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Mar 252012
 

The Annual General Meeting’s invited guest speaker held on 24 March 2012 was the writer Chrys Stevenson who addressed ‘The Debate on Assisted Dying: Distortion, Misinformation and the Influence of the Religious Lobby’.

The Debate on Assisted Dying: Distortion, Misinformation and the Influence of the Religious Lobby

A speech for Dying with Dignity NSW, AGM and Conference,  24 March 2011

Chrys Stevenson

PDF version available here»…

Introduction

There’s a story, much repeated on the internet, about a 26 year old ballet dancer from the Netherlands. Suffering from crippling arthritis in her toes and devastated that she’s no longer able to dance, the woman visits her doctor and asks to be euthanized. The doctor, reluctantly, agrees.  Exonerating himself from blame more neatly than Pontius Pilate, the physician later explains, “One doesn’t enjoy such things but it was her choice!”

Now, I don’t have to tell you that story isn’t true. It’s an urban myth. Let’s be blunt – it’s a lie. It’s a lie which was first aired publicly in 1995 and it’s still being told today. In fact, an audience member on ABC’s Q and A included the ballerina story in a diatribe against voluntary euthanasia late last year – and David Leaf and I wrote an article debunking it.

The ballerina story is interesting because, in many respects, it’s typical of the propaganda used by the self-appointed morality police.

Commonly, their arguments are simply untrue. Or, if they have any basis in truth, they’ve been grossly oversimplified, misquoted, or taken out of context to the point of wilful misrepresentation. If the ballerina story was true, that doctor would be in jail for murder because, as described, it satisfies none of the criteria of the Dutch legislation.

Often, the morality police disguise their questionable ‘evidence’ with a veneer of secular or scientific credibility. The ballerina story, for example, was first disseminated widely by Dr Robin Bernhoft, then a board-certified American surgeon.

As it happens, Dr Bernhoft is a real doctor – albeit no longer a surgeon, no longer mainstream and something of a quack. But, sometimes you’ll find the moral police quoting self-proclaimed ‘experts’, like the American anti-abortion campaigner, Dr David Reardon, whose PhD in bioethics was purchased from an on-line diploma mill. Then there’s anti-gay propagandist, Dr Paul Cameron, whose shonky research has been condemned by the Canadian Psychological Association, the Nebraska Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association and the District Court of Dallas. It’s also seen him expelled from the American Psychological Association. And yet Cameron’s woefully out-dated, totally discredited, pseudo-scientific crap is still being quoted to justify the religious vilification of homosexuals.

Sometimes, propaganda is spread using the deceit of a Trojan horse operation; a group which purports to be independent and secular, but which operates solely for the purpose of disseminating religious propaganda in secular or scientific guise. There are numerous examples in Australia – for example, the National Civic Council, the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, the Australian Family Association and the Australian Federation of Pregnancy Support Services – they all sound secular, but they’re all fronts for groups and individuals with a particular religious bias.

If you should stumble across an argument against voluntary euthanasia, abortion, same-sex marriage or some other issue of public morality, it’s fun to emulate the great Sherlock Holmes; put on your deerstalker hat, light up your Meerschaum pipe and go searching for the source. Although it’s often well concealed, you’ll almost inevitably discover a religious link.

We found that Dr Bernhoft, the source of the ballerina story, is not just a retired surgeon; he’s a fundamentalist, creationist, Catholic televangelist, trenchantly opposed to voluntary euthanasia for dogmatic, rather than medical or scientific reasons.

And, finally, and importantly for the subject of this speech, the people or organisations defending their positions with misinformation and propaganda rarely confine themselves to just one issue. If someone’s spreading anti-euthanasia propaganda, you’ll frequently find their lips will also purse at the mention of women’s reproductive rights, gay rights, stem-cell research or any of the myriad of issues which so preoccupy the religious right.

Dr Bernhoft, for example, is not just anti-euthanasia; he’s also publicly opposed abortion and has co-written a book filled with unscientific propaganda against homosexuality – including ‘evidence’ from the discredited studies of Dr Paul Cameron.

So, my purpose here today is firstly, to highlight the dishonest tactics employed by the religious right in their moral crusades. But, more importantly, I want to broaden your perspective a little and suggest that the groups and individuals who oppose you are not just fighting against voluntary euthanasia. They’re fighting on numerous fronts. Their aim is not simply to defeat euthanasia legislation; their aim is to legislate Christian morality and infiltrate every conceivable area of your life from the government, the law, the media, the arts, science, medicine, academia and education to your home, your computer, your children, your health insurance, your television, your CD and DVD collections, your medicine cabinet and, especially if you’re gay – even your sex life. And if you think that’s an exaggeration, just take a look at what’s happening in America.

Lying for Jesus

Actually, we don’t have to look to America to find evidence of the political ambitions of the religious right. It’s right here in front of us. Indeed, the website of Australia’s National Alliance of Christian Leaders clearly articulates their dominionist agenda. Let me quote:

“Either Christian morality or Humanist amorality will prevail. Christians must be in positions of leadership to decide which it will be. …. If we do not support the legislation of Christian morality, we allow the legislation of humanist immorality.” [emphasis added]

Now, they have an absolute right to believe that and they have an absolute right to bring their arguments into the public square. I’m not arguing against religious lobbyists or their right to freedom of speech. What I object strongly to, however – even as an immoral atheist – is religious groups lying and dissembling in order to achieve their aims.

Lying for Jesus is not a new concept. It has a long and proud tradition in the Christian church. Indeed, Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism once said:

“What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church? […] a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.”

I believe most Christians are good, moral, honest and reasonable. In fact, a recent poll shows the majority of Australian Christians supportvoluntary euthanasia. (And I’d like to give a big shout out here to the group, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia). But, in debates over physician assisted dying and a whole range of other issues, there are far too many religious zealots lying for Jesus. And what Christians should realise is that these people aren’t just damaging their opposition – they’re doing untold damage to the religion they claim to be protecting.

Let me provide an example. The Family Council of Victoria’s affiliates include a ‘who’s who’ of the ‘usual suspects’ in debates about public morality. The Family Council’s affiliates include the Catholic oriented Australian Family Association, Bill Muehlenberg’s “Culture Watch”, the Catholic Women’s League, Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party, Family Voice Australia (previously the Festival of Light), the anti-feminist pro-life Endeavour Forum, the evangelical Focus on the Family, Peter and Jenny Stokes’ Saltshakers and others. (I bet that lot have some wild parties!)

Under the heading “Abortion and Breast Cancer” the Family Council of Victoria’s website states that:

“The link between induced abortion and breast cancer is substantial … The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the U.K. has issued warnings of a 30% greater risk of breast cancer via leaflets and the internet.”

So I checked out the website of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. And it says:

“… there is now evidence to conclude that induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.” [emphasis added].

And it’s not just that the Family Council of Victoria might not have caught up with the latest research. The statement that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer has been on the RCOG website for over eight years and the evidence that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer has been available for at least eleven years.

In other words, the Family Council of Victoria is blatantly and deliberately deceiving women by lying about the Royal College of Gynaecologist’s position on abortion and breast cancer. Not very Christian, is it?

Earlier this month, Paul Hanrahan of the openly Catholic, Family Life International, used exactly the same propaganda in an article on ABC’s The Drum.  The link he provided as ‘evidence’ tracked back to an article from the National Catholic Bioethics Centre – formerly the Pope John Center for Moral and Medical Education.

Misrepresenting Research

The strategy of misrepresenting legitimate scientific research to lend credibility to religious propaganda is a well-established tactic of the religious right.

Truth Wins Out is a website which features testimonies from academics whose research has been misrepresented to suggest that mainstream science supports religious arguments against homosexuality. The director of Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen, explains:

“We are fighting back against the gross distortions of our lives by anti-gay organizations who manipulate science for political gain. These organizations claim to be moral, but often twist scientific research in the most shameless and dishonest ways imaginable.”

For example, Dr Joe Nicolosi of the American Trojan horse group NARTH – the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals – claimed that a study by Professor Lisa Diamond supported his thesis that sexual identity can be changed. In fact, Professor Diamond’s study says no such thing – it says quite the opposite. In a very public rebuke Professor Diamond says to Nicolosi:

“… there’s no chance that this is a misunderstanding, or simply a different scientific interpretation of the data, that’s simply not possible. This is a wilful misuse and distortion of my research. Not an academic disagreement, not a slight shading of the truth, its wilful distortion. And it’s illegitimate, and it’s irresponsible, and you know that, and you should stop.”

It may not surprise you that Dr Nicolosi formerly served as a spokesperson for the far right Christian organization Focus on the Family and named his psychology clinic after the Catholic saint, Thomas Aquinas.

‘Baffle ‘em with Bullshit’

In the 1980s, when creation “scientists” started making inroads into Queensland’s state education system, local academic, Dr Martin Bridgstock, decided to investigate their claims. Rebranding creationism as ‘intelligent design’ its proponents denyit’s a strictly religious position. Indeed, they argue that the theory of intelligent design is strongly supported by a number of prominent scientists and by mainstream research. As a consequence, they believe intelligent design should be taught in science classes as a credible alternative to evolutionary theory.

When Dr Bridgstock examined the reams of scholarly articles on intelligent design, he was astounded by the volume of mainstream ‘scientific evidence’ which appeared to support the theory; it was ‘unexpectedly powerful’. Perhaps intelligent design wasn’t, as one wit suggested, ‘creationism in a cheap tux’.

But, when Dr Bridgstock followed the literature’s quotations and footnotes back to their source documents, he found roughly 90 per cent of the references were gravely inaccurate.  In other words, the evidence was not as it was presented in the creationist literature.  It was almost completely bogus; and they relied on the fact that no-one would bother checking.

Catholic commentator, Bill Muehlenberg, recently wrote a book which purports to ‘tell the truth’ about homosexuality.  I find it rather amusing that Bill vouches for the accuracy of his research by stressing that the book contains 707 footnotes!

Perhaps Muehlenberg is a fan of Joseph Stalin, who once said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

My Dad would have said:  “If you can’t stun ‘em with science, baffle ‘em with bullshit.”

This is undoubtedly the credo of the religious right which produces such an avalanche of misleading propaganda it’s almost impossible to counter it all.

The Gish Gallop

Public defenders of evolution will tell you about the creationist debating technique dubbed the Gish Gallop after the American creationist, Dr Duane Gish.

In a torrent of rapid-fire speech, the Gish galloper aims to drown his opposition in such a deluge of half-truths, lies and logical fallacies it becomes impossible to answer every falsehood that’s been raised. (In Australia, anti-vaccination campaigner, Meryl Dorey, is an absolute master of this technique.)

The aim of the Gish Gallop is to overwhelm the opposing team and bamboozle the audience with a barrage of nonsense presented as fact. Old and worn out arguments, roundly debunked years ago, are shamelessly rolled out, statistics are misrepresented with reckless abandon and quotations, cruelly truncated or hideously torn from their contexts. And unless the opposition succeeds in refuting every single point, the galloper claims victory – regardless of the official result.

I see some heads nodding in the audience.  I suspect that some of you have faced a Gish galloper in debates about voluntary euthanasia.

In fact, I read recently that, after last year’s euthanasia debate at the University of Tasmania, Paul Russell from the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide reported that none of his opposition chose to seriously debate the data from the Netherlands and Belgium … proving that euthanasia is never safe.

“Really?” I thought. Could it really be true that the pro-euthanasia team, Phillip Nitschke, Nica Cordova and Neil Francis had made such woefully weak arguments?

So, on went the deer-stalker hat, and I tracked down the official report of the debate, only to discover that Nitschke’s team had actually won by audience acclamation.

Can it be that Mr Russell is an aficionado of the Gish Gallop?

Involuntary Euthanasia?

One of the most common arguments against legalizing voluntary euthanasia is the assertion that spiralling rates of involuntary euthanasia will inevitably follow. Cardinal George Pell made exactly this assertion last year warning that:

“… legislation to allow voluntary euthanasia … would lead to widespread involuntary euthanasia, with many, perhaps a majority of those euthanized being subject to the procedure without their consent and often against their will.”

This is just blatant propaganda.  In fact, when euthanasia was legalized in Belgium and the Netherlands, the number of euthanasia deaths without explicit request didn’t rise, they fell significantly. There is not a skerrick of evidence to suggest that, in countries where assisted dying is legal, patients are being euthanized against their wishes. If this did occur, it would be murder, not voluntary euthanasia.

If Cardinal Pell had done any research on the subject, he’d know that what he terms ‘involuntary euthanasia’ does not occur as a result of legalising euthanasia – legislation just brings the practice under control.  In fact, a significantly higher rate of non-voluntary euthanasia, or ‘hastening death without the explicit request of the patient’, than the Netherlands.

‘Ending life without explicit request’ sounds explosive when lobbed, like a grenade, into an argument against voluntary euthanasia. But, when you actually read the paper in which this term is used it’s obvious it doesn’t mean, as Paul Russell from the Archdiocese of Adelaide and Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby suggest, that patients are killed arbitrarily, without consultation or consent. The problem for us, is, the definition of ‘without explicit request’ is complex and not easily explained in a sound-bite. For our opponents, who are happy to oversimplify a complex research paper in order to mislead the public, there is no such obstacle.

When religious lobbyists misrepresent research in this way, we can only assume:

  • they haven’t read it,
  • they’ve read it but are too incompetent to understand it,
  • or they are being deliberately deceptive.

I’m happy to accept any of those three excuses from Archbishop Pell, Paul Russell and Lyle Shelton.

Anecdote

As we discovered with the ballerina story, anecdote is another weapon in the arsenal of those who oppose euthanasia. There’s a real art in taking a complex story and simplifying it to the point of misrepresentation. Here’s a tip! The genius isn’t in what you leave in; it’s in what you leave out.

In the case of Kate Cheney, for example, critics of euthanasia like to linger on the fact that a demented old lady with Alzheimer’s was given a lethal dose of barbiturates after her bossy daughter went doctor shopping. What’s rarely mentioned is that Kate was not demented; she was in the early phase of Alzheimer’s and suffering some short-term memory loss. The simplified versions of Cheney’s story also tend to omit the fact that Kate had a close and loving family, she was 85 years old and in the final stages of terminal stomach cancer. When you read a full account of Kate Cheney’s story it’s not at all how it’s represented by outraged religious propagandists.

You’ll be shocked to hear from anti-euthanasia campaigners like Paul Russell that, in Oregon where physician assisted dying is legal, Barbara Wagner’s mean-spirited health care provider refused to pay for a life-saving drug, but offered to cover her expenses for assisted dying. Omitted from the story is the fact that the ‘life-saving’ drug, Tarceva doesn’t ‘cure cancer’ but may prolong the life of a terminal patient for a few months. Also not mentioned is its 92 per cent fail rate and dangerous side effects, which may well have further shortened Mrs Wagner’s life. Tarceva works best on patients who have never smoked. Barbara Wagner was a life-long smoker; she was not a good candidate for the drug. Ultimately, the pharmaceutical company offered Tarceva to Mrs Wagner for free. As predicted, it didn’t work and she died shortly after. That postscript rarely appears in the emotive propaganda about this case; but it’s a pity to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

The ‘Trojan Horse’ Strategy

Another strategy used by the religious right is to set up Trojan horse groups with secular sounding names and swear blind that they’re ‘not religious’.

In October last year, my interest was piqued by an Australian website called, Liberty of Conscience in Medicine. Effectively, the website is framed as a petition which asserts the right of doctors to refuse certain treatments – even if they’re legal. As this is usually a religious position, I was surprised to find a disclaimer specifically denying any religious agenda. The Liberty of Conscience in Medicine website states clearly that:

“There is no religious or faith component to the declaration of conscience in medicine.”

Apparently, the ‘sponsoring organisation’, Medicine with Morality, is “also not religious”.

My bullshit meter went into overdrive. So, on went the deerstalker hat and out came the Meerschaum pipe. Was this really a grass-roots secular campaign? The answer, dear Watson, was elementary.

I discovered the person behind the Liberty of Conscience in Medicine initiative is Dr Lachlan Dunjey. There is a short biography of Dr Dunjey on the website. Strangely it doesn’t mention that he was a Christian Democratic Party candidate for the senate in 2004.  Neither does it mention that Dunjey is a church musician of 40 plus years and an elder at Morley Baptist Church in Western Australia. A very modest Dr Dunjey also neglects to mention that he is the former president of the Baptist Churches of Western Australia. But, of course, in his capacity as an anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia campaigner, he is entirely non-religious!

So, then I started to check out all the signatories on this avowedly ‘non-religious’ petition. Obviously, not everyone discloses their religious affiliations on the internet, but in all, I found nearly 70 of the doctors who signed the Liberty of Conscience declaration had clear links to Christian organisations. Signatories included members of Family First, the Southern Cross Institute of Bioethics, Opus Dei, the Guild of St Luke, the Church of Christ, the Assembly of Confessing Congregations and more.

In short, despite the deceptive denial, the water of the Liberty of Conscience in Medicine declaration is so muddied with religious belief you could walk on it.

Australia’s Southern Cross Bioethics Institute is another prime example of a Trojan horse organisation. It purports to be “an independent, non-sectarian, autonomous institution committed to research into important bioethical issues affecting the whole community”.  But, strangely, its findings always seem to support Catholic teaching on ethical issues.

Recently, it’s come to light that the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute is effectively funded and controlled by the right-wing conservative Knights of the Southern Cross who describe themselves as “an Order of Catholic men committed to promoting the Christian way of life throughout Australia”.

That’s hardly independent and autonomous; yet this is how the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute represents itself when making submissions intended to guide political policy!

Know Thine Enemy

The fact is  your opposition is just not fighting fair. They believe they’re fighting a spiritual war – and truth, it seems, is the first casualty. I’m constantly shocked at the lies and deceit that emanate from people who profess to be devout Christians.

Trying to understand how these people think, I talked to my friend, Jane Douglas. Jane has only recently emerged from 20 years in a fundamentalist sect.

Jane explained that fundamentalists believe ‘righteousness exalts a nation’ but a nation that allows and legislates for sin is earmarked by God for destruction.

So, while we argue that our choice to hasten our own death, to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same sex doesn’t affect their lives, they see it entirely differently. For them, the price of conceding your right to autonomy over your body is to condemn the whole nation to God’s retribution. In this mindset, events like 9/11, the Global Financial Crisis or even the Black Saturday bushfires can be interpreted as reprisals visited upon a sinful nation. That’s why our ‘none of your business’ argument falls on deaf ears. For them, it’s very much their business.

I asked a friend who was raised in the Pentecostal church how fundamentalists justify the kinds of lies and deceit I’ve discussed with you today. He replied, “They think they’re saving lives. Wouldn’t you tell a lie if you thought it would save a life?”

Often, fundamentalists are written off as ‘dumb’. But this isn’t true. Many people caught up in fundamentalism are highly intelligent. So, why do they seem so impervious to reason?

Jane explained to me that, when you’re in that fundamentalist mindset, every piece of information has to be sorted and pigeon-holed as either Biblical or unbiblical – and there are no grey areas. If the information doesn’t fit with a literalist Biblical worldview, it’s either creatively reinterpreted or rejected as “false teaching”. This art of creative re-interpretation explains why fundamentalists can read an academic paper that says one thing, and shamelessly report it as saying exactly the opposite. It explains why Paul Russell can think he won a debate which he lost. They simply co-opt information and mould it to fit with their Biblical world-view. If it can’t be moulded, they just shut it out.

In the transcript of this speech, I’m going to post a link to a video of Richard Dawkins trying to explain the evidence for evolution to a creationist. This woman is clearly not ‘dumb’ but if you watch the video you can almost see a force field in operation. She simply denies entry to anything that challenges her Biblical world-view. Dawkins could wheel out an entire library full of irrefutable evidence for evolution and it would not make one chink in her amour. It is really quite frightening to watch.

So, as much as we might like to think otherwise, you will never convince these hard-line groups and individuals with science and reason. They’re impervious to both.

Jane explained to me that fundamentalists believe humans are intrinsically evil. Only Biblical law will keep us from sliding down that slippery slope that leads to total depravity. Secular governments can’t be trusted to hold back the tide of evil – they serve man, not God. Good government can only be achieved by installing Godly governments, led by Christians, who will enact policies in strict accordance with Biblical law.

“Fundamentalists have a very narrow view of what ‘Godly government’ means,” says Jane, “it’s a Sharia like perspective.”

In America, the “Reclaim 7 Mountains” movement advocates a strategic approach for reclaiming nations for God. The seven mountains allude to seven key spheres of society: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion. A promotional video for the Reclaim 7 Mountains movement reminds viewers that before Christ returns, he expects his followers to establish an  “overcoming church, a church that’s the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, a church that knows how to possess and occupy.” The 7 mountains mandate, Lance Walnau explains is ‘template for warfare’.

The Australian Christian Lobby subscribes to the 7 Mountains philosophy and has initiated a long term strategy to achieve its aims. Some years ago, the Australian Christian Lobby established a programme called Compass, which identifies talented young evangelicals in high school and universities and mentors them into positions of influence in each of the seven spheres. Their stated aim is to have a “disproportionate effect within the culture.”

Pulling Back the Curtain – a Coalition for Choice?

You won’t defeat these groups with reason and evidence. I believe the only way to defeat them is to expose them and marginalise them. They’re a bit like the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz – they speak with a loud voice from behind a curtain of religious moral authority. But if you pull back the curtain to reveal the propaganda, the deceptions, the lies, the lack of reason and the theocratic aspirations, their power will begin to dissolve. Fundamentalists are a tiny minority, but, politically, they gain strength in numbers from middle Australia through a sustained campaign of fear-mongering propaganda. Surely, if reason and evidence won’t work, the strategy must be to alienate them from this middle ground and marginalise them politically. To some extent we’ve achieved that, this year, with the Australian Christian Lobby. (Although it helps that Jim Wallace and Wendy Francis from the ACL keep shooting themselves in the foot!)

Today, I’ve tried to give you some insight into the strategies of those who oppose voluntary euthanasia and I’ve tried to pan out a bit to let you see this is not a battle you’re fighting alone – there are many groups out there who face exactly the same opponents, using exactly the same underhanded tactics. Why not compare notes, share strategies, and maybe even combine resources?

Working in alliance with other groups doesn’t mean that Dying with Dignity has to hit the hustings in favour of abortion or same-sex marriage; but it may mean forming something like a ‘Coalition for Choice’.

A ‘Coalition for Choice’ could help to expose Trojan horse organisations, shine a spotlight on religious propaganda and misinformation and subject religiously biased research to public scrutiny.  A ‘Coalition for Choice’ could work to win back the middle ground; to argue convincingly that in moments of crisis our greatest fear should surely be a lack of autonomy, of agency and of choice.

Conclusion – VE as a Tree in the ‘Secular Forest’

I’d like to end with an analogy. As campaigners for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia, you are defending a single tree in the secular forest, while the religious right plots to reduce the whole forest to woodchip. If you turn your attention from your tree for a moment, you’ll see that advocates for abortion rights, same-sex marriage, biomedical research and a whole range of other issues are all busily defending their trees as well.  It’s a matter of strategy. You can all go on just protecting your own pieces of shrubbery, or, you can join forces to form a cordon around the forest, or, better still, you can form a task force, storm the logger’s camp and immobilize their machinery.  It’s entirely up to you.

____________________________________

Bibliography

For ease of reference, I’ve sorted this list of key references, not alphabetically, but in the order in which their mentioned in the speech. It includes most, but not all of the links above. (Sadly, I didn’t quite reach my target of 707 footnotes!)

International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (1995), Euthanasia, False Light (Part Two). (Featuring Dr Robin Bernhoft’s ‘ballerina story’ at 5:53)

ABC Television (2011), Philosophical Q and A (Extracted on YouTube video: “ZOMGitsCriss (Cristina Rad) on Q&A (3/4)”, 19 September. (John Moxon from ProLiving repeats Bernhoft’s ‘ballerina story’)

Stevenson, Chrys and David Leaf (2011), “Activist Dead Wrong on Voluntary Euthanasia”, ABC Religion and Ethic, 18 October. (Refutation of Moxon’s anti-euthanasia rant on Q&A)

Stevenson, Chrys (2012), How to Win a Trojan War, Dying with Dignity NSW newsletter, February. (Describes a ‘war’ over the Trojan horse strategy in Australian feminism)

Reclaiming the 7 Mountains of Culture (website)

National Alliance of Christian Leaders (website), “Leading a nation – a political parable: If not Christian then what? If not Christians, then who?”

Stevenson, Chrys (2011), “Is the Australian Christian Lobby Dominionist?”, Religion and Ethics portal, ABC Australia (website), 19 September. (The ACL’s links to the 7 Mountains movement and other dominionist individuals and groups)

See also, Jim Wallace’s reply to my article (and my defence in the comments):

Wallace, Jim (2011), “Exposing Chrys Stevenson’s Blind Faith”, Religion and Ethics portal, ABC Australia (website), 23 September.

Horin, Adele (2011), “Support steadfast for death to ease pain”, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 January. (Australian Institute Poll results on Christian support for VE)

Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia (website)

Family Council of Victoria (website), “Abortion and Breast Cancer”.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (website) (2004), “RCOG Statement on Abortion and Breast Cancer”, 28 January.

Hanrahan, Paul (2012), “Abortion is not the only choice: a response to Lee Rhiannon”, The Drum, ABC (website).

Truth Wins Out (website) – see, for example “Dr. Robert Spitzer Tells Focus On The Family To Stop Exaggerating His Work”, “Dr. Kyle Pruett: James Dobson Twisted My Research”, “Dr. Carol Gilligan: James Dobson Distorts Research Again”.

Truth Wins Out (website) (2008), “Utah Professor Says “Ex-Gay’ Therapy Group Deliberately Misrepresented Her Research” (Professor Lisa Diamond confronts Dr Joe Nicolosi of NARTH)

Bridgstock, Martin and Ken Smith (eds) (1986 – revised 2001), Creationism: An Australian Perspective, Australian Skeptics Inc.

Trott, Richard (1994/199), “Duane Gish and Creationism: Richard Trott Critiques Duane Gish’s Presentation at Rutgers University”, Talk Origins (website).

Cath News (2011), Euthanasia Legislation a Slippery Slope: Cardinal Pell, June 20-24.

Dying with Dignity Victoria (2011), “YourLastRight.Com – the National Alliance, Dying with Dignity Victoria Newsletter”, Newsletter, Winter, No. 155. (See graph provided by Neil Francis, Your Last Right)

Kuhse, Helga, Peter Singer, Peter Baume, Malcolm Clark and Maurice Rickard (1997), “End-of-life decisions in Australian medical practice”, The Medical Journal of Australia, No. 166 (4): 191. (Compares Australian rates of non-voluntary euthanasia with the Netherlands)

Van der Heide, Agnes, et al (2007), “End-of-Life Practices in the Netherlands under the Euthanasia Act”, New England Journal of Medicine, May 10. (Provides useful explanation of how euthanasia ‘without explicit request’ is categorized)

See also:

Van der Maas, Paul, et al (1996), “Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and Other Medical Practices Involving the End of Life in the Netherlands, 1990–1995”, New England Journal of Medicine, 28 November. (Provides useful explanation of how euthanasia ‘without explicit request’ is categorized)

Toffler, William L (2010), “Oregon Patient with Dementia Given Suicide: Decision Falls Upon HMO Administrator”, Eternal Perspective Ministries. (Toffler is a ‘born-again’ Catholic).

Hamilton, Gregory N (2004), “Psychological Aspects of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide”, Nightingale Alliance, 26 June. (Hamilton is president of Oregon’s Physicians for Compassionate Care (co-founded by Toffler (see above). The Coalition of Compassionate Care strategically downplays its religious links in order to appear to be arguing from a ‘scientific’ perspective)

Hoover, Erin (1999), “Is Mom Capable of Choosing to Die”, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Oregon.

(A full account of the Kate Cheney story)

Russell, Paul (undated), “Disability and Euthanasia — A Personal Reflection”, HOPE – Preventing Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide (website). (Paul Russell is from the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide. This article contains Russell’s account of the Wagner story)

Attig, Rick (2008), “Sensationalizing a sad case cheats the public of sound debate”, Oregon Live (website). (Provides details on the Wagner story)

Liberty of Conscience in Medicine – a Declaration, “FAQs” (website)

Stevenson, Chrys (2011), “In Good Conscience?”, Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear (blog), 26 October. (Article about Liberty of Conscience in Medicine)

Online Catholics (2011), “Abortion Survey Lacks Credibility” . (Regarding the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute’s links with the Knights of the Southern Cross)

Douglas, Jane (2011), “The Way Out”, Impius Magazine, Launch Issue, August-October. (Jane describes her life in a fundamentalist sect. Importantly, while the Quiverfull movement may seem extreme, Jane insists that her fundamentalist views were widely shared in the mainstream (although not liberal) churches regularly attended by her family.)

Douglas, Jane (2011), “Christian guys and porkie pies”, Online Opinion, 30 May.

Falwell, Jerry and Pat Robertson, “Partial transcript of comments from the September 13, 2001 telecast of the 700 Club”, Act Up NY (website). (Falwell and Robertson blame pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians for bringing on the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington)

Malkin, Bonnie (2008), “Global financial crisis and ‘act of God:  An Australian MP has raised eyebrows by claiming the global financial crisis is an act of God”, The Telegraph, 22 March, UK.

Kerr, Christian (2009), “Peter Costello slams cult’s Victorian bushfire retribution claims”, The Australian, 11 February.

Video: Richard Dawkins Interviews Creationist Wendy Wright (Part 2/7) (Watch Wendy’s ‘force-field’ in action as Dawkins assaults her world-view with the evidence for evolution)

Seek Production Studios Ltd (undated), “Lance Walnau 7 Mountain [sic] Strategy”, (YouTube video), WSTK-ITV, Stoughton, Massachusetts. (Describes the 7 Mountains strategy as a ‘template for warfare’ – NB:  the Australian Christian Lobby subscribes to this dominionist philosophy)

Reclaiming the 7 Mountains of Culture, “Religion Organizations” (includes the Australian Christian Lobby on its list of organizations involved in “reclaiming the Religion Mountain or, a vibrant, powerful Church designed to reclaim the culture”)

Christian Today Australia (2007), “Interview: David Yates, Compass Co-ordinator”, 3 December.

Stevenson, Chrys (2011), “Anzac Day Cheapshot from Religious Extremist”, Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear (blog), 25 April. (The Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace and his infamous ANZAC day tweet)

Sini, Matthew (2011), “Rip & Roll for the children”, The Drum, ABC, 1 June. (Wendy Francis’ failed attempt to have a gay safe-sex ad removed from public view)


End Notes:

Bernhoft was still touting the link between vaccines and autism in 2008, long after it had been thoroughly debunked. There is no evidence of a link between autism and thiomersal (mercury). He also argues that autism is linked to oxidative stress – a claim for which there is very little evidence.

Dr Bernhoft and his co-author, Mary Jo Anderson, make liberal use of ‘evidence’ from the controversial, Dr Paul Cameron, for example.

The Nightingale Alliance, while not obviously religious, has a number of prominent Catholic anti-euthanasia campaigners on its board. Among them, William L Toffler MD, who has written of his commitment not to engage with any medical practice that conflicts with the clear and consistent teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.