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23/11/2011 / melgardener

Ethics and Fred Nile

This opinion piece was published on smh.com.au today by the Reverend Fred Nile. I just couldn’t let it pass without commenting on the many inaccuracies and inconsistencies in this piece – it’s simply staggering that this man holds so much power in the State. Fred Nile’s comments in quotes and my comments in italics.

“I have not sought to blackmail the NSW government. I simply reminded them: before they reject my Ethics Repeal Bill, they should remember they need our votes to pass their controversial industrial relations legislation. I never said I would vote against it, even though I have genuine concerns about its impact.”

Implied threats are still threats. You don’t need to say outright that you will vote against the legislation – if you are making it a part of the discussion, the threat is there. Threats are only required when arguments are weak.

“I agree with the teaching of ethics in NSW schools, colleges and universities, provided it is based on history’s greatest teacher of ethics, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Except the idea is that the ethics classes are a reasonable alternative to religious-based education and should not have any link to religion otherwise they are no different to scripture. If I wanted my children to learn about the “ethics of Jesus Christ” I’d send them to scripture classes already.

“This course does not teach ethics as most parents understand the term. It does not teach children any definitive sense of right from wrong, but promotes the secular humanist relativist philosophy that there are no absolutes, such as ”You shall not murder, lie or steal”.”

Ask any child psychologist – and most parents – and they’ll tell you that the most effective teaching opportunities come about when children are a part of the process, have the opportunity to consider the many alternatives, feel confident in the decisions they make and feel they can back up these decisions with reputable arguments. It is specious at best to insinuate that children in ethics classes will somehow be encouraged to break the law. The idea is not to tell children what to do in any circumstance but to lead them to think about the consequences of their choices or actions, consider how they would feel about that outcome and make the most individually and socially-responsible decision. By allowing children to work through, in a guided way, various scenarios we are teaching them right from wrong in so many more effective ways than religion ever will.

“I sincerely regret that some atheistic parents will prevent their children from learning about the most important aspect of Australian culture, our Christian heritage and faith. Even our atheistic Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has said all children should have a knowledge of the Bible.”

No, Fred. “Our Christian heritage and faith” is not the most important aspect of our Australian culture and how dare you seek to apply your own belief system to every Australian. I have no problem with all children having “a knowledge of the Bible” as long as it is done contextually and with an understanding that this is only one of many belief systems that may be chosen. Australian culture means so much to so many people – all based on our individual experiences, beliefs and history. How small minded of you to assume that all Australians come from a Christian background and that this is something with which we can all identify.

“I do not repudiate the tradition of Western thought, as claimed, and I believe it unethical to engage in that sort of invective. Remember that Socrates was ”virtually alone” and executed because he dared to question the majority world view; to question what youth were being taught. This is all I am doing.”

Please! To compare yourself to one of the greatest thinkers in the Western world is hubris such as I have never seen. Socrates himself said “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. If you wish to take a leaf out of his book, you might like to start here.

“There are those among Dr Longstaff’s supporters and organisations such as the Teachers Federation, the Greens and the Labor Left who wrongly believe in the separation of church and state, and want to abolish religious education from government schools.”

Yes, because religious education is freely available through your local religious institution and parents can choose how much, or how little, they wish to partake.

“I have never said the Premier should break his word, but simply uphold his original position.”

…while uttering threats about withdrawing support for legislation that has no relationship to the area under discussion.

If Dr Longstaff becomes militant and incites the mob to ”rise up”, his actions are akin to that which he despises. Maybe a lesson in ethics is required?

Strong words, Fred, incite strong reactions. If you make such misleading pronouncements please do not be surprised at the strength of rebuttal you will face.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Jo / Aug 22 2013 6:32 pm

    I`d like to help lift that chip on your shoulder Melanie.

    • melgardener / Aug 22 2013 7:17 pm

      Sure. Why don’t you let me know what in my post is incorrect? Thanks.

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