Let me tell you in advance something you will need to know. If in the near future you notice that no new articles are being added to this website, and no new comments are being posted, there will be one very good reason for this: I will be in jail, or fighting a lengthy court battle, because of Victoria’s new EOC law which was just passed.
Now I realise that for my many enemies this will be tremendous news indeed. But for those at least concerned about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience, this should be a very worrying development.
And to be honest, I am perfectly aware that there will be some Christians as well who will see the closure of this website as a good thing: “Yes, Bill was just too radical, and too much of a trouble maker. It is probably a good thing he has been put away. He was giving Christianity a bad reputation”.
Of course I will not find such attitudes surprising. Jesus had warned about these very things. He told his disciples to be ready for the coming persecution: “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you” (John 16:1-4).
Not only have we been forewarned about coming persecution, we have also been forewarned in Scripture about the great apostasy in the last days. Jesus asked this question: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
An indication of this great falling away can be measured in part by the way the Christian community in Victoria responded to this bill. I would hazard a guess that at least 90 per cent of Victorian Christians did not even know this bill was being debated, and perhaps 90 per cent of those who did, did nothing about it. And dare I say there were even some Christians who actually supported the bill!
Jesus also warned that if his disciples would not speak out, then the very stones would (Luke 19:40). One of those stones is secular Melbourne commentator Andrew Bolt. He is at it again: defending Christianity while most Christians remain silent. Surely the church stands condemned when such things happen.
Bolt had a great piece on why this new law is such bad news. He said, “Victoria’s equal opportunity police were just not getting enough complaints to work with. So this foolish Labor Government this week unleashed them to go invent some more, passing even more oppressive Equal Opportunity laws.”
He goes on to quote from the Commission’s own files about how they set up the Christian group Catch the Fire Ministries back in 2002 by secretly planting three Muslims in a Christian gathering, so they could trap them under the new Racial and Religious Vilification law.
That kind of KGB-type activity will now only get much worse, now that the EOC has been given even greater search-and-destroy powers. The draconian powers will soon rival those of the East German Stasi. Indeed, the EOC will now have:
-The power to enter a church or meeting for the sole purpose of assessing what is said.
-The right to demand that a religious organisation hand over files.
-The right to compel church folk to attend a hearing at the Commission without any complaint being made.
-The power to initiate a complaint of discrimination.
One Christian who has been aware of this horrible legislation is Rev Dr Mark Durie. He has written a lengthy evaluation of this new law. Let me offer a few snippets from his important piece:
“The issue is particularly pointed for Christian schools, because thousands of students in Victoria attend schools where up until now every member of staff has been required to adhere to religious and ethical principles as part of their employment contract. Tens of thousands more attend schools where there has been a tradition of favouring teachers who share the religious and ethical values of the school. Since the passing of this new bill, it is unclear whether these employment arrangements have now become unsustainable.”
His entire article deserves careful reading. But let me present his closing paragraphs: “Clearly religious rights cannot simply trump all other rights. Some religious practices are illegal and should always remain so. But what the past decade of watching Victoria’s attempts to regulate religious manifestations has convinced me – first through the lamentable outcome of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001, and now through the Equal Opportunity Bill 2010 – is that the Victorian Labor Government has little clue about the problems inherent in requiring our secular tribunals and courts to rule on doctrinal issues. There is a desire that religious bodies and individuals be more accountable, but little clue about how to do this efficiently and effectively.
“In watching all this unfold, the weak response of churches to these threats to religious harmony has been disappointing.
“If the Equal Opportunity Bill is as bad as I believe, then possibly the very best thing that can happen now is for some high profile Equal Opportunity cases to be started up, making use of the new religious provisions, pitting secularist-minded complainants against religious respondents. The doctrinal issues will prove to be controversial and divisive, even within religious communities, and the public will be divided as the cases progress through the inevitable appeal processes. The problem of conflicting and irreconcilable presuppositions about the role of religion in life will cause the government to founder on the shoals of controversy and outrage, as both sides discover that the law has not provided the legal clarity which everyone had hoped for.
“I do hope I shall be proved wrong.”
Sadly I do not think he is wrong. This is a case of the secular state wading into religious and theological issues, effectively telling religious groups what they can and cannot believe, what they can and cannot do – all in the name of equal opportunity of course. This will provide lots of equal opportunities for atheists and other groups seeking to undermine the work of the Christian church and the spread of the gospel.
Overt persecution of the Christian church in Australia is not necessary. The same impact can be achieved by covert persecution. Simply wrap your attack on Christianity in concepts like “equal opportunity” and “anti-discrimination” and the secular forces will be able to shut down the church just as effectively as passing a law declaring Christianity to be illegal.
A few final questions remain: will you at least visit me when I am in prison? Will you pray for me, and for others who will not bow the knee to Baal? What will you do, Christian friend? Where will you stand? Are you now ready to face the music, or will you, like Peter, deny our Lord to avoid persecution?