It must really suck being out-reasoned by an 11-year-old.
Some of you may not know how to look like an idiot, but thankfully there are plenty of people out there who lead by example. Today’s opinion piece by Rob Ward, Victorian Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, makes for a great case study.
Step 1 – Get in early
Your first sentence is very important for establishing your credentials, so it’s vital that you lead with something silly. Something like this:
It is unclear what damage to children 100 years of voluntary Special Religious Instruction in Victoria’s schools has caused.
Yes, that will do nicely. Apparently Rob was asleep while, for the last 100 years, Christian children have been indoctrinated into believing that homosexuality, pre-marital sex, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, and embyronic stem cell research are moral abominations.
Step 2 – Use some ignorant buzz-words
These always help your audience know that you are an expert in whatever field you are currently dabbling in.
“Political correctness” and “militant atheists” are good examples, Rob. So far so good!
Step 3 – Try and take a cheap shot, and fail
Many of the critics of SRI seem to assume Christianity to be a dangerous toxin from which children must be protected.
Yes, Rob. Yes they do.
Step 4 – Be obvious
But even Prime Minister Julia Gillard, an atheist from the left of the ALP, acknowledges the truth that one cannot understand Western literature without understanding the Bible.
Yes, Rob, that is certainly true. And I would wager that almost all atheists would agree – there is a great deal of Western literature that can only be truly appreciated if you first have an understanding of the bible. In other news, water is wet.
Step 5 – Lie
Not content with their choice to remove their kids from SRI, militant atheists seem hell-bent on ensuring everyone else’s kids are blocked from exposure to Christianity…”
That’s awesome, Rob… I never would have thought of that one! And bonus points for throwing in “militant atheists” again.
Step 6 – Lie again, as soon as you can
No credible historian doubts [Jesus’] historicity.
Well, Rob, you did really well so far, but you let yourself down here. The trick is to lie without being ridiculous. The only way this sentence could be true is if you define “credible historian” as “historian who believes in Jesus”.
Step 7 – Euphemisms and wishful thinking
Despite some notable blemishes, Christianity has been an overwhelming force for good.
“Notable blemishes” – now that’s what I call a euphemism! Genocide, slavery, the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts, the institulionalised cover-up of child rape… all these are apparently nothing more than pimples on the adolescent face of history.
As for “overwhelming force for good”, perhaps Rob needs to watch this.
Step 8 – Confuse correlation and causation
As we have moved away from Christian values in recent years, we have become more individualistic, more consumerist and more focussed on rights than responsibilities.
It is true. As a society, we have become more individualistic, and more focussed on material wealth. But not only does this have nothing to do with the decline of “Christian values”, the values Rob speaks of are not “Christian values” at all, but merely values that happen to be Christian. I’m willing to bet that most of the Christian values Rob would mention would find an echo in each of the main faiths, and humanism.
If Rob is allowed to say that, then I am allowed to say that the gradual decline of sexism has led to the decline of Kryptonic values.
Step 9 – The Stockholm Syndrome
Children who opt out of the 30 minute program are usually encouraged to do other things like self directed learning, under the watchful eye of a school teacher.
Thankyou so much! That is very kind of you. You get to have a dedicated place in the curriculum for your particular brand of faith, and you also get to direct the learning of anyone who doesn’t agree with you. I guess we should just be grateful that it’s not compulsory, and keep quiet.
Step 10 – Play the persecution card
It’s always a good sign of idiocy if you’re in the position of strength and you make a completely unwarranted claim of vilification.
To their credit, Access Ministries and its thousands of volunteers are not running off to the Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission crying ‘vilification’.
How on earth could they? Could a racist claim vilification every time someone speaks out against racism?
Step 11 – Garden-variety idiocy
You don’t want to dazzle your audience with too much high-level idiocy (you want people to finish the article, after all), so it’s a good idea to throw out a bit of specious, garden-variety asininity. Something that your supporters will read and approve of with a solemn nod of the head, but your average reader will destroy without breaking a sweat.
The current system which gives kids a chance to know about the Golden Rule while allowing equal access to other faiths seems to be working well.
Excellent, Rob, you’re really starting to hit your straps! Now all you need is a good, strong ending…
Step 12 – Use some ignorant buzz words to fail at making an obvious cheap shot that betrays euphemistic wishful thinking
Exposing kids to values which pre-date consumerism and humanism’s rights-obsessed individualism can’t be all bad.