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Izzy, the false 'silent majority' and sport in Australia

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Roar Rookie
9th May, 2019
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1662 Reads

As a beloved rugby fan the last six weeks have disheartened me.

Firstly, in a World Cup year the Australian teams have been up and down like yo-yos when it comes to performance, but that is not what has frustrated me.

Of late it has been the Izzy sideshow that has taken up so many words and time in the media. The most sickening part is the focus many respondents have had on the ‘silent majority’ and the right to religious freedom as a justification.

I’m a Reds fan and love watching the way Samu Kerevi attacks the game. It’s obvious he is a religious man, as every time he scores he touches his heart then points to the sky, recognising the lord he loves.

What Izzy did was different, it doesn’t reflect the silent majority, and I would challenge that belief, especially with it being a basis of the defence his defenders are presenting.

Israel Folau looks on

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Most of the people arguing in the defence of Izzy stated the silent majority with its Christian beliefs have the right to express itself and its beliefs because that is what the Australian population reflects. Izzy was just doing that.

For those with that argument, I hate to break it to you, but empirical data argues the opposite.

Why do I say that?

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Well, the silent Christian majority did exist. It was in there. The census numbers reflect that.

In 1986 it was 73 per cent of the population, in 1996 it was 71 per cent of the population, in 2006 it was 64 per cent of the population and in 2011 it was 61 per cent of the population.

Notice the trend?

Now let’s look at the 2016 census. The key facts numbers are:

  1. only 52.5 per cent of people identify as Christian;
  2. of those, 40 per cent identified as either Catholic, Uniting or Anglican, and though I can’t say for certain, I would guess a third of these would be lapsed and would not recognise the Christian beliefs he has promoted as being in their own belief system. – it’s more, ‘I grew up that way and tick the box’;
  3. of Izzy’s earlier religion (Mormon, no numbers on AOG), only 0.3 per cent of the population identified, which is clearly a very small percentage;
  4. other religions (Buddhism, Sikh, Islam et cetera) are presently 7.4 per cent of the population; and
  5. as a perspective, the religion of Jedi was 0.3 per cent in the 2011 census but was removed for 2016.

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So, if we take these numbers, we are looking at a Christian minority of 40 per cent. We are no longer a Christian country; we are secular.

Put this into perspective: 61.6 per cent of the population said yes to gay marriage. That’s a big difference.

The fallacy of a Christian silent majority becomes obvious. It doesn’t exist.

The reality is we are a nation of sport lovers who as a society have a broad and varied belief around lifestyles. So let’s talk about sport. It is the great equaliser. It provides any person the capability with the right dedication and skill the potential to build a great life and to represent this great country that gives everyone the ability to live the life they want.

It also, due to its nature, raises people who would otherwise not have a public profile up into a space where they can build an amazing social media following. They can have a great impact on positively influencing a whole lot of lives. With that comes with responsibility, especially when some of their religious beliefs don’t reflect our societal norms.

Freedom of religion is to practice your religion – that’s a personal thing, not a public thing. If you want to thank your selective god on the sporting field, you can. If you want to state your religion on your profile, you can. If you want to actively promote a belief structure that doesn’t reflect our society, you have an issue.

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Freedom of speech is different. It needs to reflect societal norms. If the argument is a bigoted statement coming from a delusional aspect of love based on a minority religious belief, it should not be accepted. If it’s promoted by an individual who has a significant following thanks to our passion for sport, then that’s not right.

So back to my earlier statement: I love the passion around thanking those spiritually for your success on the field and even after if in a humble and personal way.

For those of you who see the ability to use that platform to promote, even if misguided or misunderstood, bigotry and denigration of other people’s life choices based on them not being the ‘silent majority’s beliefs’, take a breath and realise the country has changed.

Rather than rallying against the change, tap your breast, point to the sky and reaffirm your beliefs; don’t push them on others.

The silent majority is now one of inclusion. Sport should be reflecting and promoting that. In the case of Izzy, it is.