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Valuing Secularism in Syria – Important speech by Susan Dirgham

Susan Dirgham describes herself as a peace activist. Her peace activism dates back to her involvement in the anti-Vietnam war movement when she became aware that lies were being told to promote the War, when even apparently well-intentioned people could believe these lies and spread them. She writes, "And at that time, in the US especially, it required informed, courageous individuals in the media, in churches and academia to challenge those lies in order for there to be peace. And in the countries of Indo-China, an extraordinary level of courage and resilience was needed to survive war. To sow sectarian hatred, to damn a person or a group of people or even another nation only takes a few stories, repeated over a period of time by people in positions of influence and then accepted as a truth." Susan identifies a formula for writing [propaganda] on the conflict in Syria. It is to invoke the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government as if this were established fact and to "Damn Assad and the Alawites and your article has a good chance of getting published even if you know virtually nothing." She gives the example of a Waleed Aly article doing just this, ironically just a week after the presidential election in Syria when there was a truly exceptional voter turnout and the president received overwhelming endorsement by Syrians. At the end of her speech, Susan warns that if Syria falls the danger of World War Three will be acute. Susan's highly informative and moving speech was delivered at a Social Policy Connections Public Forum at The Study Centre, Yarra Theological Union, on 6 November. The speech was filmed and we hope to be able to link to the film soon.

Darwinism, secularism, religion and education in Australia - 1860s to 21st Century

What underlies the Australian establishment's antipathy to and ignorance of nature? The conflict between religion and science, and the roles played by 'colonial rationalists', the Catholic Church, and the State in the suppression of flourishing scientific debate and celebration of Australia's unique ecology. How controversy preceding the passage of the Victorian Education Act 1872 (which was intended to secularise education) derived from a rearguard defence against the growing influence of Darwin, to the lasting demotion of natural science and respect for environment and other creatures in mass media and government. This article was published in response to "Anglican Church Australia Overpopulated discussion paper - entire," and comments by Vivienne Ortega and John Marlowe

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