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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

sex + censorship « Previous | |Next »
December 27, 2010

This article in The Guardian confirms what I'd assumed with respect to the religious (Christian) Right's response to pornography and sexualization and children in Australia. The context is the Cameron Government's policy to block pornography online in the UK through an internet filter or blocking access to certain webservers.

James Gray says that many of the religiously inspired conservative lobby groups in the UK:

consciously co-opt feminist terminology and attract feminist support by speaking frankly about the "pornification" of popular culture and the effect this may have on the aspirations of young people, particularly girls. But the progressive language conceals a distinctly reactionary political agenda...Despite the broad range of religious traditions and denominations represented by these groups, their stance on the issue of sexualisation tends to be remarkably similar. For them, the term neatly encapsulates a narrative of moral degeneration that is so broad as to effectively include any representation or discussion of sex, sexuality and relationships, whatever the context. So pornography is harmful, but for some so are gay characters in soaps and adverts for condoms. Their bete noire is sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools – and they vigorously oppose any attempt to bring the subject within the English national curriculum.

It is similar in Australia. They ---the religiously inspired lobby groups--- even oppose teaching secular ethics in public schools in Australia. They see it as another example of the decline of moral/ethical standards in the community resulting from the decline of religious influence.

Secular ethics means a relativistic secular world view, which is a rejection of God given absolutes in the form of the Ten Commandments. For them--eg., the Australian Christian Lobby -- ethical and religious perspectives are not morally equivalent to each other. Religion has a monopoly over ethical practice.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:25 PM | | Comments (10)


sexualization in our consumer culture means perfect bodies--surgically enhanced breasts are best. Sex education in this country is a mess, so kids ideas of sex are shaped by porn.

Yes I've been surprised at the number of pieces I've read by Christian authors, apparently sensible and reasonable people, who just reject as absurd the very concept of secular ethics. In terms of Kohlberg's model, they seem irredeemably stuck in stage 4 of moral development, incapable of conceiving a code of ethics except one dictated by some external higher authority. The notion that human beings are capable of independent abstract moral reasoning, which can construct a coherent code of universal ethical principles without resort to external authorities, apparently strikes them as not only ridiculous but also vaguely subversive, if not blasphemous. One can see the same phenomenon in the USA where conservatives venerate the constitution as if an agreement cobbled together by a bunch of politicians more than 200 years ago has somehow been endowed with the status of Holy Writ that no contemporary mortal is qualified to criticise.

Christians and conservatives have a lot in common, including a very low opinion of the intelligence and moral character of most of the human race.

The only way I can see to fix the pernicious influence of religious lobbies is to co-opt their own language, and get compulsory comparative religion taught from years 4 through 10, covering all religions (including humanism), in both state and private schools.

Knowledge of religions is inversely correlated to belief and subordinance to clergy... something those objecting to translation of the bible from latin to the vernacular knew all too well.

But politicians would rather support the religious lobbies' particular demands, rather than the implications of their general proposition that religious awareness is a good thing.

Cut the religions off at the knees with compulsory broad religious education, and their influence on /all/ policy areas, their ability to derail rational policy development, will be minimized.

As Dave Bath more or less hints, the best way to scare off fundy Xtians is to quote the Beatitudes at them.
Then, if you are (un)lucky, you will be called a commo for it.
Merle Tankard Reist, herself parly sponsored by Miranda Devine and many others of the sort who can't resolve the contradictions in their position, re capitalism and socialisation, will continue to draw terse laughter from sceptics, methinks..

I do find it offensive that Christian religion is taught in public schools. It should be limited to Christian private schools. The (Christian) religious ministry should be kept out state schools.

Why does public education includes a class to instruct children in Christianity?

That class is given over to volunteers with less than a day of training and a permission slip from their pastor to teach the bible! I presume they hand out Jesus colouring-in pages in their classrooms and ask questions such as , "Does Jesus watch me even when I'm on the toilet?"

re: " Why does public education includes a class to instruct children in Christianity?

Special Religious Instruction classes were begun during the school day at the start of the Cold War though a clerical-political alliance that was anxious about communism and what they saw as declining public morality.

NSW and Victorian legislation defines public education as "secular." I would interpret that as excluding religious beliefs from public education, extending the idea of church-state separation into the state classroom. The Victorian Education Act says state schools must be secular and ''not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect''.

What has happened is access has been granted not to learn about religion in general, but about being instructed into a particular religion (Christianity) and promotes the views of a particular sect--fundamentalism.

my understanding is that Christian religious instruction in public schools in NSW is scripture classes in Christian fundamentalism.

ie.,children are taught the Bible as fact and not given a choice about belief in God; children should not be exposed to other religions; children are threatened with burning in hell if they did not believe in Jesus; children ware taught that the earth is 6000 years old and that man and dinosaurs once lived together.

The justification?

The word "religion" must mean Christian "religion," because "Christianity is a part of the common law of this country," lying behind the constitution. Or that the Bible is one of the great texts that are at the core of our civilisation. Therefore, it would be impossible to have a good general education without at least some serious familiarity with the Bible and with the teachings of Christianity.

It is evolutionary theory that should be taught in the public school system not the Bible. Those in favour of the latter claim that the moral influence of secular liberalism is a factor contributing to the violence, crime, and immorality; and that this decline is linked to the elimination of Judeo-Christian values in schools and in society. Therefore the Bible needs to be taught.

Jeepers, deja vue again!
Dr Sauer Thompson's last has had me right back to the last time this was a big issue, couched in the terms he uses; the late sixties/early seventies.
Back then, fundamentalism was in retreat. Instead, we basked in the sunset of Hobsbawm's Golden Age. Here rationality had finally triumphed over superstition.
But since then the tide has been in indiscernibly slow retreat, to the point where we once again find ourselves back where we started; the early seventies.
Which way will the tide proceed, from here?

Yes porn is the teacher now. I read the result of a survey recently(can't rememeber where now) that showed about 10 times more young people than 10 years ago were engaging in anal sex. This was attributed to anal sex being widely practised in porn.