Social Engineers Continue Their Crusade

For the secular left, social activism is all about “two steps forward, one step back”. That is, they know they can never foist their radical agendas on the rest of society all at once, and must therefore use an incremental approach. Thus a few setbacks along the way are all a part of their relentless march forward.

Indeed, Lenin used the phrase to describe the slow but steady progress of the Russian Revolution. And the same strategy is being used today. Our coercive utopians will never rest until their visions for humanity are realised. They are quite happy to make apparent compromises, and take some detours along the way, knowing that each little step forward will eventually mean reaching their goal.

We have a great example of this coming from Victoria’s activist Attorney-General, Rob Hulls. Yesterday he appeared to be taking one of those backward steps in announcing a “compromise” plan on ridding our equal opportunity laws of religious exemptions. But it is simply another step along the way on his radical social crusade.

Mr Hulls said a new Equal Opportunity Bill would be presented next year in parliament. As one press account puts it, “Under the changes, religious groups will no longer be able to discriminate on the grounds of race, disability, age, physical features, political belief or breastfeeding. But they can continue to discriminate on grounds including sexuality or marital status if it is in accordance with their beliefs.”

Homosexual groups have attacked the announcement, while some Christian groups have praised it. But the truth is, this is simply more bad news for religious groups everywhere, especially Christian groups who hold to a high view of Scripture, and seek to live out their faith in the public arena.

This becomes clear in the words of another press account of the story: “Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission chief executive officer Helen Szoke said the move was a good step, but ‘a whole section of the community is still left out’. She hoped that eventually the community would understand there was no reason to treat people differently because of their sexual preferences or marital status.”

She said the burden of proof would be on religious groups: “Religious schools or religious charities, for example, will have to show how belonging to a particular religion is relevant to the job they are trying to fill. In the case of religious education teachers or chaplains, this will be clear. However, in the case of office staff or the maths teacher it will need to be made explicit how religion is relevant to the job.”

This is clearly no victory for religious freedom. While we still must await what the government will in fact produce next year, if these press reports are anything to go on, we have plenty to still worry about. This is simply a ruse to lull the Christian community back to its usual condition – that of a deep sleep.

Core and non-core Christianity?

It is clear that the government, Hulls, Szoke and others still don’t get it – or don’t want to get it. It is impossible to separate Christian work into ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ activities, as the government’s initial proposals sought to do. To use Szoke’s example, consider a math teacher at a Christian school. In one sense, it would be assumed that math can be taught by anyone, and that religious viewpoints or moral dispositions should have nothing to do with it.

But things of course are not that simple. A Christian school will be interested in all areas of life, including the moral and spiritual aspects. A Christian school may well have every class begin in prayer. Obviously an atheist, Muslim or Hindu would not at all be in the same place in regards to such prayers.

A student in the class may need some counselling or pastoral care. Again, a Christian school (along with the child’s Christian parents) would obviously want a teacher who reflects biblical Christianity to do such counselling. They would not want a secular humanist, a witch, a homosexual activist, or a Satanist involved in this.

And talk of discrimination is just plain ludicrous anyway. Everyone discriminates all the time, and for good reasons. To have a decidedly Christian janitor, math’s teacher, receptionist and administrator would all be part of the rationale and basis for a Christian school.

The government might as well argue that rabid Carlton, Richmond and St. Kilda supporters be allowed to hold positions in the Geelong Football Club. Sorry, the Club wants people who support everything about Geelong to be on board, from lowly positions to higher up ones.

A Christian school (or charity, or business, or whatever) wants among other things, a complete unity of purpose, vision, aim and ethos. Having a homosexual physical education teacher, or a Muslim history teacher, or a Wiccan chemistry teacher would instantly render impossible that sort of unity.

A Christian school would of course also expect the highest moral standards of those who work for it. To say it must be forced to hire an adulterous gardener, or an alcoholic secretary, or a dope-smoking janitor (because what they are doing is only ‘peripheral’ to the purpose of the school) would in effect be suicide for that institution. The school could not function at all under such circumstances.

The Christian faith, in other words, permeates every aspect of life, and a Christian business or charity or educational institution expects to see Christian beliefs and values held to by everyone employed there, whether a principal or a floor sweeper.

Thus this ‘compromise’ by Hulls is nothing of the sort, and is just another nail in the coffin of Christian freedom. While we must await the actual legislation when it is introduced next year, if the remarks of Hulls, Szoke and others are anything to go by, Christians have not won anything of substance here.

Instead, we have here simply another “two steps forward, one step back” approach in which the final outcome will be just the same: the complete loss of vital Christian freedoms. It is just being realised piecemeal, instead of in one fell swoop. Lenin knew the value of this approach, and so do Victoria’s social engineers.

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28 Replies to “Social Engineers Continue Their Crusade”

  1. I don’t know how you do it, but you absolutely “nail it” every time. What a joy to read your blog posts! You are a sane voice in a mad world!
    Stuart Mackay, UK

  2. This is an example of what I call ‘The Shifting Shades of Gray’
    Where two sides play the middle, similar to the familiar ‘Good cop, bad cop’.

    In Shifting Shades, one side we might call liberals for example, will propose a change in society which shifts the ‘social color’ to a darker shade of gray than is currently color seen by the citizens.

    This change upsets the middle ground, or majority, of citizens who are looking for a more reasonable or familiar position to support. In comes the opposition to suggest the alternative different way, or the lighter-gray option. In this example we can call those with the less-gray stance conservatives. The problem is, while the majority were consternated over the darker gray shade of the liberal ideas and positions, the alternate side moved their position to a darker shade as well, just not as gray as the original ideas and social changes brought into play by the liberals.

    So the majority support the ‘less-gray’ proposals and policies of the conservative stance. It’s not as conservative as before, just more conservative than the liberal idea just ‘defeated’. We never seem to realize we are one step closer to the ultimate total gray territory, know as black, just satisfied we aren’t ‘over there’ in the new ground opened by the liberal philosophy.

    A little brighter shade of gray being more appealing than the darker shades of the ‘new ideas’, never noticing the lack of reversal back to the original white position.

    Jeff MIskin

  3. In fact, Bill, you “nail it” in just one little side-phrase: “deep sleep” as the “usual condition” of the “Christian community”. If only Christians were 10-to-15% more active, complaining, protesting, objecting, than they are presently, then these things – and many other bad things – would not be allowed to occur … but what will it take, to wake them up?
    John Thomas, UK

  4. Jeff,

    What you describe is similar to what happened with the Victorian abortion bill last year with the farcical A, B or C options. It came as no surprise that Option ‘B’ was chosen, which gives the appearance of being reasonable, when actually ‘A’ was already a step into the dark ages. But the public get the impression that it was ‘middle ground’. It’s all a bit like a Yes Prime Minister scene, only considerably less funny.

    Mark Rabich

  5. Thanks John

    Yes that is the million dollar question. If we look to ancient Israel (say, in the book of Judges) the answer is as clear as it is painful. Only when Israel got into real trouble and sheer desperation did it stop playing games and start crying out to God, really seeking his face. Things may have to get much worse in the West before the church finally arouses from its deep, deep sleep.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Thanks Mark

    Yes it is a standard tactic of the radical left. They will make a demand for something quite radical and far out. The masses will balk at it, then they will offer a slightly less radical proposal, and the masses think, ‘Oh, that’s not so bad now is it?’ A few years later they do the same thing. So the whole process takes society on an ever more leftward and radical direction, while most folk still think they are being moderate and somewhere in the centre. But the whole culture has shifted.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  7. Bill, I am reminded, somewhere of C.S. Lewis’ telling us of the danger of identifying a Christian by their behaviour. So for instance, people will call anyone, Muslims and witches included, “Christian“, if they are not being adulterous, drunk or addicted. Specifically, some will point out homosexual relationships that are faithful, committed, loving and caring – such as that elderly couple down the road who have lived quietly together for the last forty years and contributed so much to the community. Surely these are Christian, especially if they attend the local church? Rowan Williams called them “imaging the love of Christ.”

    C.S. Lewis reminds that this is not what makes a Christian. A Christian is someone who has not only been born again but redeemed and bought to become a slave of Christ – but in whose service there is perfect freedom. What makes us Christians is whether we are willing to obey, no matter how imperfectly, the commandments of our Lord and Saviour.

    As Paul said our best deeds are but filthy rags and to suggest that we compare our behaviour to that of other human beings -no matter how virtuous- is blasphemous, when Christ himself said that only the one who is good is God.

    Mark 10: 17-27: As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'”…The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

    Again in Matthew 19:17: Christ said “Why do you ask me about what is good?” …. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

    A Christian is first a being, an ontological fact, not a doing, a sinner saved by grace. The redeemed then give evidence of that redemption by obeying, with God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s humanly impossible commandments.

    I hope I am not splitting hairs here, or as Jeff says, merely introducing a another shade of grey?

    David Skinner, UK

  8. Of course it’s true that we are losing ground incrementally due to the ‘Shifting Shades of Gray’ tactic (to borrow Jeff’s terminology), but what really bothers me is that most on the conservative side of politics seem either to be ignorant of the tactic or else happy to go along with it. We have really been let down by pseudo-conservatives and their stupid tactic of always looking for the ‘middle-ground’ so as not to appear too ‘radical’. Well ‘radical’ is a relative term and sometimes what may seem ‘radical’ to us is simply ‘normal’ to God. I say it’s time for Christian conservatives to get back to normal.

    Ewan McDonald.

  9. Bill,

    Getting back to Hulls’s plan, based upon the fact that Szoke seemed to be OK with it, I was alarmed. Anything this crazy woman is for, is almost guaranteed to be bad for society, unless you belong to the special favoured minority groups she loves. It’s all in the marketing though – ‘anti-discrimination’ sounds so much better than ‘excuse to impose our better-than-you beliefs on you as laws under threat of punishment.’ Never mind that it is overwhelmingly societies with a Judeo-Christian background that are the most free in the world; Christianity must be stomped on by the superior ideas of secularism.

    Sure enough, the letters section of The Age yesterday was headed up by lunatics effectively claiming that society would unravel if the government can’t force a Christian school to hire a witch. What is it with the intellectual vacuity that exists in some these days? With a serious face they want to embrace further government control of our lives.

    I wrote a letter, it got published, albeit with a few edits – here is the original:

    Thank you to The Age for providing such abundant absurdity with the publishing of no less than 4 letters yesterday (28/9) whining about the small exemptions to ‘discrimination’ laws. None of the writers could see the obvious hypocrisy of their own ideas. Apparently it is not OK for individuals and organizations to make important decisions about the small enterprises that they have control over, but it is OK for others with the ‘right’ ideas to have control over everybody in ever increasing ways.

    It’s for “human rights”!, they yelp. It’s against “homophobia”! It’s for “tolerance”! It’s against “fascism”! Etc., etc. Incredibly they were all quite serious.

    I am highly suspicious of this type of broadening of government interference in individual lives. It will increase nothing except hatred and distrust, along with lawyer’s bank accounts. With so much freedom available for us, it is nonsense to claim that ‘discrimination’ is a major problem when in all likelihood, it probably won’t affect most people more than a handful of times ever (and then only in minor ways.) This is in stark contrast to their proposed alternative of the nanny state, which would be in all of our faces all of the time.

    It seems that there are still people – with not a hint of irony in their protestations, mind you – who would repackage fundamental aspects of real fascism and totalitarianism, and call it “enlightened”, or even worse, market it as freedom.

    I called my German-born mum and asked her about this stuff. She was 16 when World War 2 ended and remembers how all people were pressured and some even disappeared because they didn’t hold lockstep to the ‘approved’ government agenda. She made the connection very quickly between now and then. But some people have learned nothing from history.

    What is increasingly becoming clear is that people who know very little about Christianity want to tell us all about what it should look like. I expect the majority of them wouldn’t even know how to answer the most basic questions about it, nor understand how it underpins the very freedoms they are now abusing.

    But what is also of concern is that increasingly, people look to government for the answers to society’s ills. The government is no longer God’s agent, it is viewed as the god. If that is the road we want to go down, then to quote from The Princess Bride, “Get used to disappointment.”

    Mark Rabich

  10. Bill, you have an interesting interpretation. You say that things are “not that simple”, then go on to quite clearly outline how Core and Non-Core Christianity is a furfy. If a school, for instance, needs to explain why it should not appoint a Wiccan maths teacher, why can’t it use the reasons you have so clearly and accurately already outlined?
    Murray Bentham

  11. Similarly Mark, here in the UK, I have sent a letter to the Daily Mail, which may or may not get published.

    Dear Editor

    The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in the Equality Bill, that is designed to transform and engineer the most intimate aspects of family, marriage and relational life is being forced through by the government with minimal of public awareness or consultation. Maria Eagle, MP Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, in her forward to the so-called consultation document to the PSED says, “We are proud of our record in fighting discrimination and promoting equality. Over the last 40 years we have created a strong framework of anti-discrimination legislation…”

    My question is why is the government proud, when in 12 years of power it has produced a society that needs to be put on special measures? Surely it is humility and abject repentance that are the only response to the evidence piled higher and higher each day that Surestart for children means industrial abortion of 200, 000 babies per year. This alone cries out for justice; but what about the widespread abuse of children (many of whom are in the care of social services that can no longer cope); a government unwilling to stem the flood of pornography into every home and school in Britain; government funded agencies like the Family Planning Association that are groomomg our children into promiscuity and homosexuality; a huge increase in paedophilia and pederasty; rocketing levels of sexually transmitted infections amongst teenagers; a national health service already creaking under the strain of treating teenagers not only for abortion and STIs but alcholism, drug addiction and mental diseases that often lead to suicide; teenage rape gangs; levels of nihilistic violence and murder demonstrated by teenagers that were even rare amongst adults; parental duty of care, authority and power being taken out the hands of parents and placed into the hand of a totalitarian Marxist state; teachers leaving the profession in droves – either walking or carried out – and the deliberate and wholesale deconstruction of the family and marriage?

    When the government then says that all this is due to social and economic depravation, lack of equality, discrimination, blahdi-blah, who the hell has been in power for the last twelve years? No, Mam Eagles, and the rest of the criminals inhabiting No 10, you and your party alone are responsible for all this and one day there will be an accounting and it will not simply be the loss an election.

    David Skinner, UK

  12. I am always puzzled to watch these social engineers seek to slit their own throats like this. Why are they all so utterly oblivious to the simple reality that political powers like this shift around over time and that in time the powers they have sought to grant to themselves will end up in the hands of their ideological enemies ?

    What do they think will happen with these sorts of laws ? Perhaps the right approach to laws as dangerous and idiotic as this is to ask for them to be enforced equally and then proceed to cry discrimination when christians are banned from joining “gay pride” groups because they are straight.

    Or is the law crafted specifically to be bigoted against certain groups and privilege others ? If so, then perhaps it can be legally challenged on those grounds as being grossly unfair and unequal in application, violating the principle of equality before the law ?

    Jason Rennie

  13. Hi Bill

    A bizarre piece in support of the proposed Equal Opportunity Act appears in today’s Age penned by John McIntyre, Anglican Bishop of Gippsland. According to the Bishop:

    “At the heart of what Christians proclaim as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this radical affirmation of universal human dignity as the basis of universal human rights.”

    So the heart of the Gospel is not God saving sinners from Hell, but about the affirmation of universal human dignity!

    Mansel Rogerson

  14. Thanks Jason

    Yes you are quite right: equality before the law is a fundamental principle, but increasingly we are simply left with glaring double standards instead because of our judicial activists. Yes, one might use these laws against those who vilify and discriminate against Christians, but I think they are bad laws and should be gotten rid of altogether, instead of used, thus granting them some sort legitimacy.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. Thanks Mansel

    Yes I saw that article. It is quite incredible really. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Never mind the secular social activists, when we have church leaders who seem clueless as to what is actually going on. Passages like Matthew 7:15 come to mind here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  16. Hi Bill,

    I wasn’t suggesting the laws be used like that as part of an effort to make them “fair” but as part of an attempt to show them up for the rampant idiocy they represent. I agree that laws like this are incredibly dangerous, but I think part of the problem is that the ignoramuses that pass them are oblivious to the effects of their stupidity. Perhaps if their noses are rubbed in it they will understand in a way no amount of reasoned argument ever could.

    Jason Rennie

  17. First – the Attorney General’s media release is worth reading.
    In it Hulls said “In relation to employment, the religious nature of the organisation or school will need be taken into account in determining whether a particular position needs to be filled by someone who adheres to that religion’s beliefs.”

    No wonder Helen Szoke said what she did…. she was just expanding on Mr Hulls’ words!

    The most disturbing thing about this development is the endorsement given to the government for this ‘compromise’ position by some Christian groups.

    The Catholic church is said to endorse the position – in fact Archbishop Denis Hart is quoted as supporting it:
    Cath News writes “Critics are unhappy with the concessions but the move was welcomed by church leaders. Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart told The Age the move strikes “a fair and correct balance”.”

    The Australian Christian Lobby put out a media release congratulating the government for protecting religious freedom!

    In contrast, we (Salt Shakers) put out an email about the ‘compromise’ and expressing concern about the imposition on religious freedom this will bring. Our item on John McIntyre’s article is also on our website:
    Well done Bill for writing on these topics!

    Jenny Stokes

  18. Instant religious maths teacher: “Today, we are going to demonstrate that prophecy is mathematically impossible, yet is fulfilled anyway. When we’re done, you’re free to draw your own conclusions.”
    Leon Brooks

  19. Whilst I prefer to wait and see the wording of the Government’s proposed changes to the exception clauses before commenting, nevertheless I would have thought Hull’s comment, “in relation to employment, the religious nature of the organisation or school will need be taken into account in determining whether a particular position needs to be filled by someone who adheres to that religion’s beliefs”, a positive.

    As far as Szoke is concerned she is flying a kite, putting the best face possible on the decision, which is a long way from her preferred position. However, it is a fact of life: whatever changes the Government makes to the legislation, VEOHRC will be on the lookout to test out the legislation.

    The comments on this thread are way too defensive, too critical of fellow Christians, principally the Catholics who have actually ameliorated the Government’s original draconian intentions. We are a long way from being down and out on this issue.

    And regardless, the bottom line is that Christians are called to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus who suffered rejection. He said on three separate occasions that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. With respect this ought to be the orientation of our lives.

    Good to see that Rob Ward of Australian Christian Lobby has got an excellent article into The Age this afternoon: whilst The Age posted a fine, measured rejoinder from the educationalist Kevin Donnelley to the appalling misapplication of the Parable of the Good Samaritan by Bishop John McIntyre – see here:

    Cheers for now

    David Palmer

  20. Thanks David

    But I really fail to see how Hull’s statement is in any way positive. Read it again. This appears to be a clear announcement that a secular – and usually hostile – government will take it upon itself to determine whether or not a religious body can exclude someone who does not share its beliefs and values. It will decide who qualifies, and why. It is secular Big Brother in action. That is surely among the worst possible outcomes imaginable.

    As to taking up one’s cross, sure, that is a wonderful Christian principle, but what does it have to do with this issue? We are nowhere in Scripture told to go looking for persecution. So while we make expect it as followers of Jesus, that certainly does not mean we should simply acquiesce when governments seek to strip us of religious freedom. Some things are worth fighting for, and this is clearly one of those things

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  21. As I read it, Hulls is saying the question of whether or not a school may discriminate for religious faith in the filling of a position will require consideration of the religious nature of the organisation – not in the sense of questioning it but in the sense of understanding it. A practical consequence of this, and again this will depend on the precise wording of the changes, will be that religious schools will need to have clearly defined job descriptions which in setting out required characteristics for the successful candidate ties those characteristics back to the school’s defined “doctrines, beliefs and principles”. Furthermore these requirements will need to be strictly adhered to.

    However, let’s wait and see what is actually proposed.

    Taking up one’s cross is not simply as you suggest a wonderful Christian principle, it is the Christian’s way of life. You ought to know me well enough Bill to know that I’ve been out there fighting on all the hot topics, maybe not always on the same ground as you, but nevertheless fighting. Try visiting our website:

    However, I repeat, at the end of the day regardless of success or loss in the culture wars I see my life as one of following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus and his way is, as Luther puts it, not the way of glory but the way of the cross.


    David Palmer

  22. Thanks David

    Again, your last several paragraphs are something we all agree upon, but are neither here nor there in terms of what is being debated. The issue is this: you and the ACL think this is a pretty good outcome, while I and others think it is pretty bad. That is the topic at hand. But it is true that we will all need to wait for the actual legislation next year.

    My point is simply that vigilance is still very much required here. And that of course does not imply that I am saying that we are “down and out on this issue”. It is simply a matter of being realistic, not naive. It means being aware that there are very real enemies of the gospel who really do want to shut the Christian church down altogether. Jesus also told us that on numerous occasions as well.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  23. I think the situation before the drafting of this Equal Opportunities Bill was adquate to meet the needs of all parties and it is not true that rigid rules existed on who can or cannot be employed by this or that church body. I manage an Anglicare community welfare service and we have over thirty volunteer workers. And I believe there are many church organisations who do not closely monitor who works for them. If their behaviour is acceptable they stay on. We have never asked what religious (or other) persuasion they may have (if any) and we do not intend to do this. If volunteers were tested in this way (particularly in small NSW regional towns) church organisations would collapse. It also seems that the Victorian Attorney, Rod Hulls, is already having second thoughts about his Bill. This is even before he has received the final report (due in a few weeks) of the Victorian Parliamentary scrutiny committee assessing the Bill. An article in the Weekend Australian (3-4/10) by Rick Wallace suggests the possibility of a political flavour in Rod’s morning coffee. My thought is for those interested in opposing this Bill should begin contacting their parliamentary representatives, as I’m sure the preservation of valuable votes in the November 2010 elections is beginning to show on the horizon in this matter.
    Peter Rice

  24. Thanks guys

    As I have mentioned, some Christian groups seem to think this compromise is a pretty good outcome, and they seem to downplay the words of Hulls and others as to how they want to proceed. I would rather take their words at face value. Rob Hulls for example said today in a letter to the Sunday Age these words:

    “Discrimination by religious organisations and schools in the area of employment will be subject to a higher threshold. A religious organisation will only be able to discriminate against a worker if they can prove it is a fundamental requirement of the job that it is filled by someone who conforms to their faith. It does not automatically follow that a religious school could refuse to employ a cleaner or a gardener on the basis of their sexuality or marital status. If a gardener’s job description consists of pruning rose bushes and mowing lawns then it is difficult to see how identifying as gay or being a single parent would affect their ability to meet the inherent requirements of the role.”

    He is still pushing this phony distinction between ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ religious activities. And he is still forcing religious groups to prove they are in the right in their hiring and employment policies and practices. The onus will be on the Christian groups, with government bodies such as the equal opportunity activists on a constant search-and-destroy mission, hunting down ‘discriminating’ religious groups. This is bad news indeed, and we dare not become complacent about such an outcome.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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