Christian Nation? Not so much

At the publication of the last census I made a prediction; that by 2021, the number of Australians who say they have no religion would be the plurality – the largest single group.

As it turns out, I was wrong; we are ahead of schedule.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006, 2007, 2012, 2017a, 2017b, 2017c)

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Seven Thoughts on the Centrelink Debt Debacle

As the steaming heap of institutional ineptitude that is the Centrelink Debt Debacle continues to upend itself across Australia for yet another week, with no end in sight, a few things have occurred to me:

  1. I am so incredibly happy I was never able to qualify for, and thus have never received, any form of benefit from Centrelink;
  2. Some of the people that have received debt collection notices are now qualified and practicing lawyers – I suspect there are pretty good odds that Centrelink will find itself in court over this;
  3. Speaking of making enemies, going after the elderly was a Very Bad Idea – they have a lot of time on their hands, the heartstrings of their voting children and grandchildren, and are already inclined to grumpiness;
  4. As the experience of using MyGov continues to be unfavourably compared to getting a napalm enema or your fingernails pulled, this reinforces my decision that there is no way on God’s green earth, or any other planet, that will I ever willingly touch that website;
  5. I can’t decide if the Government spokesmen defending this are drunk, incompetent, being beamed in from another reality, lying, or a combination of the above;
  6. It’s too early to say what effect this will have on this Government’s prospects and chances at the polls, but any effect it does have will not be positive; and
  7. The 2016 Census, the ATO crash, and now this? I’m honestly wondering; when it comes to computers, can you people get anything right?

Logically Indefensible; why freedom of religion requires acceptance of same-sex marriage

In 2008 a CNN iReport entitled Why Defence of Marriage is Indefensible was written. In 15 points of dispassionate, clinical logic, the piece dissected opposition to marriage equality, and found it to be completely indefensible. Sadly the original is no longer available, and I neglected to make an archival copy before it vanished.

This post is based on that iReport, and has been in the drafts folder for many months now; in it, I apply that argument to the Australian context, although I take 19 points. The post has been updated to reflect the current situation.

First, a note; civil unions as a valid alternative to marriage have been rejected as a failed experiment (Australian Marriage Equality 2009) – as the Americans would say, “separate is not equal,” (Sorenson 2012) not is it acceptable; this stance is supported by clinical evidence (Wilkinson and Kitzinger 2005).

And now, let us begin.

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The Senate Voting Reforms in 600 words

So I’ve been reading Antony Green’s blog on the proposed Senate voting reforms, and from that, here’s a nice little rundown of the proposal as it stands right now.

I am assuming you know how the single transferable vote system used in the Senate works. If not, click here and brush up.

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The ALP, the Plebiscite, and Marriage Equality

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece about Kevin Rudd’s support of marriage equality. It was, frankly, over-dramatic and painfully self-righteous and looking back on it I cringe a little. I’m leaving it up, instead of hiding the old shame, because although my presentation was awful, the argument itself I fully stand by.

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Three Circles and People on Boats

So the High Court did a thing with people seeking asylum today. In case you were asleep or stoned.

And people are quite outraged.

I’m not.

Before we go into why, we need to check this pretty picture out. It’s my rendering of the “spheres of control” diagram, done in five minutes in MS Paint. Behold my elite graphics skills:

spheres

Stop laughing. Let’s look at them.

First; the sphere of control. This is what you directly control; within this sphere, your will shall be done. At its very core is you; your body, your mind, and so on. Granted, some of us are at the mercy of things like brain chemistry gone awry or an immune system in revolt, but for the vast majority our selves are under our direct control. Further out but still here are the people who answer to you at work, things you have direct authority over, etc. The point is that here, you control the outcomes.

Next is the sphere of influence. You can persuade, lead by example, support others, and so on, to influence outcomes you don’t directly control. You can help push things in a particular direction, but the result isn’t certain and you won’t always get what you want. Other people fall into here, unless they answer to you in some capacity.

Third comes the sphere of interest. These are things you are aware of, or interested in. They may impact you, but, most important, you actually have bugger all say in them (or what say you do have is negligible). Some of these things can be crucial; such as the economy. Others are of curiosity only, like the mapping of Pluto (unless that’s your job – in which case why are you reading this? Go do science!).

Outside of this is irrelevancy.

Now the problem is that too many people allow the sphere of interest to become a sphere of concern, or a sphere of worry, and that leads to stress (which, I hardly need tell you, is a great way to screw up your mental and physical health).

Which leads me to the asylum seeker ruling from the High Court.

It lies in my sphere of interest; I found it interesting. But I am not concerned or worried by it. Nor am I outraged. First, the High Court was not asked to rule on whether this was moral or just, but if it was constitutional and legal; they found that it is. So be it. Second, and more importantly, I can do nothing at all to change that outcome, nor can I do anything to prevent those people from being sent to a remote island in the South Pacific. I could act in my sphere of influence to talk to those around me, but everyone I know is outraged already; preaching to the choir when it’s already singing is a pointless exercise. It is outside my sphere of influence in any meaningful sense of the term, and as I do not set immigration policy in Australia, it is far outside my sphere of control.

That all changes on Election Day; democracy affords us the chance to tell our leaders that this was unacceptable. If you truly feel so strongly about this issue, if you think Something Must Be Done, then take note of this. Look at the various political party’s websites; examine their policies in the lead-up to that day.

Then cast your vote accordingly; on that day, the issue moves into all our spheres of influence.

For what it’s worth, no, I don’t think this will be a big enough issue to actually change things. After 2013, ALP is terrified of being seen as soft on this issue, and the Coalition has more intention of legalising same-sex marriage than of softening their stance. And the reason they do this is because it still wins them votes. It will take a major upset to break either party out of their stance on this.

And when the chips are down, the plight of asylum seekers is not uppermost in the minds of voters; it’s the economy, stupid.

By your numbers combined…

There was a good article posted this morning on Humans In Design about the validity of the religious affiliation question in the Australian Census. They raise some very valid concerns about how the way the census asks the question regarding religion, pointing out that it’s highly likely that the census underestimates the numbers of irreligious people.

I had the following exchange on twitter with Tristan Cooke of Humans In Design;

This prompted me, when I got home this evening, to go back to my figures from yesterday’s post, and plot out the “not stated/inadequately described” trendline.

(click to enlarge)

Well, there you go Tristan – a slow but steady rise from just under 10% to around about 11% in ten years, based on the 1961-2011 fifty-year linear trend.

I decided then to embark on a bit of a thought exercise. Assume, for the sake of this, that the people falling under “not stated” would be captured by the “no religion” figure; have a look at what happens if we combine “not stated/inadequately described” with “no religion”…

(click to enlarge)

If the contention being made over at Humans in Design is correct, that people are skipping the question because they have no religion and the structure of the question is adversely impacting upon their answering this properly, then the irreligious became the largest affiliation in Australia at the dawn of the millennium (and no, writing in a real minor religion such as the Baha’i faith doesn’t put you into that category; you fall into the category of “Other religions”).

Here’s the ten-year projection, based off the 50-year linear trendline;

(click to enlarge)

…and based on the 20-year linear trendline:

(click to enlarge)

For the sake of the exercise, I projected both linear trendlines out to 2101 – should the 50-year trend hold, then there will be more Australians without a religion than with one in under forty years. The 20-year trendline flattens this rise out a little – to forty-five years. Either way, by 2060, a full forty years sooner than yesterday’s projections anticipated, the irreligious will outnumber the religious.

As with my post yesterday, all figures have been sourced directly from the ABS and the censuses they have conducted (see here, here, here, and here).