Well it’s that time of the election cycle again when the religious freedoms Bill is being put together.
Gosh! Have three years really gone that quickly? And equally “Gosh!”, why do we find ourselves in the same place again, nervously looking at how this will all pan out in Federal Parliament? At the last Federal election many Christian schools felt that they had dodged a bullet. The then Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, looked a shoo-in for The Lodge, until the silent electorate put the boot in, and it was Sco-Mo for three more years.
But time passes quickly when you’re having fun/too busy to think/too locked down to care, and now we are on the threshold of another Federal election. And no further along the freedoms bill line. Three years on – an election looming – and again Christian schools and other faith-based institutions find themselves scrambling.
Cue the more progressive media types in our country to dust off the old arguments from four years ago, and bring them out for yet another round of “how much hatred there is going to be!” and “How stupid those religious people are.” It’s clearly been a disastrous four years for such hating mockers though, given the massive take up of religious schooling by our increasingly secular Australian families. It’s like they see something in Christian education systems that they can’t quite put their finger on, but which they like.
But that won’t deter the mockers and the haters, and the hating mockers and the mocking haters. They’re like a stuck record. And sure enough, mockery and hatred are out again in usual force from the usual suspects.
So we get this from erstwhile funny man, Shaun Micallef (mind the language):
And cue the usual pile on. “Yeah those flying spaghetti monster types!”, “Tax breaks!!”, “Why not Satanism as well!!”, “Tax breaks!”, “It should be freedom FROM religion!”, “Tax breaks!”
What’s it with tax breaks? When the history of the demise of secularism in Australia is written, will we discover that a vast majority of secularists were accountants?
But I digress. Micallef is one wing of the toxic, fly-blown, diversity-hating culture vultures feasting on the left-overs of a Christianise past. The other is the likes of solidly gay, solidly prim and proper, solidly urban, and solidly angry, ever so angry. David Marr, who writes for – among other The Guardian. And he is filled with implacable rage that the churches and schools don’t get it.
For him it’s about the shame that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, engenders among sexually diverse people.
Here’s the headline today:
The church has always been in the business of shame. Shame and nastiness.
Marr goes on to say:
The problem for the business model of the churches isn’t freedom of belief but the dwindling of shame. Not so long ago, shame was everywhere and so were the churches.
To which I do a 90 degree head swivel and say “Whaaat?” Where has Marr been all of these past few years? Shame is dwindling? Has he not see the Twitter pile ons, the cancelling of people, the mockery, the manner in which something seemingly innocuous done ten years ago is now proof that you are villain of Hollywood proportions. Oh and speaking of Hollywood, does anyone do shame quite like Tinseltown? JK Rowling not even invited to the 20th year anniversary of the film based on her book. Why? Because she dared to speak against something in a non-angry, non-shaming way, and for that she must be shamed and silenced.
But it’s Marr’s blindness to the fact that the western world is both less religious (from the top down) and more religious (from the bottom up) than we realise. The proof that this is so is the fact that the ALP – which has had an increasingly difficult relationship with faith-based communities of recent – is now actively courting them! Yet Marr says this, with all the confidence of the ignorant:
… people aren’t listening any more. God may not have changed His mind on all the sex stuff, but the world has. The faiths are losing their market.
Tell that to Anthony Albanese.
Please David, get out of your inner suburban postcode a little more. And when you do, go and visit a Christian school with an open enrolment policy that allows all sorts of diverse students a safe place to not be shamed about anything. Marr is living in his past. Which, sadly, is probably as much to do with the church system he was brought up in, as much as it is to with himself. He’s an angry, tortured soul.
The church when it gets it wrong does do shame. But that’s not because of too much gospel, but because of too little. And for that the church must take its stripes.
The more insightful comment from an equally gay, equally erudite, equally inner-city thinker, is that of Douglas Murray who pins shame culture exactly where it should be – the post-Christian framework which has no place for redemption. Indeed Murray identifies the idea of grace espoused by the church as the only safety net for those who fear shaming.
Don’t talk to me about shame David Marr. It may have been a cottage industry run by some wings of the church (and still may be). But the secular culture has put together a business model for shame and listed it on the stock exchange.
And speaking of shame, let’s see how poor Tim Paine – the now ex-captain of the Australian cricket team fares over the coming weeks. Shame is here to stay. I can feel it in my bones.
Well, that was all a digression from the freedoms bill that may or may not get up in parliament. There are so many intricacies to it, and John Steenhof has written an excellent response to the negative pushback, which you can read here.
Critics say the bill will permit discrimination against gay and lesbian Australians. This is alarmist. LGBTQI+ discrimination is governed by the Sex Discrimination Act, which will be untouched by this bill. In short, the religious discrimination bill is almost entirely a plain, vanilla extension of existing discrimination legislation.
But that won’t stop the haters and the mockers. They’re insatiable. Steenhof concludes with these words:
This is unfortunate, not just for religious Australians, but for all Australians who want to see a confident and robust pluralistic society where there is a high level of social cohesion amongst groups of widely differing beliefs and convictions.
“All Australians”? That clearly doesn’t include the likes of Micallef and Marr.