Two recent overseas events must raise the alarm here in Australia as well.
Tim Fallon quit as leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrats, citing the incompatibility of the position with his faith: “To be a political leader — especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 — and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.” Fallon had been subject to continual questioning and criticism for his alleged personal beliefs about what was or wasn’t ‘sin’.
And US Senator Bernie Sanders voted against Russ Vought — a nominee for Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget — on the grounds Vought’s theological view that “those who have rejected Jesus Christ don’t know God and stand condemned” made him, in Sanders words, “really not someone who is what his country is supposed to be about.”
In neither case was it the policy or behaviour or the person that was in question. Fallon supports his party’s policies on same sex marriage and gay rights. Vought assured the Senator that he believed that “all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect, regardless of their religious beliefs.”
What was at stake was the kind of (unacceptable) person each was deemed to be, simply on the basis of their thinking — a “bigot”, “intolerant”, “Islamaphobic” even. They were simply deemed not to be right-thinking individuals. They were guilty of ‘thought crime.’
In both cases, there has been alarmed outcry about the illiberalism involved. An atheist has shown that Sanders was focussing on entirely the wrong question. And a liberal Muslim has come out strongly defending liberalism, at its core — meaning that you should have the choice to believe in as much or as little as you want. The battle for freedom of thought is hotting up.
This alarming development may come to us in Australia. And given the tendencies of the progressive left, we need to be forewarned.