Pharyngula

An Australian double standard

In March, there’s going to be a massive atheist conference in Melbourne, Australia. It’s going to be excellent, with speakers being brought in from around the world, and with mobs of delighted godless Aussies gathering to celebrate and discuss secularism (I know some of my readers here will be there!) Reasonably enough, the Atheist Organization of Australia has asked the government to chip in and help them do it right with a request for about a quarter million dollars. The government has been dragging its feet, though, punting the request about and making no promises.

Now you might say that times are tough, the economy is down, the government might just be strapped and is cutting corners. In that case, I’d say, OK, we atheists have to do some penny-pinching too, it’s only fair.

But then how to explain the fact that the Australian government just blithely handed over $2.5 million for a religious conference? And has flatly rejected the bid for funding from the atheists?

Government spokesman Luke Enright said: “The decision not to fund this event has nothing to do with religious ideology – the convention just doesn’t meet the criteria required to receive government funding”.

What’s the Australian word for “bullshit”, people?

Pile it higher, Australians!

Reverend Tim Costello, a patron of the world’s religions event, said it was important to support the forum, as “90 per cent of the world is deeply religious”.

“In a global context, most of the world is profoundly religious, and there literally can’t be peace without religious peace,” Mr Costello said.

Have you ever noticed that Christians like to count Communists as atheists when recounting the evils done in the name of that ideology, but whenever they make the argument from popularity, as Costello is doing here, they suddenly forget the Chinese? It’s very strange.

I also think he’s lying. A majority of the world is casually religious, not deeply or profoundly. I’d go further: most of the people in this world are stupidly religious, with ingrained beliefs that they did not acquire through thought or study, but through regular indoctrination from childhood on.

We also will not have peace through religion. Religion is arbitrary, false, and unverifiable; it is a body of ideas with no empirical restraint, that can be freely invented, and in the worst cases, inspire dangerous fanaticism. We will not have peace while religion is uncaged.

It does not matter, though. The fact that atheists are a minority does not argue that they deserve no consideration at all. I thought this was a well understood principle; the danger in a democracy is the tyranny of the majority, and safeguards have to be put in place to protect the rights of minorities. Since Costello is a “reverend”, unfortunately, that probably means he’s an ignorant ass who has never learned anything that matters.