In one ear and out the other

Proverbs1

14:5. An honest witness does not deceive,
but a false witness pours out lies.

14:8. The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
but the folly of fools is deception.

What seems to have been forgotten in this whole debacle of the Access Ministries, SUQLD, ACL et al. sideshow is basic, humble christianity. In fact, trapped in an anachronistic timewarp, they seem to believe they are crusaders and engaged in a war against those not of the faith and that the world appears to be one of crystalline black and white. The war they wage, for lack of actual might and numbers, is a guerrilla war – but nevertheless, it is a war and they are clearly on a war footing. There is a vast nebulous army of darkness bent on laying waste christendom itself (apparently), the tentacles of its conspiracy reaching everywhere, but especially into the media where it pulls all the strings and calls all the shots…

…But really, they are like frightened children who’s fervent imaginations amplify the slightest noises in the dark and invest them with unseen, imaginary menace and malice.

When you play the politics of paranoia, your world view is necessarily Manichean. It is “us” and “them”. It all falls in a heap without an “other” to be fearful of and a wedge driven into the ground to demarcate the space between you. The paranoia is fueled by persecution fantasies of an outside world that seeks your ruin, supercharged by a narcissism that you are the custodians of some great and sacred truth that they seek to suppress, and hermetically sealed by some supernatural covenant that oversees and approves all of your actions, no matter how ethically vile they may seem to the unbelievers.

And so we have this perverse stand off – Access Ministries have been caught red-handed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, in a massive deception involving a vast sum of public money destined for chaplaincy services on the condition they operate within clearly defined guidelines…

Peas in a pod - the bullshit twins

Do they do what a humble, imperfect-but-trying christian would do and fess up? Of course not. We know that, and we know them far better now because of it. No, they dig in their heels and they deny everything. The same po-faced, stony denial as Muammar Gaddafi denying human rights abuses and ever firing on his own civilians.

This denial has spread and cross-infected other like-minded, god botherers across the land and many have chosen to add their voices to the outraged chorus of the wrongly accused and eternally suffering persecuted of this particular OneAndOnlyTrueFaith.

Thankfully, most of this incoherent and delusional bollocks gets rejected by the more responsible current affairs and news portals (but then again, they are part of the conspiracy aren’t they?). Some unfortunately still leaks out on the sites that are more desperate for content to fill their editorial void, like Online Opinion that allowed one of the more mindlessly repetitive voices to spatter its site last week –

The Age’s reporting of Christian Religious Education

Those scheming and secretive Christians are trying to get our children. Well, so The Age thinks with its regular vindictive and vilifying prattle it is attempting to pass to us as journalism. I have lost count, but every week or so for the last couple of months, The Age is continuing its unjustified and unfair attack on Christian Religious Education (CRE) in schools and chaplaincy. The main target is the long-time established Access Ministries.

And so it goes, losing coherence in a downward spiral. From Tuohy2 it’s to be expected, but what conclusion can you draw from the editorial management of Online Opinion? Here Toohey slanders both The Age and its journalist Jewel Topsfield, squealing about how they are being bullies, and implying a larger antichristian conspiracy, all without a single shred of substance or evidence.

Forgive me Nick, but isn’t exposing deception and corruption, especially when it involves vast amounts of public money, part of what journalists are paid to do?

And, does it even begin to occur to you that if Access Ministries had behaved with even a shred of decency, there would be no story?

No it doesn’t. Nick prefers to cry into his milk because someone is writing things he doesn’t want to hear. He knows that Access are liars caught with their hands in the till, but his mind won’t allow him to admit that they are doing anything wrong. This cognitively dissonant back pressure instead voids itself into a self-pitying, conspiratorial tantrum, and Online Opinion are more than happy to provide the web real estate for him to do so3.

This is Access Ministries style christianity on full display here. Not content to simply deny wrong doing, effectively lying about the act of lying, Nick and company add insult to insult by villifying both The Age and journalist Jewel Topsfield, and as if that isn’t enough, imply a vast conspiracy behind them as well. This is the truth because it has to be the truth – QED. The alternative is far too horrible to contemplate – actually being honest and running the risk of total implosion as all the other dominoes of self-deception tip in a chain reaction.

So it’s mighty christian of you Nick (your perverted flavour of it anyway). I’m curious as to what your excuses would be were you to drop dead now and have to face up to that creator you believe in? It would be fascinating to see how the worm tongue would respond. Same for the rest of the apologist cheerleaders that parrot the nonsense word for word. Shameless. Makes me wish there was a hell.

"They're persecuting us!"

But this conspiracy nonsense is just that – nonsense. No matter how many times I and others can object to these lunatic accusations of persecution and conspiracy, no matter how many times we point out we are not anti-christian, this screech persists. Even pointing out we are not against religious education per se, just against indoctrinational education (a misnomer if ever there was one) is futile. This conviction of persecution is a fetish, almost sexual in its intensity. These are modern Flagellants, sans the scourges and the hairshirts, sitting in air conditioned comfort slapping away at their keyboards trying to alter an immutable, unshakable reality – that they are all liars before the eyes of their own baby jesus. If only they’d be more like Skoptsy and neuter themselves.

But now this wall of denial is going to need more and more serious buttressing. This falsehood that all protest is exclusively anti-christian and anti-religious education is only getting harder to hide from given the steady stream of criticism from many prominent voices within the theological community itself. Like this radical, probable closet satanist, rabble rouser

ONE way out of the current disquiet about religious education in state schools would be to require parents at all schools to opt into the program instead of opting out. It seems as if this option is not uniformly available in all schools and that many parents simply assume that there is no option.

There is also no longer uniform confidence in the Access Ministries’ accreditation process for teachers who volunteer to offer this service. It seems that some of the accredited instructors come from denominations or sects that hold to fundamentalist beliefs. Recent letters have offered evidence of strangely unorthodox opinions being presented to children, which are decidedly unacceptable to liberally minded parents who belong to mainstream Christian denominations or none at all.

Parents need to be able to judge whether or not to permit their children to receive lessons after they are notified as to the qualifications and theological stance of the instructor who is time-tabled for their child. To be able to opt into an RE program once these details have been advertised would seem to be a way forward.

Opinion that has an uncanny resemblance to that from “fundamentalist atheist” /  “militant secularist” / “christophobic” hate mongers. Unfortunately, it’s from The Reverend Dr Brian Porter and his comments are also reprinted in The Melbourne Anglican newsletter. Oddly enough, the letter above it is about Access’ disingenuous abuse of the term “mission” – from another Reverend4.

In another recent article, Reverend Ron Noone, of Melbourne Grammar, extends on the theme of Access CRE’s opportunistic exploitation of its position –

In the field of Religious Education distinctions are made between the following terms: instruction, indoctrination, conversion, proselytising, scripture and education. Such distinctions are important.

For example, in the early church “indoctrination” – as in learning the beliefs or doctrines to become a Christian – was a good thing. So was “propaganda” – as in the propagation or spreading of the faith.

Nowadays the terms suffer from negative connotations and tend not to be used, in preference for terms like “instruction” or “education.” But these terms should not be used interchangeably as they are in the current debate. If the word “instruction” was replaced by “education” then there must also be a corresponding change in the philosophy and practice associated with the word.

Not only is the terminology important so is the context in which the teaching takes place. “Instruction” should be confined to settings like parish churches and confirmation classes, where the people are all willingly present and expect to be instructed. The state school classroom is not the place for conversion or proselytising

While ACCESS Ministries would claim that this not what they do, I’m afraid that is their default position and when challenged they will revert to type. […]

The classroom is a place to promote intellectual rigor and provide a context of genuine enquiry and where respect for religious traditions is matched by an honest and open appreciation of the theological, philosophical and exegetical complexities embedded in religious beliefs, texts, traditions and cultures. It is not a place for narrow forms of instruction.

He also makes the curious point that students receiving religious “instruction” in officially church affiliated private schools are far more likely to actually be “educated” in comparative religion, as opposed to being preached to, than in the public school system under Access CRE. His treacherous observations are yet more work of satan obviously…

The response from Access is in the same arrogant, contemptuous style as has been the rule for anyone that would dare to criticise their indoctrination factory approach –

Reverend Denise Nicholls, director of Christian education services at Access Ministries, said: ”As Mr Noone is a senior school chaplain at a private school, I must ask how he is able to judge the content of Access Ministries’ CRE courses. Has he ever taught them? Has he ever considered the courses in their entirety? Or did he take a cursory flip through the Access website on his coffee break?”

No Denise, Rev. Noone, as chaplain at Melbourne Grammar who has spent an entire life time contemplating these issues, is just a nobody, unlike the maniacs you unleash on defenseless children armed with a day’s training and a crate full of propaganda gimmicks and bribery candy.

Access CRE is a corruption wrapped in a deception inside a delusion to paraphrase the famous Churchill quote – and I think our Winston would have found Access Ministries just as abhorrent as the old Soviet Union he was referring to.

They exist in some kind of perverse, solipsist enclave reality where they are a law unto themselves. Everything outside the enclave belongs to the enemy and conspires to destroy them, even the other theologians and adherents of their own branch of faith. This isolationist mentality reduces them to little more than a cult, impervious to anything not strictly in step with their incomprehensible internal logic. And if the cult were a person, it would make a very interesting psychiatric patient indeed – one unlikely to be allowed much unsupervised contact with the outside world at all.

Yet if this behaviour is unacceptable in an individual, how is it acceptable from an organisation the size of Access Ministries? They have insinuated themselves into the ear of government (a government itself deceived into believing Access support will translate into votes) promising one thing and delivering only facsimile deformed in their own image. They bleed funding from an education system that is already hemorrhaging – in a complete inversion and perversion of priorities, hundreds of millions of dollars are squandered on the program even as massive funding cuts loom to basic literacy and numeracy programs. And everywhere you turn, there is nothing but wall-to-wall deceit, misrepresentation and contempt.

Access ministries claim to be good christians and claim to be moral role models for the poor children stuck in the middle of all this – good christians that lie; that slander those that question them; that disrespect their elders, people such as Reverends Noone and Porter. They do all of these in order to milk the public purse – money from the pockets of the parents who they similarly show contempt for. And now that this malicious farce is unmasked – the only way they can respond is with self-pity and tall tales of being picked on and conspired against.

Whether you believe in Jesus as the son of god, a figure of myth, or simply a political activist that’s sold more t-shirts than Che Guevara is really irrelevant – the lessons he left behind have an accepted value and respect from very many of the godless and the god fearing alike.

Access Ministries, the ACL, SUQLD et al. are vultures that sit on the bible and the words of Jesus as though it were a carcass – picking out the bits they need for self-justification or to attack their perceived enemies. The rest of it, the bits that actually count, that which can be used as a foundation for much of what can be good about humanity, they piss on. They don’t need it – all it does is interfere with their sacred “mission” of self-interest.

Perhaps nothing quite displays the full depravity of the manipulation and ostracism Access are prepared to subject children to quite like the following video does. It is hard to find any more words.

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1 – From the New International Version. As with everything biblical, there are dozens of variants. These are all pretty unambiguous though.

2 – Nick also maintains a fine resource for information that proves cowboys rode dinosaurs.

3 – Online Opinion can pretty much be viewed as Australia’s version of The Examiner – any crank can spew whatever they please and enjoy a protective cocoon from accountability. Whilst Tuohy’s supporters have free reign hurling substance free invective, ad hominem and non sequiturs at his critics, many of his critics, unwilling to accept evasion as an answer to demands for substance, have been banned ostensibly for abuse. Meanwhile, Online Opinion keeps repeating its own fibs to itself – that it is an open, unbiased and non-partisan forum. It helps them to sleep at night.

4

I TAKE issue with Access Ministries’ Dr Evonne Paddison, who insists the use of the word ”mission” in an advertising brochure is not meant to convey any element of proselytising among Melbourne’s Muslim community (”School chaplain body says it has ‘mission”’, The Sunday Age, 24/4). She backs up her claim by stating that the word ”mission” was chosen because ”it’s common language for organisations”.

While this may be true of the modern secular use of the term, Access Ministries’ website provides another meaning. Under the heading ”Mission and Statement of Belief”, the organisation affirms its real intention – ”that the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed in word and deed the presence of the Kingdom of God through mission and evangelism”.

By applying the Christian church’s historic coupling of the word ”mission” with the word ”evangelism”, we are left in no doubt that its chaplains are meant to do the same.

Moreover, given Access Ministries’ explicit affirmation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, any such ”mission” among Muslims is not only demeaning, but potentially harmful.

Reverend Dr Vincent Zankin, Rivett, ACT

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