Christian response to Rationalist plan
More Australians recorded “No religion” in the 2016 Census than any other individual religion or denomination. Surging from 22.3 percent in 2011 to 30.1 percent. “The lack of secular voices in the media perpetuates Christian privilege. Declining religiosity hasn’t lessened the influence of the increasingly unrepresentative lobby groups claiming to speak for mainstream Australians…. While fewer people believe all the tenets of scripture, the religious hierarchy successfully pressures politicians to maintain a biblical view of marriage, to oppose assisted dying, and to continue to over-subsidize Catholic schools.”
The Rationalist Society of Australia has observed that despite the fact that number of Australians explicitly rejecting religious affiliation has grown significantly between 1901 and 2016, as shown by Census responses, the influence of religion in politics is increasing. They have produced a ’10 Point Plan for a Secular Australia’ which calls for:
Point 1. A secular, pluralistic and democratic Australia
• Government policies should be based on evidence, reason and compassion, and protect the human rights of all Australians.
• Everyone should be free to choose and hold their own religious or non-religious worldviews, provided they do not impose such views on others, and provided practices associated with such worldviews do no harm.
Point 10. Guaranteed control over one’s own body, free from religious interference, when facing the end of life
• ‘Advance directives’ should be given legal force.
• Physician-assisted suicide, with appropriate safeguards, should be decriminalised.
• Governments should fund non-religious palliative care services.
In the latest edition of ‘The Australian Rationalist’ (Winter 2017) is a very good article by Ian Wood, the National Coordinator of Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia (pictured). It is entited ‘Tis an end devoutly to be wished: An examination of how we think about dying’ and includes the following:
I have perused the RSA 10 point Plan, and find I agree essentially with every point, however I particularly wish to comment on Point 10: ‘Guaranteed control over one’s own body, free from religious interference, when facing the end of life.’… It may surprise members of the RSA, but the majority of Australians who designate themselves as Christian, support Point 10….
…Why do our Christian Group members support assisted dying? Essentially for the same reason as members of RSA. None of us wish to die in horrific ways such as uncontrollable vomiting of blood and faecal material due to an inoperable blocked bowel, fungating tumours where the body is rotting from the inside, or drowning in your own saliva from MND, to list just three examples.
Terminal sedation is accepted by the medical profession and the Catholic Church as an appropriate and religiously ethical last resort, as the stated intention is ‘to relieve suffering’. No reporting is involved, and the patient need not even be asked. Yet if the dying patient requested, “Rather than starve me to death in a coma, with the trauma of having my family watch this slow death, please give me the next few days medication in a single dose”, this would be illegal. As Christians we ask why it is morally acceptable that the slow death procedure should be legal but not the other alternative? I feel sure RSA members would question this too.
“It is surely hypocritical for a Church that has endorsed the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the burning of ‘heretics’ who simply disagree with church doctrine, to pontificate on the sanctity of life! Many want nothing to do with a God described as loving who would also require them to die in agony with futile suffering.”
Click for PDF of the full article – Ian Wood article in The Australian Rationalist Winter 2017