Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

Ethics on Trial,

In Ethics in Schools on May 4, 2010 at 3:16 PM

The following was originally sent as an email to the website http://www.sreontrial.com.au/
an Anglican website opposing the teaching of ethics as an alternative to religious instruction in NSW schools.
I would recommend reading that website first as this letter is written entirely in response to the authors of the site.

The following punchy statement forms part of your site’s protest against the non-religious ethics classes on trial in NSW.

“What people don’t get, is that the ‘ethics’ that we all value in society today – like don’t steal, lie, murder etc – come directly from Scripture itself.”

This appears to be based on large helpings of Biblical, historical and cultural ignorance.

What poorly educated Christians don’t “get” is that all of their valued “biblical” ethics pre-date Judaism and the Christian Bible and merely reflect the culture at the time their scriptures were written. There is nothing uniquely “Christian” about them.

The Golden Rule is central to Buddhism and many other religions of greater antiquity.

Much of what is unique to the ethical codes and injunctions of Judeo-Christianity has been discarded as barbaric and omitted from modern legal and ethical codes. Because these aspects are conveniently expunged from most forms of religious education, modern day Australian Christians are rarely aware of the penalties which the Bible God prescribed for those who break the Top Ten Commandments. With only one exception, the penalty is torture and horrific death at the hands of the faithful.

This type of “moral” justice is condemned by modern Australian society and is not reflected in the Australian justice system.

Only rarely does modern day Christian education inform people of the other rules and commandments which the Jewish God gave to his Prophet along with the Top Ten. These include the admonition to stone your disobedient children to death, instructions on how to beat one’s slave to death (- it’s fine if the slave lives for at least three days after the beating), how to sell your daughter into slavery, when to marry her to any man who rapes her, and when to torture and kill her instead. There are prohibitions against eating lobster, wearing cloth made from blends of more than one fiber and handling things made from pig skin. Failure to inform Australian citizens of these injunctions avoids the important lesson that acting on what appears to be a divine instruction may get you jailed under Australian law, or vilified as evil, stupid, sick or insane by the very people who insist that they are followers of the religion which teaches these things.

Australian law and civil moral codes are based on international views of human rights and dignities which are absent in the Christian holy writings or overtly or covertly undermined. The Christian Bible views women, children and slaves as property and supports genocide, rape, sex slavery and the complete destruction of any nation or people that you can justify as “evil”. It supports animal and human sacrifice, favoritism, petty jealousy and psychological cruelty. It provides models of “godly” behaviour that no properly socialized member of the Australia community would ever want their child to emulate. The Jewish Christian God’s favorite people kill their best friends so that they can marry their wives (David), get drunk and get their daughters pregnant (Lot), offer their daughters as rape victims in order to protect a male guest from a similar fate (Lot) and traumatize their child by preparing them for human sacrifice (Abraham).

Australian citizens need to know that these models of divine morality are not acceptable behaviour in this society.

I am appalled at the misinformation which this site is providing to the Australian public. Apparently lack of intellectual integrity of this kind is acceptable under the moral code which you teach. I do not want my child to learn this kind of ethic.

Rosemary Lyndall Wemm
This post was originally posted on face book and is repeated on our blog with the permission of the author.

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  1. I think it really has to be pointed out that obviously not ALL Christians, or even most Christians would necessarily agree with the SREONTRIAL website. – http://www.sreontrial.com.au/

    To imply, let alone say otherwise is to enter into an “us vs them” mentality, a false choice, false dilemma and false dichotomy that is immensely unhelpful, untrue and irrational.

    I think we’re better than that but it’s a very human pitfall to fall into and one we all have to be careful to avoid. Thankfully our naturalistic worldview allows us to recognise this and avoid it when we take the time to reflect and do so!

    Jayson D Cooke
    GUSSF

  2. But that is the crux of the problem – the “religious education” classes are not only reserved for instruction in one religion (which happens to be the most common one) but in only one non-dominant variant of it. This amounts to enforced indoctrination and should play no part in State-funded education paid for by taxpayers with a wide variety of religious and non-religious beliefs.

  3. Thank you!

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