For the sake of the well-being of our society
The Freedom of Religion debate is heating. Diversity groups are troubled by supposed hateful speech against their lifestyle from religionists.
The Uniting church assembly statement says the freedom to preach and teach should not be allowed to trouble such groups.
Employer organizations want to scrap the proposed legislation fearing it would limit employers’ freedoms. Others argue that if secularists are free to promote their employee interest such as a political party employing only people of their persuasion so faith schools should have the right to do the same with their staffing.
Just as some are arguing strongly for a free press through a Media Freedom Act claiming its necessity for a healthy democracy, the same argument applies in spades to the prophetic role of the confessing Christian church
Religious freedom is a much bigger matter than any of these concerns. The fact is, prophets and pastors have a duty and right to speak truth into the wider society on whatever issues are properly addressed by Scripture. The secular world can produce goods and services, but it can’t service its society with the good which the souls of its citizens need unless it hears from that which is beyond itself. From the Word of God. From the sacred. Neither can it continue well without recourse to the compass of Divine truth. The issues that suck up masses amounts of Government budget yet resist secular fix-its will only be effectively dealt with by the principles and ideas consistent with the commands of God enabling human society to flourish. The Ten Commandments.
The media cannot do this though some principled ones go a fair way. The media is beholden to secular, ‘this-world’ powers. Judith Bergman points out that the UK Independent Press Standards Organisation, in directing journalists to take a different approach to covering Muslims than that employed towards other faith groups for the sake of ‘social cohesion’, bends the truth. Only the truly prophetic holds to the unbending truth. It sees the face of God before the face of men.
The most successful nations and societies on all secular parameters- open, free, peaceful, humane, industrious are those which in their origins have regarded the Commands of God. Or as professor Maddox puts it in his text book on Australian democracy, they ‘have a sense of the fear of God’. A fear or reverence mediated through the Christian Gospel.
What other authority earthed into the so called ‘real world’ can hold to account rapacious greed or adultery which destroys families and is arguably the largest causation of child abuse by miles. Who will unmask the arrogance of the elites that measures and regards human worth in economic terms rather than the essential Imago Dei of Scripture?
Hugh McKay summarises ‘we are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt, and increasingly addicted – whether to drugs, devices, porn or just “stuff”.’ Indeed, and we greatly need a fixed point to navigate our social needs and challenges.
Who really has the answer to what leaders have described as the top national problem – suicide, now part of a massive 9 billion dollar health spend? It must be those who are endowed with grace enough to expound the simple profundities of repentance and faith in God.
We need to hear the emboldened prophets of Holy Scripture in our land. We need this wisdom more than the smarts of any field of knowledge – more than our laboratories or universities on their own can give us.
This is why Australia needs freedom of religion. To let the prophetic word out wild and into the ears of policy makers and into the hearts of the people. They must be free for the sake of us all. We need to hear them. Yes, some may be muzzled by mockery or cowered by compromise. But don’t put judicial fetters on them as well.