Present-day perils of being Christian
For those of us who are of mature age, it would have been fantasy to think that in Australia, in 2017, it would be dangerous to profess attachment to Christianity and its ideals. Yet that is just what is becoming a reality. Little or no physical violence has so far occurred, but attacks on Christian ideals and values are relentless.
We are now living in an age of rising, militant “Christophobia”, in Christianity’s own homelands. Christianity’s teachings, rituals, icons, and symbols are constantly ridiculed and mocked. If you speak up for Christianity you are likely to be called a bigot. At the same time, criticism of other religions is politically incorrect. Any who venture to look critically and objectively at Islam, for example, are vilified, called “Islamophobic”, and subject to physical threats.
If you stand up for the Christian teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, as Cardinal George Pell and Rev. Fred Nile do, you will be hounded and ridiculed at Mardi Gras. If you set out a reasoned and polite case for this teaching, as Tasmanian Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous did, you will be dragged before a human rights board. If a group of Christians seeks to meet to consider a response to a proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage, the venue they choose will be intimidated into cancelling the booking.
When the then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, implied in 2015 that Christians — the minority under greatest threat in Syria — may be given special consideration for asylum in Australia, he was widely condemned. Anthony Fisher, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, openly advocated special consideration for Syrian Christians. He suffered the same fate.
During the past few years, the Victorian government, in effect, banned singing Christmas carols in public schools. The ban forbade “any type of music that glorified God or a particular religious figure or deity”. This was an assault on our cultural heritage and national identity. The ban has since been lifted, but the threat of this sort of action remains.
Particularly worrying is the newly invented “identity politics” idea, whereby people are seen not as individuals, but as members of a racial or cultural group. The group is all important and must be preserved. This is a direct challenge to the Christian teaching that all are individuals and are equal in the sight of God, regardless of skin colour or culture.
The retreat from Christianity and its values has deep implications for the nature of our society. At a recent symposium, British commentator Daniel Johnson placed the collapse of confidence in Judeo-Christian values and democratic capitalism as the most serious of the many internal threats to the survival of our Western civilisation.
Rod McLeod, Eastwood