Published on Australian Independent Media Network (AIMN) 20.6.23
How bad is this? Australia ranks 3rd behind the state-owned print media of China and Egypt, as the most highly concentrated media in private hands. Corporate monopolies dominate the economy, and global gambling syndicates monopolise Australian sport. Both fit comfortably with the nation’s monopolised media.
But let’s not overlook religion. The Catholic church has an estimated wealth of $500 Billion. Just ponder that figure for one moment – $500 Billion! And the Pentecostal megachurches are worth billions too. Hillsong alone took in $3.7m in 2021, and its empire is worth billions.
Corporate religion also fits comfortably with a concentrated media model – and it does as much damage as global monopolies and gambling syndicates. TV, radio and print provide the spiritual balm to pacify the masses.
It’s why mainstream media has a phobia about atheism, including the public broadcasters. More shortly.
But the atheist voice does need to be heard — a reminder that reason, science and critical thought are essential factors in dealing the with real world; that it’s too easy to be drawn into the glitz and hype of Pentecostalism. And why kids continue to be subjected to parental indoctrination, to believe in supernatural deities.
A public majority do know that Christian history is riven with legend and myth. But with an incestuous bond between government, Christianity and mainstream media there’s a blanket veto to openly discuss the issue.
Literally hundreds of eminent historians and religious scholars have been saying for centuries that the “divine miracle-working Jesus” is pure fable. That the four gospels were written by unknown Christians up to 100 years after the death of their messiah, and the entire account is riddled with contradictions and outright fabrications.
Just one eminent biblical scholar — among countless others — is Dr Bart Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina. He says plainly:
“In the entire first Christian century Jesus is not mentioned by a single non-Christian Greek or Roman historian, religious scholar, politician, philosopher or poet. His name never occurs in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence.”
Meanwhile thousands of innocent people get drawn down this religious rabbit hole with the high-pitch spiel of “salvation” or the false promises of wealth from “prosperity gospel” preachers. It’s no different to the corporate mantra of “trickle-down economics” or the get rich quick gospel of the sports betting syndicates.
But Christianity maintains its pious status, with church leaders wielding undue influence both politically and socially – through education at all levels, through health services and at every level of mainstream media.
We now have a new media veto; do not discuss the fatal flaws of religious provenance.
There are many legitimate and pointed questions for self-righteous Christian apologists — those who regurgitate centuries-old and finely-tuned references in defence of their messiah. When the gospels are exposed (see above) the fallback texts come from saint Paul.
But beware, as 6 of his 13 epistles are fake, and all his references to Jesus are only through “visions and hallucinations”. Just go back and read them for yourself! And beware, too, of those trying to validate Jesus with references to Josephus, or pointing to Seneca, Tacitus, Philo or Thallus, and others.
No, there were no credible non-Christian eye-witnesses to verify the life and death of the allegedly “divine” Nazarene. Return to the quote from Dr Bart Ehrman, above. Or read one of the most forensically researched books by contemporary historian Dr Richard Carrier; “On the Historicity of Jesus”.
SBS and ABC are both culpable in also failing to challenge the vague history of Christianity.
Just three recent examples where our publicly funded media refused to provide a “balanced and opposing viewpoint.” But the ABC is notorious for stacking discussion panels with religious guests, with no room for a secular perspective. Q&A and The Drum top the list, not to mention the 7 religion-related programs run by the ABC’s nest of religious devotees, known as the Religion and Ethics Department (R&E).
Case No 1: The ABC’s 2-part doco “Folau” got is wrong when they failed to question the error of Folau’s post: “Warning – Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters. HELL AWAITS YOU. REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES”.
It was not, as claimed, a quote from saint Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians 5:19:21. Homosexuality is NOT listed in that Epistle – the word was added to make a religious and political attack on innocent people, and it took the Sydney Morning Herald to finally correct the ABC’s poor research.
And at no point in the program was a legitimate question asked of any secular, rationalist or atheist organisation to comment on the growing problem of fundamentalist Christians weaponising the bible.
Case No 2: Marc Fennell produced the recent SBS documentary The Kingdom, allegedly “to investigate” the Pentecostal megachurches such as Hillsong. Fennell claims to be an ex-Pentecostal but what we see is an endless round of cosy “fire-side” chats with leaders of some up-and-coming Pentecostal churches.
It feels like a fundamentalist travelogue to see who might be the next “big thing” – a new megachurch to replace the dwindling status of the scandal-ravaged global empire of Hillsong. Again, no questions to secular experts on slick Pentecostal staging, the speaking in tongues, the religion’s dubious provenance, and the unethical preaching of a “prosperity gospel” that sucks thousands of people down this evangelical rabbit hole.
Case No 3: Regrettably, even Four Corners drops the ball with its recent doco “Purity: An Education in Opus Dei”. Supposedly, it’s an expose of what many consider a Catholic cult. All we see are some very nice young people who have clearly been damaged by Opus Dei schools which operate a strict and seemingly oppressive agenda.
But, again, it’s the same superficial treatment. This is Opus Dei for goodness sake – where was the relevant ‘background’ on this very strange off-shoot of Catholicism that clearly damages students with its controversial methods of discipline.
Religious doctrine is not immune to being challenged on its dubious provenance.
All Australian media need to stop placing religionists and their beliefs on a purple pedestal and closing down a serious debate. Religious doctrine is not a protected species, under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Nor can belief in a supernatural deity demand any special consideration or respect – over and above that given to secular humanists, rationalists and atheists. How “special” do you think you are?
Indeed, eminent philosopher and atheist Daniel Dennett once said – referring to Christian outrage against New Atheists; “I listen to all these complaints about rudeness and intemperateness, and I have only one response.”
Dennett concluded; “There is no polite way of asking somebody, ‘…have you ever considered the possibility that your entire life has been devoted to a delusion?’ That’s a very good question, and of course it will certainly offend some people. Well, that’s tough!”
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