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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Greed & gluttony - the real War on Christmas

Every year people across the globe celebrate Christmas, whether they are Christian or not. They'll decorate their houses, sing carols and give gifts to family and loved ones. For many children, the mythical Santa Claus will visit and leave them a special gift.  'On earth peace, goodwill to all men' is one of the main bible scriptures quoted during this time (Luke 2:14 KJV).

Also every year, we hear of a 'War on Christmas', a war that is apparently attacking the very fabric of the Christmas celebration.

This 'war' is allegedly perpetrated by grinches who want to ban Santa Clause or other aspects of the Christmas celebration. A number of hoax emails that usually blame Muslims, but have no basis in fact, are circulated - check Snopes1 or hoax-slayer2. I'd have to seriously question the mental and moral state of the person who sees fit to compose a hoax email in order to spread hatred in the community. It is a sad indictment on the community, that so many people actually believe these emails without checking them out. After all, Google is but a mouse click away. It is people like this who have lost sight of the meaning of Christmas (remember the 'peace, goodwill to all men' thing?)

The 'War on Christmas' is also being waged by anyone who commits the dastardly act of saying 'happy holidays' instead of the socially acceptable, 'Merry Christmas'.

These events do not signify a 'War'.

The only War on Christmas was waged & lost years ago. It is the one in which the Christmas spirit was usurped by capitalism; by greed and gluttony. The generosity of the real St Nicholas (Nikolaos of Myra - a Greek Bishop who lived in what is now Turkey) who gave to the poor and needy, has been replaced by Santa Claus who brings unnecessary gifts to rich kids while the poor continue to suffer. Sadly, Santa either doesn't visit poorer children or when he does, the toys are not as expensive. Maybe Santa uses cheaper elves for making the presents of the poor.

Santa's gifts are based on whether you're naughty or nice, good or bad - according to one or two Christmas Carols. Yet, this has no basis in scripture. Jesus didn't come for those who 'deserved' His redemption (remember Romans 3:23-24, 'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus').

We are told that Jesus is the 'reason for the season'.  Yet most families, Christian or not, barely (if at all) acknowledge Jesus in their haste to open their presents before gorging themselves on food and drink. Christmas was lost to greed and gluttony years ago.

Of course, the irony is that Christmas was originally a pagan festival known as Saturnalia, in which people gave themselves over to absolute pleasure and indulged their fleshly desires in unrestrained revelry: not unlike Christmas in first world countries. Greed and gluttony.

People across the globe can't wait for the fat-man to deliver gifts that may or may not be needed, and then guts themselves stupid until they feel sick - while millions of people go hungry. All of this to the accompaniment of Christmas Carols extolling the virtues of peace and goodwill. Christmas spirit or Saturnalian celebration?

This decadence is hardly a celebration of Jesus and contains a shallow concept of peace and goodwill.

The 'War' on Christmas has not come from other religions or from the benign 'happy holidays' greeting, but from capitalist exploitation and marketing. Capitalism isn't just content to sell us rubbish that we don't need, but also to force many people in retail to work over Christmas, keeping them away from their families and friends in order to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the manipulated masses to spend, spend, spend.

Throughout his life, Jesus preached and commanded love of all humanity, to eshew greed and to help the poor. If we are to truly celebrate Christmas, we should be helping the poor and loving everyone (not just other Christians or those with the 'Christmas Spirit' who indulge in the Saturnalian or Bacchanalian decadence of consumerism and over-indulgence).

It is greed and gluttony that waged the War on Christmas, and that war was lost years ago. The bulk of Christendom indulges in the capitalistic and selfish delights of what constitutes the modern Christmas 'Spirit'.

Many of us appreciate that it is our family and friends who are more meaningful than any gifts we receive. Yet, what about those who are lonely or homeless, who are languishing in prisons, detention centres or refugee camps? Again, for those who want to keep 'Christ' in Christmas, it may not hurt to check out the parable of the sheep and the goats (remember the bit about 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me' - Matthew 25:31-46).

Here's a thought or two. Why not give a gift to a stranger, someone less fortunate than ourselves. Of course, we shouldn't wait until Christmas to help others, but as Christmas is a time of gift-giving, it is certainly a good time to give useful gifts to the poor and needy. Or why not take the time to spend time with the lonely, the homeless, the prisoner, the refugee. Time and attention are valuable gifts, and maybe for a moment, take the focus off ourselves and our greed.

Peace on earth and goodwill to all.


1. 'Cardwell', Snopes,, 3 December 2013. Last accessed 25 December 2013.

2. 'Hoax - Broadmeadows Shopping Centre Christmas Celebrations Ban', Hoax Slayer,, 10 December 2013. Last accessed 25 December 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

History and heresy - the crucifixion of Christ in the 21st century

Have conservative, fundamentalist Christians learnt nothing from history?

It was the religiously conservative, fundamentalist, legalistic types who:

* crucified Jesus (after all, you can't preach heresy that undermines the religious establishment)

* burnt Joan of Arc (and others) at the stake for witchcraft (after all, you can't have visions of God that give political advice which differs to the religious establishment's politics).

* established the Spanish Inquisition to torture and murder enemies of the church

* undertook the crusades to wage a holy war in order to expel the 'heathen' Muslims from the 'Holy' Land.

* supported Adolf Hitler, who claimed to be a Christian upholding Christian values, because nothing says Christian like imprisoning and killing Jews, Communists, Socialists, gypsies, homosexuals and anyone else who is perceived to be unpatriotic, or a risk to the economy or threatening 'traditional' family and church values.

* waged war in the Middle East and Afghanistan to destroy 'terrorists' and 'fundamentalist Muslims' - essentially anyone who fights back against the American capitalist war-machine as it exploits weaker economies for its own gain (reminiscent of the Crusades, but let's not go there - pardon the paralipsis).

* waged a war on the poor by supporting the rich in the mistaken belief of 'trickle-down' economics, after all, we all know how willing rich people are to give their money to the poor.

* support the apartheid state of Israel through misinterpretation of scripture, which essentially denies the need for Jesus delivering salvation to Judaism, as well as sponsoring the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine: contrary to what Jesus preached and what's written in the bible.

What did Jesus actually preach? Well, Jesus was a revolutionary who opposed the mainstream religious institution and the hypocrisy that went with it. It wasn't so much the government that he opposed, as it was the religious elite, namely the Pharisees and Sadducees. He spoke up for the poor, the marginalised, the despised. He hung out with the tax collector and the prostitute. Ironically, many Christians today oppose tax and promote smaller government, as if this is biblical. Yet, Jesus said 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's'. He never opposed paying tax and didn't come to overthrow the Roman Empire.

Many Christians are happy for tax breaks to go to the rich while criticising welfare for the poor, as if this is biblical. They believe the more money given to the rich, the more money the rich will give the poor. It's refreshing to hear the current pontiff, Pope Francis call trickle-down economics out, when he said:

'The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger. Nothing ever comes out for the poor'.

The right wing opposes the revolutionaries, the ones who speak up against capitalist exploitation. The Occupy movement for instance, wasn't exactly on the Christmas card list for many fundamentalist Christians. Yet, Jesus also opposed exploitation of the poor by the rich and by the religious establishment.

It's interesting that Pope Francis also pointed out that the church has been focused on the wrong priorities, such as the preoccupation with homosexuality and abortion, while people suffer from poverty. Yet, listening to some Christians, homosexuality is an unforgiveable sin. If it was so serious, then why did Jesus not mention it. Not once! It's the church and the religious fundamentalists who need to apologise for their sins against the poor, the homosexual, the reject.

The right-wing continues with its judgemental vitriol against Communism, Socialism, environmentalism and homosexuality, while standing up for capitalism, exploitation and gun-ownership.

If Mary appeared today, unwed and claiming she'd gotten knocked up by God, there'd be outrage in the church and allegations of an attack on the family unit. Imagine the uproar if Mary's son then went on to preach heresy such as 'for God so loved the world' (and by implication everyone in the world, such as homosexuals, atheists, Muslims, Communists and so on), or giving commands such as 'love your neighbour' (again by implication meaning to love the world and everyone in it, not just the right-wing, capitalist Christian), or something like,  'I tell you the truth, it's hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God ... it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God'.

With such heresy, Jesus would be burnt at the stake or crucified ... well, maybe today it would mean a lethal injection or spending the rest of his life in Guantanamo Bay for being some sort of radical, unpatriotic, terrorist hell-bent on dismantling the capitalist state and undermining Christian values.

What has changed since Jesus was crucified by the establishment 2,000 years ago?

If Jesus appeared today; a long-haired, brown-skinned, kaftan-wearing God-freak, preaching the prioritisation of the poor over the rich, love over hate, peace over war; he'd be ridiculed, abused, crucified.

Ironically, it's rebirthed capitalist Christianity that is the heresy, defending greed and hatred. Those who speak up for love and peace are the true fundamentalists, preaching and delivering the fundamental message of Christ.

For more than 2,000 years, however, the message of love and generosity has been overshadowed by those willing to kill to defend power and wealth in the name of God. Throughout the generations this heresy has been rebadged and sold to the masses in one form or another. And it continues to this day, masquerading as a multitude of Christian doctrine, such as prosperity teaching, Christian or family values, conservatism. Meanwhile, wars are waged in the name of it. Wars against the poor, the homosexual, the abortionist, the Muslim, the Communist and so on.

History is a great teacher, but only to those willing to learn. The rest will repeat the tragic mistakes of the past.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

From Nanny State to Police State

For years, the Liberal Party and its supporters have accused the Labor Party of running a nanny state. Every time that legislation was introduced with the aim of protecting people from themselves or others, the 'nanny state, nanny state' squeals from the right-wing were deafening. Whether it was workplace health and safety laws, anti-discrimination laws, anti-vilification laws, even anti-fat laws which now require restaurants to state the calorie content of its food, the right wing accused Labor of wrapping society in cotton-wool.

The extreme right-wing Liberal National Party that now rules Queensland under Premier Campbell Newman, claimed that it was going to reduce red and green tape because Queensland was over-governed, over-regulated, over-legislated.

To de-nannify Queensland, Newman and his side-kick, Attorney-General Jarrid Bleije, introduced new laws:
  • Name and shame juvenile offenders who commit a second offence (1)
  • Sex offender law amendments which removed power of the courts to decide whether a sex offender should be freed, and gave it to the Attorney-General (2), in breach of the Westminster Convention. The Court of Appeal has rejected these amendments as invalid. Bleije is considering challenging the Court of Appeal (3).
  • 'Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment' Act, which outlaws dozens of motorcycle gangs, makes it a crime for three or more people to be gathered together and allows for an additional 15 to 25 years jail on top of the head sentence, for a member of an outlaw gang who is convicted of a violent crime (4). Persons convicted under the VLAD Act may be sentenced to a dedicated prison, spend 23 hours per day in a cell and wear a pink jumpsuit (5). The legislation is very broad and doesn't just apply to bikers (6).
  • There also anti-Union and anti-democracy laws, aimed at weakening the rights of workers, including banning Unions from using membership funds to undertake advertising campaigns without a referendum (7)(8), and banning employers from deducting union membership fees from their wages (9).
Anyone who doubts the danger of Newman's fascist laws or who believe that it only targets the worst of the worst biker gangs, should take a look at what happened in Queensland on 14 December 2013. Every year bikers hold a toy run, in which they deliver toys to needy children. Newman and Bleije unleashed the Queensland Police on the charity toy run which was being conducted by Christian biker group, the Tribe of Judah. Unconfirmed reports on Facebook and Twitter claim that more than 700 bikers were stopped under the VLAD Act. Channel 10 reported that there were 300 charity bikers stopped (10).

Either way, this is an incredible abuse of police power. If the bikers were distributing drugs, weapons or other contraband that would be understandable, but they were distributing toys to the most needy children in Queensland society. Children who likely will have a very bleak Christmas. Children who may well be desperate and destitute. Merry Christmas kids. Your government is just waiting for an excuse to send you to jail, so don't load up on toys or other things that you might enjoy.

Instead of the Newman government attempting to fix social problems, they target the most needy. Even the 'name and shame' laws are not aimed at rehabilitating, but at victimising the victims of poverty.

Labor may have run a Nanny State according to right-wingers, but the LNP is blatantly and boldly operating a fascist Police State; one in which the liberties of all citizens are under threat.

What's next? Ban freedom of speech? Ban the media, or bloggers, or Facebook, Twitter and other social media users from making comment?

Newman and his cohorts are operating a fascist government which is getting more and more extreme.

At risk of invoking Godwin's Law, it isn't too much of a stretch to remember the words of the German Baptist preacher, Martin Niemöller who stated,  'When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent, I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent, I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak up, because I was not a trade unionist. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out'.

All Queenslanders should be concerned and speaking up against these draconian and totalitarian laws. 


1. Marissa Calligeros, Brisbane Times, 'Queensland to name and shame young offenders', 26 September 2013, Last accessed 15 December 2013.

2. Amy Remeikis, Brisbane Times, 'Bleije bypasses courts on state's worst sex offenders', 16 October 2013, Last accessed 15 December 2013.

3. Brisbane Time, 'Jarrid Bleije announces review of dangerous prisoner laws', 8 December 2013, Last accessed 15 December 2013.

4. Queensland Government, Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory, Media Statements, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice The Honourable Jarrid Bleije, Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 'Tough penalties for criminal gang members', Last accessed 15 December 2013.

5. The Guardian, 'Pink for punks: Queensland plan to embarrass bikies in jail', 21 October 2013, Last accessed 15 December 2013.

6. Anna Capellano, Independent Australia, 'Are you a vicious lawless associate?', 8 November 2103,,5876. Last accessed 15 December 2013.

7. Stand for Qld, 'Fact sheet on Newman LNP Government extreme anti-Democracy Bill', Last accessed 15 December 2013.

8. Amy Remeikis, Brisbane Times, 'Newman government rachets up 'war' on unions', 8 August 2013, Last accessed 15 December 2013.

9. Alex Scott, Together Union, 'New industrial legislation by the Newman government', 11 June 2013, Last accessed 15 December 2013.

10. Sarah Greenhalgh, Channel 10, 'Bikies spread Christmas cheer', 14 December 2013, Last accessed 15 December 2013.