28 November 2009


Atheists feel cold shoulder
November 26, 2009

ATHEISTS have accused the Brumby Government of discriminating against them by refusing to fund the movement's global conference in Melbourne but giving $2 million to a religious conference.
The Parliament of the World's Religions begins on December 3 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. It has received $2 million from the Federal Government and $500,000 from Melbourne City Council.
The Atheist Foundation of Australia says it approached all three levels of government for a total of $270,000 for its conference, to be held at the same venue early next year, but has received no funding.
''This is a world-class event with world-class academic and intellectual speakers,'' foundation president David Nicholls said.
''If I was the Catholic Church they'd be all over me like a rash. This is an ideological decision.''
Some tourism dollars worth less
November 27, 2009

AS ONE of 4 million-plus non-religious Australians, I'm outraged that Labor governments are putting $4 million of taxpayers' money into a religious event, but have refused funding for Melbourne's Global Atheist Convention.
You only have to search the internet to see how news of this event is spreading internationally. Isn't that what the funding is for: to promote tourism to Australia and Victoria?
I will be travelling to the convention in March. Does the Brumby Government value my tourist dollars less than those of a theist? If so, I will be careful to restrict my spending while in Victoria and I won't be in a hurry to return to a state where non-theists are obviously not wanted.
Chrys Stevenson, Mapleton, Qld
Was application read?
I WOULD be tempted to think there may be some kind of religious bias in the Government's decision especially as I wrote to Tourism Victoria, the department responsible for funding not-for-profit international conferences, only to be told it did not provide funding for business conferences.
The Atheist Foundation is a registered not-for-profit organisation and this was clearly stated in the application. From the department's answer I can only assume the application for assistance was rejected without even being read.
Doug Steley, Cowwarr
Christians agree with bias
AS A Christian minister I agree with my atheist friends on this one - it appears they have been discriminated against on the basis of religion.
It's all very ironic and kind of humorous, given the Brumby Government's social engineering reconstruction project for Victoria. As a taxpayer I don't support funding a conference for atheists (how much money do they need to say ''God is not there''?), and I also don't agree with funding the ''World Parliament of Religions''. I would have thought that putting the money into hospitals would be a better investment.
Murray Campbell, minister, Mentone Baptist Church, Mentone
Blurring the boundaries between church and state
THE Government's funding decision is not surprising. Religious lobby groups have formed a very powerful relationship with government far, far beyond the numbers they represent. This continual assault on the equality of non-believers in supernatural things is going to prove costly. We really have had enough.
The State Government's decision to grant $2 million to a world religious conference, also in Melbourne, reveals a bias that disregards our status as a secular nation. This is just another example of the blurring of the separation of the church from the state.
Warren Bonett, Pomona, Qld
Where's the money going?
WHERE are the missing delegates to the Parliament of World Religions and where is all the money going?
Original claims of about 13000 delegates have now been reduced to 5000 by John Brumby. With funding of $4.5 million from taxpayers and ratepayers, that is nearly $1000 per head.
What have they spent the money on?
Andrew Rawlings, Blackburn
All welcome to attend
ATHEISTS need not ''feel the cold shoulder'' (The Age, 26/11) because the State Government has provided funding to a multi-religious, not a religious, event.
Everyone who is willing to be respectful of the views of others is welcome at the Parliament of the World's Religions, including atheists. They, too, are part of the rich diversity of religious and philosophical value bases that ennobles our life in Melbourne.
Professor Gary D. Bouma, Monash University

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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm