Just Ignore Extremists like Pocock

Recently making news has been a candidate for the ACT Legislative Assembly, Philip Pocock, an outlier in social beliefs. Responding to a questionnaire sent by the local archdiocese of the Catholic Church, he now famously stated that . . . Well, there’s no point in publishing it. Anybody who would have been interested has probably already seen it shared on Facebook or by local news websites.

These posts predictably attracted comments condemning the attitude and warning people to pay attention to who they voted for.

A lot of people questioned his status as a practising psychologist (yet to be confirmed), but most provided a simple answer for his views: religion. I have seen comments that state his beliefs are merely the beliefs of most Catholics or Christians (people have a tendency to group all believers together for convenience).

Perhaps it is the conception that people have of organised religion. It is easy to believe that most religions have a set list of beliefs, and require all members to subscribe to them, but this has never been the case. Despite the best efforts of the early Christian Church, nobody has ever formed a coherent view of our existence that has been acceptable to any more than a small fraction of the Christian people. The first thousand years of church history is one of argument, rebuttal and heresy. Various groups that disagreed on core teachings either existed in the same church, agreeing to disagree (the Orthodox Church is especially good at this), or split to form new churches.

It is for this reason I believe it is unfair to group Pocock’s beliefs with the majority of Christians.

I am a Christian, part of that vast majority that only attends mass intermittently, and that chooses to view scripture as a product of the time it was written, rather than as a universal, unchanging document for all time.

When one reviews the core message of Christianity, it is generally not about small details, but mostly about love. Love for one another and love for God. It is hard to reconcile this encompassing message with seemingly irrelevant details about who you choose to love, or what consenting adults might get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms.

Certainly the Catholic Church does not have a pleasant history of acceptance and love itself, perhaps accounting for falling attendance at organised services.

But the Church is not religion itself. Despite their frantic urge to prove lineage from Peter with direction from God, it is clearly a worldly construct, and one that we can ignore if we choose.

Coming back to the question at hand, it is clear that Pocock’s message is not one of love. He clearly has no regard and love for a section of society, and would like to see that most secular of all enterprises, the law, regulate the domain of love.

It’s blatantly ridiculous. Is it worth discussing? Of course not. By spreading his message through social media and news media, we are not rejecting his message outright, but saying “I’m afraid of this message”. I believe people should save their voices for the ballot box, where it is clear he will be wiped out.