The Green Left — and some ‘progressive’ Liberals — seem to have flip-flopped and abandoned one of the favourite moral benchmarks for lecturing Australia.
When it comes to global warming, refugees, Indigenous policy — or a host of other issues — any UN treaty is usually good enough for beating us over the head. But when it comes to religious liberty, a UN treaty is slammed as merely ‘a shield to protect homophobia’.
As the government works to hammer out the legislation for marriage equality, it knows there is widespread concern in the community about protections for religious freedom.
Signing up to a treaty doesn’t give it legal force unless the government actively incorporates it into Australian law. So, you’d think any move to incorporate treaty provisions concerning religious liberty would be welcomed. But you’d be wrong.
The sensible proposal to incorporate protections from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) — to which Australia is already a signatory — was met with howls of outrage.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said it would enshrine discrimination in law. And Liberal MP Tim Wilson said it would lead inevitably to a Bill of Rights — to which he is opposed.
When it comes to protecting the right of religious Australians to live by their beliefs, the so-called ‘progressives’ are fierce opponents. Being free to believe, they say, just means being free to hate.
Such a claim is nonsense. Freedom of religion has long been named as a fundamental human right which protects something that goes to the heart of human identity and personhood.
Even more important, though, is that those who would eject religion from society fail to recognise that the very notion of human rights they are so keen to “protect” has deep religious roots.
Whereas the ancient world assumed natural inequality between humans, it was Christianity that taught the inherent equality of all people, and that all of us bear individual responsibility for our acts.
This golden thread of individual moral agency is woven through all our ideas about truth, faith, freedom and rights that make up the Western civilization of which Australian society is a part.
No wonder we are waking up to the need to reaffirm those roots and, at the same time, to reconnect with the foundations of Western civilization on which our liberal, secular society is built.
Its so-called ‘progressive’ critics regularly denounce Western civilization as racist, imperialist, and misogynistic; and claim it is responsible for everything they think is wrong with our society.
But ordinary Australians know full well that these views are anything but progressive. On the contrary, they threaten to tear down everything we hold dear about this country of the ‘fair go’
It has never been more important to uphold — and celebrate — the civilisation that has given us all the freedoms and liberties we can so easily take for granted.
Peter Kurti is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, and the author of Reason, Repentance, and the Individual: Recovering the Religious Roots of Western Civilisation.
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