On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) hour-long current affairs panel show, The Drum, a discussion commenced at 48.05 which talked about research that indicated some 40% of “Australians of faith feel that they need to hide their religious beliefs in some way” and were “anxious that they might be judged or misunderstood”. This result was said to be based on a survey of only 1000 people1, so it is difficult to be certain how accurate it is. For comparison, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamic in Australia (HILDA) survey conducted by the University of Melbourne has a sample size about 17,000. However, the survey mentioned on The Drum was conducted by Mainstreet Insights, a cooperative effort from Reventure and McCrindle. You may have heard of Mark McCrindle before, as he was the subject of an episode of the ABC’s Media Watch in October 2011. As Mediawatch said: McCrindle Research is “an outfit that’s given rise to literally hundreds of stories for the Australian mainstream media – mostly those frothy, what-are-we-really-like yarns that the media – and presumably therefore, media consumers like you and me – adore”. In this report, it was stated that while he stated he did surveys of 1,000 people, in one case, as few as 12% (118) responded to the survey2. While any doubt about the quality of the survey does not seem to have entered the consciousness of those preparing topics for discussion on The Drum, it doesn’t surprise me that the religious are getting a bit nervous about reactions to public expressions of their religiosity.
Ironically, this discussion began after one which was partly about the bombing of the girls’ school in Afghanistan1. Whether the Taliban committed this is unclear (they have denied responsibility), but that group believes that girls should not be educated. That is apparently a religious belief. I could never respect such a belief, however lacking in murderous intent the believers were. Similarly, a belief that women who have been raped and have become pregnant because of it, should be forced to have the child, or a belief that homosexuality is an abomination, or a belief that people should be made to suffer and never be allowed voluntary assisted dying, or that atheists are immoral, are beliefs that are not worthy of respect. Indeed, they are only worthy of disgust or ridicule.
For many, many hundreds of years, many religious people and their church hierarchies have demanded that they be respected for their ‘faith’ as if that is something of which to be proud. Those days are now coming to an end because religion is declining all around the world3-5. Many of the religious find this hard to cope with, as it is something they have never experienced before. They are heading for equality and it freaks them out. In the not too distant future, having a religious belief will be just as worthy of respect as being a member of a particular football club.