Why vote secular?Jake Farr-Wharton 51 comments
Many questions come to mind when looking at the current face of the ‘New Atheist’ movement. Why are you attacking religion? What could you possibly have to gain? So you object to religion, don’t practice it, but what right do you have to question other people’s beliefs?
We (I, but I’m sure those of you in other Western countries can relate) live in a country where the Liberal party announces what they refer to as 'significant spending cuts' of $1.2 billion dollars (made on Tuesday, 20th of July) if elected (Federal Election to be held 21/7/10). But is it significant? Really?
$30 billion dollars, i.e. 25 times what the Liberal party consider 'significant', is attributed to the non-taxation of religious organisations (www.secular.org.au).
While the Liberals were in power, Tony Abbot, then Health Minister imposed rolling embargos on embryonic Stem Cell research. Why?
Around 70,000 IVF cases in Australia each year produce around 70,000 extra embryos (i.e. in surplus to what is used to implant in the woman's uterus - several embryos are 'created' to ensure that at least 1 is successful) which can be used for stem cell research. While it is most certainly true that stem cells can be harvested from elsewhere, embryonic stem cells reman the most cost effective method for performing such research (i.e. makes it significantly more viable when less costly).
- Euthanasia is still largely illegal and abortion has not yet been universally decriminalised.
- Largely untrained church chaplains are in many state schools around the country. They are not counsellors, but are fully federally funded.
- Every state school around the country has a funded special religious education (Christian teachings) once a week. This is not bible reading but Christian indoctrination and has no basis in reality. This time could be better spent in maths, science, English, geography, sport, social studies.
- Further to this, the marriage laws still prevent a recognised union (and therefore completely equal rights) between same sex couples.
- Women still fight for completely equal status, rights and privilege, and while this is largely a historical attribute, it is one which has always been supported by biblical (New Testament) and Koranic misogyny.
- Furthermore, we still have ‘alternative health’ services such as homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractor and kinesiology which private health funds provide rebates for, and charlatans like psychics and ‘reiki healers’. Why? Because they are recognised as ‘professionals’ despite not having any reality based qualifications.
Can atheists do anything to alleviate these issues? [Insert expletive] YES!
The attacks on religion and religious, on spiritualists and non-evidence based medicine are necessary because when it comes to legislation, the policy is in the numbers.
While we vote for the parties who best represent our views (sometimes, though we'll often just vote out the party that the media tells us to hate), their justification for creating policy and legislation, for drafting funding models, business cases and plans is based on what the populations put in the census.
We remain a country which supports religion because those agnostic fence sitters and Christmas Day Christians decide to be religious for one day every four years... on census night!
The more that we atheists play with this tattered piece of string that religions have attached to the population, the greater ability we have to actually effect and thus legislation towards secular causes. This is far more powerful than remaining a minority which, for all intents and purposes, doesn't [insert expletive] exist!
Don't let me sway your vote, but we, in Australia, have an election right around the corner and need to be informed. The Secular Party of Australia will have House of Representatives candidates and Senate candidates in the ring for the next election. Stay informed - www.secular.org.au.