The recent incident involving seven rugby league players from Manly who refused to wear a jersey promoting homosexuality is yet another sign of the times. In particular, that the LGBTIQ juggernaut now requires everyone to bow down in worship whenever their distinctive music sounds (i.e. Daniel 3). 

It’s a good reminder that just because fewer and fewer people in Australia are identifying as being Christian, doesn’t mean that they are any less ‘religious’. It’s just that they have another gospel. As Stephen McAlpine wrote:

I think Nathan Campbell’s article (he’s a Manly tragic) had some wise insights, but it did sail a little close to putting these seven men into the situation where, unless they are hyper-squeaky clean on absolutely everything else, they have no right to refuse to wear the Pride jersey. That puts a level of pressure on them that I don’t think is warranted. 

 And I disagree with Nathan that somehow to wear the Pride jersey would be a sign of solidarity with others for the sake of winning them to the gospel. Here’s the problem with that: The Pride jersey is promoting a gospel already. Slipping it over your head is not conceding that “Yes,   alcohol can wreck lives and yes, betting can cause financial ruin and family damage”, it’s saying ‘I believe in this. In fact, I’m proud of it”. 

 You see the Pride story is a good news story itself. It’s an alternate gospel. 

Of all the ink spilt by the progressive commentariat over the actions of “The Manly Seven” though, none were as patronising or condescending as Charles Wooley who wrote:

…the rainbow line marks the place where the rigid moral intolerance of 19th century Methodist missionaries collides with 21st century Australian virtue signalling.

In choosing to save souls in the Pacific Islands, the Methodist missionaries fleeing the dirty, grim world of the British Industrial Revolution picked a lovely spot in which to preach the fierce word of their god.

The Pacific was already paradise enough, but the missionaries sought to improve it with god-fearing lashings of Protestant sexual guilt. 

For those no doubt, well-intentioned Methodists, the notion of any relationship more Greek than English was certain to be abominated for all time. But anthropologists, like the great Margaret Mead, have recorded plenty of unchurch-like activity going on in traditional Pacific society.

In 1928 in Coming of Age in Samoa she writes: “Romantic love, as it occurs in our civilisation, inextricably bound up with ideas of monogamy, exclusive, jealousy and undeviating fidelity, does not occur in Samoa.”

That was grist to the Methodist mill. They were really a miserable fun-hating bunch of moral straighteners and regulators. 

In the Pacific Islands, there was so much innocent human pleasure to destroy. No argument. For the missionaries, it was their way or the highway… to hell. 

Unfortunately, Wooley seems to be completely unaware that the ‘great’ Margaret Mead has been thoroughly discredited academically by Derek Freeman from the Australian National University (ANU). For an excellent summary of the debate see the following documentary by Frank Heimans (1988). 

Significantly, Mead herself was only in Samoa for a little over five months and never returned after her book was published. But years later, when Freeman and Heimans tracked down one of the original informants, she confirmed that they had deliberately lied to Mean.

Note how—starting at the forty-one-minute mark—the now elderly woman is asked:

What kinds of questions did Margaret Mead ask? Did she ever ask what you did at nights?

 Yes, she asked us what we did after dark. We girls would pinch each other and tell her    that we were out with the boys. We were only joking but she took us seriously. As you know, Samoan girls are terrific liars, and love making fun of people. But Margaret thought that it was all true.

 So, you answered Margaret Mead with lies?

 Yes, we just lied and lied.

Unfortunately, Wooley himself is completely unaware of Freeman’s refutation of Mead’s work, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (Harvard University Press, 1983). Or that the famous Australian playwright, David Williamson, turned the entire furore into the award-winning play, Heretic. Wooley goes on to personally pontificate:

I suffered years of Methodist Sunday-schooling in the outskirts of Launceston, and I can tell you gentle Jesus rarely got a look in. In the fierce heat of their fire and brimstone was shaped and tempered the hardest forms of intolerance.

I came from a home full of books and went to a school where science and literature were taught. 

I feel very sorry for those Pacific Island kids. With little separation of church and school, they heard only the voices of Old Testament bigotry.

So, those Manly players who refused to don a rainbow shirt this week were hardly to blame, nor to be so harshly judged. With names like Aloiai, Tuipulotu, Olakau’atu and Koula, they might know no better. Since childhood, doctrinal intolerance has been drummed into them in the name of God.

Wooley is not alone in promoting the historical falsehood of the pre-colonial “noble savage” who lived in a sexual promiscuous “pornocopia”. But is not only inaccurate, it also guilty of perpetuating the paternalistic colonialism that political progressives accuse Christianity of creating. As Guy Rundle rightly points out:

Can these people hear themselves? Why is it so impossible to simply admit that a group of   people have a consistent and well-formed belief system, which has certain necessary moral            consequences for them? The “colonialism” argument, trying to square the circle — dealing with       people who don’t fit into the notion of a progressive coalition — fundamentally dehumanises     the players themselves, reinscribing the very logic that powered colonialism in the first place.

The comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, understood over a decade ago where things were heading back when things like this were still funny. However, being forced to display the rainbow colours today is no laughing matter.