So, Lyle Shelton has decided to become the federal communications director for the Australian Conservatives, and not, as The Sydney Morning Herald had wrongly prematurely announced, “make a pitch for Federal Parliament”. Oh dear. The SMH really is starting to get a reputation for this kind of journalistic sloppiness.
Shelton explained his reason for making such a decision:
Last year during the marriage campaign I felt very much drawn to the political side of things, to the partisan side of politics… I’m not leaving the battle for the values that you and I hold dear — just simply going to a different part of the battlefield.
In the future, Shelton could well become Australia’s very own version of the UK’s Jacob Rees-Mogg – or, “the Moggster’, as he has become more affectionately known. Like Rees-Mogg, Shelton has come under intense criticism for his conservative views, and in particular, the role that his religious faith plays in shaping his political opinions. Just remember the disgusting tweets led by Fairfax journalists, Benjamin Law and Clementine Ford, after last year’s postal survey. Incredibly, neither one faced any form of professional reprimand for their involvement in this –which highlights once again the blatant hypocrisy of the Left for you.
Both men are outspoken in their assertion that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, as well as that all forms of abortion, as Rees-Mogg has stated, are ‘wrong’ and ‘morally indefensible’. I was speaking with Shelton on a panel last year and he took a similar courageous stand in defending the rights of unborn children.
But herein lies the issue that many people quite simply cannot accept, let alone tolerate. And is, that a politician, or any other public figure for that matter, should be influenced by his or her religious faith. Christianity though is our culture’s best defence against the leftist lunacy of social progressives. For it provides the most coherent worldview upon which to intellectually access competing ideas. As Miranda Devine wrote over the weekend:
Shelton’s career move signals a shift in the political landscape towards social conservatism. It is an inevitable response to the radical social change being imposed by far-left extremists.
No longer can Christian politicians be regarded as fringe-dwellers. Whether you are religious or not, Western civilisation has its roots in Christian values, and an assault on one is an assault on both. Without such a framework, you are literally blind the dangers of identity politics, Marxism’s new guise.
The philosophical objection that is quickly raised in objection, is the much-misunderstood principle of, the ‘separation of church and state.’ What this means in practice is that anyone is entitled to express their opinion, as long as they’re not a Christian. As Augusto Zimmerman, argues:
Since our modern society is largely viewed as ‘secular’ and ‘multicultural,’ Christianity is almost never mentioned, much less promoted, in political and intellectual discourse. When it is mentioned among the nation’s public figures, Christian values and traditions are sometimes critiqued, even brushed aside with contempt.
However, the ‘separation of Church and State’ never meant, as is so often claimed today, the expulsion of the Church by the State. It simply meant that the State should not intrude into the realm of the Church but would actually support it! As Dr Stephen Chavura, of Macquarie University, quoting Jeremy Taylor who, back in 1856 wrote:
I have said that the duties of the state are of a ‘secular’ than a ‘spiritual’ order. That it has to consult the well being of the community over which it presides by the enactment of laws calculated to promote the public good. And that for these laws to be in the highest degree applicable to our wants they must be in accordance with the precepts of Christianity. Religion therefore must be recognised and encouraged by the state.
This highlights one of the most significant challenges when it comes to debate in the public square today. And that is, there is a concerted effort by what Anthony Fisher has labelled, “militant secularism”, to automatically dismiss one’s point of view simply because it is coming from a ‘religious’ perspective. Whether that’s Rees-Mogg in England or Shelton over here.
However, this is a profound denial of free speech in general, and religious freedom in particular. I mean, why should atheistic materialists be the only ones to be able to express their views whereas everyone else has to remain silent? As Zimmerman states:
Although radical secularists have tried to turn the separation of church and state into the separation of beliefs and state, it is actually a profound mistake to confuse the autonomy exercised by the different churches with the democratic right of individual believers to participate in political life. There is nothing in the constitution of western democracies that justifies the suppression of religious discourse in the public sphere. Nor is there anything that could possibly justify the denial of equal rights of free speech for all people, religious or not. By dictating what people can say and treating the most fundamental aspect of their lives exclusively as a private matter, those who view the moral duty of Christians to act in accordance with their religious conscience as something that disqualifies them from political life are basically guilty of promoting an undemocratic form of secular intolerance. Such a form of secular radicalism has never been a natural step towards democratic maturity—quite to the contrary.
Both Shelton and Rees-Mogg are a great example of how social conservatives, and especially those with a religious faith, can serve the good of the whole community. Because true freedom means that everyone in our country should get a fair go. And not only that, but everyone’s voice is able to be heard.
Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.
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