Great article in The Australian Saturday 19th November 2022 by Angela Shanahan
COLUMNIST: Angela Shanahan is a Canberra-based freelance journalist and mother of nine children. She has written regularly for The Australian for over 20 years.
This week marked the fifth anniversary of Australia supporting same-sex marriage in a postal vote. Now we are being reassured by same-sex marriage advocates that “society has not fallen apart”.
Think again. If the punitive coercion suffered by people who did not support gay marriage during the period preceding the vote didn’t convince you that this was not just about marriage, but about the gradual imposition of a radical agenda on the whole of society, then look what has happened since.
If the dissolution of society as we know it was an exaggeration, a furious expression of frustrated Christians angry at seeing the social verities of the past falling away, people might start looking at their local school and see what sorts of things are being taught to their children. The notion that our sexual identity is fluid and not fixed is now accepted in most government schools, and challenging that view is impossible.
It has already been raised as a problem if a religious anti-discrimination bill is ever passed, and activists are now fixated on making it harder to challenge the trans agenda even in private and systemic Catholic schools. In Canada, despite assurances and a preamble to the law, Catholic schools are having a very difficult time teaching Catholic precepts on marriage and sexuality, and in the US many individuals and groups are being punished for what amounts to thought crime, prompting a conservative backlash.
The real problem with the Marriage Equality fight was the fight itself. It was never a civilised discussion in a civilised environment. It was bare-knuckle and nasty from the Yes side, from daubing vile slogans on church walls to ridiculing and denouncing people on social media. I know, I went through it. And it goes on.
It has spread beyond marriage, to the trans agenda. I recently wrote a column about a woman who started an app for women and girls called Giggle. This woman was threatened with a human rights action over the very nature of the people for whom her app was intended, women, by a transsexual person who thought they should not be discriminated against because they identified as a woman. These are the two great mantras of the new society” “Discrimination” and “Identity”. It will only get worse.
Go back to the case of Israel Folau. Freedom of expression was not available to Folau who as a believing Mormon did not support same-sex marriage. Not only did he lose his job as Australia’s star rugby player but other players who supported him and did not support SSM were told not to say anything. Meanwhile, those who supported the Yes vote were allowed to speak out. Rugby Australia undermined their freedom of expression about conscientiously held views, becoming, in effect, the arbiters of their conscience.
An even graver case was Archbishop Julian Porteous who, as a preliminary salvo to the same-sex marriage vote, was dragged before the Human Rights board in Tasmania for disseminating a booklet outlining Catholic teaching on marriage to Catholic students. The complainant was not protesting about the church’s ban on remarriage after divorce or any of the teachings about marriage and fertility tied to the vows which married Catholics must make. No, this was an opener in the battle for same-sex marriage. The agenda of the Equality movement was not about equality at all: it was about trying to muzzle the view that the family, based on a generative relationship, is the bedrock of society which has been common to all societies of all religious persuasions since time immemorial.
Meanwhile, the trans agenda has inserted itself into the centre of right think. Who says society as we know it hasn’t declined?
Consequently, the number of cases of well-meaning ordinary people being denounced on social media, or to the human rights apparatuses and even pushed out of positions for stating quite ordinary views on marriage, the family, and sexual identity is increasing, and freedom of expression – and particularly of religious expression – is being undermined.
Andrew Thorburn is an ordinary man who happened to be at a church nine years before when his minister expressed moral views not in line with the Equality mantra. Thorburn is chair of the City on a Hill Church, which Essendon football club pronounced has views in “direct contradiction to our values as a club”. So, a football club, assuming a prior moral authority to the church, forced his resignation as the club’s CEO.
Not surprisingly, it was this case that awakened the general public to the danger that now awaits anyone. Not only could someone dig up a sermon a pastor gave nine years before and still hold you to account, but how long before, Torquemada-like, you are taken to the inquisitors of the board of the company for which you work, or the school where you teach, or any governing body?
It is well known that in most echelons of the public service various topics of conversation, especially those dealing with sex and family issues, are off the table. The endorsement of Thorburn’s removal by the AFL and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews highlights the frightening seriousness of this. It has made a mockery of the idea that we have equality of expression, and that the real fault line is freedom of religion.