Shorten sets ‘dangerous precedent’ on faith in politics

Rod Dreher (CNS/The Trinity Forum)

Bill Shorten risked “poisoning public debate” by trying to use Scott Morrison’s Pentecostal faith as a political weapon, bestselling US author Rod Dreher said in Sydney yesterday. Source: The Australian.

Mr Dreher, whose 2017 book The Benedict Option about life in a post-Christian world was a New York Times bestseller and translated into 10 languages, is in Australia for a three-state lecture series hosted by Catholic liberal arts tertiary institution Campion College, near Parramatta in Sydney. He will also address the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.

He said Mr Shorten had set a dangerous precedent by putting religion centre stage in a close campaign a few days before the election. The move risked making controversial faith issues part of future campaigns. This was common in the US but not in Australia.

Over 25 years, Mr Dreher said, the US had “gone from a place where the concept of religious liberty was cherished by people on both the Left and the Right, to one in which the Left has rendered it a code word for bigotry”.

“Illiberal progressives”, he said, did not understand why religious liberty and tolerance for unpopular religious beliefs were important liberal values. “This kind of anti-Christian bigotry is undermining the legitimacy of liberal democracy. And the fools can’t even see what they’re doing.”

Rugby Australia’s treatment of star player Israel Folau for tweeting a quote from St Paul warning “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, thieves” and others to repent or go to hell, he said, exemplified the “soft totalitarianism” encroaching on free speech in Western nations.

Mr Dreher said sportspeople and politicians were the last people he would turn to for theological advice. But Folau had won a following in the US for being prepared to put faith before a lucrative career.

“In the US, many on the Left cannot understand why conservative Christians vote for Donald Trump,” he said. “I don’t like Trump at all, and I don’t support some of his policies, but as a traditional Christian I don’t fear him. I fear the Left. Its politicians have affirmatively demonised Christians. They really do believe that we are not just wrong, but evil.”

FULL STORY

‘Dangerous precedent’ set by putting PM’s faith centre stage (The Australian)

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