I read this article in The Age this morning with a mixture of disbelief, wry amusement and cynicism.
'Allowing religious organisations to discriminate undermines the true meaning of faith.' trumpets Joumanah El Matrah. Her piece is remarkably well written and logically argued. Top marks for essay writing, but it is the content and the seductive tone of conciliation, which when put in context, is worrying. What is her real agenda? Is it really religious tolerance and inclusiveness she is after or the opposite. I am guessing she is a full on adherent to the Muslim faith and therefore, seen in the light of her religion's actions and practice, it would seem surprising.
I do not see Muslim schools hurrying to hire Jews, Christians or Atheists or Hindus or same sex attracted people. Quite the opposite. To be honest, not allowing religious organisations to discriminate positively and hire their coreligionists or people who are sympathetic to their beliefs, is anti diversity and requiring that we all believe the same and conform to an ideal which may not be in keeping with the beliefs and values of individual faiths. Especially in education and in welfare organisations, these are organisations that are set up to cater to the cultural beliefs, customs and values of individual groups. Such organisations need to have a certain flavour. Jewish Care for example, has a very wide umbrella and would be seen to assist people who are both halachically Jewish and who identify as Jewish because a male parent is Jewish and has, I have heard, even helped the non Jewish spouses of Jews. The Salvation Army, The Sacred Heart and other Christian Mission organisations also help people across a wide denomination of beliefs, cultures and ethnic backgrounds that are not of their particular faith. There has yet to come to mind an Islamic Charity organisation that helps us 'infidels' because we are described as dogs and less than women??? We Jewish infidels come in for some interesting tags such as apes, donkeys and pigs. Whenever I come across these full on Muslims in their white PJ's with their white knitted skull caps, wielding rubber hoses at the livestock market, belting young steers over the head, trying to drive them down a race by just belting them with their length of black hose, unmindful of the fact that they are standing in the steers' path screaming and belting and then they think the steers are stupid for crashing into a closed gate at the back of the race in their efforts to get as far away from these madmen as possible, I want to do monkey or gorilla impersonations, scratching under my armpits and jumping up and down going 'WHHOOOO, Whoo WHOOO'. Either that or grab the hose from one of these morons, tell him that this is Australia, we are no longer in Bagdad or Cairo and we know how to handle stock and either he wants this hose rammed in one of his orifices or be belted across the head with it, or he learns a little about how animals work and deals with them compassionately and with respect.
When we do away with the rights of religious organisations to hire and fire staff as they see fit, then we are on the path of autocracy and the democratic rights of the individual and individual organisations are removed. I received a letter from a Christian School rejecting my application to work as a CRT because I am a committed Jew and observant. I respect the right of that organisation to tell me that 'we only hire teachers with a Christian world view,' and so they should, if that is the type of person that they are educating and they want them to be Christians. I have a committed Jewish world view and we allow diversity and differences of opinion within Judaism as well as outside the Jewish belief structure. It is called respecting others. I understand who I am as they understand who they are.
I found Ms El Matrah's opinion piece extremely hypocritical because to be honest, same sex attracted people are not particularly welcomed in countries like Syria, Iraq, Persia or Iran and Egypt, just to name a few. I bet you do not have too many rainbow organisations in Egypt, but they are tolerated in Israel and they are not beaten, stoned or hanged. We may not approve or promote their lifestyle but they are allowed to live and do live well there with citizenship rights etc. The push for same sex marriage is not even on the agenda, because it is a non issue. If you want to get married, marry a person of the opposite sex. The rest is a matter of choice and those who say it is not, need to learn a bit of self control and work at being a normal person.
The most troubling of Ms El Matrah's opinion piece are these snippets: