The Null Device

Reverend Nile reaches out to hypothetical Muslims

Today's heartwarming display of ecumenical outreach between religions comes to us courtesy of Australian Christian-right parliamentarian Reverend Fred Nile, who has tabled a bill to ban toplessness on beaches, to protect the sensibilities of Muslims and Asians who are not used to such licentiousness:
The Reverend Nile has rejected allegations that prudishness is behind a bill he has prepared to ban nudity, including topless sunbathing, on the state's most popular beaches.
Australia's reputation as a conservative but culturally inclusive sociery was at risk of erosion by more liberal overseas visitors, he said.
Of course, Australia has only been a "conservative society" for some 11 years. Well, and all the time up to the Whitlam government in the 1970s, but that was a long time ago. Now, it's gradually and haltingly inching its way back towards a Western secular-liberal consensus. (Not at any great rate, mind you; video games unsuitable for children are still outlawed, film censorship is still handled by the Howard government's conservative appointees, and there is that national firewall proposal that keeps lumbering forward, zombie-fashion, despite not being remotely viable; but still...) Some people, though, don't want to abandon their dream of Australia as a spiritually pure Kingdom of Prester John in the South.
"Our beaches should be a place where no one is offended, whether it's their religious or cultural views," he said.
No-one? I wonder whether this extends to the Wahhabi Muslims who would be offended by the exposure of naked female ankles and elbows, or even faces, on Reverend Nile's modesty-enhanced beaches. Or even by the fact that men and women can be on the same beach in each other's company. Unless Reverend Nile is prepared to mandate full gender segregation of beaches and the full burqa for women, I suspect he is being a wee bit hypocritical.

There are 5 comments on "Reverend Nile reaches out to hypothetical Muslims":

Posted by: Ken Sun Jan 4 22:10:24 2009

I wonder how many Muslims were offended by Fred's calls to limit Muslim migration.

Posted by: Greg Mon Jan 5 22:07:35 2009

At first blush this seems like an obvious scam - Fred Nile isn't at all interested in the sensibilities of muslims. But I wonder ... what if this represents a genuine attitude-change for his sector of christianity? Saying "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", looking for common ground in a minor foe, seeking to join forces against the major foe of secularism? It seems unlikely, but every development in religion since 2001 has seemed unlikely to me. I really thought "santa for grownups" was dead and buried.

Posted by: acb Mon Jan 5 22:33:56 2009

One does see conservative fringers, from time to time, deciding that secularism/liberalism is so great an evil that the hardliners of utterly different religions are closer to their own values than the secularists and liberals of their own culture and historical legacy. How long these ecumenical alliances last has yet to be determined.

Posted by: acb Mon Jan 5 23:28:49 2009

Mind you, the religious right aren't the only ones to bed down with strange bedfellows. In the US, there was a political party named Respect, convened by neo-Stalinist hard-leftist George Galloway, and consisting of a sometimes fractious coalition of Marxists/Trotskyists and Islamists. It ended up disintegrating amidst acrimony a while ago.

Posted by: acb Mon Jan 5 23:29:29 2009

Sorry, that should read "in the UK". Both Marxists and Islamists are in short supply in the US political sphere.