, Jesus and ah, you know, when people become a Christian it’s an individual and a personal experience but from that point on we try to live more like Jesus would want us to, and certainly in the scriptures it’s very clear that, ah, he wouldn’t have ordained homosexual marriage. Now, the reason though is couched, ah, in the natural and that is that, ah, whether you believe that god created nature or whether you believe that there was nothing at all exploded and then there was everything the reality is that in this issue that it still takes the involvement of a man and a woman to create a child and therefore we have nature prescribing that a man and a woman, ah, should be involved in the creation of a child and should be involved in the nurturing of that child as it’s natural order and I find it absolutely amazing that at a time in our history when we’re jumping through hoops to try to make sure that every tree on the planet, ah, has its natural environment so it can flourish that we would be challenging the definition of marriage which creates exactly that environment for a child requiring that it’s between a man and a woman and that they should live to the exclusion of all others and for as long as they both shall live.

[Rest of interview]

[Off air]

Jim:
Man, that Dr Phelps chick is stupid. She couldn’t even respond to my trees argument!

Adviser:
Yeah, what was that argument again?

Jim:
Trees, silly! Treeees.

Adviser:
Brilliant.

Jim:
Brilliance is for pooftas! Wait… scratch that one.

And that’s what it’s all about

Every now and then, a single event manages to capture everything this blog is about. Today’s National Marriage Day Rally was one such event. Let’s start with the good news.

The Good
A Galaxy poll, released today, showed that not every religious person is an irrational homophobe. In fact:

53% of Australians who identify as Christians support same-sex marriage, while 41% oppose.

Not too shabby at all!

Even more encouraging are these words from actual priests:

  • Today in Australia we all live in a secular non discriminatory society. Churches and other spiritual institutions exist within this society. It seems to me that in a secular and non discriminatory society gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple. If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimises all marriages.
    – Rev Bill Crews (Uniting Church Minister, Sydney)
  • How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done? Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.
    – Rev Rowland Croucher (Baptist Minister, Sydney)
  • When a couple want to be part of the institution of marriage, when they fully accept the same rights and responsibilities of marriage and treat marriage with the respect it deserves, why should they NOT get married? As a Christian minister, I believe that marriage is under threat from many angles, but also believe that recognizing same-sex unions will help return marriage to its rightful place in society.”
    – Rev Matt Glover (Baptist Minister, Melbourne)
  • Access to marriage, a public expression of commitment and love, is an essential part of being human and an inalienable right. As Christians we need to support those who are excluded and challenge those who through exclusion dehumanise and discriminate. I urge you to join the campaign to welcome our GLBT friends to express their love and commitment to each other through this special rite.
    – Rev Roger Munson (Uniting Church Minister, Canberra)
  • From a Christian point of view, marriage is an institution designed to serve two social needs:
    1. contribute broadly to social stability
    2. provide a stable environment for the nurturing of children.
    If this is the case then the only questions Christians need to concern themselves with when it comes to the issue of gay marriage are these two:
    1. Would gay marriage lead to greater social stability?
    2. Would a married gay partnership be likely to provide a more secure environment for the nurturing of the children of a gay couple than an unmarried one?
    I think the answer to both these questions has to be ‘yes’.
    – Fr Dave Smith, (Anglican parish priest, Sydney)

Awesome.

And, of course, there must be some Christians in the Greens. And the Greens are all over it.

The Bad
Unfortunately, however, it’s not all preachers and Greens. Over at the National Marriage Day rally:

  • Bob Katter was on hand to lend his trademark air of dignity to the occasion, and remind us that “Gay is one of the most beautiful words…no-one should have the right to take that word off us”. Apparently the word is much more beautiful than his hat, which he did take off himself, and then auction. Some cashed-up moron bought it for $2,700. Way to contribute, Bob.
  • Bob’s partner in whine, Barnaby Joyce, helpfully informed us that “If someone wanted to introduce legislation calling ‘camels’ ‘horses’ that would be equally as ridiculous”, apparently unaware that his mate Bob has already drafted an act to that effect.
  • Finally, visiting American Rebecca Hagelin threw in the usual crap about same-sex marriage forging an unstoppable path to incest and paedophilia.

Which brings us to…

The Asinine
And wouldn’t you know it, it was the Australian Christian Lobby who delivered, yet again:

The Australian Christian Lobby dismissed as absurd that the majority of Christians would approve of same-sex marriage as indicated by a Galaxy poll today and trumpeted by the Greens.

“Certainly my work with Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox churches leaves me in no doubt that the great majority of their adherents don’t support same-sex marriage,” said Mr Wallace, the Lobby’s Managing Director.

Apparently Galaxy could have saved a lot of money by just asking Jim what the average Christian thinks.

Still, at least he seems to recognise that church attendance is a better measure of the nation’s religiosity than the box you ticked on the Census:

“I think a simple additional question on the poll that determined if the person actually attended a church might have made the result more informative,” he said.

Sure it would have, Jim. If only regular churchgoers were counted as Christian, then maybe Galaxy would be saying that only 5% of Christians support same-sex marriage. Unfortunately for you, however, it would also mean that only 8.8% of Australia is Christian.

Your call, Jim.

Calling all bigots!

What
The National Marriage Day Rally! Prudely brought to you by the Australian Family Association, the Dads 4 Kids Fatherhood Foundation, the National Marriage Coalition and, surprise, surprise, the Australian Christian Lobby.

And don’t forget to buy a ruby and gold National Marriage Day Rosette – they’re the coolest!

When
Tuesday, 16 August 2011, 10am – 12pm, when all the non-bigots are at work. Rosettes for sale all day long.

Where
The Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra. And afterwards at St Timonius (think about it), for some dry biscuits and white wine spritzers. Cardigan swap starts at 2pm, and socks and sandals get in free! Please buy a rosette… we really over-estimated the average bigot’s demand for meaningless paraphernalia.

Who
You, silly! And anyone else who thinks that our kind of love is the best. The best I tell you! Just like our rosettes. Which you should buy.

How

  1. Drive your horse and buggy, donkey, or church minibus to the ACT;
  2. Make a quick stop in Fyshwick to stock up for our “Bungas for Bummers” campaign;
  3. Head to Parliament House and pay our very reasonable $30 registration fee; and
  4. Buy a fucking rosette.

Why
To stop people who we’ve never met from exercising a relationship choice that doesn’t adversely affect us in any way whatsoever, by pretending to defend the definition of marriage that we’ve had since time began (in a universe where time began in 2004), namely:

    “A union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

Don’t worry about the whole “exclusion of all others” and “entered into for life” nonsense. Your right to cheat and get divorced will remain intact!

What to bring

  1. Your bible.
  2. A cardigan.
  3. An unjustified feeling of moral superiority and righteous indignation.
  4. Enough money for 15 rosettes.
  5. A pitchfork.
  6. A keen sense of fun!

What NOT to bring

  1. Your brain.
  2. The gay friend-of-a-friend you’re thinking of when you tell a non-bigot that some of your best friends are gay.

See you there!

Slippery slopes, Anglican-style

Ah, the slippery slope. It’s the argument you make when you haven’t got one; where idiocy makes its final stand; the wild, desperate haymaker of an arm-less boxer. And the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, positively loves them.

I mean, with a slippery slope argument, he can simply bypass all the normal rules of logic, evidence, and common sense, and jump straight to this:

This claim for [same-sex marriage] could open the way for other forms, such as polygamous marriages or perhaps even marriage between immediate family members.

Riiiight. Cos I’m just waiting for Bob and Gary to get hitched so I can run off and have a crack at mum.

But why stop there, Peter? With a bit of lateral thinking, you could really shake things up:

  • Ever since women got the vote, the world’s dogs have wanted it too. It’s certainly all my dog ever wants to talk about (well what did you think “woof” means?). I reckon we scrap women’s voting before cats, budgies and trees start asking for it as well.
  • Why do we allow organ donation? Yeah sure, you can only do it after someone’s dead now, but once you allow that, surely it’s just a matter of time before people start ripping kidneys out of the distracted pensioners at Thursday night bingo.
  • And what about that thing that I don’t like due to my own personal prejudices, with an astonishingly tenuous link to something that is understandably abhorrent? What are you going to do about that?

I’m sure you’ll think of something. But whatever you do, don’t use rational argument. It’s unbecoming for a man in your position.

Sometimes, democracy sucks

One of the most admirable aspects of democracy is that anyone can be elected to office. Unfortunately, democracy also possesses an almost fatal flaw – anyone can be elected to office. Step forward, Geoff Shaw and Catch the Fire Ministries.

Geoff Shaw

Geoff was elected to the Victorian lower house in 2010, as the Liberal candidate for Frankston. According to his Wikipedia page, he has a degree in Business Accounting and, before being elected, ran his own financial planning business. So far, so good.

Geoff is also an active member of the Peninsula City Church, a Pentecostal church on the Mornington Peninsula. According to their website, they “provide a place where every person is valued, regardless of their journey in life, and where each person can find a place to belong”. Well that sounds just lovely!

Then, in his maiden speech to parliament, he said that he wanted to acknowledge “the original owner of the land on which we stand”. Wow… he wanted to publicly acknowledge the Aborigines as the original owners of the land? Geoff is quite the progressive! Well, he would be, if he didn’t claim that the original owner was “God, the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Bible”. You might question the appropriateness of this statement in a secular parliament, but I’d be more interested in asking Geoff this: If God is only the “original” owner, who owns it now? Is it me? That would be cool.

Anyway, what little street cred Geoff had from belonging to a church that “[provides] a place where every person is valued, regardless of their journey in life” was utterly destroyed in early May, when he laid his cards on the altar for all to see. One of Geoff’s constituents, a young man named Jakob, wrote to him to express his disappointment in the Victorian government’s new, inaccurately-named anti-discrimination legislation:

I’m 20 in a week. I’m able to vote. I want to work, live and love freely during the course of my life, and I want to do that without thinking that I can’t.

That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Well, according to Geoff, if you’re gay like Jakob, it’s not reasonable at all:

What if I loved driving 150kms per hour in residential areas? What if there was a convicted sex offender who stated that, or a child molester? Can they still do what they want? Under your statement the answer is yes. What if one wanted to get drunk, take drugs, steal and murder? What if one loved this? Can they also do what they want without thinking that they can’t?

Equating a consensual love between two adults that, with the right amount of lube, hurts no one, with the extremely harmful crimes of pedophilia, drug-taking, theft and murder is exactly the kind of logic we need in our elected representatives. Presumably, since Geoff was courageous enough to proclaim the equivalence, he will now be doing everything he can to ensure homosexuality is just as illegal as pedophilia and murder. At least the parliamentary debate will be entertaining. You see, as a Pentecostal, Geoff can speak in tongues… you know, like this.

Catch the Fire Ministries

These are the kind-hearted people who blamed the devastating Victorian bushfires, in which 173 lives were lost, on Victoria’s abortion laws. They also blamed the Brisbane floods on Kevin Rudd or obesity or something.

For their next foray into the world of prejudicial idiocy, they’re forming a political party. Yippee!

Their policies are rather interesting. See if you can pick the pattern:

  • Establish full employment ▪ Reduce the cost of living
  • Maintain freedom of religion ▪ Reaffirm our Judeo-Christian heritage
  • No religion to be forced on anyone ▪ Schools to have faith-based chaplains
  • Maintain the family unit ▪ Give parents the right to discipline their children
  • Immigrants are free to celebrate their own backgrounds ▪ People who live in Australia should become Australian
  • Aborigines were the original owners of the land ▪ Aborigines should thank us for everything we’ve done for them
  • Free chickens for all ▪ Chickens to cost one million dollars each

OK, that last one was made up, but you get the idea. And that’s not all they’re doing. They’re not afraid to tackle the big issues:

13. Protect children from homosexuality as it creates health problems.
15. We advocate no Centrelink benefits for polygamists.
19. All elected Members of Parliament for RUA Party are encouraged to donate a percentage of their salary to the poor and the needy.

They at least seem to have caught the fire of originality. But given that their slogan is “To reach people from all walks of life into the Kingdom of God”, they should perhaps Catch the Grammar instead.

A chaplain is the last thing they need

There are many things wrong with the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), but I find one issue in particular extremely troubling – what advice would a chaplain give to a teenager who is confused about their sexuality?

The issue was raised late last week by Labor Senator Gavin Marshall, but was also discussed earlier in the week on the letters page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

An article in Saturday’s Herald regarding the NSCP in general, and an imminent High Court challenge to its consitutional legitimancy in particular, resulted in this letter to the editor from Col:

Many parents would be happy to see more resources devoted to issues such as stress management, anger management, grief management and emotional support in general, but do not understand why a religious background is a prerequisite for the providers of that support.

Hard to argue with that… but Barbara thought she’d have a go anyway:

Jesus’s preaching was for a society in which all people, regardless of race, creed or age, loved and respected each other; were non-judgmental, sharing and caring. Those who have committed their lives to these principles are ideally suited to provide the services under the job description of school chaplain. It seems the difficulty [Col] … has in understanding why a religious background is the prerequisite for this role is more a lack of acceptance of the concept of unconditional love.

Barbara’s letter required several readings, mostly just to ensure it really was irony-free, but also to figure out which of her bone-headed platitudes to attack first. In the end, I settled on this (which, happily, was also published):

Conspicuously absent from [Barbara’s] umbrella of non-judgment is sexual orientation. I shudder to think how the Christian version of “unconditional” love will be employed by a chaplain confronted with a confused and anxious homosexual teenager.

To wit:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds, accounting for 20% and 13% of all deaths for males and females respectively (Source).
  • In a 1997 survey, nearly 30% of same-sex attracted youth reported that they had experienced abuse as a result of their sexuality, with nearly 70% experiencing the abuse at school (Source).
  • Another survey showed that young gay men are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Source).
  • Over 98% of school chaplains in Australia are Christians (Source).
  • Christians think homosexuality is wrong, in accordance with the divinely-inspired word of god (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4), Wikipedia, and this apocalyptic old bigot.

The dangers of having this type of “unconditional” love let loose on vulnerable, confused teenagers should be obvious. Or, perhaps not, if Robin’s letter (which appeared the next day) is anything to go by:

It’s obvious [Barbara] means well but, apart from the fact that being a non-judgmental, caring person is not solely the province of committed Christians, is the concept of non-conditional love the best starting point for constructively helping troubled students?

Well, no, Robin, that would be a psychology degree.