Are We Free to Disagree?
Another week, another encroachment on our freedoms – that’s how it feels in Australia these days.
The latest outrage is that there appears to be some doubt as to whether or not a plebiscite to decide the marriage issue will be supported in the Senate, or if we citizens will be deemed too ignorant to vote on it, and be made to leave the decision to our parliamentarians.
‘Marriage Equality’ Ammunition
I was fortunate to be able to see Brendan O’Neill speak in Melbourne last week. For those of you who haven’t heard of Brendan, he is an online journalist with Spiked Online, and an atheist libertarian. Brendan gave his Christian audience some fresh insights into the marriage debate and proved, yet again, that this isn’t a religious issue, but a natural law (and common-sense) one. Brendan has been ostracised and publicly vilified for his stance on marriage, simply because he doesn’t agree with the fashionable ideology of marriage redefinition. He has studied the chilling effect the marriage debate has had on the general public in Europe, as well as the individual cases of discrimination against proponents of real marriage, in the form of prosecution and even jail-time. While Brendan doesn’t agree that redefining marriage of itself would harm heterosexual marriage – most Christians would diverge with him on this point – he does believe that children do best growing up with the unique input of a biological mother and a biological father.
If you’re looking for some well-articulated arguments to defend traditional marriage, then here are a few articles to help you. This article from Michael Cook at Mercatornet sets out seven arguments in favour of a plebiscite concisely and in plain language. And Neil Forster, at his Law and Religion blog, gives a couple of more in-depth articles about the human rights basis for ‘marriage equality’ and whether or not the current definition of marriage is constitutional. Then there’s this article from Life@Work, explaining a very human and relational way to approach discussions about the marriage issue. You might also be interested in this talk by Archbishop Julian Porteous on Marriage and the Anti-Discrimination Law in Tasmania.
Are We Free to Disagree with Abortion?
Pro-lifers in Australia are coming increasingly under fire for daring to disagree with the popular idea that abortion is good for women and society at large. Graham Preston was recently fined for simply restating a section of the UN Declaration on the Child, to which Australia is a signatory. His crime was to do so within 150 metres of a Tasmanian abortion business. It’s actually very fitting, since the UN Declaration obviously doesn’t extend to protection of children within the womb.
As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I was recently arrested under a similar law in Victoria for simply offering help to a woman outside an abortion business. In legal terms, this is known as allegedly ‘communicating about abortion’; in moral terms, this is disagreeing with the view that abortion is good for women. And disagreeing within 150 metres of an abortion provider, even a hospital, is against the law. How did Australia become a country where we aren’t free to disagree? When did expressing an unpopular, but deeply-held view, come to be seen as harassment?
What about simply praying with some signs 150 metres from an abortion business? Shouldn’t that be perfectly acceptable? Well, you would think so, but this morning I was told otherwise. Staff from the Maroondah Council advised my fellow pray-ers and I that our A-frames were illegal and would be confiscated if found again. Since the ‘Safe-Access Zone’ was introduced, my friends and I have had to move 3 times in order to please the local residents, who object to people disagreeing with abortion near their homes. Yes, the local abortion business is situated in a residential area. And from today we can no longer be there with signs that disagree with abortion. (We can hold signs, and still pray, thank God.)
When ordinary citizens are being penalised for simply disagreeing, and when voters are being told they are not bright enough to decide on an important issue like marriage, then our country has a big problem.
Our status as a democracy is threatened.
So today, I’m going to ask you to do something.
Just one thing.
Please take a moment to prayerfully consider one action you could take to preserve our democractic way of life.
Could you make one phone-call to your local parliamentarian? Could you send one email? Could you commit to being more active on social media or write a letter to a newspaper editor in defence of freedom? Could you donate to my legal defence fund? (This money will go towards my case to defend our freedom to disagree, which will end in the High Court. Thank you for all the contributions sent so far; large or small, they are all gratefully accepted.) And whatever action you choose to take, remember that you are working to re-establish freedom in Australia – the freedom we have taken for granted for a little too long, and that is desperately in need of defence.
Are we free to disagree? Maybe. In certain situations. For just a little longer.
On a brighter note, those kind people at Transforming Sydney have included an article of mine in their latest newsletter. The theme for this month’s prayer focus is ‘Education’ and I took the opportunity to write (educate!) about freedoms, pro-life work and The Freedoms Project. Some other articles of interest include discussions about gender-theory in the Australian curriculum, and the state of the education system. I hope you can take the time to read through all the very informative articles.
Editor, The Freedoms ProjectClick here to find out more about Kathy