The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Block & Roll #3 – Dishing it Out

Block & Roll 3

An open letter to Fred Nile

Dear Reverend the Honourable Mr Fred,

I am writing to you for two reasons. Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on finding love again. Secondly, I thought I’d better let you know that you can’t actually get married.

That may surprise you, so allow me to explain.

My personal definition of marriage is “the union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, entered into voluntarily for life, as long as the man is not more than one year older than the woman”.

You and your fiancée are 23 years apart, so, obviously, you cannot possibly get married, and to do so would be intolerant of my beliefs.

You may think your marriage and my marriage are completely separate, and your perverse version of marriage could not possibly affect the sanctity of my own. But you’d be wrong. I have no evidence for this, however, so you’ll just have to trust me.

If I allow you to marry someone 23 years younger, then soon people will want to marry people 30 years younger, and then 50 years younger. Eventually we will have a whole swarm of 90-year-olds wanting to marry embryos, and even you’d have to admit that no one wants that. I mean, even if she could find a dress that small, just imagine how hard it would be to try on in the changing womb. And I don’t even want to think about how the groom would put the ring on at the ceremony. Ew.

I’m really sorry, Reverend the Honourable Mr Fred. I know this has probably been a difficult letter to read. If it makes you feel any better, it’s been a difficult letter for me to write. Mostly because I’m a really bad typist, and my ‘W’ key is a little sticky.

Anywho, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. In particular, feel free to e-mail me when you meet someone new, as I am more than happy to tell you if your choice of partner offends me in any way.

Yours sincerely,


Submission impossible

The scene: Joe and Mary want to get married. Unaware of Sydney Anglicans’ new marriage vows, they approach their local Anglican priest to enquire about using his church for the ceremony…

Joe: Hi there. I’m Joe, and this is my fiance, Mary. We were wondering if we could talk to you about getting married in your church.

Priest: Hi Joe! Come in, please. Will Mary be waiting outside?

Joe: Excuse me?

Priest: Oh, you’re one of those. Fine, fine. Come in, please.

Joe: Thank you.

Priest: So, you want to be married in my church?

Joe: Yes, if that’s possible.

Priest: Shouldn’t be a problem. You’re both Christian, I hope?

Mary: Yes, we are.

Priest: Good, good. And I assume you know what will be expected of you, as soon-to-be-married Christians?

Joe: I think so. We should at all times be to each other what Christ was to his followers.

Priest: And that was…?

Mary: Respectful, loving, forgiving —

Priest: Goodness gracious! Where on earth did you hear that?

Mary: Oh, I thought the bible —

Priest: Haha, poor little thing. That’s not what the bible says at all… Your husband is your master!

Joe: That doesn’t sound right…

Priest: I can see how you might have missed it. I mean, it’s only in the first frikken book. “And the Lord God said to Adam, It is not good that you should be alone; I will make an help meet for you.”

Mary: An help meet?

Priest: Well, OK, the wording is a little silly. But there’s more, Mary! “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. See? You have to find him sexy, and he gets to boss you around.

Mary: Oh… It really says that?

Priest: And more! This is the best bit. Adam wasn’t punished for eating the fruit, he was punished because he listened to his wife! “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, cursed is the ground for thy sake”.

Mary: Well, maybe, but that’s just a story, isn’t it…

Priest: Don’t be so worried! Submission isn’t a bad thing, Mary. It’s like dancing. The man always leads, right?

Mary: I guess so… but a dance doesn’t last 50 years, does it?

Priest: OK, OK. Bad example. Think of it more like an altar boy submitting to his priest.

Joe: Well that doesn’t sound so bad. Right, honey?

Mary: Yeah, that does sound better!

Priest: So, we’re all on board?

Joe and Mary: Yep!

Priest: That’s great news! It’s great being Christian, isn’t it? Imagine being one of those damned Muslims. The way they treat their women. Disgraceful…

Hypocrisy, thy name is Jim

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s only being able to list one thing that I hate. Oh, and I hate those little stickers that they put on fruit. They are very annoying.

Jesus hated a few things, too. Fig trees, for instance. But also, hypocrisy:

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Matthew 7:3

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.”
Matthew 6:1-6

“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”
Matthew 15:7-8

With that in mind, you’d think that his modern day followers would also hate hypocrisy, wouldn’t you? And fig trees, of course.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least, not if the Australian Christian Lobby is anything to go by. Not only are fig trees readily available from a wide range of nurseries, but the hypocrisy of the ACL, and its managing director in particular, apparently knows no bounds.

As I mentioned here the other day, Jim Wallace, the aforementioned MD, was a little put out when 7’s Sunrise came out in support of same-sex marriage:

That a TV current affairs show, let alone TV station, should take sides in such a highly contentious issue in the public square is disgraceful.

Fine Jim, fine. As long as you’re prepared to label any corporations that support your position as ‘disgraceful’, too. You wouldn’t have a problem with that, would you Jim? So when Gloria Jeans donated $30,000 to your organisation, an organisation that spends most of its time battling against equality for gays and lesbians, you just gave the money straight back, didn’t you Jim?

Jim? Are you there?

Didn’t think so.

You’re probably out battling fig trees.

Chrys Stevensons’ awesome summary of Gloria Jeans’ connection to homophobia can be found here. And, if you’re so inclined, there is a Facebook page, too.

Bronte and Jim go to the dog park

I have two golden retrievers, Bronte and Rory. They are awesome. But Bronte hides a terrible secret.

When she was born, I said to myself, “As long as she doesn’t get my nose, I’ll be happy”. And I was happy. Well, as happy as you can be if you have a nose like mine.

The weeks went by, we ran, we played, we pooped in the backyard. As her personality began to express itself, however, I started noticing things. Bronte started noticing things, too. And by “things” I mean “much smaller dogs”. And by “noticing” I mean “seeking them out in the dog park and forcing them to play with her against their will until they ran back to their owners for protection and a doggie treat which she thought was all part of the game so she’d run over to their owners as well and jump on them and steal the treat and then sit there asking for more and thinking ‘This is the best game ever, I can’t believe I invented it'”.

To be fair to Bronte, she always had good intentions. Golden retrievers are nothing if not big, smiling, balls of goofy happiness, and Bronte certainly fits the mould. But you can’t escape facts. And, sitting at the dog park watching her playfully terrorise anything smaller than herself, the fact seemed to be that she was a bully.

After a couple of years, we started to wonder that perhaps the reason Bronte was so, er, enthusiastic, was that she didn’t really get to play with other dogs that often. I’m sure Bronte was wondering things, too. Mostly why the government set the carbon price at $23 per tonne, but also why none of her little playmates ever visited. Anyway, we decided the time was right to get another dog. Another goldie. Someone to keep her company, and teach her some playtime manners.

Ah, Rory. The definition of a letdown.

I’m kidding, of course. Rory is absolutely sensational, and we don’t call him “Rorgeous” for nothing. But teach Bronte manners? He practically begs her to pick on him. Don’t get me wrong, they get along like a doghouse on fire, but Bronte’s bullying seemed to just carry on as normal.

Enter Trixie, Mum and Dad’s german shepherd. Trixie loves playing with Bronte, in much the same way that Bronte loves playing with small dogs with treat-laden owners. And Bronte doesn’t like it, not one bit. As I was watching them the other morning, a sudden thought occurred to me. Bronte and Jim Wallace, the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, have a lot in common.

You see, Jim is a bully, too. That’s all his opposition to same-sex marriage is. Bullying.

Jim is happy to stand up and tell homosexuals that they are immoral. That they aren’t fit to raise children. That his dogmatic definition of a family, cherry-picked from a randomly-selected holy book, is better than everyone else’s. That his opinion on your personal life is worth more than yours.

But don’t you dare disagree with him. He doesn’t like it:

What it says for the respect they have for alternative opinion, even our values, is extremely disappointing and we need to register our disappointment.

We must respect your opinion that gays are inferior? Sorry Jim, but no, we don’t. You’re just a bully, running around telling everyone else what they have to think and believe, and then crying foul when someone disagrees with you. Which is exactly what Bronte does.

Although, she’s a young dog, and means well.

You’re an adult human, and just, well… mean.

It’s time to have a look in the mirror, Jim, or pretty soon no one will want to play with you at the dog park. Not even Bronte.

Umm… which values?

A kindergarten teacher in Queensland has lost her job. Not really news in itself, except that the school has been accused of sacking her because she became pregnant, and is unmarried.

The school’s principal has declined to comment on the actual reasons for the sacking, except to remind us that:

As a Christian College we require that all staff have, and demonstrate, a faith and lifestyle consistent with the Christian beliefs taught here.

Hear, hear! I, too, hope that the staff live a life consistent with Christian ideals. You know, like, giving people second chances, and recognising that people aren’t perfect, and turning the other cheek, and giving people what they ask for, and treating people how you would like to be treated. I think the principal can hold his head high on those counts.

But then again…

Maybe the staff should be attempting to kill their children because god told them to, or stoning witches, or destroying perfectly good fig trees, or throwing hissy fits at enterprising capitalists, or severely limiting masturbatory abilities, or making jogging more tedious than it already is, or providing rather stupid legal advice.

It’s all so confusing.

A sorry excuse for apologetics

apologist [əˈpɒlədʒɪst] (noun)
A person who offers a defence by argument.

CASE (noun)
The Centre for Apologetic Scholarship and Education, a Christian apologetics organisation.

Trevor Cairney [pɒmpəs hɪpəkrɪt] (noun)
A person who willfully ignores the previous two definitions. Which is weird because he is the Director of CASE.

First, a little history

I first stumbled across Trevor Cairney’s blog in May 2009. I can no longer remember why or how, but I found myself reading this post about “the disappearance of mutual respect” between men and women, a post apparently prompted by the then-current Matthew Johns group sex scandal.

I simply pointed out that:

Leaving aside issues of consent and mutual respect, a Christian persepective on the events in question will always be flawed, since it presupposes that group sex is inherently wrong. This is, of course, absurd.

There is nothing inherently wrong with group sex between rational, consenting adults.

Despite a few wacky pronouncements (“God gave woman to man to live in relationship to him” and “to be confined and constrained can be quite liberating”), Trevor gave a rather in-depth, informative response (to his credit).

So far so good.

Things carried on in this way for a while, and some of the discussions we had were even interesting. Like the ones on the god of science, matters of life and death, the continuing quest for belief, faith and politics (interesting, but frustrating), and the story of Abraham and Isaac.

But then an odd thing happened. Trevor had a meltdown.

The great dummy spit
In this review of Terry Eagleton’s book, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, Trevor had this to say:

But Eagleton’s major focus and motivation for writing this book has been to challenge the simplistic separation of faith and reason. Both New Atheists and liberal nationalists he claims have failed to understand this relationship. Dawkins he points out assumes that his own belief is reflective of reason, while he sees Christians being guilty of blind faith. Rather, he suggests New Atheists hold a faith position of their own.

In response, I submitted two links. The first, a link to this video, where Dawkins highlights how stupid it would be if science worked like religion:

The second link was to a newspaper article highlighting a particularly nasty incident of religiously inspired violence.

Trevor’s response, which he e-mailed rather than posting on his blog, was… well… strange:

What’s your point Tim?

The first clip from Dawkins simply demonstrates that he has no arguments at all. He refuses to engage beyond the superficial. He simply characterizes Christians as unintelligent; I’d expect more sophisticated arguments from a Year 10 debating group.

The second newspaper clipping is irrelevant to the post in question.

Should I look through papers for clippings of violent crimes committed by people of no faith. Are you aware that the majority of people in prisons are atheists? Of course, this is a silly anti intellectual argument of the kind Dawkins uses all the time, but no more silly an example of poor logic and argument than you sending me the article that you have.

I assume that your point is that religion leads to all manner of terrible crimes. How would you explain Nazi extermination of millions of Jews, genocide in Cambodia, the slaughter of millions in communist regimes like Russia and China where religion was banned? I could go on but I won’t.



Ahh… so that’s why you didn’t post your response on your blog. Hyper-sensitive dummy spits and wildly illogical generalisations sound sooo much better via e-mail. It’s also probably best not to let your readers see what you’re really like.

Anyway, one statement in particular stood out – was I “aware that the majority of people in prisons are atheists?”.

I had to admit that, no, I was not aware of that. But being a curious fellow, I was eager to find out how exactly Trevor became aware of it. So I asked him.

    Where have you seen that the majority of people in prison are atheists? Can you provide some links?
    (no response)
    I would be very interested in any such evidence. Could you provide some links?
    That wasn’t my point. I was simply trying to say the argument being made was as silly as me trying to use the argument that many regimes and nations that ban faith and people who reject God are capable of terrible things.
    You asked if I was aware that the majority of prison inmates are atheists, indicating that you had information that this was the case. Can you direct me to that information?
    Let’s not waste our time Tim. You and I both know that it’s impossible to tell, as most inmates would hardly be likely to answer honestly.

Right. Well… this is awkward. For you. Especially since there actually proportionally more Christians in prisons than atheists.

No more Mr Nice Trevor Cairney
For a while, Trevor published some comments, but blocked anything that didn’t begin with “Dear Trevor, you are so good looking”.

Now, however, he blocks everything. He’s also blocked me on Twitter, and asked me not to e-mail him anymore. All because, in response to a post on the wonders of theology, I sent him this:

    “Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.”
    – H. L. Mencken

    “Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.”
    – Robert A. Heinlein quotes

    “What has ‘theology’ ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has ‘theology’ ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? What makes you think that ‘theology’ is a subject at all?”
    – Richard Dawkins

    “The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion”
    – Thomas Paine

True to form, Trevor had a hissy fit (again, via e-mail):

Wow, you’ve hit a new all time low for anti intellectual argument. For one who prides himself on presenting evidence, it’s remarkable how you’re prepared to use slogans and arguments as your only form of attack, especially given that you spend so much time attacking Christians for lack of evidence.

Your second comment is perhaps the most remarkable. You offer 4 quotes that present no evidence (and include obvious falsehoods) while criticising people who believe in God as being deluded and stupid. If this is the best atheists can do there is no doubt that Christianity is under no threat from fundamentalist new atheists. I’m surprised you cannot see the errors in the Thomas Paine quote? And as for the evidence he offers? There isn’t any.


Especially when your stated aim is to “[defend] the Christian faith, [engage] with other world views and [attract] ‘thinking’ people to the message of the Christian faith”.

Having a thinking person at the helm might be a start.

Still not as dirty as the Bible

So it turns out that the German Catholic Church owns a company that has published over 2,500 erotic novels. Is it a cynical ploy to profit from the vile sins of the great unwashed? An ingenious form of market-making? The prudent minimisation of investment volatility via diversification? Or simply garden-variety Church hypocrisy?

Whatever it is, the story lines are a hoot. I managed to get my hands on a few of their best sellers.

Missionary: Impossible
Allen and Doreen are a married Catholic couple from the suburbs. One night they try but fail to have passionless sex in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation.

Bill and Ted’s Sexcellent Adventure… of Sin
Bill and Ted have been friends for years. One day, after a tough gym session, they hit the sauna. Ted sneaks a peak at Billy’s willy and has an impure thought which we shan’t go into. After confession, Ted heads home to his wife and has passionless sex in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation.

Child’s Play
A strapping young man from the country resists the temptations of the village beauties, and commits himself to the priesthood. He takes up a position at the local Catholic school, which enables him to follow his true passion – children. He spends the next ten years being shuffled from parish to parish for completely legitimate reasons, before retiring to the Vatican, where he lives out his days making incense and enjoying diplomatic immunity.

Meaty Friday… of Sin
Tired of passionless sex in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation, George tries to convince his wife that she can eat his meat on Friday.

The Gift… of Sin
Phyllis is head of Embezzlement & Condom Destruction at the Vatican Bank. One day, a nasty Jesuit colleague gives her a dildo as a joke. Not realising the gift’s true potential, she mistakenly uses it as a door snake. This ends up saving her $15.30 on her energy bill, which gives her just enough joy to smile at her husband during passionless sex in the missionary position for the sole purpose of procreation.

As good as these books are, though, I’m still not sure why they’re needed. There’s more than enough porn in the Bible.

Idjit Jones is fiery

Who knew that the humble, mild-mannered voice of the people, Alan Jones, could be such a fiery little wanker? Well, let’s be honest, most of us did. And if she didn’t know it before, now Jacqueline Maley does, too.

Alan was in Canberra yesterday to fill the “Convoy of No Confidence” with the confidence of his bountiful wisdom. Or at least he might have done, if he hadn’t morphed into a splenetic bully at the first sign of a reasonable question. You see, Jacqueline, a journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald, had the audacity to ask the Great One if he had been paid to speak at the rally.

Judging by Alan’s reaction, she may have been better off asking him if he rims on the first date. Not only would the answer have been more predictable, she probably would have been spared the verbal onslaught that followed:

Oh, go away! How can you look at yourself in the mirror? Oh, look at these people… the Sydney Morning Herald, for god’s sake. Am I getting a fee… It’s a stupid question… You just stand there so I can let [the crowd] see who you are.

Once up on stage in front of his adoring fans, he really went to town:

Where is she? She’s gone! Can’t stand and front can’t stand and front can’t stand and front. And when I said the question was insulting… Far from accepting a fee, I’ve actually emptied my pockets for a lot of people in the bush, and will continue to do so…

Too bad the bush needs rain, and not the lint from a $3,000 suit. But why all the rage, Alan? Jacqueline must have really offended you, since you’re usually so nice to people:

    It is absolutely laughable. [Julia Gillard is] off her tree and quite frankly they should shove her and Bob Brown in a chaff bag and take them as far out to sea as they can and tell them to swim home.
    — 2GB, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 6th July, 2011 (via Media Watch)
    What do you make of this galoot Garnaut, the Federal Government’s climate change head-kicker? ‘The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence is telling us climate change is happening’ [says Garnaut] – well of course it’s happening, ha ha, [of] course climate change is happening ya dunce, but is it being created by man-made carbon dioxide emissions?
    — 2GB Sydney, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 18th March, 2011 (via Media Watch)
    What about this brain-dead Sarah Hanson-Young, from the Greens?
    — 2GB, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 6th July, 2011 (via Media Watch)
    You dope, Clover Moore. You dyed-in-the-wool dope.
    — 2GB, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 30th June, 2011 (via Media Watch)

Alan’s quite obviously a lovely young man, so his reaction couldn’t have just been due to plain old wankery. Perhap the question is just inherently offensive?

    Alan Jones:
    Are you being paid for being on the Government’s Climate Commission Science Advisory Panel?…

    David Karoly:
    No, my salary is not being paid by that.

    Alan Jones:
    Are you in any, and in receipt of any, benefits or funds or anything at all from the…

    David Karoly:
    I am receiving a travel allowance to cover the costs of going to meetings of the Science Advisory Panel and I am receiving a small retainer which is substantially less than your daily salary.

    Alan Jones:
    So you’re paid by the Government and then you give an opinion on the science of climate change. Have you ever heard about he who pays the piper calls the tune?

    — 2GB, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 25th May, 2011 (via Media Watch)

Hmm… David Karoly didn’t seem to mind the question. What else could have made Alan so angry?

    My suggestion is to invite one of the biker gangs to be present in numbers at Cronulla railway station when these Lebanese thugs arrive, it would be worth the price of admission to watch these cowards scurry back onto the train for the return trip to their lairs…Australians old and new shouldn’t have to put up with this scum. Peter’s of Kensington’s range of gift hampers are designed to hold useful goodies –oh there’s a stack of them aren’t there?
    — 2GB, Alan Jones, 7th December 2005 (via Media Watch)

Hang on… that last one’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Oh well, I’m sure it’s nothing.

Religious privilege needs a kick in the head

And here’s why.

Last week, in Sydney, a man was flogged for 30 minutes in the middle of the night, by four bearded men of “middle eastern appearance”. I first read about it in the Sydney Morning Herald, where the author of the article seemed determined to mention the assailants’ exotic origins and hirsute appearance as many times as possible, without explicitly stating what everyone else was now thinking: that the victim had hired the famous late-night bondage service, “Beard to the Bone”.

Imagine my surprise, then, when it turned out that the poor man’s savage beating had come via the ever-merciful hands of Allah’s “Islamic Justice Squad”, whose motto, “Whips be upon him”, now makes perfect sense. He was apparently a recent convert to Wahhabism (currently the only thing protecting Saudi Arabian society from women drivers), and had broken one of their most sacred rules. Did he shoot someone? Sleep with the imam’s third wife? Add “ito” to the front sign of every mosque in Sydney? No, what he did was much, much worse – he had a drink. Perhaps he should have chosen Christianity, where drinking is perfectly acceptable, especially on Sunday morning. Hair of the god, indeed.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, the Catholic Church is in serious trouble. Once considered beyond political reproach, the Church now finds itself under unprecedented attack due to the recent release of the Cloyne Report into “priestly abuse”. Lest this ubiquitous euphemism confuse you into thinking I’m referring to enforced viewings of Beverly Hills 902010 re-runs, let me be more explicit, and accurate. The report details, in gut-wrenching detail, the institutionalised enablement and cover-up of child rape. I dare you to read even a small excerpt without feeling sick.

Unfortunately for the Church, their lack of introspection and unwillingness to change has led one Irish politician (the Taoiseach, no less) to do what was once unthinkable – he’s called for the abolition of the “Sacramental Seal” of the confessional. Under this long-held and fiercely-protected tradition, if a person confesses a serious crime to a Catholic priest (basically, anything except the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th Commandments), the priest is forbidden to inform secular authorities, or anyone else for that matter.

Enda Kenny has now said “Enough is enough”. The Church’s response? Get fucked.

Tying these two incidents together is young Niko Alm, who demanded, and won, the right to wear a colander in his drivers’ licence photo. Wait… did you say colander…? But… but… that’s ridiculous! Unless it’s justified by religious belief, that is.

You see, Niko is a Pastafarian, the term for members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And his religion requires him to wear a colander on his head. Silly? Undoubtedly. But when you think about it, isn’t it just as silly, and religiously legitimate, as a Sikh’s turban, or a Jew’s Kippah, or a Muslim’s hajib?

Do you see the problem now?

If you have a holy book, anything goes.

Want to claim that wives are their husband’s property? Invoke religion. Want to whip people into a bloody pulp for the non-issue of drinking alcohol? Point to your holy book. Don’t feel like aiding in the prosecution of confessed paedophiles? Just tell ‘em the Pope said you can’t.

If all religions are equal, then religion can be used to justify anything.

But here’s the rub. Christians will point to the Muslims and say “You can’t whip people for drinking alcohol”, and Muslims will point to Christians and say, “You can’t protect child rapists”. Each will condemn the views of the other, while demanding respect for their own brand of revealed dogma.

And all the while, the Pastafarians just wish that everyone would put down their holy book, and use their noodle.