Ok, let me clear my glass from the outset, I don’t drink beer. And no, it has nothing to do with being a Baptist. To my Episcopalian sceptics I will retort by pointing out that for some years we had a group of ‘underground’ beer brewers at our Church!
Leaving my personal drinking preferences aside, connecting the Bible and beer isn’t that novel an approach. After all, according to Martin Luther, the Reformers held a Bible in one hand and a beer in the other,
“I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all.”
In what is possibly a first, though, the Bible Society has joined arms with Coopers Brewery, with Coopers tagging 10,000 cartons of their light beer with a Bible verse, and with links to the Bible Society’s 200th anniversary. While Coopers may or may not benefit financially from this partnership is, I suspect, beside the point. One Aussie company is celebrating our nation’s oldest continuing organisation. There is nothing new about this; Aussie companies have noted and branded all kinds of Australian symbols and celebrations over the years, and this is just another…until one checks their twitter feed!
As part of the Bible Society’s anniversary, they have produced a series of short videos featuring Aussies discussing current topics. The first video was released this week with Federal MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie talking about same-sex marriage. Unlike the Bible versed cartons, Coopers Brewery has not sponsored the videos.
Yes, the video is light-hearted
Yes, it’s promoting the Bible. Is that so wrong?
Yes, it is staged, but that doesn’t make the two politicians any less genuine with their comments. I don’t know Andrew Hastie, but I have met Tim Wilson, and I found him to be a decent Aussie bloke, who is clear about what he believes and who is also willing to let others express their views.
I’m sure a lot of Aussies will appreciate the video for what it is, a nonchalant signal that Australians can still sit down and talk about real issues, without name calling and speaking down to the other. However, it was clear from my Twitter feed that not everyone is so happy.
One Melbourne politician and LBGTI advocate tweeted, ‘Nothing ‘civil’ about homophobia, and that’s what opposition to LGBTI equality is. Boycott @coopersbrewery’.
Christine Milne also joined in on the fun.
Apparently, we should never buy Coopers beer again, and the video reeks of homophobia. I’m not quite sure how that works given that Tim is openly gay and an advocate changing the marriage act.
It is sad to see how our society has reached the point where notable public figures have self-determined that civil discourse is no longer permissible unless it conforms to their particular brand of secular humanism.
I am not sure whether people’s grievance is over the fact that the Bible Society is behind the campaign or because two politicians have dared demonstrate a courteous disagreement about marriage. Either way, this short video breaks the narrative that social progressives would have the public believe, and for them, this is unforgivable.
When society no longer permits the dissenting voice, as reasonable and gracious as that voice may be, we have abandoned any true sense of the phrase ‘liberal democracy’, and we have entered a very dark and dangerous pathway to authoritarianism. I do hope that we can see the light and steer away from such a direction.
I am reminded of when Christianity first arose in Jerusalem and then spread to neighbouring regions, and eventually throughout the Roman Empire. The Acts of the Apostles records how the apostles and first Christians won over people with persuasion and reason, with impassioned argument and kindness.
There may or may not have been a beer in hand, but there was often a Bible, and that is ok. Should we hide the reasons for our beliefs and values?
Is not owning up to them a more honest and ultimately more productive approach to public discourse and dialogue?
Murray Campbell is Lead Pastor at Mentone Baptist Church. He Tweets at @MurrayJCampbell.
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