John Hargreaves

TBS Boomers: The method behind Margaret Court’s madness

The thoughts of Margaret Court are well documented, however, I think it’s time we take serve at her beliefs to find fault.

 

 

 

When I was born, at a very early age, let me tell you, my parents quickly baptised me into the Roman Catholic Church. Through this august institution (and really, who wants to be committed to an institution?) I underwent the usual brainwashing and spiritual socialisation that many of us did. I learnt that the Good Lord sent his son to die for us and for all men and women and kids too.

I didn’t at that time think of God as someone’s imaginary friend. He (and I’m not sure anymore about the gender bit) was real and knew everything (including my naughty thoughts about that delicious young girl next door), was everywhere (nowhere to hide for the budding agnostic like me) and loved everyone (even those kids He let get cancer and those kids who were blown up in Manchester).

Well, “relevance” I hear you shout. Okay. I share one thing, and only one thing, with Margaret Court. We were both Catholics.

I now put on my census forms RC (retired Catholic), and she was born that way but left the one true church for the Pentecostal lot in the 1970s. A hero in this life through unimaginable tennis feats, most of which only tennis tragics can recall, she seeks a heavenly berth in the next, through saving our souls and bashing up the gays and lesbians. But first a potted history of this Western Australian saint.

Maggie embraces the happy clappers in the church called Victory of Life, an offshoot of the Assembly of God (AOG) in the US, and got her theological qualifications, mail order no doubt, through the Rhema Bible Centre in Tulsa Oklahoma. Whoever heard of the Rhema Bible Centre? (I thought Rhema was a brand of hot water system, but there you go.) It’s the same part of the Rhema Bible Church in Tulsa in which Brian J Baker, a would-be evangelist, got qualified, ordained by Pastor Kenneth E Hagin (who else, I ask you?). Yeah well Rhema got into financial difficulties thanks to the recession in the late ’80s, and was rebranded the Riverview Church by Brian’s son, Phil. I digress but wonder if the Rev Baker Snr’s autobiography is entitled “The Life of Brian”…just a thought.


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So young Phil brings the Riverview Church to Burswood in Perth – the same suburb as the casino. (Well why not? They’re both money-making institutions.) So Maggie gets her quals from the same Rhema Bible Centre and starts her own offshoot – Margaret Court Ministries (MCM). Remember that the school which gave Maggie the quals was in Tulsa? Yeah well, Maggie also gets an honorary doctorate from the Oral Roberts University in the same town – Tulsa. Starting to sound like a sect to me. She got a PHd, LLD Hon!

Rev Maggie becomes the Senior Minister in the MCM (nice to have a church named after you, eh?) and next thing you know, she’s got the whole lot off the ground, singing and clapping and in general, bothering the Good Lord something awful. This is why we call them God-botherers. Little hint here. She is also a patron of Drug Free Australia (which hates the harm minimisation approach) and the Australian Family Association. I thought Brian Harradine had died or something but again there you go. A Western Australian Fred Nile? This gives her a platform to attack the LGBTI community, she thinks, and her latest little pearler is to belt Alan Joyce for having the temerity of supporting marriage between people of the same sex. And hasn’t she got it between the eyes for it too? Well-deserved, I say!

Like so many other God-botherers, she forgets that marriage in Australia is a two-stage process for those who want it. Hey Maggie, there is a separation of church and state here in Oz! We don’t have Sharia Law for Christians! The only recognition of a marriage for the purposes of legality is through state-sanctioned marriage processes. Couples really only have to go through this bit to be legally married, and God has nothing to do with it. This is about recognition of a partnership, a legal pathway to inheritance and shared legal liabilities.


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If couples want to be married in the eyes of the Lord, or whichever deity they prefer, then they can have a separate one in the sacred venue of their choice.

The confusing thing for those who don’t delve into the separation is that often ministers of religion are also marriage celebrants. That could be fixed, I reckon. Like in France, where it requires two separate ceremonies. You can’t be married unless a civil celebrant has performed the ceremony. I confess to being a big supporter of LGBTI rights. These people are people, guys! They have feelings, guys! And they love and hate, bleed and hope and hurt, just like the rest of us.

I don’t care if people of the same sex fall in love and want to shout it from the rooftops. Please do. This doesn’t affect the quality of my life — and don’t give me that bumph about marriage is between a man and a woman for the sake of the kids. I’ve seen kids wrecked inside and outside a “normal” marriage. I’ve seen it and it is usually because the partnership becomes dysfunctional even where there is a different-sex union. And don’t give me any of that “marriage is for the procreation of the species” nonsense, either. I have been happily married for over 30 years and have no kids by that marriage. Am I a blight on society?

For my part, I also will defend the right of people to express their views even if they differ from me. I will also defend the right of those who wish to reply in kind. Exhorting people to boycott Qantas was an expression of blackmail and to be deplored.

Adding my voice to that of the LGBTI community, I say to Maggie Court…get off their case. Go back and talk in tongues to your imaginary friend and leave people alone. You have no right to get into people’s hearts and twist them.

You have no mandate over their souls.

 

John Hargreaves

John Hargreaves was a Labor MP from 1998-2012 and is a lifetime member of the Labor Party. In a storied career, he was Government Whip as well as the Minister for Disability and Housing, Multicultural Affairs, Industrial Relations, Corrections and Industrial Relations among others.

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