Miracle: Katter, Greer agree on Bible

BOB KATTER agreed with Germaine Greer and the world did not implode.

Debating the topic of whether reading the Bible was good for you, the controversial Queensland federal MP and the controversial feminist academic found themselves on the same side.

Discussing the debate after all six speeches had been presented, Mr Katter said he wished he had followed a similar approach to Ms Greer.

''I really thought Germaine Greer hit the nail on the head,'' he said.

But it was their third teammate, the former Episcopal archbishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, who appeared to win over the audience.

The Brisbane Writers Festival debate attracted people with a wide range of personal beliefs if the guffaws and hoots of approval in the audience were anything to go by.

But while Mr Katter spoke of the Bible as helping to save humanity in the dark days of Vikings and Ottoman Turks and Ms Greer applied logic and called the Bible a ''grand'' book, which, when not taken as the word of God, was a testament to humanity's yearning for knowledge, Mr Holloway argued for compassion.

''America misuses this book,'' he said, holding his own Bible aloft.

''We must read this book to reclaim it from the bigots, homophobes and slaughterers.''

Arguing that compassion should always trump religion and politics, Mr Holloway said if read intelligently and ignoring the ''silliness'', then compassion was its lesson.

''This book is full of hatred because so are we,'' he said, adding that there were also tales of kindness, echoed in the human condition.

Mr Holloway may have had the majority of the audience nodding their heads, but he did not win his side's argument.

Instead, the crowd awarded the debate to an American criminal defence investigator, Rachel Sommerville, Queensland's first appointed Aboriginal magistrate Jacqui Payne, and a Brisbane author, Benjamin Law.

Ms Sommerville argued that the treatment of poor incarcerated Americans by religiously driven states such as Louisiana pointed to the hypocrisy of the good book.

''Reading the Bible today has made the public not only meaner but more compliant,'' the former Australian said of her adopted country.

Ms Payne followed with an opinion that Bible-driven missionaries held ''significant'' responsibility for the nation's treatment of its indigenous people. She said she realised she could repeat the Lord's Prayer by rote but had no true knowledge of her own people's spirituality.

Mr Law pointed to the ridiculousness of taking the Bible literally.

Together, the three speeches formed a strong argument that reading the Bible was not good for you.

But that may be due to the Australian state of mind, audience members Janelle Leigh and Bella Thompson said.

''I'm pretty sure most people had their minds made up before they went in; this is not an overly religious society that we live in,'' Ms Leigh said.

''People believe different things, but I don't think the majority of Australians take the Bible too seriously. Not like America,'' Ms Thompson added.

Alan Warman, 79, said Mr Holloway resounded for him the most, but he was not surprised by the audience's reaction.

''Richard Holloway was right; it's not the book, it's the interpretation of it. That's what I believe,'' he said.

But for Laurie Fraser, it's the conversation, not the outcome, which mattered.

''Everything is based on religion, our entire history,'' he said. ''So, it's important to debate.''

The story Miracle: Katter, Greer agree on Bible first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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