I spent the first four years of my life in an Atheist Theocracy.
Of course, nobody called it that. But that’s what it was.
Like any theocracy, there was only one acceptable view of ‘ultimate reality’ – of life, meaning, the universe. In that case, it was Atheism. If you practiced any other religion in public, the police came knocking.
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t the best place to live, which is why my parents decided to take our family and leave. And so, we came to Australia – a land of freedom – where anybody could practice their religion openly, without persecution.
At least, that’s how Australia used to be.
But to quote Bob Dylan, the times, they are a changin’ – religious freedom is now being eroded. And the underlying reasons for this erosion were explored in-depth at the ‘Freedom 16’ conference I went to recently, run by the Aussie Christian Legal Thinktank, ‘Freedom for Faith‘.
Here are a number of reasons why religious freedom is being eroded, and Australia is slowly becoming an ‘Atheist Theocracy’.
1) Christians Are Increasingly Seen As ‘Evil’
Whilst secular people see themselves as ‘good’.
Many non-Christians used to condemn Christians as gullible, stupid, deluded, or just plain wrong for believing in Christianity. But as the keynote speaker Dr. Mike Ovey reminded us, since the LGBTI revolution Christians are increasingly described in negative moral terms – with words like ‘bigot’ and ‘homophobe’ topping the list.
On the other hand, because secular people believe in the all important values of ‘tolerance’, ‘democracy’, ‘secularity’ and ‘equality’, they see themselves as inherently good.
2) Christians Are Increasingly Seen As ‘Hateful’
Whilst secular people see themselves as ‘loving’.
Every secular westerner with an ounce of love in their soul knows that #lovewins, and same-sex marriage is a human right that must be given to gay couples. And so, if you’re against this ‘equality’, like many Christians are, then you’re not just stupid, you’re full of hate – after all, is there any other reason to be against same-sex marriage?
3) The Secular World Has Become Like the Pharisees
They reject God’s Law, but are incredibly self-righteous.
Jesus condemned the religious Pharisees of His day for rejecting God’s Law, and holding on to their own (man-made) laws (see Mark 7:5-9). And yet, the Pharisees were incredibly self-righteous.
But many educated secular people are the ‘new Pharisees’: utterly rejecting anything that comes from God, making up their own laws – and feeling morally superior.
So if anyone happens to disagree with the ‘new Pharisees’ morality – if someone is pro-life, or pro-traditional marriage – then such a person is morally inferior – deserving a good dose of social media shaming.
4) Christians Are Increasingly Seen As ‘Dangerous’
Only ‘secular’ is ‘safe’.
There’s a growing view that Christians need to be monitored for dangerous beliefs and practices: believing that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman is top of the list of ‘repressive’ beliefs that must be silenced. And let’s not even mention Christian sexual ethics.
5) To Keep Us Safe From These Religious Dangers, The Law Must Become More Coercive
Safety demands a more intrusive state.
Who’s going to keep us safe from all this danger? Big Brother, of course. And so laws multiply like rabbits, regulating basic things like speech – after all, we can’t have people being offended by what someone else says. Just see what happened to the Archbishop Julian Porteous of Tasmania, when someone complained over being offended by a benign Catholic booklet on marriage (given out to Catholic schools).
And these new laws are so broad, that government’s intrusive power over us increases.
6) Language is becoming Orwellian
If you redefine language, you redefine reality.
The Marxists running the Atheist theocracy I was born in knew well the power of language. Political dissenters were ‘enemies of the people’. Small business owners were ‘anti-revolutionaries’. Confiscating people’s farms and property was ‘collectivisation’. And of course, my favourite: we lived in a ‘People’s republic’ (in which people were oppressed).
But modern secular discourse is strikingly similar. We’re told to be inclusive, to celebrate diversity; to be all for equality; to have progressive political views, and to respect. These are vague terms at best, redefined to mean whatever the secular elite want them to mean. And they’re used like verbal batons to get people into line with the secular agenda (‘don’t you want marriage equality for others?’).
7) The Secular Moral Police Punish Dissent
If you put forward an unpopular (religious) viewpoint, prepare to be penalised.
Leading the charge is the so-called ‘Safe-schools’ program. Students are taught to accept radical queer theory, and if anyone dissents from this view, they’re to be punished by the school authorities – and by the school playground. Oh, and parents shouldn’t get a say about this being taught in their child’s school.
And as Archbishop Julian Porteous found out, if you merely offend the wrong person, by promoting the ‘wrong’ view of marriage, then the state anti-discrimination commissioner will come knocking.
But here’s the thing…
8) The So-Called ‘Secular’ Public Square Is An Illusion
It’s actually a ‘plural public square’ because everybody has ‘religious’ beliefs.
There is no ‘secular’ non-religious public square. Such a thing is impossible. Because everyone – from the most committed Atheist to the most apathetic ‘non-religious’ census-box ticking Aussie – has a ‘metaphysical worldview’. We each have ‘beliefs’ about life, meaning, the universe, which inform our views of morality, beauty and truth.
And so calling the public square ‘secular’ is a deliberate attempt to marginalise people with formal religious beliefs.
As Professor Iain Benson from Notre Dame university put it, we should have a ‘Plural Public Square’, where (ideally!) people of all types of beliefs – Atheist, non-religious, Christian, Muslim – are treated equally, and not penalised for practicing their faith in public.
Who Cares If We Become An Atheist Theocracy?
Living in a theocracy – let alone an Atheist theocracy – is awful. Millions have been there and done that. Allowing the state to dictate what you can and can’t believe, and how you should live, is a recipe for oppression.
It’s bad for Christians.
But it’s also bad for non-Christians. Because any state that doesn’t respect religious liberty is not going to respect other basic liberties. Liberties that allow for human flourishing; liberties that are the basis of a just society.
Yet that’s where Australia seems to be headed.
And so if we love our neighbour – be they Christian or non-Christian – then this is an issue we need to think carefully about.