Pondering Religion in a Census

There is this simplistic view that if a person has a certain belief, they can be fit into a certain checkbox.  Believe in God? You’re a christian.  Believe in Allah? You’re a muslim.  Believe in reincarnation? You’re a hindu …

For the purposes of this entry, I’m going to focus on Christianity, because it’s the faith I subscribe to, and it’s the one I know most about.  I feel it would be disrespectful and counter-productive to focus on a religion I know less about.

I came across an event page on Facebook today stating that Australians who don’t actively go to church should just write “no religion” in the upcoming census.  Why?  Because if you’re not active in church, you’re only aligned to that religion because somebody told you to be, and you’re taking “numbers” away from the atheist community and thereby disadvantaging them (there was even a claim that it leads to discrimination against non-Christians).

As a non-conformist Christian (aka a freethinking Christian), I know first-hand that going to church isn’t a mark of a Christian.  It’s one of the accepted practices, sure, but it’s not all there is.  I personally avoid church because I find too much hypocrisy and conflict in there that distracts from God.

There were other statements made in this thread, that Christians are anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-euthanasia, and that they’re the reason gay couples can’t adopt in Australia.  I find it interesting that someone who would mock me as “unintelligent” and “believing fairy tales” would make such fallacious statements and thereby show their lack of research and understanding.

For one thing, Australian laws are not solely decided by Christians.  In fact, Christians often get upset because their views aren’t even taken into account.  But that aside, you can’t know what someone thinks on a certain issue based on their religion.  I’m not anti-gay, I’m not pro-gay, I simply take the view that each person is responsible for their own lives, and if that is their life, I have no right to say otherwise.

That said, I actually have no issue with gay people, and I certainly can’t support anti-gay hysteria using the Bible (you know, that book that has love, forgiveness, charity, and acceptance as its core message).  And the statement about gay couples not being allowed to adopt is rubbish anyway; had that commenter done their homework, they would see that not only is adoption by gay couples legal, gay couples can also get legal de-facto status and be recognised by government agencies as a legal couple.

I’m anti-abortion (except in certain cases that I’ll probably go into at some point), but that’s not because I’m Christian and have been told to think that way.  I’ve been anti-abortion since I was 15 and really started to research what abortion was.  I’ve been a Christian since I was 19.  I was anti-abortion four years before I became a Christian!  I’m not the only one who is/was anti-abortion without being Christian; most pro-lifers don’t have any kind of religion, they simply believe in the inherent right to life.

I’ve also been told that my belief in creation theory is brain-washing by the church, and no intelligent person would believe in a literal 7-day creation.  Actually, I started to question evolution theory (yes, theory, not fact; it’s just one of many theories) when I was 13.

It just didn’t make sense to me; if we came from bacteria that turned into sludge, where did that bacteria come from? (“Particles in space” is the answer I was given when I asked this in class).  Where did those particles come from?  “Another planet”.  But who put them there?  How did creatures select certain adaptations?  Why would an Emu develop the ability to run rather than fly, and why didn’t they then develop arms instead of useless wings?

I started to doubt evolution theory back when I was 13.  That’s six years before I became a Christian.  I had no Christian upbringing; the one time I asked to read the Bible as a kid, I was told “no, it doesn’t make sense and you wouldn’t understand it”.  I’d hardly call that being brainwashed.

As far as the question of voluntary euthanasia, that is being decided by ethics committees and lawmakers, not christians.  No doubt some of the people involved in the process are Christian, but they won’t be allowed to use “the Bible says” as an argument.  They will need to provide legal evidence and case studies, etc, to support whatever stance they take.  Same as anyone else.

So we come back to this group of atheists.  The basic drive of their campaign is to “get religion out of politics” (not that it’s in there anyway, that’s just a scapegoat for their own agenda).  They make such claims as “us atheists are being forced to live under Christian rule” (Australia has no official religion; we’re considered a Christian country only because the majority write “Christian” on the census) … and yet they want to make sure that atheists have the majority vote, which would put us under atheistic leadership.

Can’t they see it’s exactly the same as what they’re against?  One group dictating to the other how they can live?

The major issues are decided by lawmakers and ethics committees and occasional polls.  These include representatives from atheists, agnostics, christians, muslims, hindus, etc, etc, etc.  There is no one group in control, and we’re better off that way.  It allows us to think for ourselves should we choose to, and it gives all the groups a voice.

And the census isn’t political, it’s about gathering data.  This group, however, is using it to push a political agenda.  And mocking and belittling anyone who dares to stand up to them, making such statements as “the ‘holy books’ belong in the fiction section of the library, and anyone who believes in those fairy-tales is an idiot”.  If a religious group made such definite claims that their beliefs are right, it would be “Bible-bashing”.  The hypocrisy astounds me.

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