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By Olivia Pierson
[First published on Incite 7/5/19]
The Christian-right and the secular-right may yet find themselves uniting upon the foundation of the greatest values ever created by mankind: liberty, freedom of religion and the right to pursue individual happiness as a moral imperative.
I think the thing that I find most heartening about the debacle between Rugby Australia and Israel Folau over the latter’s warnings about hell awaiting unrepentant sinners, is that it has become so rare to ever see Christians really stand up for their faith in this day and age.
Whether one agrees with Folau’s viewpoint or not is irrelevant. What is relevant, and why this issue has sparked such a ferocious clash, is that people sense that human liberty is at stake if Folau loses his right to perform as a highly respected sportsman and have the right to express his beliefs at the same time. This really matters.
It happens to be a fact that Christians are now officially the most persecuted religious group on the planet. In Africa and the Middle East, this persecution is so intense that it has reached the level of “genocide” according to the U.N definition of that term.
While this horrendous persecution is being carried out, Pope Francis engages in acts of showy inter-faith humility, such as kneeling in asylum centres to wash the feet of Muslim migrants whilst making dubious proclamations like, “We all worship the same God.” The Pope acted out this grovelling in 2016, the very same year that two 19-year-old Islamic terrorists, one of which was an Algerian migrant, burst into a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, and slit the throat of 85-year-old priest, Jacques Hamel, while he conducted mass.
Same God, my foot.
Where Thomas Cranmer once gifted Reformation England with the official Christian forms, prayers, canticles and sacramental orders in that divine literary gem, the Book of Common Prayer, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, goes out of his way at Ramadan to make fawning little video clips of himself addressing “all our Muslim friends and colleagues,” and thanking them for “all that they bring to us.” The sad fate of making it into the pages of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs befell Cranmer; he was burned at the stake by that vindictive queen, Bloody Mary. If Cranmer could see what archbishops pass off as inter-faith dialogue in post-modern England, he might wish that both he and England had stayed Catholic; at least Protestants and Catholics actually do worship the same God, give or take a little Mariology and transubstantiation.
Christians need to get their God straight – and at least Folau’s God is definitely straight…which brings me to another point: why is it only gays, and those defending them, who are upset by Folau’s message from the Bible which clearly stated that we atheists, fornicators, adulterers, idolators and drunks are also all going to end up in hell?
Where are all the op-eds from the other groups of humans that are also risking damnation in Folau’s biblical message complaining that his words cause such deep hurty-feelings that they may inadvertently encourage acts of suicide from kids in the suburbs who happen to be closet atheists, fornicators, adulterers, idolators and drunks?
We don’t have to personally associate with people whom we don’t like, or morally object to, for any reason whatsoever.
Personally, I can’t have people as friends if they have absolutely no taste in clothes, shoes, perfume, music, literature or art – they depress my senses violently and I just cannot shake the feeling that I’m in the presence of someone who is improperly undeveloped. It’s too hard for me to just zip it and not say, “Why the feck are you wearing those ghastly ballet-flats?” Or, “If you don’t cry in Schubert’s Ave Maria you don’t possess a soul!” So it’s best if we keep a healthy distance (I certainly can't endure their society for hours over a dinner table without needing to self-euthanise afterward). As free individuals, that’s part of our right to choose the company we keep, and it is fitting that it be this way.
Freedom of expression for those who belong to the fold of Christianity – the most persecuted people in the world at this current time – needs to be fought for and protected. As Christians are steadily betrayed by those who should be defenders of the faith, like popes and archbishops, they may yet find that outside the company of their spiritual brethren, the staunchest allies to be found live in the land of Right-wing secular humanists who will not waver on the profoundly humane principles of liberty of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. These shared values are not religious values (for the humanist), they’re historic cultural values – and they matter more than anything since they form the very practical basis of a peaceful, live-and-let-live coexistence.
If you enjoyed this article, please buy my book "Western Values Defended: A Primer"
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