Politics: Open Letter to Julia Gillard on the subject of the ACL, Marriage Equality, and Christianity

Dear Ms Gillard,

I want you to know that the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) does not represent all Christians. It certainly does not represent me.

I’m a Christian, of the vaguely-Anglican variety. I don’t claim to be a very good one, but that’s another matter.

I’m also a feminist, a trade-unionist, a supporter of marriage equality and of the rights of asylum seekers, and a mild sort of environmentalist. I’m an unashamed lefty, and believe in equal access to education, food and healthcare as the foundations of society. I don’t believe that any of these opinions conflict with my faith – indeed, my political beliefs are informed by my spiritual ones.

I don’t know if my beliefs are more typical of Australian Christians than those represented by the ACL, but I suspect many of them are. Still, the Christians I know tend to incline toward the liberal side of the spectrum, so my sample may be skewed. In any case, I would not and do not presume to speak for all Christians. I can only ask you to understand that Christianity in Australia is not a monolith and cannot be represented by a single peak body.

I can only tell you what I believe.

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Politics: Headscarves at Public Schools

Bronwyn Bishop thinks it would be a good idea to ban head scarves at public schools. She thinks they are an ‘iconic item of defiance’.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/lib-backbencher-resurrects-headscarf-debate/2005/08/28/1125167542791.html

Personally, I think this is appalling, counterproductive and stupid. We don’t even have the french excuse of banning all religious icons/symbols from schools – instead, we are singling out a single group from a single religion. And nobody should have to choose between an education and their religious beliefs. Wearing a headscarf harms no-one.

Can you think of a better way to transform headscarves from a personal, religious issue into a political statement?

Of course, these girls would still be able go to Muslim schools. They just couldn’t go into the (free) public school system. I would think this would make them more likely, in the long term, to be less integrated into mainstream society. Assuming there is even an Muslim school in their area that they can go to. There aren’t that many in Australia, and we seem to be cracking down on them, too, at present. They might be unAustralian, you know…

I also find this business particularly repellant because there is probably a cultural/social element to wearing headscarves; while for some it is undoubtedly a religious issue, for others it may simply be a matter of what is expected by their family/social network, and neither particularly oppressive or something they particularly feel strongly about. A rule like this would tend to polarise these people who might otherwise exist happily in the middle, and will serve to keep the two cultures separate (and potentially at odds) for longer than they need to be.

Now all I have to find out is who to write to…