In his confessions of a Cloacan Wooley explains why his eggs are always scrambled.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Christmas present to Australians has a lot of people confused, not least within his own party. Talk about a riddle wrapped in an enigma. It is not one of those gifts you can discern from its shape or by squeezing the package. Indeed all we have so far is merely the wrapping around ScoMo’s proposed Religious Discrimination Act. There’s a lot of speculation that this is in fact legislation to allow religious discrimination rather than prevent it. Things may not be what they seem.
It’s only fair that first I declare my interest here. In past columns I may have shown some scepticism on matters of faith so you might be surprised to learn that I have a religion of my own. I am asking for a measure of your tolerance because what I choose to believe might seem to challenge all credulity. But it is arguably no more outlandish than other common religious beliefs like virgin birth, resurrection, reincarnation or the belief that you can murder your way into paradise with 72 virgins. Nor do I consider myself crazier than any of the 52 per cent of generally harmless Australians who identify themselves as having a religious faith.
Adherents of my religion call themselves The Children of the Cloaca. We believe at the beginning of the world all of creation came out of the fundamental orifice of a chook in the form of a giant egg. Needless to say the chook was boundlessly large and all knowing. Inside the egg the universe developed and expanded infinitely, producing the cosmos as we strive to understand it today. We have no beef with modern science. But what we believe in cannot be observed by interstellar probes or radio telescopes, which of course can only see inside the egg. We know that outside the shell, beyond the ken of human science, the giant chook patiently sits on top of the egg and over eternity incubates our universe. We anxiously await the Great Hatching, which we know will come any day now, when all the mysteries of life shall be revealed. In a nutshell, sorry in an eggshell, that is what we believe. If you want to know more send $10 and a self-addressed envelope to this column and you will receive a booklet.
“There is no greater fundamental right that human beings have than to believe what they want to believe. What you want to believe should be a matter for you alone.” Thus spake ScoMo. He appeared to confer rights and privileges on every religion even if it is a religion with only one follower. Some clerics worry this “a- matterfor-you-alone” business is opening up a theological can of worms over which they might have little control. There’s growing alarm that the ScoMo definition of religion is whatever the believers want to believe.
The traditional Christian church has always been about central control but the present temporary PM is proving surprisingly liberal in these matters. But then his Pentecostal form of Christianity might seem bizarrely liberal to more staid faiths. It embraces colourful practices such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and instant healing, to the accompaniment of rock and roll music.
If you thought my Cloacan faith was a bit out there, drop into your local Hillsong church next Sunday morning. You’ll find it a bit more exciting than the Insiders on ABC television and of course much more prophetic. Though please understand when they preach The Second Coming they are probably not talking about the re-election of ScoMo.
Which may be why, with the writing on the wall, the PM is desperately trying to win the hearts of people of faith. But in his attempt to protect them against discrimination, he is most indiscriminate. He will take any faith no matter how loopy, “It’s about Australians’ right to believe what they want to believe,” the PM told us as he opened the floodgates of faith. “Eggsactly” cheered some of my fellow Cloacans. (I’m afraid they have a penchant for bad puns) “And don’t make yolks about us or we will give you a shellacking under the Religious Discrimination Act,” they chorused.
There is very little evidence of religious discrimination in Australia. Phillip Ruddock, who conducted the inquiry into these matters preceding ScoMo’s proposed Bill, didn’t really find anything of great concern and so didn’t recommend any legislative action. What’s proposed now is more likely a genuflection to the so-called “conservative Christian right” in terms of assuring them they won’t be prosecuted if they refuse to perform gay marriages or to accept gay teachers and students in their schools. Such discrimination is currently against the law but won’t be in the unlikelihood that this silly legislation gets enough support to pass through both houses of parliament. The Religious Discrimination Bill is a misnomer in that it’s really a “get out of jail card” for religious institutions to discriminate against people not of their faith and beliefs. While Ruddock could not find much evidence of discrimination in his previous inquiries, if this Bill passes and he cares to look once again he will find plenty of religious discrimination. But then it will be legal.
Meanwhile The Children of the Cloaca are planning to hold our popular annual egg rolling festival at the Domain again this Easter. I’m sorry to tell you this year it will be strictly “Cloacans Only”. Under the Religious Discrimination Act we will be legally entitled to refuse entry to nonbelievers, so stay away, unless of course you care to join our flock.