Media Statement from Australian Christians:
It looks like FARIS - those claiming to be advocates for ‘Fairness in Religions in Schools’ - are once again displaying their lack of fair play by suggesting that the welfare of gay pupils is ‘irreconcilable with the chaplaincy scheme’.
Imagine that; this is suggesting that only people who share the same ideas and worldview can be empathetic and provide comfort and assistance to hurting people of different views. Does that mean a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or other faith based worldview puts a pupil ‘at risk’ from a secular student welfare worker?
FARIS Co-founder Scott Hedges acknowledges that the ‘Safe Schools program’ to be rolled out on Friday is ‘affirming the normality and acceptability of homosexuality’ and quite clearly any other view held in our diverse community is not to be tolerated. Quite apart from what FARIS may consider radical Christians who wish to safeguard the legal possibility for children to have what should be perfectly natural for them – a mum and a dad - one wonders if FARIS have considered the diversity of so many immigrant communities who call Australia home and choose to hold to these same family values? Do they have a say in what should be affirmed as ‘normal and acceptable’ or will we impose this upon all?
Why must a theological position on homosexuality have to support the view FARIS holds?
It is a sad fact highlighted by Hedges that ‘gay pupils are six times more likely to contemplate suicide than their straight peers’ but his suggestion that this relates to being rejected by family, church and society is up for debate. A recent Queensland study by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) found that a leading cause of suicide among “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex” (LGBTI) people is stress from their romantic partners.
The study found that “LGBT individuals experienced relationship problems more often” than heterosexuals, “with relationship conflict also being more frequent than in non?LGBT cases.”
“We tend to assume that the psychological distress LGBTI people are often going through is due to family rejection. But it seems that’s not so much the case. The conflict seems to be largely related to relationship problems, with partners,” Dr. Skerrett said.
In fact, he said, “The numbers are telling us there’s a general acceptance at the family level,” something he said is “great” and “really heartening!”
Yes it is great. Bullying is not something any decent person - be they secular , counselor, chaplain, leader or mentor of any kind should endorse. But as Melbourne’s Rabbi Cohen once said ‘when a child is bullied because of their obesity, we condemn bullying but it doesn’t follow that we must validate obesity’. That is another discussion.
It appears FARIS is engaged in its own form of bullying to achieve its goal of ridding schools of Christian chaplains. Perhaps same-sex attracted youth feel ‘rejected by religion’ because groups like FARIS present chaplains as limited in their ability to support youth with suicidal thoughts just because they don’t endorse every behavior. Goodness – when did we move from validating people as human beings to having to validate every behavior? Perhaps what we are really at risk of in our schools is being subjected to ‘one world view’ where tolerance isn’t applied to any other.
Australian Christians is a federal political party with the goal of representing the values and concerns of the 2.7 million Christian Australians who attend church once a month or more, and others who identify with these values and human rights concerns.
Vickie Janson, Victorian State Director
M: 0411 298 464