Martydom of the priveliged

It never ceases to amaze me how some people who have gained a privilege through an accident of history will whine and moan when they fear their privileges may be removed. We saw this recently in local politics when the idea of introducing a capital gains tax was floated.

I guess it’s not surprising. Many people think with their wallet.

But I also saw this last week at the NZ Diversity Forum on The State and Religion. There was a discussion on the fact that while New Zealand is largely a secular country with freedom of religion and belief, Christians still had some historical privileges over other religions and over the non-religious. Several Christians there argued that the parliamentary prayer be retained – because they “believed in a god.” To hell with what other people believed.

But this defense of privilege gets really childish when conservative Christians present any attempt at removal of privilege or discrimination as an attack on their religion. As an attempt at “eradication of religion from public life.”

I have seen a local theologian, Matt from MandM, seriously argue that evolutionary science should not be taught in schools because a fundamentalist family with children attending the school would be offended! Everyone else should suffer because a fundamentalist might be offended by reality!

Now that takes a real sense of privelige!

Parliamentary prayers

The same person attacked the NZ Rationalist and Humanist (NZARH) document The Tolerant Secular State for pointing out the “New Zealand parliament opens with a Christian prayer rather than having a secular statement that allows all politicians to reflect on why they are they are there.” He claims this “states religious prayers should be banned from parliament”. He sees introduction of an inclusive ceremony as an attack on Christianity – what warped thinking.

I guess this is the same as those men who opposed universal suffrage because they saw it as an attack on men. Or marriage equality whoicxh recognises same-sex marriage as somehow an attack on heterosexual marriage!

Another privilege described in The Tolerant Secular State is “the advancement of religion as a charitable purpose. This gives religious/supernatural beliefs an advantage over other beliefs in being subsidised by the taxpayer.” My experience is that this is a privilege conservative Christians will defend to the last. They bring all their theological training, their mental gymnastics and obfuscation, into play when they see that threatened.

Wallets as well as dogma – a powerful combination!

Secular education

Madeleine at MandM has also attacked The Tolerant Secular State – using the same tactics of misrepresentation and distortion. She particularly likes to distort the meaning of the word “secular” (meaning neutrality towards religion) into somehow meaning anti-religious or atheist.

Therefore she refers to The Tolerant Secular State statement “The NZARH strongly believes that public education should be free, secular and available equally to all children” as somehow being anti-religious. She says it means “Taxpayer dollars of all citizens must only be used to support their secular viewpoint and their viewpoint alone” (Here she uses “their” to mean NZARH). And whines: “What about citizens (like me) who do not want their tax payer dollars going towards secular schools?”

Perhaps she doesn’t want to pay for children to learn anything – except religious indoctrination which of course is not secular. Actually she is specific – she considers secular education to suppress her “right to manifest one’s religion including the raising of children. This gets overridden by the practice of sex education in schools.” She opts her son out of those classes. Does she also opt her son out of mathematics, science, history, social studies, and all the other secular subjects.

Poor kid.

Madeleine claims that the  NZARH don’t want schools to talk at all about religion. Ignoring completely the document which says:

“While public education should remain free from religious observance and instruction, it is fine to educate about religion. Teaching about different belief systems, both religious and non-religious, is important. Doing so encourages greater tolerance by broadening students understanding of other beliefs, and challenging the notion that any currently held beliefs are somehow superior to other beliefs.”

And Matt  also has a go at “secular eduction.” He claims that “religious parents are required by law to fund a secular education they disagree with and do not use.”

So religious parents and their children do not use their education in mathematics, science, social studies, history, etc.? All those subjects dealing with the real world and therefore defined as secular?

Matt plays the martyrdom card by claiming that “parents who want to teach there child a religious education pay twice, first they are compelled on threat of jail to pay for other peoples children to be given a secular education, and then on top of that they pay for their own childrens religious education.”

Well Matt, any parent wishing to give their children an agnostic, atheist, Marxist, or any other ideological education must do the same. Pay for the secular education (which is required by law and is neutral towards these ideological and religious beliefs) and on weekends or after school give the ideological education they desire.

Matt finally concludes that New Zealand discriminates against religious parents!

See what a mess you can get into when you start distorting the meaning of words.

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10 responses to “Martydom of the priveliged

  1. In one comment Madeleine writes De-privileging secularism could level the playing field.

    ‘De-privileging secularism’ is nonsensical (a contradiction in terms) but it nicely illustrates her problem. ‘Leveling the playing field’ is what secularism aims to achieve; to oppose secularism is to want a tilted playing field.


  2. In infuriates me. The stupidity and childish entitlement that is.


  3. Richard Christie

    Matt and Maddy sure get upset about where their educational tax dollar goes, all the while they exhibit no shame in putting out begging bowls and expecting others to subsidise their overseas jaunts.
    It’s funny how self-respect works.


  4. It’s a good thing they are not real Christians otherwise people might get the wrong impression.


  5. Richard Christie

    It’s a good thing they are not real Christians otherwise people might get the wrong impression.

    Getting in before Ropata? 😉


  6. I assume that if a pupil asks a teacher a blunt question like “is there a God” or “did God create the world” the teacher would answer neither yes nor no but would say something like – why don’t you see what your parents say, or lots of people believe different things… is this true… it is just my assumption? But if this IS true then no particular view is being pushed in the schools… if teachers were saying “No. There is no God” on a regular basis then perhaps Matt and Madelaine would have a point.


  7. It would be interesting to hear from teachers if they are ever asked a question like “is there a god?” and also, what sort of response you could give. I would like to think that this would be an opportunity to discuss ways that you could look to answer this sort of question.


  8. Richard Christie

    I assume that if a pupil asks a teacher a blunt question like “is there a God”

    Patience Grasshopper, first one must understand what it is that could convince you in reply.


  9. Getting in before Ropata?

    @ Richard.
    Strange to say but the last exchanges I’ve had with ropata have been…entirely reasonable. Even light-hearted. (I suspect he’s had one too many happy meals or something.) A part of me likes to think that something exceptionally good has happened to him in his personal life that has given him a bold, fresh perspective on things.
    It would be interesting to hear from teachers if they are ever asked a question like “is there a god?” and also, what sort of response you could give. I would like to think that this would be an opportunity to discuss ways that you could look to answer this sort of question.

    Ah, the thin edge of the wedge. As a teacher, I could only ask “What do you mean by “God”?” That could well begin a conversation that could lead to some serious doubts with the pupil as he or she struggles to come up with a coherent definition that doesn’t sound hopelessly wishy-washy and subjective. That could lead to a rather awkward evening at home over the dinner table. Which in turn could lead to a very swift “headmaster-concerned parent” meeting.
    Religious indoctrination does not do well in the free market of open ideas.
    The “message” gets diluted.
    Other ideas (even other religious ideas) can compete successfully for the attention and the imagination of the student. This is why so many religious groups seek to insulate their children and defensively circle the wagons with private religious schools specific to their unique brand-name magic person/people/sweaty sock. Home schooling is a big favourite. Educational Incest.
    Step outside the safe zone and reinforcement of belief becomes exceptionally hard.
    The internet is the greatest open market place of ideas. Religions do very badly in such a place. Very badly indeed.

    The Internet: Where religions come to die


  10. Pingback: Religious theology of secularism | Open Parachute

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