CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

George Pell on Intolerance

Mar 13, 2009

Last week Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, gave a very important speech at Oxford University. In the talk, “Varieties of Intolerance: Religious and Secular,” he made a number of important points about the collapse of the West and the rise of a new intolerance – specifically an anti-Christian intolerance.

The entire speech is well worth reading, and I provide the link to it below. Please have a read. But I here offer a few snippets to hopefully whet your appetite. He begins by noting how those groups who most mouth-off about tolerance are often the least tolerant.

Consider the homosexual lobby. Every second sentence from these activists includes the word tolerance. Yet if anyone dares to stand in their way, they turn into a very intolerant gaystapo. Recall the recent US presidential election late last year. A number of other measures were voted on at the time, including same-sex marriage in California.

Proposition 8 was passed, which recognises only marriage between a man and a woman. So how did the tolerant homosexual lobby respond? “Great” they said. “This is a democracy after all, and the people have spoken, so we will happily abide by the decision of the majority”. Not.

As Pell reminds us, “Mormon temples in particular, as well as Catholic and Evangelical churches, have been the focus for demonstrations, often attended by violence, vandalism and intimidation. White powder has been sent to places of worship, and some blogs are calling for them to be burnt down. Individual supporters of Proposition 8 have received death threats and been assaulted. Businesses which contributed to the campaign in favor of Proposition 8 are being boycotted, and individuals who made personal donations are being blacklisted and in some cases forced to resign from their jobs. The situation is so serious that the non-partisan Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which takes no position on same-sex marriage and works with churches and organizations on both sides of the question, ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times on 5 December condemning the harassment and anti-religious bigotry being directed at Proposition 8 supporters.”

Homosexual intolerance is alive and well, and woe betide anyone who considers taking a stand against this militant minority group. But there are other groups which are intimidating and threatening those who disagree with them. They are intent on proclaiming their supremacy, and are happy to beat the West into submission. Consider militant Islam.

Pell spends some time documenting the rise of recent Islamic intolerance. Many of the stories would be familiar to those who are concerned about the West and its capitulation to its enemies. But Pell offers a nice summary of the many ways in which Islam is seeking to cow the West into submission. Given that the word “Islam” after all means “submission,” this is not unexpected or unsurprising.

After listing some of these examples, including the case of the two Australian pastors in Victoria, he says this: “The expense of defending frivolous hate speech allegations, the time consumed in dealing with them, and the anxiety that comes from being enmeshed in a legal process straight out of Kafka all have an effect on the climate of openness, stifling robust discussion and fomenting intolerance under the surface. Since Ayatollah Khomeini placed a death sentence on Salman Rushdie twenty years ago last month, many in the West have grown used to practicing self-censorship when it comes to Islam, just as we seem to accept that ex-Muslims who criticize Islam and extremism, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, require round the clock police protection.”

The battle is on other fronts as well. Consider the family. He notes how anti-discrimination legislation “has been used very effectively to redefine marriage and to make a range of relationships acceptable as the foundation for various new forms of the family. Anti-discrimination legislation in tandem with new reproductive technologies has made it possible for children to have three, four or five parents, relegating the idea of a child being brought up by his natural mother and father to nothing more than a majority adult preference. The rights of children to be created in love and to be known and raised by their biological parents receives scant consideration when the legislative agenda is directed to satisfying adult needs and ambitions.”

He notes that in the past churches and religious bodies were often exempt from such legislation, but increasingly this is no longer the case. He offers numerous examples of how the state is coercing religious groups and individuals into betraying their own conscience and being forced to go against deeply-held beliefs and values. It is part of a bigger push to dethrone God and divinise man:

“The use of anti-discrimination law and human rights claims to advance the autonomy project is not new in itself, but the withholding or retrenchment of exemptions for church agencies and conscience provisions for individuals is a newer and dangerous trend. A number of factors are at play here, but the broad effect is to enforce conformity. It seems that just as the faith and convictions of individual believers have to be privatized and excluded from public life, the services that church agencies provide to society have to be secularized. The service the church gives has always been a source of its growth and strength, and church agencies working in the areas of welfare, family, education, health and aged care bear witness to the values that Christian leaders put forward in public debate. Part of the logic in attacking the freedom of the church to serve others is to undermine the witness these services give to powerful Christian convictions. The goal is to neutralize this witness to the reality of Christian revelation. There is no need to drive the church out of services if the secularization of its agencies can achieve this end.”

He concludes with these words: “Resolving these questions requires us to expand the boundaries of what is thought possible, especially by bringing into focus the experiences and ideas which are not acknowledged or legitimized by the secularist worldview. Put simply, Christians have to recover their genius for showing that there are better ways to live and to build a good society; ways which respect freedom, empower individuals, and transform communities. They also have to recover their self-confidence and courage. The secular and religious intolerance of our day needs to be confronted regularly and publicly. Believers need to call the bluff of what is, even in most parts of Europe, a small minority with disproportionate influence in the media. This is one of the crucial tasks for Christians in the twenty-first century.”

George Pell is in many ways a modern-day prophet. He courageously takes on the many challenges to what is important, what is right, and what is true. He knows that faith, family and life are all under major attack, and he is unafraid to stand up for them, politically incorrect as this may be.

He of course has many critics, even within his own church. But that is always the case with prophets. They are the ones most people refuse to tolerate. But prophets are desperately needed in these dark days. May there be many more George Pells raised up to counter the gathering gloom.

www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8812

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32 Responses to George Pell on Intolerance

  • It says something for flaccid and insipid Protestantism that a staunch Catholic robustly stands for principle and stands up to the seemingly overwhelming tide of militant PC secularism when the former utterly fails. Protestantism has lost its soul. Evangelicalism, as for example in the Evangelical Alliance and the ACL, has lost its way. It is no longer the evangelicalism I knew in my young days.
    I am no lover of traditional Romanism, but when a traditional Roman Catholic like George Pell stands for God’s truth, I say “May God bless and strengthen him!”
    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Thanks for the tip off Bill.

    Murray,

    You go way too far with this comment:

    “Protestantism has lost its soul. Evangelicalism, as for example in the Evangelical Alliance and the ACL, has lost its way. It is no longer the evangelicalism I knew in my young days.”

    There seems to be a concerted attempt to denigrate ACL and Jim Wallace. I know the man, I appreciate greatly the work of ACL. JIm is a committed Christian, a Baptist of evangelical conviction, who I believe God is pleased to use.

    Could we please stop denigrating fellow Bible believing Christians – I notice Bill Muehlenberg doesn’t do so and I don’t think any of us should either.

    David Palmer

  • Yes, Murray – ‘flaccid and insipid Protestantism’ and ‘a staunch Catholic’. I am a ‘staunch’ Refomed minister. I have been an admirer of George over the last 20 years. My old denomination, the UCA has the ‘Spirit of this age’ disease and without a miracle this condition is terminal. Yes, as for the Archbishop “May god bless and strengthen him”.
    Stan Fishley

  • To David Palmer:

    David, many people express bigotry in varying degrees of another Christian Faith and in some instances that bigotry takes the form of vile hatred. This also applies to the Jews who are often in the sights of some Christians and vice versa of course. I urge all Christians to accept the differences in the various Christian faiths, accept our Hebrew brothers and unite to fight the enemies of God.

    That seems to be God’s message to us at this crucial time.

    Criticizing other Christians and preaching that they will not reach Heaven is the work of Satan. Statements and thinking such as Baptists aren’t Christians, Anglicans aren’t Christians, Catholics aren’t Christians, Biblical Christians are lost sheep, or I’m not fond of/no lover of such and such…… etc etc demonstrate a hate that is foreign to the Teachings of Christ. There is no hatred in Heaven and no-one with such hatred in their heart will be allowed through the Heavenly Gate no matter how much they think they deserved to be saved. Each follower of another Christian Faith should intently focus only on practising their own creed and leave the criticism of other Christian or Hebrew faiths up to our Lord. In other words our Lord says to us: “MINE YOUR OWN BUSINESS and leave it up to Me.” This hatred is a demon which needs to be and must be exorcised and buried once and for all.

    Meanwhile we MUST embrace each other and stand together to fight His enemies. The enemy is growing stronger and more embolden each and every day. Time is of the essence and must not be wasted on squabbles.

    John FG McMahon

  • I am a Catholic. I think its silly to read this article and make a comment about evangelicals or the ACL. Christians unite: the real problem are the secularists.

    For another and more scary example of what Pell is talking about

    http://www.bridgeportdiocese.com/Fight_1098.shtml

    The Connecticut legislature is reviewing legislation that would see control of individual parishes go to the various individual boards. Bishops would be non-voting members of the board. State take over of the Church.

    It probably won’t succeed, but this shows their hand – the first shot is always dismissed. But they will try it again somewhere else. And again, and eventually some excessively liberal diocese will accede.

    Jonny Walker

  • Thanks guys

    Before this thread gets too far askew from the topic at hand, let me exercise my editorial privilege and make a few quick remarks.

    Christian unity, where and when possible, is always desirable, and is to be energetically worked at. Having said that, genuine differences (theological and otherwise) can and do exist. There is nothing wrong with discussing and debating those differences. And sometimes there even comes a time when a breaking of fellowship is required when important doctrinal truth is being breached.

    And for what it is worth, as an evangelical myself, I too have some very grave misgivings about where parts of the evangelical world are headed. There is nothing amiss in discussing such concerns, as I have done elsewhere on this site.

    But yes we should unite where possible to withstand the attacks of some common foes. So back to what Dr Pell said…

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Pell quite rightly hits the nail on the head in all of the areas you have put here Bill. We need to be vigilant in the practise of our Christian faith – whatever denomination – and support each other and those churches that stand up for Christ. I believe that there needs to be a Protest by all Christians to let the lawmakers and the secular lobby groups aware that we are here and are not done for and also to remind them that God is here and He is not silent, to quote Schaeffer. We also need to work with the Jews on those areas that we have in common such as anti-family issues, antisemitism and Islamism.
    Wayne Pelling

  • Thanks Wayne

    Yes, working with others – cobeligerency – is often important in these battles.

    And as is often the case, I am easily inspired. So after my last comment, I am now busily in the middle of an article on finding the biblical balance between Christian unity and doctrinal purity. Both are vitally important, and both must be kept in balance with each other. Not an easy task, but certainly worth thinking – and writing – about. So stay tuned…

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • To Wayne Pelling:

    Wayne, you’re so right. You’ve said in a diferent way what I had intended to convey. Bill is also right that the differences in Faiths cannot be ignored and they won’t go away. My point is that we should not allow these differences to cause hatred and belligerence. Instead we must unite under the leadership and fellowship of our Lord Jesus to fight his enemies, not ourselves.

    John FG McMahon

  • So our “enemies” are intolerant and that makes it OK for us to be the same? This is how nations end up going to war. Christians aren’t in some sort of arms race where we have to go to the barricades over every example of human diversity, exchanging invectives and verbal insults with whole classes of people we deem to be less holy than us. Tu quoque has always been a fallacious and weak form of argument.

    I always thought Christ put an end to Old Testament belligerence and preached instead love and compassion. I don’t see many examples of that in these columns. Bill even thinks “cobelligerency” is the most important reason for co-operating with those who hold different (read wrong) interpretations of scripture.

    It’s all subjective Bill. There are no absolute truths when it comes to supernatural beliefs, only opinions.

    Bob Hughes, Brisbane

  • Thanks Bob

    Quite interesting.

    You judge us for being judgmental.

    You selectively quote from a Bible you evidently don’t believe in.

    Then you preach to us about the supernatural, all the while telling us there is no truth, only opinion in this area.

    In which case, why should we take any notice of anything you have said Bob?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bob:

    “I always thought Christ put an end to Old Testament belligerence and preached instead love and compassion.”

    Maybe you should look at a few passages like Luke 11:39-54, or Matthew 4:17 where Jesus takes up the refrain from John the Baptist, or Mark 11:13-14 – and tremble!

    Then you say “it’s all subjective” which I can only read as meaning that you are setting yourself up as the ultimate authority. In George Pell’s article/speech that fits into the category “men creating God”.

    However, there is a real world external to ourselves, and it was created by God in orderly form: it is fixed, objective. You cannot call the laws of physics subjective – you don’t break them, but if you disobey, they break you.

    I’m sorry for you Bob, but a subjective “touchy-feely” and sentimental faith in an avuncular ‘nice bloke in heaven’ doesn’t cut it in the real world.

    John Angelico

  • George Pell is a champion of the Faith, and I say that as a Protestant. I agree with Murray Adamthwaite that Pell’s example effectively shames most of the efforts of the other mostly Protestant church leaders. Pell is easily the boldest, most discerning, and most biblical denominational church leader in Australia today. Fred Nile is in the same mold as Pell but is not the leader of a denomination as such.

    Pell even has the discernment to call anthropogenic global warming for the nonsense that it is. This makes him almost unique among Christian leaders in this country as most of the others simply capitulate to the green faith.

    As I often say and as Bill and many others also observe, the problem in the West is not the atheists – they are simply behaving the way we would expect them to behave – the problem is a compromised and luke-warm church. As Pell says, Christians “have to recover their self-confidence and courage. The secular and religious intolerance of our day needs to be confronted regularly and publicly.” This is so true but so few are doing it.

    Whilst there is nothing stopping any Christian from taking up this challenge, the onus is really on the church leaders. They are the ones who can speak from the authority of office, they are the ones with the media profile, they are the ones who can influence their congregations to fight the good fight, but for most of the time their silence is deafening. Just how bad do things have to get before some of them will speak up and join George Pell in the battle?

    Ewan McDonald.

  • I believe that what George Pell has to say is absolutely correct but I think that the enemy is not at the moment concentrating its full fire power on the church because it knows that within its ranks there are those who can put up formidable defence. Instead it is going for the soft target, the soft tissue of the church, its blood and flesh as opposed to its bones – the family. It is the family that is the building block, the very tissue of the church; it is this which is the most easy to destroy because the average Christian parent today has been fed on a diet of singing choruses, sermons that wouldn’t hurt a fly and distracting church activities.

    So I am taking the liberty of changing one word in George Pell’s statement to read:

    The use of anti-discrimination law and human rights claims to advance the autonomy project is not new in itself, but the withholding or retrenchment of exemptions for Christian families and conscience provisions for individuals is a newer and dangerous trend. A number of factors are at play here, but the broad effect is to enforce conformity. It seems that just as the faith and convictions of individual believers have to be privatised and excluded from public life, the service that Christian families provide to society have to be secularised. The service the family gives has always been a source of its growth and strength, and families in the areas of welfare, family, education, health and aged care bear witness to the values that Christian parents put forward in public debate. Part of the logic in attacking the freedom of the Christian family to serve others is to undermine the witness these services give to powerful Christian convictions. The goal is to neutralize this witness to the reality of Christian revelation. There is no need to drive the Christian family out of services if the secularization of all it contributes can achieve this end.”

    We need to spell out the difference a Christian family makes and present exemplars.

    You might think that I am over reaching myself and need to have a lie down, but already in Britain, the social services and the Department of Children, Schools and Families (note that education is sandwiched between children and families) assume that they and they only have the right to bring up children. And boy oh boy, guess what? They cannot cope. It never occurs to them that maybe reinstating mums and dads and marriage protected by laws that have been thrown overboard for the last fifty years might just ease the problem. But no. This would discriminate against those who practise polyamory, adultery, polygamy, incest, bestiality, necrophilia, sado-masochism, exhibitionism, fetishism, homosexuality, paedophilia and the practice of transvestites, transgender and transexuals.

    http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=8347
    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article5854073.ece
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/more-training-for-social-services-bosses-after-baby-p-tragedy-1643084.html

    David Skinner, UK

  • God bless you George Pell. For years I have admired your guts and clarity in the present backslidden environment. And I’m a protestant. Our church leaders have become so weak when it comes to fighting the Culture Wars. They just mostly hunker down in the trenches, and hope this will all blow over. The West at the moment reminds me a lot of Germany in the 1930s. Ripe for takeover by a tyrant.
    Ian Brearley

  • Bill,

    Questioning a belligerant approach to Christianity isn’t being judgmental, merely expressing a different and subjective opinion from your own subjective opinion.

    If beliefs or worldviews aren’t subjective, why are there so many of them? Fundamentalists may claim that there is only one way to read the Bible, but many Christians would disagree. That’s why there are so many different denominations and so much “disunity”. There is no way to prove that one particular view is the absolute truth, or that one particular view is most acceptable to God or most likely to guarantee salvation.

    I believe that God, with His infinite intelligence, knows that human understanding is limited, that scripture is confusing, contradictory and fails to answer all our questions. Perhaps then He doesn’t care about our petty and futile arguments over theology and doctrine. Perhaps all that really matters is that we live our lives in good faith, with good will towards all men, for we know not what is in another’s heart. I know this view doesn’t sit well with the militant fundamentalist mindset, but perhaps that mindset needs to be questioned.

    Bob Hughes, Brisbane

  • Thanks again Bob

    But I ask you a few simple questions: do you believe what you just wrote is true? You seem to think so. But you already informed us that there is no truth when it comes to claims about the supernatural. So why do you go on and on?

    So are your comments simply mere subjective opinion? In which case, they are on the level of saying, “I prefer chocolate ice cream”. That might be interesting, but hardly worth expressing on a website, let alone expecting anyone else to agree with.

    Until you get the truth question right, we really have little reason to take anything you say seriously. All we get is your mass of contradictions and inconsistencies. It does no good at all to pontificate on what God is like, only to inform us that any discussion about God is purely subjective. If that is the case, I have as much right to share my personal opinions about God as you do, but both are a helpful as promoting our preferred flavour of ice cream. So why waste your breath Bob?

    And any objective reader of your comments will clearly see that you indeed are making moral judgments, even while you tell us how bad it is to make moral judgments. You obviously think that “Christian fundamentalists” (whatever that means) are wrong big time, and you have come to set them straight. You make clear your supposed moral superiority over them. Indeed, you demonstrate your “belligerence” against them, to again use your own terminology. In fact, your intolerance of those with whom you disagree is apparent here.

    With all due respect, as long as you keep pushing the foolish postmodern rejection of absolute truth and universal morality, your comments will continue to appear to be a vacuous circus of confusion and contradiction, which no one needs to pay much attention to.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bob said, “I believe that God, with His infinite intelligence, knows that…..scripture is confusing, contradictory and fails to answer all our questions.” Given that Christians believe that God inspired Scripture, it seems like Bob is saying here that God intended for Scripture to be “confusing” and “contradictory”. It’s a strange position to take for someone who professes to believe that God has “infinite intelligence”. If God has infinite intelligence it should be quite easy for him to provide in Scripture all the answers we need, and that is what we do find.

    Bob also said, “Fundamentalists may claim that there is only one way to read the Bible, but many Christians would disagree. That’s why there are so many different denominations and so much disunity”, and I might add that is also why there is so much apostasy. But in Bob’s relativistic world there probably is no such thing as apostasy anyway.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Bob is entitled to his opinion, but his thinking shows the problem with current protestantism. It strives to be culturally relevant and to be a theological form of social theory, and when people want to get answers to questions about God, Life and Eternity they get turned off by the tautologies that emerge. No wonder the cults and Islam look appealing.
    Wayne Pelling

  • Bill, if I might second your answer to Bob. His statement that there is no absolute and objective truth (everything is subjective) is stated as an absolute and objective truth which is a statement that negates itself and which results in the nihilism that we see in our youths.

    The mass media, especially that from the entertainment and music industry has had a monolithic effect in spreading the materialist philosophy that guides the government, it romanticises as tough reality an existence where there is no right or wrong, no heroes or villains, no truth or untruth and no existence apart from what the senses perceive. Its message of meaningless and nihilism is pumped out every minute, every hour, every day, every year on the Mass Media.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCHvCJp35vU&feature=related ( Slip knot)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uhSSAv3o4M&feature=related ( ( Slip knot)

    Bob is merely repeating the dangerous evolutionary humanist mantra summed up in a statement from the UK’s commissioners for human rights and equality when they said: “In our view there is an important difference between this factual information [about sexual morality] being imparted in a descriptive way as part of a wide-ranging syllabus about different religions, and a curriculum which teaches a particular religion’s doctrinal beliefs as if they were objectively true. The latter is likely to lead to unjustifiable discrimination” (paragraph 67) http://www.ccfon.org/view.php?id=38

    Two things here: one is the precisely what Bob has said, there is no objective truth; and secondly the deadly corollary of a subjective statement (but stated as an objective truth) which is that those bigoted and narrow – minded Christians who hold to absolute truths are discriminating against the absolute, so -called human rights of all those who do not believe that sex should be contained within the enduring marriage of one man and one woman. Hence to teach that polyamory, adultery, polygamy, incest, bestiality, necrophilia, sado-masochism, exhibitionism, fetishism, homosexuality, paedophilia and the practice of transvestites, transgender and tran sexuals are wrong will incur a possible prison sentence of seven years.

    Miss Harriet Harman in UK government has recently given a veiled threat to faith schools by saying that the upcoming Equality Bill could present problems for them, and that “cultural views” (euphemism for religious beliefs) must not be allowed to cut across “absolute rights”. Especially those of Angela Eagle, lesbian Parliamentary Secretary to Treasuryhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1063302/Labour-MP-female-politician-wed-civil-partnership-ceremony.html
    http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20080925/sleeper-ministers-on-gay-rights-watch/

    Someone needs to gently remind Harriet Harman that Christians are not confined to faith schools but are spread throughout all schools.
    http://www.christianstogether.net:80/Articles/141236/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Current_News/Mum_faces_dismissal.aspx

    Finally for a greater part of the population of the world during World War 11, Hitler was the devil incarnate. That was a belief shared by peoples from all kinds of faiths, ethnic groups, nationalities, ages, genders, abilities and tastes. Likewise the belief that a mother and father are essential to the raising of family is shared by Christians, Muslims, Hindus and many others. Let us call that at least one universal truth that all people recognise, even if they don’t practise it.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Ewan, what you have said reminds me of the contradictory statements of Richard Dawkins who on the one hand is beginning to recognises an intelligence in the universe but denies that this intelligence is either willing or capable of transmitting this intelligence to human beings. Sadly this is a similar statement made by Einstein who definitely declared over and over again the existence of God but denied his willingness to communicate with man.

    Muslims believe that God inspired Mohammed but the Koran definitely does contradict the Bible so all we can say to them is that Allah certainly did intend to sow confusion and cause disunity – even amongst Muslims themselves.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I had some issues with Pell’s support of Rudd in the previous election on the Industrial Reform matters but here he clearly displays his moral backbone and insightfulness once again: He is like the current Pope and if catholics show the moral courage and intelligence against militant Islam that John Paul II showed against the Soviet Union then we could have some mighty friends on our side.
    Damien Spillane

  • This Bob is what you demand that we and our children tolerate
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1063302/Labour-MP-female-politician-wed-civil-partnership-ceremony.html

    Soon to come to school near you with its children being made to attend its headmistress being married to another woman or even the crowds waving as the Archbishopress of Canterbury stands on the steps of Canterbury Cathedral with her new bride or brides even.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Hey Bob “Reality Check”
    You had two wacks at this one and you came up with Zip! Get off the fence mate and get a real opinion. “Maybe’s” “perhaps’s”, “there are no truths” and “it’s all subjective”. I’m glad we are looking to for guidance.
    Mate, really think about it, you are going to trust your eternal life too “it’s all subjective”. Read that bible you quote, pray to God for clarity. He is a real God who does communicate with people, all people. Ask and listen.
    All the best
    Peter
    And not to get to far of topic “as Bill noted”. The so-called tolerance being forced down our throats wants the abolition of right and wrong. We cannot live in a world without right and wrong, it does not work.
    Peter Baldry

  • Thanks Damien for reminding us about Pell’s criticism of the Howard IR reforms. It just goes to show that nobody’s perfect 😉

    On that matter Pell simply fell into line with all the lefty priests and ‘social justice’ types in the church. It’s an unfortunate fact that it’s almost impossible to find a church leader these days who talks sense on IR issues. When it comes to minimum wages and benefits, etc., most of them prefer to think like socialists and then wonder why Australian jobs are exported to countries with a less ridged and draconian IR regime, or wonder why Australian manufacturing industries can’t compete with imports from developing countries.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Reading Pell’s speech, I couldn’t help it think about the intolerance shown towards holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson. This opens the difficult issue of whether there should be any restrictions at all on freedom of speech in the interest of social harmony, and if so, where should we draw the line.

    Pell thinks there is a line. He said “I approve of legislation outlawing incitement to violence and acknowledge that tightly limited anti-hate legislation is appropriate. But this second category of legislation should be used sparingly, lest it stifle robust legitimate criticism, so deepening tensions and exasperation under the surface, indirectly encouraging what it aspires to prevent.”

    So where does that leave us on holocaust-denial and statements that might encourage hate-crimes against homosexuals?

    Mark Harvey

  • Good points, Damien and Ewan. For more good sense and refutation of leftist slogans, and documentation of the benefits of Howard’s reforms, see A Biblical View of Economics and Industrial Relations by Andrew Kulikovsky.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • You raise some important issues here, so a few quick replies. Most Christians concerned about the growing intolerance and the increasing restrictions on religious freedom and freedom of speech are not radical libertarians or anarchists. That is, most admit that freedom of expression is not a unqualified absolute, but some legitimate restrictions are in order. It is the old issue of crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre.

    Most Western nations already have the basic limitations in place, as in defamation laws, legislation against slander, and so on. What many of us object to are the various religious vilification laws which are little more than an attack on free speech, especially the right of Christians to proclaim the gospel.

    As to the issue of homosexuality, this raises the concept of “hate speech” and hate crimes. Increasingly Western jurisdictions are passing unhelpful and nefarious laws of this nature, which are really meant to silence believers from speaking out on controversial moral and social issues.

    The truth is, many homosexual activists would regard anyone reading from Romans 1 on a Sunday morning in church as hate speech, and would like to see such persons chucked in jail for such crimes. Indeed, that has already happened in places like Sweden, where reading certain biblical texts from the pulpit is now regarded as a hate crime.

    It all comes from this silly and vacuous notion that people have a right not to be offended. I have written up the dangerous nature of such thinking and laws in various places, including here:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2002/03/26/the-problem-with-vilification-legislation/
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2007/05/02/the-trouble-with-hate-crime-legislation/
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2007/07/18/unleashing-the-thought-police/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Ewan and Jonathon

    Good points. But that is not to say that I thought Howard’s Workchoices was any good or any where near above criticism. It was Pell’s pro-union, anti-freedom position that I was opposed to. I don’t think you guys would really disagree with this though.

    From what I remember Kulikovski’s piece on economics was quite sound.

    Damien Spillane

  • Cardinal Pell did not make general criticism of the ALP IR approach. He rightly confined his remarks to the principles. This was fair and consistent with the official church approach which is to leave the detail to the experts. Bishops Manning, Morris etc on the other hand weighed in to the usual left rubbish down to the detail about which they demonstrated their ignorance.
    Paul Monagle

  • To: Paul Monagle

    Thank you Paul for your timely and much needed clarification and correction.

    I must note that “Monagle” is another great Irish Catholic name.

    John FG McMahon

  • Dear Ewan & Damien

    I am a Catholic. I think that Cardinal Pell is right from a Catholic social doctrine point of view to express reservations to WorkChoices.
    There is no point I think in Liberal party liberalism that says it agrees with rights of association eg unions but then effectively, through new laws- that by the way are a sad continuation of the previous Hawke/keating years in downgrading the operational powers of unions and workers in the workpalce.
    If unions are to exist then more than lip service should be given them. We also need to restoration of the Conciliationa dn Arbitration Commission. Profit share has increased at the expense of wages share for many years now. Sure small business is a different case however, medium and large companies can affors to give 35hr weeks and 9 day fortnights to all staff and to ensure that family time is restord in this structured way- the union way.
    You can read about the DLP’s true labor polices on industrial relations from our website:
    http://www.dlp.org.au/
    There are also many moderate Catholic and Protestant Christians within the ALP too. Sadly they are outnumbered.

    Michael Webb

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