CultureWatch

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

The Battle for Religious Freedom in Australia

Dec 17, 2018

Plenty of ink has already been spilled on the government response to the recently-released Ruddock report on religious freedom, but let me present a few more words on it. First, I will offer a number of brief considerations, and then I will provide some longer thoughts on all this.

-Details of the report’s 22 recommendations were released previously, so we have not too much new material here, but more background information, and insights on how the Morrison government wishes to proceed.

-Being a precarious minority government, and with a federal election due next May, it remains to be seen how much can and will be done on this in the next few months.

-Prime Minister Morrison has said that religious freedom will be a key issue he will run with into the election. How this washes with an increasingly secular Australia remains to be seen however.

-Federal Labor will of course be resistant to much of what Morrison may want to do here.

-What ultimately really matters is any draft legislation that will appear on this, informing us in concrete and specific terms just what and how the government will run with all this.

Now let me turn to other considerations which will need a bit more time to explain. First, Philip Ruddock claims there is not much evidence for discrimination against religious faith. Um, he is living in dreamland. I and others have repeatedly documented genuine cases of religious persecution and anti-Christian bigotry in Australia. The problem is real.

Second, we must bear in mind that the whole reason this is being discussed is because of special rights – including fake marriage – being granted to homosexuals. All throughout the marriage debate the other side lied constantly, claiming no one would be impacted if homosexual marriage goes through.

We know how blatantly false this is. There was no real problem with religious freedom up until recently. But when special rights are granted on the basis of not just sexuality, but for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” and the like, then everyone is impacted.

Third, when religious freedoms come into conflict with supposed discrimination based on sexuality, guess who always loses? No matter what the Morrison government finally comes up with, it will be an uphill battle to preserve genuine religious freedom in every sphere, from homes, to schools, to churches, and to faith-based organisations.

As Everett Piper just wrote concerning this issue in America:

It is legally and politically untenable to pretend you can grant minority status to any group of people and then maintain for yourself an “exemption” to deny these people the minority protections you just granted them. If “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (a moving target and transient definition if there ever was one) are granted minority class status under federal law, what in the world makes the religious institution think that its “religious freedoms” should or will ever trump the civil rights of the protected group it just recognized?

Even Chai Feldblum of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees with this fact when she boasts of the “zero-sum game,” where the rights of LGBT Americans will be secured only by curtailing the rights of religious Americans. LGBT community rights “cannot be adequately advanced,” says Ms. Feldblum, “if pockets of resistance are permitted to flourish.”
m.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/dec/16/how-evangelical-capitulation-equals-the-loss-of-re/?fbclid=IwAR3E78fv1QWMqHsC8qbKoNaiQJzc0-R-2t1MhIuQSTjaaH8Vm7HcNJ-XGDM

Fourth, conservatives and Christians have normally been averse to top-down “solutions” to these sorts of problems. Thus many of us opposed things like a Federal Bill of Rights, and for good reason. Such things simply give the state too much power, and when the state decides what rights can and should be granted, they can easily decide which rights can be taken away. But see more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2005/08/07/what-is-wrong-with-a-bill-of-rights/

Fifth, such government mechanisms will of necessity result in competing human rights groups, watchdogs and bureaucracies. Yes, a democracy is all about balancing competing rights and the like, but making this the stuff of state determinations is always risky.

As mentioned, the activists tend to win in such standoffs, and compromise is the usual result – not for the sexual militants, but for faith-based groups. They always tend to come off second-best here. And having the state adjudicate here is fraught with danger.

That leads to my sixth point. In the end, will a stand-alone religious freedom office be set up, or a religious freedom commissioner, or a religious human rights office be established? Whatever actual form it finally comes in, questions remain. Who will run these things? How will they be appointed? What accountability will they have? What guarantees will there be of religious impartiality?

If a Muslim gets the top job – or one of them – will he rule fairly for Christians? Will an atheist be allowed to run the department or call the shots? Religion is a very large term covering a lot of ground. Which religions will benefit, and which will suffer?

And even if a Morrison government sets up something like this, and appoints a really good person or persons to fill such roles, they can easily be replaced by a Labor government. We could have some good folks doing some good things re religious freedom for a few months, but lose it all in May.

Related to this is my seventh point. Religious freedom is of course a good thing, but like all freedoms, not an absolute in a fallen world where competing interests and values must be balanced. Christians of course will want to have the religious freedom to, say, preach the gospel unhindered on a downtown street corner, or have only Christian teachers in a Christian school.

But a Muslim may well want the religious freedom to, say, spread sharia law far and wide in Australia. Of course that is already happening here. In the interests of religious freedom, will things like female genital mutilation and polygamy be granted further legal protections to freely operate in Australia?

Eighth, we have the issue of Christian capitulation in all this. It is bad enough when activist groups, aided and abetted by the heavy hand of the law, wear down our religious freedoms, but too often gullible and clueless Christians further aid this process.

For example, in the US right now some evangelical groups have been capitulating big time to activist demands to have sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws fully ensconced in government legislation. This is another case of the activists getting what they want while the Christian church continues to lose it all.

In the mistaken interests of “love” and “acceptance” far too many Christians already have handed the activists all they want on a silver platter. Far too many of them have no worries at all about the erosion of religious freedom. So our own side keeps doing us in, sadly.

Finally, the stakes are very high here indeed. As Jennifer Oriel put it in The Australian:

Religious freedom is the subject of private conscience and a public good that provides for civil society by limiting state authority over family, friendships and faith. It is essential to liberal democracy and the flourishing of liberty. In the Western context, religious freedom empowers citizens to live according to their innermost beliefs while respecting the basic rules that govern open society. Without it, we would be unfree.

Plenty more can be said here. And readers will complain that this is all rather gloomy, and that I offer no solutions to get us out of this morass. It certainly is gloomy, but whether we can now at this late stage find a way out is a moot point. The homosexual horse has bolted – long ago.

Many decades ago I and others warned all we could how religious freedom would be under huge attack if we keep granting special rights to these activist groups. Now they have almost all they want, and just seek to get the church to fully acquiesce, or be hounded out of business.

Once laws are passed, such as faux marriage laws, it is very hard to undo them. And the activists have made it clear that they are certainly not done yet. They want complete acceptance and promotion of their lifestyle, and they want it everywhere – in schools, in churches, and even in homes (as in targeting home-schooling).

So even if the government introduces a few bits of legislation next year, there are no guarantees they will be passed. Indeed, there are no guarantees they will even be half-way decent to genuinely protect religious freedom. And assuming the government gets turfed out in May anyway, we already know what Labor and the Greens have up their sleeves.

It really will be the end of religious freedom then. So right now we are fighting a rear-guard action. These fights should have occurred at least thirty years ago, if not earlier. But sadly many of us were voices crying out in the wilderness all along. We warned and pleaded with folks – especially Christian folks – to wake up and protect their freedoms.

But hardly anyone listened – or cared. Now so many of our freedoms are gone, and things will likely only get worse. It does not do much good at this point to say “we told you so”. But we did! Yes, we can all pray and work with the current government to see some sort of legislation put up that will do some good.

But I for one am not holding my breath. Too much has already been lost. Far too many concessions have already been made. Far too much progress by the activists has occurred. Trying to put the genie back in the bottle at this late stage will be all but impossible – barring a miracle.

And a miracle is exactly what we now need. And the church is the only one that can be of help here. All true believers have really only one option left: to get on their knees and repent of their carelessness, apathy, indifference, carnality and compromise.

And pray for a miracle. The only real miracle to save us now will be a revived church. It has been an overwhelmingly dead or sleeping church that has allowed all this to happen, and only a revived and alive church can hope to see things turned around.

Lord have mercy.

[1707 words]

23 Responses to The Battle for Religious Freedom in Australia

  • Quote
    Yes, a democracy is all about balancing competing rights and the like, but making this the stuff of state determinations is always risky.
    End quote
    I don’t think so as democracy (from Greek – people power) is about majority rule which is why minority groups such LGBTIQA+ want to change that.
    As for making laws regarding religion: Section 116 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act provides:
    The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion etc.
    Thus, the protection of religious observance and exercise of religion is enshrined in our Constitution. However, there is no Constitutional provision to protect Atheism.
    As such, Morrison or anyone else – as to religion – HANDS ORF COBBER!!
    John Abbott

  • Thanks John. Regardless of the Greek origins of the term, all Western democracies do indeed seek – at least in theory – to balance the interests and rights of the majority with those of various minority groupings. Sadly however, at the moment, the minority activist groups like the militant homosexual lobby have been successful in holding the majority to ransom. That is the real concern here, and a battle we continue to lose, unless things somehow turn around.

  • Bill you are truly a blessing from the Almighty!

    You are willing to ask in public the question that I and many people have been asking in private – what if the government of the day appoints a Muslim as “Religious Freedom Commissioner”?

    What guarantee do we have that this can’t happen?

    Mr Morrison said: “If you support a multicultural Australia, you’ll be a supporter of religious freedoms. You’ll understand that religious faith is synonymous with so many different ethnic cultures in Australia.”

    Sorry Mr Morrison, you are wrong. We say yes to multi-cultural Australia but only a Christian multi-cultural Australia. The campaign for religious freedom is coming from Christians if you haven’t noticed. Just look at how many submissions to Mr Ruddock came from Christians (>99%) so please address our concerns and not the concerns of new immigrants who brought their own religions with them.

    This is more proof why we must have a Christian-only immigration policy. These other people come here with their different religions and then work with the Cultural Marxists, Muslims and Left Wing Christians to protect their religions and undermine Christianity.

  • Thanks Michael. In principle at least, religious freedom should be for all people of all faiths. However, it does not work out so well when we consider that at least one religion has such intrinsic contempt for Western goods such as democracy, rule of law, freedom, pluralism, respect for women and so on. That is where it gets difficult for any free country. It should offer equal protection under law for all people of differing religions, but not all religions are fully deserving of such protections it seems.

  • Ruddock’s claim that there is little evidence for discrimination against religious faith likely reflects the threshold he subscribes to. Where references to Muhammad that offend Muslims are the threshold for discrimination used by those on the Left, the same standard is not applied to Christianity. Perhaps this distinction reflects the different privilege the Left ascribes to each? I skimmed through part of the 140 page report on religious freedom and it notes a lack of documented cases – mostly headline news and a few personal accounts. Without data it’s difficult to prove how widespread the issue is.

    Should a religious commissar or other such equivalent be established it is almost certain that upon the Greens and\or Labor taking power in Australia that this unequal standard will be applied forcing Christians to decide just how far outside the law they’re prepared to venture in their bid to remain faithful Christians and good citizens..

  • “The only real miracle to save us now will be a revived church. It has been an overwhelmingly dead or sleeping church that has allowed all this to happen, and only a revived and alive church can hope to see things turned around.”

    It is easy to say that we want a shakeup of the Church, and it is easy to long for a revived Church. But the practical (spiritually attuned) aspects of this have been resisted by some of the best Christian voices, who either have capitulated in part to the program of the Left or have had weak theology which has not adequately primed them for a victory position.

    The entire Ruddock Review is of no consequence for those whose authority is first in Scripture and in the Spirit of God. To advocate for “religious freedom” then is entirely misguided. Today’s ideological war against Christianity is not something that we could have done anything about, because it already began with the French Revolution, and Bible prophecy shows how today’s state of the Church was inevitable.

    Revelation 3 as a prophecy about today’s churches shows how the call is for all Christians to repent and get right. You can develop out of weak theology and we are able to extricate ourselves from the influence of Enlightenment philosophy/Leftwing ideology within Christianity.

  • Amen Bill, we need revival!
    But do we actually need ‘Religious Freedom’ per se? Many will see ‘Religious freedom’ as licence for Bigamy, FGM, Jihad etc for anyone from Atheism, Islam, Mormonism, Satanism, or whatever.

    Rather, don’t we need true ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Freedom of Association’ where we have freedom to offend and ridicule ANY belief (religious or otherwise) that we believe to be wrong, evil, quaint or ridiculous, and where we can choose with whom we associate, how we do business, and what we promote or denigrate?

    Offend, ridicule and denigrate are strong words: but their interpretation is very subjective and if we dis-allow their possibility, we shut down robust public debate and deny freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association. To have laws dis-allowing their possibility creates victims who can and do use such laws to to persecute anyone who dares contradict their beliefs (e.g. the shameful treatment of Bernard Gaynor). So offend, ridicule and denigrate are not necessarily ‘hate’: they can in fact be love pointing out and debating the evidence that FGM, SSM, Transmania, Sharia, etc are harmful to those concerned, and detrimental to the community as a whole.

    Unfortunately, the apostate church, its child abuse scandals, Islamic violence, etc., has given ‘religion’ a bad name. Hence it may be better to see the fight for religious freedom as what it actually is: the fight for true freedom of speech and association, of which religious freedom is a result. Existing laws re inciting to riot or violence, if properly enforced rather than trumped by misguided racial and religious discrimination laws, should be adequate to control the real preachers of hate.

    But regardless, we need revival of the church.

  • Yes freedom should be for all people of all faiths IN PRINCIPLE but you can’t treat unequal things equally.

    I don’t know a single Christian who says we should endure “Jesus: a prophet of Islam” billboards for the sake of freedom of religion!

    It’s not just plain wrong and a total lie, it’s sacrilege and blasphemy. The law can either protect us from these insults against what we hold sacred, or it get out of the way when Christians take things into their own hands (like happened to this billboard).

    P.S. Andrew S Mason, you can note this down as a documented case of Anti-Christian Discrimination.

  • Peter Newland, you wrote:
    Rather, don’t we need true ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Freedom of Association’ where we have freedom to offend and ridicule ANY belief (religious or otherwise) that we believe to be wrong, evil, quaint or ridiculous, and where we can choose with whom we associate, how we do business, and what we promote or denigrate?

    I don’t believe as Christians we should “offend, ridicule or denigrate” other faiths or lifestyles. That’s not how Paul or any of the other apostles did things. They presented Jesus to the pagan Greeks, Romans and Jews. They didn’t go on about the rampant homosexuality of the Greeks, or immorality of the lives of the pagan gods or the cult of Diana/Artemis in Ephesus or the gladiatorial games in Rome. Just read the New Testament especially Acts. Talking to Muslims and going on about Mahomed being a paedophile, is not helpful, it will just get their backs up and they won’t listen to anything positive about Jesus that you say.

  • Matthew Verschuur, the so-called Enlightenment, was the worst thing that happened to western Christian society! You are right of course about the French Revolution (first communist revolution, my opinion). But the big problem in France that lead to that was that the church did not care about the ordinary people and was hand-in-glove with the government. Same in Russia before the Revolution. It is my opinion that the rise of communism and its effects will be laid at the foot of the churches on Judgment Day. There was a lot of cross-over between the American and French Revolutions, some of the same people took part in both.

  • The Religious Director (I think that’s his title) at the ABC is a Muslim. (Have you noticed how Compass has changed in the past few years?)

    The Program Director of the BBC’s Songs of Praise is a Muslim.

    If Sections 37 and 38 of the Anti Discrimination Act are changed, then you can bet that not only schools but everything else with a Christian tag will be next. Read the ALP Bill that is being discussed by the Senate Committee and you’ll be alarmed.

    But God knows.

  • Dear Jim, do you have a link to the ALP Bill?

    And a question to you Bill,

    Is there a Biblical angle to the Jerusalem/West Jerusalem move the Embassy/don’t move the Embassy that Christians should be aware of?

    View No.1 says:

    The Aussies have made a bad mistake in joining those who divide God’s land. Joel 3.2

    They’ve chosen to divide Jerusalem no less. They’ve chosen to be burdened with Jerusalem and have not respected God’s holy city. They want to give some of it to a foreign god.

    Getting beat by the Pommies is preferable to the misery they’ve chosen for themselves.
    Some commentators translate Zechariah 12:3 as they rupture themselves. At any rate we can expect changes to Australia’s fortunes, keep us posted.
    How sad the Aussie church was unable to avert this tragedy.

    View No.2 says:

    Yet once more will Jerusalem be troubled by those who take the city. At the end of the prophesied time, the city will be restored to the descendants of Jacob and will never again be divided or given over to the nations.

    So should we as Christians in Australia use our votes to influence our Government’s recognition of the legal status and boundaries of the capital of the secular State of Israel or should we rely on prayer prayer and wait for our Lord to restore His City to His People at the End of Time?

  • Thanks Michael. Aside from biblical angles, the political angle is worth running with: all other nations have embassies in their capitals. As to your last question, why not both?

  • Part of the problem has always been, at least in the past 100 so years, we underestimate satan’s power. we seem to think he is a toothless tiger ‘he will gum you but he can’t hurt you’. It is like going to war assuming your enemy has 1 or 2 battalions so you send 3 or 4 battalions to overwhelm him then when you get there you find he has 3 or 4 DIVISIONS and YOU are the one overwhelmed! I actually had a christian tell me satan’s power is just God’s power shining through satan. Many others just out right deny he has any power or that old chestnut of ‘are you saying he is more powerful than God?’ as a way of shutting down the conversation and not having to actually acknowledge satan has power. (for the record NO I am not saying he is more powerful than God but he IS MUCH MORE powerful than any mere man.) Satan was the anointed cherub the most powerful of all angels prior to he fall and the is no indication of he losing any amount of that power when he fell. He is also the god of the world. Since we are constantly underestimating our enemy and his strength is it any wonder we keep getting our butts kicked by him???

    Too many christians are naive and think people wouldn’t lie or use deception to get something so when homosexuals say ‘we wouldn’t use these laws against you’ and ‘we aren’t trying to criminalize the bible’ too many believe them. I think so of that is the ‘I wouldn’t do that so they wouldn’t do that either’ or ‘I am a good judge of character’ and ‘I would know if they were lying to me’. I think we want so bad to believe the best in people we allow ourselves to dismiss anything contrary to that. we believe people are basically good. We believe being kind and nice to people will open doors (if he sees how nice christians are he will want to be one of us) and plant seeds (maybe I didn’t reach him but hims seeing what a nice loving person I am will surely work on him and the next person will bring him to christ). we have become the ‘barney the purple dinosaur’ (I love you, you love me) version of christianity. Also the ren and stimpy version (happy happy joy joy). We don’t act in a way that commands respect. You can’t win through weakness and you can’t show people a worthless religion and expect converts. Churchianity is worthless and that is what too many churches are the church of. As a result we are laughed at and not seen as serious. If we don’t believe what the bible say why should anyone else. Jesus and the apostles didn’t change the world by loving it with a warm and fuzzy love the makes you feel good but does NOTHING for you.

    We put ourselves in this position by compromise Only with God’s help can we get out of it by learning you CAN’T compromise with evil. Satan only compromises or seeks coexistence until he can dominate. Only a fool takes satan at his word when he promises too just exist peacefully along side you and not cause you any problems. Although when he does advertise what he is going to do only a fool wouldn’t believe him. If we had taken Mein Kampf seriously maybe the holocaust wouldn’t have happened. Homosexuals and others told us what they were going to do we just didn’t believe them. big mistake.

  • Thanks Bill for a sober and accurate description of the predicament we now find ourselves in as Christians in Australia as AD 2018 draws to a close. I agree with your analysis, as troubling as it may be.

  • Louise and Matthew are right about the damage caused to the church by ‘The Enlightenment’ and corruption in the church. But it simply continues our “Did God say …?” sin that triggered The Fall.

    That’s why we have weak theology from many otherwise excellent Christian apologists who can’t logically defend Genesis and God’s explicit word that He created the heavens and the Earth and everything in them in six days. Hence atheists are correct to argue that since Christians don’t believe what Genesis plainly says re creation, then why should they take any notice of the rest of the Bible. Thus many Christians are afraid or unable to defend the Bible and faith and we wonder why the church and Western nations are in decline. We need revival, but how can we be revived unless we understand where we got it wrong – how and why we started not believing the Bible.

    ‘Enlightenment’ ideas, such as Charles Lyell’s admitted aim to “free the science (geology) of Moses”, attacked Bible authority re the age of the Earth. Then Charles Darwin used Lyell’s supposed long ages of geology to claim that evolution from single cell to complex animal was allegedly feasible. Scientists, and then theologians, gradually compromised, despite counter evidence, and began reinterpreting Genesis to agree with long ages of evolution. Worse, since the 1970s we have English translations of the Bible that, without explanation or textual justification, mistranslate the Hebrew to agree with long ages (the short articles on Gen1 in tinyurl.com/BibleOrEvolution give details). The compromised translations facilitate claims that eons before God created Adam and Eve, He allegedly created soul-less Homo sapiens creatures who provided Cain’s wife. Yet it is Biblically consistent, and compatible with Josephus’ claim of 56 children for Adam and Eve, that by the time Cain needed a wife Adam and Eve’s descendants would have numbered about 1,500. It is all a matter of Truth. Is the Bible God’s word or not?

    Is the Qur’an true? Is it true that Muhammad had sex with a 9-year old? Did he own and trade in sex-slaves? Is it true that Muhammad said women are worth half a man – mere fields to be ‘plowed’ by men and that most of the occupants in hell are women? Is Islam’s claim that Muhammad is the perfect example to follow?

    Should we major on unpleasant truths? No. We should not deliberately, offend, ridicule or denigrate anyone. Nevertheless, does it show love or hate to avoid truth and leave people trapped in ignorance in dangerous religions or lifestyles where their earthly and eternal lives are at stake? Suppressing the truth here is hate not love. Jesus and the prophets did not mince words for fear of offending.

    Remember it is the truth that sets free and that the Gospel is an offence to many. They hated Jesus and they will hate us too if we are true to the Gospel.

    One reason we lost the Same Sex Marriage debate was our deliberate refusal to spell out the unpleasant truth re the physical, mental and spiritual dangers of SSM. Yes, the truth may offend. But our objective should always be the truth in love, recognising that we will be held responsible for not sounding a clear warning to those in danger – a warning that requires freedom of speech rather than freedom of religion.

  • Peter Newland,
    When Jesus and the prophets were speaking, quite harshly, to people, they were speaking to their own people, Israelites / Jews and their religious leaders not to pagans following other religions. The greatest condemnations by Jesus and the prophets was for the false teachers and leaders of Israel, because they had the teachings of God and didn’t follow them.

    When it came to Paul speaking to Greeks and Romans, who were pagans and didn’t have the teachings of God, he didn’t insult their religions or gods who were very immoral or talk about the rampant homosexuality in Greece. He presented Jesus to them without denigrating their gods first, depending on them to realise the Jesus and His Father were the true Gods and leaving paganism behind. When he walked around Athens and saw all the idols, he was sad that people worshipped them and when he spoke to them later he started by saying “I see that you are very religious people..” Of course we don’t know everything he said. He wrote to the church at Ephesus, Ephesus was the centre of the cult of Diana / Artemis and a great temple to her was there, but never in his letter did he mention this or go on about the immoral worship rites there. People who stand outside mosques and question people about Aisha’s age when Mohamed married her, make me cringe. Better to go to the local coffee shops where they gather and talk about Jesus.

    SSM is a different matter, it doesn’t deal with people’s strongly held religious beliefs. How would we feel if someone, a Muslim, a Mormon or a JW was trying to convert us to their way by insulting and denigrating Jesus, we’d want to punch him out?

  • Peter Newland, the people we need to be most harsh with and not afraid to offend are false Christian teachers!

  • Louise, It’s not that simple. The Gospel does give offence. But while offence should never be our intention, we must not hate by hiding the truth from those who need to hear it.

    I talk with Muslims in Melbourne CBD. I know all 4 Muslims who were on TV a few weeks ago when 3 of them were charged with terrorist offences. I exchanged several emails with one of them. I talk with atheists, Mormons, Lesbians, Gays, Socialists, Transvestites etc. One Lesbian from QLD abused me by email re my tinyurl.com/SSMYesOrNo pamphlet, yet she became civil and exchanged another couple of polite emails where we both explained our position and agreed to disagree.

    I never intend offence, denigration or ridicule; rather I try to keep to a sober discussion of the facts. But that does not stop people FEELING, or choosing to feel, offended etc. E.g. in offering Christian pamphlets, some respond in a belligerent manner, but sometimes they will enter logical debate and we can have a good discussion, but sometimes, especially when they can’t answer a probing question, they CHOOSE to become abusive and storm off.

    And that is what is VERY wrong with laws that make it an offence to offend etc: such bad laws encourage people to CHOOSE to feel offended etc. so that they can use those laws to punish people who promote ideas that they don’t like. Such laws are disastrous to freedom.

    I attended most of the many-weeks long trial where the “Two-Dannies” were charged with violating the Victorian Racial and Religious Vilification Act by allegedly vilifying Muslims who had been sent by a Government agency to see if they would be offended by a Christian meeting re Islam. I was shocked when the Magistrate stated that “Truth is irrelevant” – all that was relevant was that the Muslims, who arguably set out to be offended, were offended – and it cost the Christians hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of stress, all because they were explaining to Christians true and relevant facts about Islam.

    We will not have freedom of speech or religion if it there are laws that make it illegal to “offend” someone. Defining offence can’t be objective: it is inherently subjective, not like physical injury or theft. People can and do decide to play the offended victim if that is to their advantage. Bad laws reverse the onus of proof: instead of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ it becomes ‘guilty until proven innocent’; but, how can you prove innocence if the accuser is intent on playing an ‘offended’ victim to punish you?

    Louise, you seem to imply that offending religious beliefs is more offensive than offending SSM beliefs. So should we have blasphemy laws? Do you think Asia Bibi should be executed after a decade in prison for allegedly insulting Islam? I think blasphemy and ‘offence’ laws are fatal to freedom.

    When Muslims, Mormons, JWs, atheists, Gays etc say what I regard as insulting things about Jesus or the Trinity etc., I don’t take offence and as you say “want to punch him out”; rather I try to explain who Jesus is and offer them hard-copy of my pamphlet JesusGodSpiritSonA5.pdf (at tinyurl.com/BibleOrEvolution).

    I hope and pray that this discussion helps you and others understand the issues better.

  • Peter, yes, the true gospel will cause offence to some, that is Biblical. That’s not what I was talking about. I was thinking of those who when they talk to Muslims the first thing they say is about Aisha and Mohamed’s marriage,
    Thanks for what you wrote.

  • I think the first main battle in the sexual area was lost in the 1960s and 70s when living together without being married became accepted as normal. It meant that marriage was downgraded to an option, not a social necessity. That opened the door to more recent downgrading of marriage and attempts to eliminate marriage as the committed relationship between a man and a woman. Gay ‘marriage’ could not have been accepted if proper marriage was still overwhelmingly considered necessary for men and women to live together.

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