Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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This pernicious Bill to silence Christians


OF GREAT concern in Australia is the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combating Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill proposed by the government of Anthony Albanese. The Bill seeks to increase the regulatory power of both the government and private companies over the speech of citizens on social media, including monitoring and censoring content and banishing those it deems beyond the pale of acceptable online discourse.

While it may appear to be an innocent piece of legislation aimed at minimising ‘false or misleading information’ or speech that could cause ‘serious harm’, this Bill carries with it some serious implications for freedom of speech in an ostensibly free nation. The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has recognised the inherent danger, particularly with regard to Christian interests, because as soon as a government has power to decide what does and does not constitute acceptable discourse. anything appearing to contradict that government’s agenda will find itself subject to censorship.

Part of what is so pernicious about the Bill is that it frames itself as innocuous and objective in order to make its opponents appear foolish, bigoted and/or dishonest. ‘What?’ they ask with feigned incomprehension, ‘we’re only trying to stop mis- and dis-information . . . don’t you believe that people should be opposed to inaccurate information and untruthfulness?’ Naturally, anyone with a conscience would have no explicit objection to such a purpose, and it is through this presentation of their own opinion as reasonable, objective and unbiased, whilst in fact being extremely prejudicial, that the legislators’ subtle artifice of transparency is maintained. This is a similar tactic to that employed by Black Lives Matter who, by using as their name a phrase to which no decent person could object, make it impossible to question their movement’s aims which include advocacy of abortion, defunding the police and climate extremism, without seeming bigoted and racist. Make no mistake, the Bill will lead to the promotion of the woke agenda and the erasure of any voices standing in opposition to it.

 As the ACL perceives, the Australian government’s desire for regulatory power over social media and personal online communication is a thinly veiled pretext for silencing Christians whose views contradict the current vogue. One suspects that opinions held by Christians such as marriage being the union of one man and one woman for life or gender being an objective reality assigned by divinely ordained biology will be major targets. And what will be the punishment for holding such beliefs? Deplatforming? Debanking? Prison?

Nations such as Australia are facing an increasingly post-Christian future, and whether one accepts the truth claims of Christianity or not it must be recognised that a society in which the Christian faith is forced underground (à la China, Sudan and chums) is not a society in which a decent person might wish to live. I have no doubt that the Christian faith will become increasingly anathema in the West, and although it will most likely take time for this hostility to reach the level of open persecution witnessed in much of the global South, the seeds of this blighted harvest are germinating. 

Albanese’s Bill is by no means an issue limited in its scope to Christians, but Christians ought to find such a fundamental violation of civic freedoms in an English-speaking nation deeply disturbing. Even the most ardent anti-theist ought to recognise that the freedom to criticise Christianity comes from the ethical system afforded by the Christian worldview, and that to allow the smothering of Christian consciences is to come perilously close to sawing off the branch on which they’re perched. 

I am glad to hear that the leader of Australia’s opposition Liberal Party, Peter Dutton, has given his support to measures to combat this Bill.

I encourage you to sign the petition on the ACL’s website here to stop it being passed. 

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Harry Blanchard
Harry Blanchard
Harry Blanchard is a candidate for Holy Orders and aspiring writer.

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