Alex Blaze

Gay camp is probably more fun than Christian camp anyway

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 06, 2010 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Australia, Christian beliefs, gay camp, law, legislation, LGBT, religion

An Australian Christian camp site barred a gay youth group from using its facilities, and now it's arguing that it should be exempt from anti-discrimination legislation because it's not discriminating against gay people, just the promotion of homosexual activity.

But Ms Mitchell says the Christian Brethren cancelled WayOut's campsite booking "once it became clear what the nature of the camp was going to be".

WayOut launched the discrimination suit to argue that church-run businesses should not be exempt from state laws banning discrimination.

The Christian Brethren says the booking was cancelled because WayOut promotes homosexual activity, which it says is against its understanding of the bible.

The church says the mission statement of its camps is "to create opportunities for all involved to personally experience Christian life and values".

"It was the aims of the WayOut group in promoting a lifestyle to youth as young as 12 contrary to those values that was in question," campsite resort manager Mark Rowe said in a statement.

And, you see, it's all OK because they weren't mean about it. Is politeness an effective defense against a discrimination charge in Australia?

"I don't think there's any desire to be aggressive or unloving to homosexuals," says Reverend David Palmer, convener of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria's church and nation committee.

"But just when it gets to the point of promoting the homosexual lifestyle ... that's really one step too far."

He said there was room for Christians and homosexuals to co-exist, however, and a church would only act in a defensive move to be faithful to its religious heritage.

"We don't seek to be aggressive," he said, "but our Christian faith matters to us. We want to be faithful to Christ and his teaching."

It's an international sensation. Recently rightwing Christians have used this defense in the US, Canada, and the UK. But how in the world could anti-discrimination legislation ever work if a person said they didn't have to follow the rules because they think their religion tells them not to?

Christianity has been used to justify discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and, of course, religion. How is this any different from saying that they're not anti-semitic, just against the promotion of the Jewish religion?

That's not to say there isn't a long tradition of Christians in the Western world (and beyond) fighting for social justice based on their beliefs. Abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, many of the Suffragettes, and early labor organizing all come to mind as examples of people who thought their religion told them what was right, whose religious convictions were contrary to civil law.

But those were all movements to try to convince others and change the law to advance social justice, not cloister themselves off and shield themselves from laws designed to advance social justice. And people in those movements weren't asking to advance their personal interests; they were concerned about the well-being of the community and others. Most of all, they were willing to take the punishment the law dished out to advance their causes instead of just whining that it was applied to them.

Instead, these folks just think that being gay is icky and they're trying to stay away. This isn't about any big cause; we're talking about some small people's personal issues.

The closest they get to actually trying to advance something bigger than themselves is when they say that they're being faithful to "Christ and his teaching." Would they be willing to debate those teachings in front of the tribunal? It seems only fair that if they want others to follow their religion's laws in order to use their business's facilities that they should be willing to put those religious laws up for discussion.

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I'll bet you'd have more gay sex at Christian camp tho...

It's all about their claim to deserve special rights because of their religion. They accuse GLBT people of wanting special rights when all we ask for is a level playing field and then, because their irrational brand of "christianity" justifies the hypocrisy, they turn around and say their religious "freedom" allows them special dispensation from non-discrimination law.

They keep doing it because, unfortunately, sometimes it works. It won't work if honest and law abiding citizens are alerted to the real goals of the "religious" right, however. Make a big stink about their claims and there's a chance they'll be defeated.