Atheists can be ethical: Anglican archbishop

Amanda O’Brien
From: The Australian
July 31, 2010 12:00AM

PERTH Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft has clashed with his Catholic counterpart over Julia Gillard’s atheism.

He warned it was “unhelpful and untrue” to suggest the Christian faith had a monopoly on moral integrity.

The Anglican leader cautioned against making simplistic assessments of religious beliefs in an election context and said Ms Gillard had assured the electorate she would respect people with religious convictions.

“Any statement which portrays the Christian faith as having some type of exclusivity to be the sole arbiter on matters of moral integrity and just policy-making are unhelpful and untrue,” Archbishop Herft told The Weekend Australian.

“Christians need to remind themselves that those who do not profess the Christian faith are still capable of adopting an ethical and moral framework which assists in public policy decision-making for the common good.”

The comments follow controversial statements this week by Perth Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey, who suggested Ms Gillard’s atheism could cost her votes.

The Catholic Church leader said he was not telling people not to vote for Ms Gillard, but some would wonder what the future held under an atheist and it might influence their votes.

“Many Christians are concerned that someone who does not believe in God may not endorse the Christian traditions of respect for human life, for the sanctity of marriage and the independence of churches, church schools and church social welfare agencies,” Archbishop Hickey said. But Archbishop Herft — who believes election campaigns have become so vicious they may tarnish the nation’s soul — said believers and non-believers alike should be embraced by the church.

He said politicians were influenced by a range of factors, both religious and secular, when making cabinet and parliamentary decisions, but they were drawn to the job out of a desire to serve the common good.

“It is interesting that in the context of an election, those who profess a certain faith and, indeed, those who do not, have their beliefs assessed very simplistically as either a positive or negative influence based on the whim of the day or the policy area to which it is being applied,” he said.

Sentenced to death for adultery… by stoning.

Unless you live in another planet, you must have heard about the global outcry over the imminent execution by stoning of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani.

According to CNN:

“Legally it’s all over,” Ahadi said Sunday. “It’s a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute.”

Sadly, this is not an isolated case. Granted that it’s been a while since the last time a woman  was stoned to death in Iran, at least officially, this is not the first and won’t be the last case of abuse and repression of women. This shouldn’t be happening at all, anywhere in the world. This kind of tragic, brutal, barbaric repression against women in the Muslim world must be stopped. It requires the commitment and dedication of entire societies to wipe out systemic abuse of women.

One thing I cannot keep myself from recalling, is that these people ‘learned’ this execution method from the Qur’an (Koran) – their own holy book.  Islam is a much greater threat to the physical integrity and culture of the entire world than Christianity currently is – I wouldn’t know where to place Islamic barbaric executions compared to Catholic priests child abuse, but I digress. This, I’m afraid, might not be the case in the near future, with the rise of Christian extremism, it has become urgent the need for awareness of women’s rights. Instead of patting ourselves on the back for how civilized we are, we should be more vigilant.

Would it be too off to say that once you control women, you control all of mankind? Without women (the means of reproduction) there is no human race to subdue. This is the groundwork of any fundamentalist religious affiliation.

What would you do if it was your mother, your daughter, your sister or your best friend sentenced to death by stoning for adultery? Sadly, there’s not much you can do in Iran.

Let me tell you how this execution method works:

Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.

This makes it clear that the purpose of stoning is to inflict pain in a process leading to slow death. No, we’re not back in the dark ages, this is happening today.

This is why we need our secular voices to be heard. Speak up, people. We must strive to make a difference.

Send a letter to the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, urging him to end the use of stoning as a method of execution in Iran. Let’s try to help.

This is happening here, in our world, to our species.

It infuriates me to think that some people keep telling me that religion doesn’t cause any harm.