Re: High Court Challenge to Federal Funding of Religious Program
- Hi Jonathan,
I have nothing against professional development (and neither does PAN, btw) of celebrants. If the government is going to foster the growth of the celebrancy industry it might as well foster the growth of the 'compliance industry' also. Two for one. And increase the scope of its own bureaucracy to boot.
What I do object to is the idea that the government can regulate which adults can *fully* employ the services of said celebrants. A man and a woman. This excludes same-sex couples, polyamorous relationships, carer-dependent relationships and those in small intentional communities such as monastic orders and covensteads, all of whom should be able to have their contractual relationships given recognition and support by society and the government. (And yes, I realize many celebrants, particularly Pagan ones, also do commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples...)
PAN's position is that the Commonwealth of Australia is violating the human rights of same-sex couples by not giving their unions equal recognition as hetero unions.
And yes, I think Pagans should look long and hard at the example set by the Hindu community, in many respects. Although if memory serves the Hare Krishnas are an independently recognised donomination.
PAN media officer.
- Hi Gavin,
I understand your view, believe me I do. Personally I also have a hard time swallowing that the government has the right to impose a religious test upon those seeking to provide religious marriage celebrants, and also that they changed the Act to stipulate that marriage is between a man and a woman. I agree this should not be the case, but in the absence of having several million dollars available to challenge these laws in the High Court, or a majority of politicians on our side, we are left with little choice but to deal with the law the way it is written. The same can be said for other areas such as legal protection for "ministers of religion" that receive information during a "confession". In many states this means that a "minister" can not be forced to divulge information received during the course of providing "confession" services. But pagans don't have confession, so why should our religious leaders not be entitled to the same legal protection just because we don't have "confessions"? I can think of a number of instances when a pagan HP or HPS may be consulted by someone for "spiritual guideance" because they have done something wrong, is it fair that these HP/HPS could then be forced to give evidence and divulge the contents of that conversation, when a Catholic, Anglican or any one of a number of other religious leaders would have legal protection against this?
You are correct that gaining recognition would require the creation of "clergy", but only because the marriage act refers to "Ministers of Religion", so again, in the absence of money to challenge we have to find a way to comply in the most multi-path friendly manner. UPC has an ordination programme, BUT, we do NOT tell our "clergy" how they must conduct their beliefs, or even what they can and can not believe. The programme is created to provide a way for those leaders interested to gain credentials as a valid "Minister of Religion". This has proven to be beneficial in some arena's such as hospital visits, but it is not necessarily something that would appeal to everyone or even be necessary in all circumstances, so it is something that we offer but do NOT make mandatory or necessary.
I fail to see the difference between how current civil celebrants (and those religious celebrants also) can incorporate the mandatory ceremony elements into a multitude of different pagan ceremonies, and how our "recognised" ceremony could likewise be used in a multitude of different handfastings and other ceremonies. As I said, the key is creating the bare essentials necessary to meet their requirements whilst allowing each celebrant to conduct the ceremony according to whatever beliefs/path/preferences they may have.
Our ultimate aim is to effect change that would allow individual groups to apply for registration themselves, which would of course mean UPC was redundant, however in the absence of this change we are trying to provide pagan leaders with an option to register religious celebrants. But, just because UPC gains recognition does not mean any other pagan group couldn't do the same, look at how many Christian groups are recognised! Any pagan group willing to meet the requirements could gain recognition, and I don't see why multiple groups couldn't achieve this if they don't agree with UPC policies. In fact, UPC is happy to help ANY other group achieve the same rights as we achieve, FREE, even if that group will be operating in opposition to ourselves. We are not here to create a monopoly but to help gain the same rights for pagan groups that other religions already enjoy. I know that not everyone will agree with us, and not everyone will want to be part of what we are doing, and that is fine - we have always made the open offer to help ANYONE with any case of intolerance or prejudice irrespective of that persons views on UPC, we don't just restrict our help to those that agree with us! I honestly don't know how much more open and non-controlling we can be?
--- In WitchesWorkshop@yahoogroups.com, "Media Officer" <media@...> wrote:
> Hi Martin,
> >The aim of UPCoA would be to set the bare essential part to satisfy the legal requirements allowing celebrants to customise the entire ceremony format.
> > Just as current civil celebrants do for Pagan couples...
> > Fail to see how that could be elitism in any way?
> It is. For the best possible motives I'm sure, but it is. According to the advice you received from the AG and posted here...
> "d) have evidence that these congregations recognise the authority of the central body with regards to the appointment of celebrants."
> We are talking about accreditation of clergy here. So unless you plan to get every Pagan in Australia registered as a religious celebrant [pauses for *that* image] there is going to be a priesthood and a laity. It may not start out that way, but then, neither did the Christians.
> And also:
> "At time of application for recognition it is up to the body to provde a copy of the form of marriage ceremony that celebrants will follow. This is where you deal with the "until death do us part" bit by wording it in a more pagan friendly manner."
> Once the government has advice on the form that a handfasting should take that it regards as definitive, that instantly excludes any other forms. Pidgeon-holing, categorising and defining procedures are the bread and butter of government bureaucracies.
> Of course, if you have the energy and dedication to gather sufficient numbers to this cause, then I say good luck to you. Change only occurs at the hands of people who actually participate in the process.
> Gavin Andrew
> PAN media officer.