I rise this evening to speak in relation to the need to ensure that Australia’s democracy remains a pluralistic, liberal and inclusive democracy which values freedom of thought, worship, association and speech as fundamental rights. There has been much interest in the media regarding a story about people of the Christian faith being denied membership of the Liberal party in South Australia this week. I don’t support this decision.
In my view, it sets an undemocratic and dangerous precedent in politics and says to the world at large that exclusion of Christians is OK.
But there is a much larger proposition at play here, and it’s one that is worth considering. The first organised Roman persecution of Christians was ordered by Emperor Nero in 64 AD. He blamed the Christians for the Great Fire of Rome. From the seventh century in the Middle East, large communities of Christians were forbidden to display a cross and were ordered to convert to Islam.
And during the 1920s, pursuant to the orders of Lenin, Christians of the Russian Orthodox Church were targeted. Lenin was seeking to send a blunt message, and remove the religion as a competing doctrine to communism.
And we would be foolish to think that the persecution of Christians is a matter that has been consigned to the history books. Sadly, around the world, that persecution is alive. In fact, so far in 2021, 13 Christians have been killed worldwide for practising their faith; 12 churches and 12 Christians have been attacked.
Now, Australia is a country founded on Judeo-Christian values. Over the past two years, state parliaments across the country have been passing radical social policy laws, laws which many Christians understandably believe are direct attacks on their faith.
Religious freedom is under attack in state parliaments, and is systematically being set aside in favour of a new social-justice identity-politics style of ideology.
In fact, wokeness is beginning to function as the new religion, as the values that have served us well are placed under attack and being forfeited day by day.
The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act recently passed in Victoria represents an attack on religious freedom in the most egregious form in Australian legislative history.
Similar bills have been introduced in Queensland and the ACT, and South Australia is likely to see its own version later in the year. Euthanasia legislation has been passed in Victoria, in New South Wales, in Tasmania and in Western Australia, and a similar bill has just been passed in my home state of South Australia.