A Christian Apology to All Jews

Today I watched the following clip of Richard Dawkins debating the validity of the Bible with a panel of theologians. Many things could be extrapolated. What I would like to focus on are the comments made by the Jewish representative, whom unfortunately I don’t know the name of, so hereafter I’ll refer to as “Rabbi”.

https://youtu.be/mE8bdEt1o7w

In the first 20 seconds of the clip, Dawkins expresses dismay at 40-45% at American people believing Biblical stories of Adam and Eve are literally true. Rabbi is seen in the background nodding her head, presumably in agreement that literal interpretations of the Bible are of concern.

As the clip progresses, Rabbi speaks of the need to argue about the significance of Biblical stories. She acknowledges the messy, and sometimes grotesque storylines – like that of Sodom and Gomorrah – then continues by inferring life is not idealistic, therefore, debating Biblical representations can help one consider the nuances of God and life. Rabbi implies that doing so helps us grow, individually and collectively.

Rabbi’s comments are eloquent. They also succinctly adhered to what a Jewish friend of mine recently told me, that Judaism is all about one’s personal relationship with God, not a system dictated by fundamentalism. “Listen to the voice that is missing” (1:50 into the video) is a theological approach to understanding the Bible not often heard in Christian circles.

Rabbi talks about the Jewish canon developing: “We [Jews] continually developed how we see the Bible, so we continue to develop how we see God” and how we see ourselves. Rabbi continues, “I think there is truth in the messy, horrible stories”. She poignantly points out that the Jewish Bible is not the only reference material Jews use to define and explore their faith. Her words were like fresh air, she is intellectual yet relatable … Christianity began as a Jewish sect, yet somehow, somewhere these insights have been lost … I’ll return to this point shortly.

At the 9:15 minute mark a Christain leader throws in the obnoxious remark “where would ‘we’ be without the 10 commandments?” (because, you know, humans can’t work out morality without being told by an authority, lol! … such sentiments that denude faith in human beings have always amusing to me – through my teaching/learning career I’ve developed a deep appreciation of the innate good in people, but that’s another story best told another time). Rabbi’s response is golden.

Dawkin impressively recites the first few commandments, and he questions the point of these, only to be cut down to size by Rabbi who states: “It means humility”. She goes on to explain the first two commandments (1. I am the Lord your God; 2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain) are about suppressing one’s ego and recognizing “I am a human, but I am not the centre of everything”. Like WOW, this woman is truly amazing, and her insights into the ‘Old Testament’ are relevant to Jews and Christians alike. Her understanding was of the Bible are filled with much humility and grace.

For some time now, I’ve said to anyone who cares to listen, I have great empathy for the Jews. Their writings (known to the broader public as the Old Testament) were abducted by Christians, then (some) Christians had the nerve (and ego) to tell Jews the interpretations of their appreciation of their stories were wrong! As an artist, I fully get that others may interpret my work according to their biases, but for anyone to tell me the expression of my ideas is “wrong” indicates real arrogance. Like yeah, I didn’t know what I was thinking and you *obviously* know me better than I know myself. This is a crime too many Christians make against Jews.

My heart goes out to all Jewish communities, of all places and times. I fear you have been misunderstood on a monumental scale. I have Christian heritage, therefore, I am as much to blame as anyone born into similar circumstances. For what it’s worth, I apologise for my ancestors’ cruelty.

I was raised a Catholic, and yet it is only now, in my fifth decade upon the earth, that I have begun to investigate and appreciate the Jewish basis of the Christianit faith that I was born into. Woe is me and my ignorance.

When I first began deconstructing Christianity, I did so through a very Greco-Roman lens because that is what I was most familiar with. The further I inquire, the more I appreciate Judaism, and I can’t help but wonder if all Christians would benefit from fully embracing the fact that Christianity began as a Jewish sect.

As Rabbi implied, Jews are not necessarily a perfect people. Nonetheless, Judaism does not insist upon dogmatic protocols. I admire this. There is something precious that to be found in the spirit of encouraging a personal relationship between the divine and the individual, without giving into narcissistic tendencies. 

Rabbi’s criticisms of Dawkins do not attack his argument per se, but how his voice and language aligns with fundamentalism, which wants to convert people forcefully, thus is of concern. Like, WOW, again! What a powerful insight to a subtle aspect of religious discussions that can so easily be overlooked. Rabbi (I wish I knew your name), your presentation was superb!

Richard Dawkins, I appreciate your work and critical thinking that has led many to question their beliefs. Having said that, if I were to critically appraise the debate I watched today between yourself and theologians, Rabbi won. I concur, the Bible needs to be argued and debated. Further, I can’t help but see the New Testament as being a development of the Old. My convulsions are this: the New Testament is an attempt (by Jews who lived about 200p years ago) to develop the Old Testament according to Greco-Roman values of their time. Rabbi, if by chance you come across this blog, I would warmly welcome your comments and feedback.

Dear Australians #2.5: God’s Authority

One of the aim’s of the Religious Discrimination Bill was to give religious organisations the capacity to operate under the guidelines of what they perceive to be God’s authority, as opposed to earthly authorities, like Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

In the early hours of 10 February, 2022, last minute changes the bill saw the insertion of clauses that would prevent institutions like schools being able to discriminate against staff and students who are homosexual. Nonetheless, these alterations were rejected in the Senate because the bill still did not address transgender issues, thus the government was concerned transgender staff and students may still be vilified.

Some church groups also rejected the changes because it meant they were not getting what they wanted – the right to discriminate against staff and students on the grounds of gender identity, sexual orientation, and marital status. They argue religions should be allowed to uphold their beliefs, traditions, and values, even if these are prejudicial, because God’s authority should be higher than government mandated laws.

God’s authority in America allows discrimination …

If the Religious Discrimination Bill were to go ahead, one only needs to look at American to see the type of discrimination that could arise. For instance, Hillsong demoted a choir director when it became known they were openly gay. The director’s skills and expertise in leading a choir were never in question, rather, it was a case of not wanted to be seen as supporting LGBTQ+. This is the same Pentecostal church Scott Morrison has affiliations with, which begs questioning the possibility that the Morrison government wants the same sort of discrimination to be legal in Australia?

Hillsong is a form of Christianity that claims to love everyone, but if you’re homosexual then you’re not entitled to have positions of responsibility. Perhaps, Brian Houston (who just happens to be a close friend of Morrison) doesn’t know of the history of Castrati!?

Castrati, Transgenderism Approved by God’s Authority

Castrati were singers who had their testes and/or scrotum removed before puberty so they produced less testosterone and, in turn, maintained the capacity to sing high notes as adults. The procedure was usually not of the boys choosing, rather poor parents did it in exchange for money and to profit off their child’s gifted singing abilities. The procedures were approved of by the Catholic Church, an institution established on the premise that it is a mediator of God’s authority.

The trend began in the 1500s to enable choirs the flexibility of singing songs with a full range of harmonies. The mutation of boys anatomy was deemed an appropriate solution to fulfil the “need” of producing heavenly melodies. Castrati were “necessary” because women were banned from church choirs. Further, the procedure could be justified using Matthew 19:12 – a Castrato was an eunuch made for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens.

Castrati were popular throughout Europe and highly valued in Vatican choirs. As effeminate men, many adjusted their identity to suit their circumstances, which in some cases involved homosexual relationships. If they could still achieve erections, they could be sort after by affluent women who wanted an affair with a hairless lover who could not impregnate them.

Castrations were made illegal in Italy in 1861, but the practice was not banned by Papal rule till 1903. Italian doctors are reported to have continued making castrati for the Sistine Chapel choir until 1870.

The last Castrato, Alessandro Moreschi (1858-1922), followed the centuries old tradition of being the director of the Sistine Chapel choir. It is unclear if Moreschi’s castration was done purely to preserve his vocal range or if it was done to cure an inguinal hernia. Either way, the transgender-like procedure he went through was never viewed as being a threat to the morality of Christendom. He was nicknamed the “Angel of Rome” and recordings of his work are now on YouTube.

Religious Freedom or Religious Abuse?

Christianity’s history of supporting transgender-like procedures on religious grounds – Castrati and eunuchs – is a poignant backdrop for considering modern issues of gender identity and sexual orientation in modern churches. Essentially, when the purpose of altering a male’s anatomy to make them more like a woman suited their needs, Christianity approved transgenderism. Moreover, effeminate men were glorified for their feminine singing skills and any homosexual behaviours were largely ignored. Fast forward to today, and Christians can be discriminated against for exercising their free will to be transgender and/or homosexual.

When governments banned castrations, were they discriminating against religious traditions? Or were they putting the welfare of individuals above cruel religious practices?

So too, if governments prevent religions from being able to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity, are religious faiths being discriminated against? Or are the freedoms of individuals being protected from cruel religious practices?

Freedom of religion that leads to religious abuse was a prime consideration that lead to the development of human rights. Why have a bill that overrides this aim?

Castrati is not the same as homosexuality …

The common tread between Christians historically supporting Castrati choir directors and contemporary Christians discriminating against homosexual choir directors is that both situations represent practices that are supposedly supported by God’s authority. Discerning what is God’s authority ultimately comes down to which version of the Bible one reads and how it is interpreted. Idiosyncratic issues of what is “God’s authority” regarding gender identity and sexual orientation is nuanced by historical and cultural contexts.

It could be argued that Pentecostalism formed as a reaction against the practices of other Christian denominations and their practices, like Catholic Castrati, who supposedly misinterpreted God’s authority. Then again, it could be argued that churches who accept LGBTQ+ Christians are a reaction against other Christians, like Pentecostalism, because they have misinterpreted God’s authority … the circular arguments are endless. Not all denominations of Christianity are equal, and even within specific churches, Christian attitudes can vary.

So, if the Bible is the official document that defines God’s authority, why are there so many variations? … Dear Australians #2.6: the Bible’s authority …

This blog is part of a series that I hope will encourage deep, thoughtful, respectful discussions about issues relating to the Religious Discrimination bill. If you’d like to be kept up to date, subscribe to receive notifications of new posts by email.

PREVIOUS BLOGS IN THIS SERIES

Dear Australians #2.4: Jesus and Women

Dear Australians #2.3: Let’s Talk About Sex …

Dear Australians #2.2: Australia and Human Rights

Dear Australians #2.1: We Need to Have a Heart to Heart Conversations About the Religious Discrimination Bill. I’ll Start …

References

Davis, E. (2020). What was a castrato? And what did they sound like? Amp.classicfm.com. https://amp.classicfm.com/discover-music/what-is-a-castrato/

Perrottet, T. (2007). Why Castrati Made Better Lovers. The Smart Set. https://www.thesmartset.com/article0806070116/

Skuse, A. (2021). The Instrumental Body: Castrati. In http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Cambridge University Press. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK571299/

Feature image: Public Domain

Dear Australians #2.4: Jesus and Women

The cultures Christianity emerged from, (Jewish and Greco-Roman, c.30-100CE), were patriarchal and sexist. While women in some spheres could hold positions of power, the mainstream way of life was men had more authority and women were expected to be submissive. Christianity’s saviour, Jesus, overtly and covertly challenged these gender attitudes.

A clear example of Jesus defying culture norms is in the Gospel story Luke 7:36-50. This chapter details a “sinner” woman, usually presumed to be a prostitute, who anoints Jesus feet with oil and begs for “forgiveness”. Pharisees witnessing the event are shocked that Jesus did not shun her as was expected by a Jew.

The narrative does not explicitly state the woman is a sex worker, however, it is broadly recognised that she was. Why? Because she had her hair out. (Disciple Paul confirms values of the period by implying honourable women should cover their hair or have their heads shaved when praying or prophesying; 1 Corinthians 11:1-6).

Christ in the House of Simon, Dieric Bouts, c.1420-1475. Source: Wikipedia Commons

In Biblical times there were three types of prostitutes:

  1. Women who made a living by sleeping with men. The reason why some women engaged in this occupation is as varied as today’s sex workers with the exception that women in antiquity did not have access to social security payments or a vast option of employment opportunities (women rarely studied and they weren’t allowed to do “men’s jobs”, like being a tax collector, fisherwomen, soldier, politician, etc.), therefore, being a prostitute was some women’s only option if they did not have a man (father/son/uncle) to financially support them.
  2. Sacred or temple prostitutes. Being a temple worker had associations with performing fertility rites that may or may not have included sexual acts. Such traditions go back to old Babylonian days and were a feature of some Roman cults. While there is conjecture amongst scholars about the types of activities that took place in temples (especially of women’s roles), there is also clear evidence that in some instances, ritualised sex was performed to praise and/or appease deities that people idolised. Israelites despised these traditions and clearly stated in their law that such behaviour was forbidden (Deuteronomy 23:17).
  3. Any woman who had sex outside of marriage could be labelled a harlot. Under Jewish law an adulteress could be stoned to death (John 8:1-11). Men could be stoned for adultery too, however, this was considered to be a lesser crime; wives were a husband’s possession, therefore, if she voluntarily slept with another man his “goods” were damaged, but since a wife didn’t own her husband she did not have the same reprieve if her husband was unfaithful.

(Side note: in Greco-Roman societies males could also be prostitutes. Their clients were usually other men. To engage in male prostitution in a brothel, as a sex worker or client, was looked down upon but was also considered an unremarkable aspect of daily life.)

Luke 7 does not tell us what type of “sinner” the woman was, nonetheless, the Pharisees would have looked down upon her because Jewish scripture denounced harlotry in all forms.

Jews hatred of prostitution had gross misogynistic overtones, as evidenced in Judges 19 where women (daughters and virgins) are depicted as being disposable objects that can be raped and abused without men needing to feel any guilt for their actions (it can be argued that the story is not literal, nonetheless, the symbolic imagery of women being objects at men’s disposal signifies cultural values). Moreover, there is a strong message of male entitlement to women’s bodies. Personally, Judges 19 reminds of contemporary online forums run by Incels (involuntary celibates), but perhaps that’s just me.

From a realistic viewpoint, assuming the woman in Luke 7:36 was a harlot, by any definition, I can’t imagine her experiences were pleasurable, absent of abuse, or born of her freely making life choices. Rather, the manner in which she is described – rushing into the house and begging for reprieve from Jesus – suggests she was in a desperate state, in other words, traumatised. Nowadays we know a lot more about the impacts of sexual trauma, coercive control, and victim responses of fight, flight, freeze, and fawn compared to 2000+ years ago.

From a contemporary mindset, the Pharisees’ expressions of judgement about the woman’s sexual interactions reflects arrogance and cruelty. Jesus does not address these issues directly, instead he does so indirectly by giving the woman unconditional positive regard and appreciating her endearing qualities as she anoints his feet with oil. Jesus’ compassion confused the Jewish religious leaders.

The story of Jesus’ forgiving the prostitute is juxtaposed with a parable of two people being granted clemency of financial debts, one owes little money, the other a lot. The moral is that whomever is forgiven the larger debt will be more grateful, which is likened to whomever excessively sins will be more grateful for God’s forgiveness than one who has only sinned a little.

A standard interpretation of the passage is that it is the prostitute who had sinned the most, therefore, she will love God more than the Pharisees who had sinned little. I would like to challenge these assumptions by suggesting it was the prostitute who had sinned the least, and the Pharisees’ discrimination, prejudices, harsh judgments, and absence of compassion were the bigger sins. This proposition is supported by Matthew 21:31 “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you”.

Further, I can’t help but wonder if the seven “demons” Jesus expelled from the woman were shame, guilt, embarrassment, self-loathing, stigmatisation, humiliation, and helplessness.

From a trauma-informed lens, Jesus’ act of forgiveness actively rejected victim blaming and the stigmatising behaviours of the Pharisees. The superstitious pretence of the woman’s so-called demons being the cause of her sexual “immorality” is archaic sexism. The society she lived in was the dis-ease that needed curing (Christianity and Disease).

Overall, Early Christianity offered acceptance to females (even “prostitutes”) in a way that other competing major religions did not: Judaism expected women to be pure and faithful to their husbands/father/other male or else they could be stoned to death. The (Roman) Mithras cult was only for men, and the (Greek) Dionysus cult had orgies, as too did the Roman version, the Bacchus cult.

In a sense Christianity subtly evened the gender score cards, at least in theory it did. Celibacy was encouraged for everyone, otherwise sex was only to occur in a marriage bed.

Moving on to Sensible Sexuality

Early Christianity was not necessarily an egalitarian sect, it did, however, provide women with opportunities of autonomy other religions of the time did not. It adopted the Jewish protocols of sexual relations being sanctified in marriage with the added doctrine of forgiveness being offered to sexual acts that occurred “immorally” – the process of confession and forgiveness could be applied to voluntarily and involuntary sexual behaviour – a great advantage of this practice being the enabling of perpetrators to redeem themselves and victims heal.

While Early Christian ideals were rather prudish and narrow there is also a nobility about them. By drawing a firm line in the sand surrounding sexual etiquette they can be commended for helping to put an end to culturally accepted sodomy and stigmatisations of abuse victims.

Christians gave a level of physical autonomy and respect for personal boundaries that was not necessarily present in other spheres of life. I imagine both men and women (who came from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds) may have felt a sense of liberation that enabled them to move around their communities without adverse social expectations to sexually perform in some way.

The problem with what may have been Christianity’s good intentions is that people are complex, we are not all binary and following strict laws is not always practicable. Further, considerations about sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity as discussed in the previous post were not understood 2000 years ago in the same way as they are today.

As Christianity developed, guidelines for sexual behaviours were accompanied by fear tactics that stipulated deviance from binary protocols would result in spending an eternity in hell. To label people as sinners if they do not abide by rigid definitions of male and female, no sex or only sex in marriage, is very severe to say the least.

I view Christian attitudes towards sexual issues as being a bit like mandatory measures taken during Covid-19 epidemics. Initially, harsh rules were implemented like mask-wearing, social distancing, and lockdowns. Without a cure or vaccine, these things were necessary to curb the spread of the disease, then once science caught up they could be eased back again. The “epidemic” Early Christianity was fighting was culturally sustained sexual abuse. They didn’t have a formal #MeToo movement, nonetheless, sexual abuses did occur, potentially on a monumental scale. To fight this “disease” harsh measures had to be implemented, ergo Christian strict sexual guidelines.

Just like mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing does not completely stop the spread of viruses, mandatory celibacy and/or sex only in marriages does not stop all abuse from occurring. We still don’t have a absolute cure for sexual abuse (or Covid) but we are better equipped to deal with it than our ancestors were. We have scientific evidence of non-binary genders, DNA testing can be used help prove rape, and our culture is working towards making the issue of consent better understood by everyone.

Looking back over Church history, I get the impression Christians of all ages struggled with comprehending defining appropriate behaviours and giving consider to individual circumstances. For example, the fourteenth century Christian, Wilgefortis. Her father tried to marry her off to a non-Christian, however, she prayed to God to prevent this from occurring and, subsequently, grew a beard and was considered too repulsive to wed. She was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death by cruxifixction. While demonised by some, others likened her to Christ and prayed to her as a saint (more about Wilgefortis is written here).

Our ancestors were superstitious, really superstitious. From Wilgefortis being considered a witch or a saint, to women’s sexual behaviours being blamed on demonic possession, attitudes towards gender identity and sexual behaviours have a long history of being influenced by irrational beliefs and spiritual theories that suppose there is perfect “nature” of males and females. Moreover, failing to meet these standards is a sin.

Faith Versus Knowledge

New Testament verses that refer to sexual orientation and gender identity are virtually none existent because, quite simply, these concepts did not exist.

In summary, Christian attitudes towards sexual orientation and gender orientation are best understood in relationship to the historical and cultural roots in which they came from. Christian traditions may be applauded for striving to end traumatic sexual relations in the form of abuse towards women and the sodomising of young males, however, these strict guidelines do not adequately address nuances of human variation.

A key issue that Christian forefathers missed is consent. Common contemporary thought places consent of all parties (whether they are male, female, or other) as being paramount to sexual experiences. The ancient world didn’t think about consent like we do, rather, entitlement, expectations, and cultural norms precipitated behaviours. And without modern criminal investigation techniques, like DNA samples from rape victims, if abuses took place, perpetrators could more easily get away with their crimes. How then could Early Christians create standards in which appropriate sexual protocols were followed? … It is a circular argument that leads back to what should have the greatest authority, the logic of humans (and modern science) or God? … Dear Australians #2.5: God’s Authority …

This blog is part of a series that I hope will encourage deep, thoughtful, respectful discussions about issues relating to the Religious Discrimination bill. If you’d like to be kept up to date, subscribe to receive notifications of new posts by email.

PREVIOUS BLOGS IN THIS SERIES

Dear Australians #2.3: Let’s Talk About Sex …

Dear Australians #2.2: Australia and Human Rights

Dear Australians #2.1: We Need to Have a Heart to Heart Conversations About the Religious Discrimination Bill. I’ll Start …

References

Adultery. (n.d.). Jewish Virtual Library, Www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/adultery-2

Denova, R. (2019). Prostitution in the Ancient Mediterranean. World History Encyclopedia. https://www.worldhistory.org/article/1797/prostitution-in-the-ancient-mediterranean/

Halperin, D. M. (2016). prostitution, secular, male. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.7337

How to Party Like an Animal | Psychology Today Australia. (n.d.). http://Www.psychologytoday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/hide-and-seek/202001/how-party-animal \

Dear Australians #2.3: Let’s Talk About Sex …

Issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity emerged from the Religious Discrimination bill as two distinct items. But first, let’s start with the basics so as we’re all on the same page.

Sex

Sex refers to a person’s gender, male or female. The distinguishing features are genitalia; a male has a phallus and the female a vagina.

Modern thought acknowledges these two binaries do not adequately suit all people. The range of possibilities between male and female has become known as non-binary or other. A person who identifies as being within this range may have more or less male or female physical attributes. In cases some people are born with duel reproduction organs (intersex), while for others, the non-binary aspect of their identity is more nuanced and is not always easily defined by obvious physical markers.

The term non-binary was invented in the 1990s but it’s only really been in the last decade or so it’s established itself as real thing. When I say “thing” I mean enough scientific studies have been done to give credence to the concept that has allowed it to become part of the fabric of generalised human consciousness. These studies include retrospectively looking back over history and identifying evidence to support the notion that humans don’t always neatly fit into the two discrete categories of male and female.

My introduction to non-binary came about when I was studying Visual Arts at university, in 1996/7, and I was researching a *female* artist who had a beard. I cannot recall this artist’s name, but I distinctively remember learning about their challenges and inner conflicts. They said they felt like a freak of nature. They were raised as a typical girl because that was what their outwards genitalia dictated, however, as they entered adolescence facial growth spontaneously appeared. Needless to say, they were bullied by peers for the “abnormality”. In one of their interviews (recorded on film slides), they spoke of their journey of learning to accept their individuality which included going through a phase of religiously shaving their stubble every morning to avoid judgment. Eventually they came to embrace their uniqueness by keeping their breasts (instead of having them surgically removed) and growing a beard. What a brave soul. Thanks to activists like this artist, children born today with similar physical non-binary gender traits have a better chance of being met with understanding and acceptance.

There are also some people who have no outward physical indicators of being a variant of male or female, however, they have an inward feeling or knowing that these two binaries do not suit them. In some cases, these people can have operations so as to alter their outward appearance to match what they believe is their inner gender. Commonly, these people are called transgender. Other variants can include men dressing as women and vice versa without having operations.

People who openly embrace their non-binary nature are vulnerable to persecution by members of the public who judge them for going against “nature”. Christianity is a group known for being prejudice towards expressions of identity that differ to strict guidelines of masculinity and femininity, however, as discussed in relation to the plebiscite, this is not all Christians. Correspondingly, individuals of other faiths (especially Islam) or of no religious standing can also have discriminatory attitudes.

Sexual Intercourse

Classical thought views sexual intercourse as being a reference to the male phallic entering the female vagina. Sex between two binaries has a generalised focus on reproduction that may occur through the male sperm fertilising the female ova.

The degree to which attitudes in traditional sexual intercourse have encompassed an acknowledgement that the act can simply be done for pleasure varies according to culture, customs, social etiquettes, and other variables.

Contemporary thought has a broader version of the sex act. While vagina penetration is still a large focus area, other factors such as arousal, organism, sensual experience, and tactile sensations can also be viewed as variants of intimate relations. By expanding the parameters of sexual intercourse to sexual interactions, acts performed by lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and queers can be more easily acknowledged. Essentially, love making can look different depending upon individual tastes, preferences, and circumstances. Moreover, the sexual interactions are not depend upon binary genitals or gender. Whatever rocks your boat, as the saying goes.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to a person’s preference for whom they’d like to have intimate experiences with. The two biggest categories are heterosexual (male and female) and homosexual (male and male or female and female). The other major category is bisexual – a combination of heterosexual and homosexual.

Sexual orientation is not dependant upon outer indicators of sex/gender. Kind of like you don’t know what colour a chocolate clinker is on the inside until you bite into it. Okay, maybe that’s not the best analogy. The point is, the gender a person is attracted to has many faucets. I could get all touchy feely about emotions and attractions, etc., but at the end of the day, it’s up to each individual to decide who his/her/they are attracted to. For a lot of people the journey of discovering what feels authentic to them and what they desire in a partner is a windy road. Those who have to change course, take a u-turn, pay speeding fines, mis-read Google maps, etc., sometimes get a little frustrated by those who are able to take a straight and narrow road to their destination … the vehicle (i.e., gender/binary/non-binary/other) one drives can impact how obstacles are navigated.

Discussions of sexual orientation would not be complete without also acknowledging asexuals. These people have little to no interest in sexual interactions with anyone.

The Dark Side of Sexual Orientation

It’s also possible for some people to have sexual orientations in which they desire to have intimate relations with minors, and/or rape and incest. These latter categories are unambiguously forbidden by contemporary laws because they infringe upon human rights and cause physical, mental, and emotional harm. Understanding the impact of abusive sexual relations is a relatively new concept – Freudian theories that persisted for a lot of the twentieth century gave approval to incest, harassment, and sexual violence (i.e., Freud claimed that when a woman says “no” they really mean “yes”, and then there was all that junk about male homosexuality being a condition that needed to be cured by confronting sexual desire for one’s mother. And let’s not forget how Freud called fourteen year old Dorothy a hysteric because she didn’t feel excitement while being harassed by her father’s mate … hmmm, and that was considered revolutionary psychological development ?).

Sex and Sexual Orientation in Antiquity

Antiquity is a big place, filled with distant places and an assortment of beliefs and practices. Some generalisations can be made, but at the same time, there was much variation. I’m primarily concerned with Australian culture and Christianity, which means looking back at our colonial founders in Europe. As is often the case, all roads lead to Rome. Although, the Romans really just laid down the bitumen over the dirt paths made by the Greeks, so that’s where we’re going first.

Ancient Greece is a rather small blot on the modern Australian atlas. Personally, I learned very little about their culture when I was at school, however, as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate that it was a once a great influencer (if they had an instagram they would have been everyone’s friend).

One of the greatest pieces of dirt about Ancient Greeks (in amongst their wonderful achievements) is that adult men sodomised young males over the age of twelve on a regular basis. I’m not going to pretty this up. It was almost a social expectation that older males who mentored young males were privy to sensual intimacy as sideline activity.

It’s also worthy to note that in Greek society, males were not considered “grown men” until they were covered in hair and/or they were about the age of 30. Athenian men would often marry around this age, to girls who had just started menstruating, 12-16. Spartans had slightly different customs, with both males and females usually being in their early twenties when they took marriage vows, although there are still reports that males practiced sodomy prior this, and 30 was still considered to be a bench mark for taking on positions of responsibly in society.

History has a habit of neglecting herstory, so relations between females aren’t well documented. The status quo of married Ancient Greek women was to be kept locked up in the home with their needlework, however, there is also evidence to suggest some women had choice and freedoms. In regards to sexual orientation, the greatest indicator of female and female relationships comes from the poet Sappho. She wrote so many love sonnets about women that the contemporary words “lesbian” is a derivative of Sappho’s home town, Lesbos.

In lieu of insufficient information, the remaining discussion mainly focused on male and male relationships of antiquity.

Greek men did not perceive engaging in anal intercourse young males to be a homosexual act (the Greeks didn’t have a word for homosexuality) because in their society, as described by Paul Chrystal, (author of In Bed With the Ancient Greeks), a man’s phallic was the main focus of sexual acts, as opposed to a boy’s phallic. “Proper” sex involved an active penetrator and someone being passively penetrated, irrespective of gender. Pederastic sodomy met this requirement by the older male being the dominant and the young man being the passive, just like was expected between a man and a woman. Once the youth became a man, the intimate relations were expected to cease because the dominate versus submissive dynamic was no longer present. To summarise: men sodomising men was not okay, but men sodomising young boys was fine because penetrating young boys was similar to penetrating a women … the logic behind these values can be better understood if “spiritual” factors are seen to have predominate Greek thought over physical attributes, i.e., young boys and women had similar soul attributes, that is they were both considered inferior to a man’s soul.

The Greek concept of boys being like women may seem odd to the contemporary mind, however, it was not that long ago this idea completely diminished. All the way up until the 1900s, young males could be called girls without any offence because “girl” simply meant “child”. The differentiation of young people’s gender only gradually began to emerge from the 1300s onwards.

Sex and Semen

Given that males have a long standing history of believing they are superior to women, it’s not that surprising that male semen was viewed as being more important than the “inferior” female cum. In many instances, male semen was perceived as being the next best thing to sliced bread, not wait, not bread, the invention of wine, no that’s not right either, I mean blood; semen was the next best thing to blood, and blood in the ancient world was very important.

What I’m getting at here is that the ancients view of the world was very different to what it is today. For instance, sperm was understood to be made by blood. Aristotle even went so far as saying something about the best sperm being made by the blood that circulated around the eyes … eyes were seen (pun intended) as being really important conduits for supernatural, I mean “natural”, phenomenon, hence Aristotle’s wisdom also included the report that the glance of a menstruating women could make a copper mirror go cloudy. Personally, I have quite a few concerns about Aristotle’s biology lessons but, nonetheless, many have accepted them verbatim

To summarise, the “natural” order of life in ancient times was no comparison to modern science. Understandings of gender, gender orientation, sexual orientation, and sexual interactions were not the same as contemporary considerations of preferences, consent, etc. And well, if you believe the myths, then the common person’s knowledge of reproduction included the belief that virgins could become pregnant … need I say more?

The Romans

Romans copied a lot of Greek customs, including the initiation-like practice of men sodomising boys. In some instances, the boy could be castrated to keep them more effeminate. You’re not having sex with a man if they have no penis! Before anyone attempts to declare the pagans were barbarians by enforcing a transgender-like procedures, I’m going to be spoiler and mention Christianity made it’s fair share of eunuchs all the way up to the 1900s (more about that in a future blog).

The Jews

If interpreted literally, the Torah/Old Testament gives approval to sexual activities such as rape, incest, and polygamy. However, Judaism also carries the previously mentioned traditions of sexual relations only being recognised as valid if done between the binaries of male and female, and are conducted in matrimony for the purposes of reproduction. The question therefore arises, did Jews interpret their scriptures literally or symbolically? I suspect, there were people in both camps, but mostly symbolically. Those who saw Biblical male and female sexual interactions as allegories did not see need to copy such behaviours in real life (see The Big Bang Theory in Egyptian Mythology for an Egyptian based explanation of how allegorical genderism works in literature).

Outside of Ancient Europe other cultures performed sexual acts contemporary societies judge as abomination, for instance the Sambia people of Papua New Guinea perform ritualised homosexual acts as part of their warrior’s initiation process. 

Women, Sex, and Hysteria

In many respects, the realities of the ancient world are that it was a brutal place in which sex and sexual orientations do not match contemporary understandings. Sexual acts we consider to cause harm and trauma could be conducted with either cultural approval and/or perpetrators of sexual violence having less repercussions than today. Being a woman made matters even more nuanced because women could be demonised for their sexual behaviour with much greater ease than men.

Presumably, there have always been assertive women who were upfront about their sexual needs, however, these personalities are not well documented in his-stories of Greek, Rome, or Judaism. As a general rule, sex, moreover sexual pleasure, was a man’s thing. Women were expected to be “pure” and virginal. Not only were females expected to be subvert and submissive (once a son had reached manhood, they were also considered superior to their mother), women were expected to be happy about this status.

If women showed signs of depression, anxiety, or emotional distress they would be labelled hysterical. Greek medicine men (i.e., Hippocrates – who is acclaimed as being the father of modern medicine) believed hysteria was caused by the womb being out of place. A common cure for this condition was to recommend intercourse so as to put the womb back in its rightful place. The theory was dressed up with “scientific” explanations that referred to the cold and dry vagina needing a penis’ warmth and wetness in order to balance the “humours” and make the woman happy again. This “natural” order was correlated with the theology of four elements of fire, air, water, and earth. Alternatively, a woman’s hysteria diagnosis could be treated by advising they abstain from sex completely. Either way, curing hysteria was related back to sexual activity.

These types of theories and practices relating to women’s anatomy and emotional wellbeing endured for 2500 years! Christian doctor’s who followed Hippocrates’ textbook were more likely to advise abstinence or have midwives massage a woman’s private parts. The only significant challenge to the notion that women needed sex to cure their dysregulated emotional states (now understood to be trauma responses or PTSD) was that they were possessed by demons – a predisposition men supposedly didn’t have because their soul’s were more spiritually advanced than women’s.

For a succinct overview of women’s reproductive organs being viewed as problematic, see Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health by Cecilia Tasca and associates.

A few months ago, I watched the 2011 movie Hysteria, which is by no means academic reference. Nonetheless, it made me wonder if, for most of history of many men been absolutely clueless about feminine sexuality and pleasure? Or perhaps, as a friend of mine suggested, there was just a period of time and/or certain cultures in which men were so focused on the so-called importance of penises and semen that they overlooked feminine experiences? It is something I leave for further pondering.

Moving on

Now we’ve got the basics out of the way we can discuss Christian sex … Dear Australians #2.4: Jesus and Women …

This blog is part of a series that I hope will encourage deep, thoughtful, respectful discussions about issues relating to the Religious Discrimination bill. If you’d like to be kept up to date, subscribe to receive notifications of new posts by email.

PREVIOUS BLOGS

Dear Australians #2.2: Australia and Human Rights

Dear Australians #2.1: We Need to Have a Heart to Heart Conversations About the Religious Discrimination Bill. I’ll Start …

References

How to Party Like an Animal | Psychology Today Australia. (n.d.). http://Www.psychologytoday.com. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/hide-and-seek/202001/how-party-animal

The History and Psychology of the Orgy | Psychology Today Australia. (n.d.). http://Www.psychologytoday.com. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/hide-and-seek/201707/the-history-and-psychology-the-orgy

https://www.etymonline.com/word/girl

Dear Australians #2.2: Australia and Human Rights

WW1 and WW2 prompted the whole world to re-evaluate prejudices and the need for equality. In response to Hilter taking racial discrimination to the abominable level of genocide, discussions of basic human rights began to take place.

Australia had direct involvement in the United Nations formation of defining The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The documents contains 30 articles that are designed to ensure peace, liberty, and respect between individuals throughout the world. No single article is supposed to be taken as priority over another. For example, Article 18, which refers to religious freedoms (below), cannot be used as an excuse to attack someone’s honour and reputation, as defined in Article 12 (below). In such cases the right to freedom of religion is restricted so as not to impede other human rights.

Article 18


Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 12


No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Australia and Human Rights

Australia’s acceptance of The Universal Human Rights was a great step towards ensuring a peaceful nation, as was desired by the writers of the constitution. Further, as a nation we are party to seven international human rights treaties. However, it wasn’t until 1986 that the government formalised policies through The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

AHRC is a comprehensive Act that covers religious freedom as follows (from the department of the Attorney-General):

“All persons have the right to think freely, and to entertain ideas and hold positions based on conscientious or religious or other beliefs. Subject to certain limitations, persons also have the right to demonstrate or manifest religious or other beliefs, by way of worship, observance, practice and teaching. Legislation, policies and programs must respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, unless they clearly fall within one of the permissible limitations”.

Permissible limitations include:

  • protection against brainwashing or indoctrination
  • coercion which would impair a person’s freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice
  • conduct that is required or encouraged by a particular religion or belief that can occur criminal penalties
  • times when there is a need to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others
  • the prohibition on advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence

Whilst AHRC defines Australia’s laws pertaining to human rights, specific civil and criminal charges relating to particular breaches are legislated through several other federal, state, and territory Acts.

At a federal level, the balance between religious freedom and acts of discrimination work in conjunction with the following:

  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1986
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004
  • Fair Work Act 2009

The Federal Government’s role of protecting people from inequality and harassment overlaps with individual state and territory responsibilities.

State and Territory Legislation

Each Australian state and territories has the capacity to create and enforce its own anti-discrimination legislations. See table below for summary.

Australian Capital TerritoryDiscrimination Act 1991
New South WalesAnti-Discrimination Act 1977
VictoriaEqual Opportunity Act 1977
Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001
TasmaniaAnti-Discrimination Act 1998
Northern TerritoryAnti-Discrimination Act 1996
QueenslandAnti-Discrimination Act 1991
South AustraliaEqual Opportunity Act 1984
Western AustralianEqual Opportunity Act 1984
Spent Convictions Act 1988

Australia has come a long way in overcoming bigoted views and discriminatory behaviours driven by religious beliefs. Nonetheless, tensions between differing belief systems and/or people with no religious beliefs still occur. Gaps in federal, state, and territory Acts resulted in the option being formed that either adjustments to the Sexual Discrimination Act needed to be made or a specifically designed religious discrimination act created. The arguments surrounding religious freedoms versus discrimination primarily hit upon issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Ergo, the Morrison government chose to try to implement the controversial Religious Discrimination Bill.

Intertwined with the debate were repercussions of the 2017 referendum that allowed same sex marriages to be legally recognised.

80% of eligible Australians voted in the referendum, with results of 61.6% in favour of supporting same sex marriages. Personally, I am one of the 20% who were eligible but did not vote. The reason being that my original voting slip was stolen from my letterbox and I was not able return the replacement slip in time. (I know the original was stolen because it mysteriously turned up in my letterbox several weeks later, coincidentally, following a conversation I had with a neighbour – I think I stirred their conscience.)

The Plebiscite

40% of eligible Australians voted in the 2017 referendum against same sexed marriages. Given that in the 2016 census 52% of Australians identified as Christians it’s possible they made up a good proportion of the those who objected. Islamics (2.6% of the population) may also have had religious ideologies that persuaded them to vote in favour of only recognising opposite sex marriages.

As a general rule, Hinduism (1.9%), Buddhism (2.4%), and Sikhism (0.5%) don’t have any offical stance on the matter, so their votes could not have been based on faith. Judaism (0.4%) also generally has a progressive view of sexuality, except for fundamentalists, of which there are not many in Australia.

As for any of the 30% of Australians who identified as non-religious or other spiritual beliefs, who may have voted against same sexed marriages, they presumably did so due to personal convictions (or lack of education about sexual orientation).

Based upon the circumstantial evidence of many forms of Christianity having adverse attitudes towards homosexuality and transgenderism, I am quietly confident that it was this sector of the population who predominately objected to same sex marriages.

Of course, not all Christians agree with Biblical inferences that homosexuals are an abomination to humankind. If that was the case, and all Christians voted in the referendum, then the Christian ethos probably would not have prevailed and same sex marriage would not have been legalised. I guesstimate 40-50% of Christians voted against same sex marriages.

Part of Morrison’s selling point of a Religious Discrimination bill was to “bring balance” to religious freedoms. In other words, people who were pissed that the majority of Australian citizens democratically voted in favour of same sex balance, needed appeasing, or more precisely, given the right to discriminate. Somehow, this was going to fill gaps and make things fair for everyone.

Sexual orientation and gender identity issues have an extensive history that extends far beyond Australia’s colonisation and the formation of organised religions like Christianity, and looking at these helps to shed light on current arguments … Dear Australians #2.3: Let’s Talk About Sex …

This blog is part of a series that I hope will encourage deep, thoughtful, respectful discussions about issues relating to the Religious Discrimination bill. If you’d like to be kept up to date, subscribe to receive notifications of new posts by email.

PREVIOUS BLOG

Dear Australians #2.1: We Need to Have a Heart to Heart Conversations About the Religious Discrimination Bill. I’ll Start …

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). Main Features – Results. Abs.gov.au; c=AU; o=Commonwealth of Australia; ou=Australian Bureau of Statistics. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/1800.0

Rights in Australia – Parliamentary Education Office. (n.d.). Peo.gov.au. https://peo.gov.au/understand-our-parliament/how-parliament-works/system-of-government/rights-in-australia/

Feature image: Pix4free.org – link to – https://pix4free.org/

Dear Australians #2.1: We Need to Have a Heart to Heart Conversations About the Religious Discrimination Bill. I’ll Start …

Dear Australians,

I’m sure many of you are as relieved as I am that the Religious Discrimination Bill (also known as the Bigot Bill) was not passed, thus preventing religious groups from being given the right discriminate against . However, what some people appear to have missed is that the bill was always about much more than giving bigots the right to legally judge, humiliate, and vilify others due to their sexual identity and orientation. Behind the smokescreen of celebrating sexual liberations, the nuances of religious abuse and coercive practices remain unaddressed.

As a therapist, I advocate the practice of not letting issues hide under the metaphorical carpet. While the Religious Discrimination Bill has been shelved indefinitely, the whole saga brought up a few things we best discuss now before things boil over again. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect and have a heart to heart about what has taken place. I’ll start. I’ve got quite a bit to say so I recommend you make yourself a cuppa …

In response to my first letter to Australians, Dear Australians, We Need Coercive Control Laws Not a Religious Discrimination Bill, I received the feedback from someone who said: “I didn’t even know Australia already had freedom of religion laws”. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this. From police officers to common citizens, there is a lack of understanding of current legalisations relating to religious practices which, once understood, provide insights into deceptive government behaviour that should raise everyone’s eyebrows. Three key points are:

  1. The Religious Discrimination bill was an attempt to undermine the Australian constitution.
  2. Historical events in Australia and Biblical times are not well known or understood.
  3. Freedom of Religion cannot be discussed without also considering religious abuse.

As with many complex issues, in order to appreciate how factors interrelate, examining history explains a lot about how we came to current circumstances. I’ll start with Australian history and why we are a secular nation.

Penal Colony and Church Act

Australia began as a penal colony with convicts being sent from the United Kingdom. At the time of the first fleet, 1788, the dominate religion in England was Protestant Christianity, Church of England. The supreme governor was their monarch, King George III. (The current Supreme Governor of the Church of England is Queen Elizabeth II).

Convicts sent to Australia in 1788 were expected to attend weekly outdoor Church services. The first church building established in Sydney Cove, 1793, was Anglican (another way of saying Church of England). The chapel was burnt down in six years later. The arson attack is believed to have been done by disgruntled convicts who objected to being forced to attend; this many have been inspired by atheistic beliefs or devotion to an alternative form of Christianity.

Most of the convicts were Anglican, however, one tenth were Irish Catholics, with smaller percentages of other faiths, like nonconformist Protestants. Angst between Christian denominations began in Europe during the reformation era (c.1517-1648).

When King Henry VIII founded the Church of England in 1534 many Catholics fled to Ireland, thus preceding English/Irish conflicts were often Anglican/Catholic tensions. A cycle of revolts and tensions persisted between English Protestants and Irish Catholics for many centuries.

In 1798, when a major conflict broke out in Ireland, Catholic rebels were transported to New South Wales.

In 1804, Catholics in New South Wales attempted to overthrow British rule. Consequently, Catholics priests were forbidden from practicing clerical rites in Australia for 16 years.

To help ease religious tensions, in 1836 Governor Bourke introduced the first Church Act. This provided subsidies for land and the building of chapels to Anglican, Catholic, and Presbyterian denominations equally. Members of the Anglican Church objected to the Act because they believed the Church of England should have more distinction over other Christians.

Overall, the Church Act successfully brought about a sense of peace, which was further enhanced with later amendments that made provisions for Jewish, Methodist, and Baptist communities. Despite government support for all religions, segregation took place with Catholic-only or Presbyterian-only workplaces. “No Catholics/Jews/Protestants/Other need apply” was not an uncommon on employment ads. Social expectations of marrying within one’s faith remained the norm. Name calling and derogatory remarks about other’s beliefs was commonplace, even amongst children who were echoing their parents prejudices.

Australia Constitution 1901

As Australia moved towards forming a constitution, the men in Commonwealth government roles had varying Christian heritages. Through a conscious awareness of how conflicts can arise from any one religion dominating others, like what occurred in Europe and Australia’s early colonial days, section 116 of Australia’s constitution stated:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

According to Australia’s first census in 1911, 96% percent of Australians considered themselves to be Christian. Thus, it can be assumed that section 116 was aimed at ensuring no “Christian” religion was to be imposed. I highly doubt there was foresight to perceive the great diversity of religion that Australia would have in 2022, nonetheless, its intention come to fruition, mostly.

The high number of Christians in Australia’s early days did not include First Nations people. Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders were viewed as being more like animals than people, let alone communities who deserved to have the right to freely exercise their religion. It was not until 1971 that First Nation People were indiscriminately counted in an Australian census.

Between 1860 and 1870 landowners could acquire indigenous workers then force them to work on sugar fields, as pearl divers, on cattle and sheep properties, and other hard laborious positions. If paid, it was only a fraction of what white workers received; some reports claiming indigenous Australians received 3% of Europeans earnings. (Reminder: Scott Morrison has a very narrow view of slavery looks like.)

Mistreatment of indigenous Australians was commonplace and long standing. All the way up to the 1960s, countless Australian aboriginals were taken from their families and incarcerated. Many were forced to live in (Christian) missions or on reserves with freedoms to move around cities and towns only allowed if they had an exemption certificate. These were dubbed “dog tags” and in order to get one, individuals had to promise to give up their culture, language, family, and religious beliefs.

The secular basis of the Australian constitution was not specifically designed to be tolerant of Eastern faiths like Hinduism, Buddhism, or Sikhism, either. From the time of the gold rush onwards, Asians, particularly Chinese, were the target of racial discrimination. From additional taxes being placed upon them if they wanted a gold mining license, to the first Immigration Restriction Act and Regulations of 1861, racism towards “heathens” prevailed.

The government’s white’s only polices, banning immigration from all non-European countries, came into effect in 1901, the same time as the constitution.

As for those who wanted to follow traditional beliefs, like Celtics, or other paganism, section 116 wasn’t designed for them either. The Christian assumption that such practices were demonic prevailed, as evidenced by state laws that forbade witchcraft, sorcery, and fortune telling. In 2005, Victoria became the last state to remove laws prohibiting paganism and occult-based beliefs and practices.

Christianity has a long history of non-tolerance towards alternative belief systems in a variety of contexts. It’s an attitude that supposes indigenous Australians, Asians, pagans, or anyone other than a Christian, have inferior religious beliefs, therefore they don’t really matter. (As I’ve discussed before, Christian supremacy has significant links to Aristotelian philosophy.) Colonialist Australia inevitably inherited some of its attributes of superiority from its English roots, but our constitution is secular, so perhaps our hearts were in the place and we just need to do a bit of reflection?

Australia’s move away from bigotry and hatred has occurred in steps, baby steps … alongside our progression has been an increased global awareness of human rights … stay tuned for the next blog – Dear Australians #2.2: Australia and Human Rights.

Over the coming days I will be publishing more letters to Australians that I hope will encourage deep, thoughtful, respectful discussions about issues relating to the Religious Discrimination bill. If you’d like to be kept up to date, subscribe to receive notifications of new posts by email.

References

Korff, J. (2021, March 29). Creative Spirits: Australia has a history of Aboriginal slavery. Creative Spirits. https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australia-has-a-history-of-aboriginal-slavery#was-there-ever-aboriginal-slavery-in-australia

National Museum of Australia – Bourke Church Act. (n.d.). http://Www.nma.gov.au. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/bourke-church-act

Places of worship | Religion, church and missions in Australia. (2016, May 17). State Library of NSW. https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/stories/religion-church-and-missions-australia/places-worship