The day has come in Victoria where Christians and Churches need to decide whether to obey God or the Government. Such a decision should never be forced onto believers but the current Victorian Government insists that it must be so.
There are times when we use hyperbole and exaggerate the significance of words or decisions, but I do not think this is one of those occasions.
The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 has been tabled in the Victorian Parliament. This is the most significant threat to religious freedom in Victoria in living memory. The current Government has been slowly removing religious freedoms for a number of years, but nothing quite like this.
Anyone found engaging in ‘change or suppression practices’ may face 10 years imprisonment.
“Cruel and bigoted practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity will soon be stamped out across Victoria, thanks to new laws introduced to Parliament today.
The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 will put in place new measures to protect Victorians from the serious damage and trauma caused by conversion practices.
The Bill denounces such practices as deceptive and harmful, reinforces that the ideology behind these practices is flawed and wrong.
The laws empower the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) to consider and respond to reports of change or suppression practices from any person, as well as launch investigations where there is evidence of serious or systemic change or suppression practices.”
The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill may have wide-reaching ramifications for thousands of religious groups in Victoria, for 100,000s of Victorians, and for the entire State as it turns its back on religious freedom in favour for State-controlled religion.
Now that the Bill is available to read, what does it mean for Christians and for churches?
The Bill is long and complex. There are important details that need to be addressed which I or others will do so later on. I want to comment here on some of the larger issues.
I want to begin by stressing that if the Government’s intention is to protect vulnerable people from extreme practices that were once employed by a few and marginal religious groups, there is a warrant for conversation.
When the Guardian reported,
“Religious groups have sought to distance themselves from the older practices of electro-shock treatment, aversion therapy or other extreme methods, while arguing that religious counselling encouraging people to change their sexuality or gender identity should not be banned if a person consented to the treatment.”
I must respond and say, not true. We are not distancing ourselves from these older practices because almost no church ever engaged in them. Until a few years ago I didn’t know that such practices once occurred in a few religious groups. Despite the efforts of the Government and various advocacy groups, this is not and was never widespread among Christians in Victoria. In addition, I note the government has carefully avoided telling the public that this the so-called ‘conversion therapy’ originated not with Christian churches but within secular psychology. Decades ago, some well-meaning people unfortunately adopted the ideas and practices from psychology and added a spiritual twist.
If the Government is concerned with banning shock therapy and particular counselling methods, pretty much all Christians would find agreement. For those people who have undergone those kinds of experiences, I pray that they will find healing and come to know the God of all comfort. However, these narrow and debunked practices are not the parameters of this Bill, nor the goal of this Bill. Both the Premier and the Attorney General have made it clear,
Premier Daniel Andrews referred to conversion practice as,
“This bigoted quackery”,
“The Bill denounces such practices as deceptive and harmful, reinforces that the ideology behind these practices is flawed and wrong.”
Attorney-General Jill Hennssey said,
“We’re sending a clear message: no one is ‘broken’ because of their sexuality or gender identity,”
“These views won’t be tolerated in Victoria and neither will these abhorrent practices.”
Let us take note, it is not only the alleged activity that Daniel Andrews and Jill Hennessy want to be eradicated from Victoria, it is “these views”. In other words, to think or have ‘these views’ is something that the Victorian Government wants rooted out.
In other words, the Government is not only targeting those rare, few and extreme practices (that frankly don’t happen anymore), the government is aiming its intention at the beliefs and the thoughts of 100,000s of Victorians. Is it the role of government to police our minds and to decide what theology can and cannot be believed? Since when did God give them jurisdiction over the conscience?
Churches are left with little protection
The Bill contains no explicit protection of the rights of religious people to believe and teach their views. At one point it refers to the Charter of Human Rights but it fails to offer any specific protection to religious people and religious organisations. With a note of irony that can’t be missed, the Bill’s explanatory memo references to “freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief”, in the context of constructing an entire Bill aimed at taking those freedoms away.
The Government’s position is of course hypocritical and disingenuous. For example, while they argue sexual orientation is fixed and that persuading anyone of an alternative is morally wrong, the Bill offers protections for those who are in the business of transitioning people into a gender other than their birth sex. In another law that the Government pushed through a year ago, on one’s birth certificate you are free to legally change the gender on your birth certificate every 12 months. When it comes to children who are wrestling with gender dysphoria, they are now encouraged and urged to no longer identify with their biological sex but to assume a new gender identity. The government have acted in this manner despite an increasing consensus in the medical fraternity that this kind of counselling and medical intervention is fraught with danger and is unlikely to resolve the issues facing these children.
What is considered ‘conversion or suppression practice?
In terms of the particulars of this Bill. it is important to understand how terms are defined, in particular, what constitutes ‘conversion or suppression practice’.
5 Meaning of change or suppression practice
(1) In this Act, a change or suppression practice means a practice or conduct directed towards a person, whether with or without the person’s consent—
(a) on the basis of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity; and
(b) for the purpose of—
(i) changing or suppressing the sexual orientation or gender identity of the person; or
(ii) inducing the person to change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), a practice includes, but is not limited to the following—
(a) providing a psychiatry or psychotherapy consultation, treatment or therapy, or any other similar consultation, treatment or therapy;
(b) carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer based practice, a deliverance practice or an exorcism;
(c) giving a person a referral for the purposes of a change or suppression practice being directed towards the person.
Take note of the following details:
- The Bill will ban consensual practices. If a person invites a pastor or person to pray for them in relation to their sexual orientation or gender identity, the pastor or person can be charged according to the Act.
- Section 5.3 provides examples of what constitutes ‘practices’. Prayer is banned. For example, if a person asks for prayer that they would live a godly life and refrain from sexual activity that they believe is inconsistent with follow Jesus Christ, the person praying can be charge according to this Act.
- Section 5.3 specifies that practice is not limited to the examples that are provided.
Where does this leave preaching and teaching the Bible’s sexual ethic? What of the sermon, the Bible study group, and seminars?
To be clear, Christianity does not teach that a persons gender or sexual orientation will change. Christianity does however teach and urge Christians to live sexually godly lives which include only having sexual relations within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. The Bible contains many exhortations for believers to not engage in sexual activity outside marriage. Will these formal and informal conversations be permitted under this Bill? At the stage, that is far from certain.
For teaching abstinence or offering pastoral counselling in line with the Bible’s vision of sexuality, and praying with fellow believers that they will be godly in their sexuality, does this fall foul of the Bill?
This ambiguity needs to be clarified in the Bill. If teaching and sermons and study groups are not subject to this Bill, then it needs to be made explicit so that religious organisations are afforded due protection.
As it stands, there are details that this Bill does not answer and deliberately (or least it seems a conscious decision) leaves open. What if a church runs a seminar on marriage or raising children and we explore the bibles teaching on sexuality?
Where the Bill is silent, we may turn to the Bill’s explanatory memorandum and to the HCC and HRLC reports which the Government used extensively for shaping their position.
The explanatory note states,
“These examples are illustrative only and do not narrow the definition in subclause (1) which is intended to capture a broad range of conduct, including, informal practices, such as conversations with a community leader that encourage change or suppression of sexual orientation or gender identity, and more formal practices, such as behaviour change programs and residential camps.”
In other words, a conversation is deemed an offence. A chat where a Christian encourages another Christian to follow a Christian ethic could become unlawful.
The Explanatory memo doesn’t hold as much legal weight as the Bill itself. However, I am reliably informed that a Court may refer to the explanatory note.
The Health Complaints Commissioner’s Report for the Government, adds this information,
“Conversion therapy/practices reinforced homosexuality as a form of ‘brokenness’”
“Church teachings that homosexuality is sinful;”
Notice the attention given to Church teachings (as opposed to other religions who also identify homosexual practices as sinful). In other words, classical Christian teaching about sexuality is deemed to be harmful. According to the HCC, an exposition of Romans ch.1 or 1 Corinthians ch.6 would fall under the umbrella of harm. If a Church organises a marriage enrichment day where the Bible’s presentation of marriage is affirmed, this event could fall foul of harm. From weddings to Sunday sermons, from Bible study groups to counselling sessions, in contexts where sex outside of heterosexual marriage is spoken of as sinful or broken, the Health Complaints Commissioner identifies all of the above as harmful and therefore the State can justify limiting religious freedom.
The other report which the Government has underscored is from the Human Rights Law Centre.
Under conversion practice they include,
“pastoral care which includes (or claims to include) ‘counselling’, ‘healing’, claims about ‘curing’, ‘changing’ or ‘repairing’ a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or claims about improving a person’s mental or physical health, would likely still be classified as a health service, and the above regulations would apply.”
Indeed, the definition is so expansive that it may include sermons, Bible Studies, marriage courses, counselling, and prayer.
The HRLC report also included new forms’ of conversion practice, among them is self-control and abstinence.
“Instead, they are beginning to promote activities designed to help same-sex attracted people live chaste and celibate lives, in accordance with the sexual ethics of their religious traditions.”
The HRLC and HCC reports are not part of the Bill, but they do form background and reveal the sorts of practices that are being views. The Government has a responsibility to clarify where the HRLC and HCC understandings of ‘practices’ can or will influence interpretation of the Act.
Concluding Remarks for now
Once again, we can all agree that there used to be unhelpful and damaging practices done to fellow Victorians. We oppose them and pray that those individuals who have been harm, may find peace and healing. The Government’s Bill, as it stands, goes well beyond those archaic and now debunked practices. This is an attack on normal and deeply held beliefs and practices among Christians all over the world.
I am less shocked by the Government’s narrative as I am saddened. Pumping children with hormones and cutting off breasts and penises is not harmful, but Christianity is harmful. Praying for Christians to be godly about sex is harmful. Teaching the Bible’s vision for human sexuality and relationships could be defined as harmful.
Without important revisions and corrections, this Bill will make vulnerable 100,000s of Victorian Christians who are persuaded by the Bible’s vision for human sexuality. For Christians, this is never about forcing our views on anyone. It is about casting a better vision for the world and human life, and about persuading and loving others as Christ has loved us.
If the Government doesn’t intend to prosecute Christians or Churches for praying or teaching or practicing a Christian view of sexuality, then it is incumbent upon them to clarify their goals and to correct this Bill.
I trust that the Victorian Parliament will see commonsense and introduce significant revisions to this anti-religion Bill.
To Churches, faith groups, and denominations, I encourage you to write to your local members of Parliament and express your concerns winsomely and clearly.
LGB Group opposes the Bill
Associate Prof. Neil Foster begins to unpack the legal issues with the Bill – https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2020/11/26/victorian-conversion-practices-prohibition-introduced/?fbclid=IwAR1FXurFqxt6SFJojCi5BvSFK_agfYbp8Zn18UyY0E8qa4vcuG2QJ4l8ouA
This legal analysis exposes deep problems with the legislation, including how it works against children and families. No wonder LGB groups and some transgender people are appalled by the proposed Bill – https://freedomforfaith.org.au/library/labor-government-in-victoria-makes-prayer-a-criminal-offence?fbclid=IwAR378h-hypTQLwfVRM0KAoY-WRnhdQ22L2xUaJLgtXldSWSolZlBypYP8pw
30 thoughts on “A Day of Reckoning: Victorian Government pushes to ban Christian practices with threat of 10 years in prison”
You do not note here the number of people who do not conform to the the church’s very rigid standards of sexuality (especially the Catholic Church and Church of England), and have committed suicide, driven to it by God fearing parents, family members, and the community at large.
Equally obvious is the fact you have not been directly associated with one such person, and therefore do not understand the sheer hell they live in. I am a parent of a transgender, and she has been lucky that as parents we gave her the unconditional love she needed, and dare I say it, was the cause of the rift in our connection to the catholic church. The one time she went to church, she was hounded out, in an episode that was reminiscent of the inquisition.
So don’t tell me we should be protecting the church.
Do such practices exist? Probably not. But you tell me how many transgenders, and homosexuals have been bashed within an inch of their lives (or murdered) simply because they are different?
This law may change that, it may not. The church is not going to change it’s attitude, despite recent comments by the pope who finally realises they are all people that God should care for unconditionally.
What is clear though, church, government regulations will never stop the vilification and harm given to these people who just want to get on with their lives. And no, they will never be equal in the eyes of God. You have made that very clear.
Thank for sharing your thoughts. I have spoken on these issues many times and so I haven’t repeated everything important or everything that I have said elsewhere. Those who know me can testify to my concern and love for Victorians and commitment to seeing LGBT Victorians respected and treated with dignity.
I also believe that religious peopel should be permitted to practice and teach and believe the tenets of their faith, and should be people be interested or involved this should form part of conversations. We can speak clearly and graciously while disagreeing about different understandings of sexuality. The Govt on this occasion is well over stepping an established boundary that is necessary for a healthy and pluralist democracy.
I wish you and your family all the very best
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for what you have been through, for the hurt and pain inflicted on you by the church. I am so sorry that your trans daughter was vilified, ostracised and shamed for being who she is.
I am so sorry that you were driven away.
I honour you as a parent for loving and protecting your child.
Thank you to for bringing attention to the oversight of this post, and centring what this should be about- protecting LGBT folk, in and out of the church from harm, especially from the church itself.
Is it even too much for people to listen?
Natalie, I appreciate the first half of what you wrote.
I take issue with the second half of your comments. You presume people are not listening. on what basis do you make the assertion? Perhaps you confuse listening with disagreement/agreement.
I do not doubt that some churches have cared for people very poorly. Most churches are safe communities who love and welcome people and do so without diminishing the values of Christian beliefs.
This Bill unfortunately is less about looking after people as it is about stripping churches of freedoms to believe and practice what churches have believed and practiced for 1000s of years. Two wrongs don’t make a right, it just makes everything worse, and that is what this BIll will achieve
I was sad to read your post. Not because I agree, but because I know that many people who have transitioned have come to bitterly regret their grave error and have resorted to suicide. It is a lie to say that someone is born in the wrong body. This idea is a social phenomenon, not a biological one. Even if they get the hormone suppressing treatment and surgery, every single cell in their body will still be their birth sex; either male or female. This is the way we were created. The Word of God tells us that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but that God SO loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes IN Him, shall not perish (in hell) but have everlasting life ( in Heaven). God tells us He loves everyone, including you and your child, and has Himself died for you so that you can be reconciled to Him.
Do not judge God or Christians according to the Roman Catholic Religion or what they have done to you. Read the wonderful Word of God for yourself.
If I read what you have written correctly, then you must regard Hollywood as the modern day Sodon and Gomarrah. Perhaps, like Adolf Hitler did in Germany you should push for involuntary euthanasia for these ‘people’ because your God does not tolerate them.
Dear Aloysius, While I cannot speak for Moira, I don’t believe that is what she means or wants. Christians should be the last wanting euthanasia upon anyone & should be the first to love and protect society’s vulnerable & marginal.
The good news of Christianity is that God doesn’t preference or choose on the basis of our moral goodness (for who is good?) neither does he love according to what our society defines as right/wrong. If God defines goodness according to me or any individual or by one particular culture, that would make him less than God. He loves because he is good and kind. According to Jesus Christ, both God’s love and ways are defined by his own character (which in philosophical terms makes a lot of sense).
I think what Moira is trying to communicate is that anyone and everyone can look to the person of work of Jesus Christ, for in him we find the deepest and most satisfying answers, no matter where we come from.
Sorry, but when people start talking about transgenders as crazy mixed up people who are really their birth sex and shouldn’t be who they really are, shows a comple yr e lack of understanding of real cases.
I su a pet this notion is fueled by the church’s feed with science where scientists are treated like heretics
There is a very genuine reason behind true transgenders changing sex. I agree there are a lot of false cases that thinking right, but then change their minds or take a very dark path afterwards
My daughter is a genuine case, and we had to spend two years of medical assessments and psychological assessments before getting the surgery.
I know I’ll never convince hard line religious people of the science and biological factors behind the genuine cases, so we will continue to live in a world of bigotry and small mindedness, which sadly included the congregation of a church we used to go to
I also know that God gives his love unconditionally uncle many of his parishioners. We, too, despite the teaching of the church to spurn those who are different, also love our daughter unconditionally which is the main reason why she is alive now and happier than she has ever been in her life.
We cannot say the same for some of her friends who went down the same road, were spurned by parents, friends, and the church and needlessly ended their lives.
As far as I’m concerned, the church has a lot to answer for.
Aloysius, I do not doubt there are genuine cases of transgenderism. I do not doubt your family story. I do not doubt the value of medical science either.
I have spoken many times with medical professionals who work in this area and in related medical fields. The more I read in this area (and learn) I am discovering that there are complexities. None which conflict with Christianity, but if anything, reminds me further of the Bible’s message.
I am encouraged to hear that you love your child unconditionally, as all parents should. Without taking anything away from what you’ve said (especially at a distance when I don’t know you or your family situation), it is possible to love our children unconditionally without agreeing with everything they feel or desire or consider. There are parents who love their kids so much and believe through best medical advice, that beginning hormonal treatment (or something else) is not in the best interest of the child. One of the problems with the Victorian Govt is their tunnel vision on this issue, something which is concerning a growing number of doctors in the medical. fraternity. Some of this has been well researched and reported in The Australian.
I do wish you and your family well
Well stated Moira. I recall the Leader of the Opposition in the Federal Parliament back in 2017 not wanting a public debate – when discussion of the Coalition’s commitment to a plebiscite was before the Federal Parliament i.e. before it got dumped and replaced by a (bogus) survey – because it would push those prone to suicide over the edge. In other words his thoughtless, even if well-intentioned, rhetoric meant: “If you disagree with me on this then you must be ….” Moira, in my view, you are quite right in your instincts. Social policy debate should not be trying to “send signals” by claiming to be proposing legislation that will overcome the plight of distressed persons who have come to wonder whether there’s any point in going on. It’s time for those responsible for tabling legislation or opposing tabled legislation, and for us to whom our Parliamentarians are accountable, to forego such thoughtless and incendiary debating tactics. Thanks for your wisdom.
Thanks Murray. What you write highlights the deeply uncritical orientation of the Parliamentarians who have tabled this Bill. There is an underlying ambiguity and contradiction of this Bill that its proponents – from your article above that is Mr Andrews and Ms Hennessy – cannot face. The challenge to people to change their sexuality or gender identity is already implicit in the Marriage Act as amended in December 2017. Consider the case of the young woman and her fiance who wish to be married as wife and husband in a civil ceremony according to the requirements now laid down for that ceremony in the act. They are required to submit themselves in their wedding ceremony to a lecture (however brief) delivered by the civil celebrant on behalf of the Government of this Commonwealth that they are but “two persons”. So I now read “Meaning of Change or Suppression Practice” as you have quoted the definitions above and cannot see why a civil marriage ceremony cannot be now interpreted on the wrong side of the proposed law in that the legislation is about a “practice or conduct directed towards a person, whether with or without the person’s consent” that simply denies the couple wishing to be so married and reinterprets them according to a view of sexual orientation and gender identity that they do not hold. It is the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia that is guilty of this instance of what is now (to use the Premier’s own words) a cruel and bigoted practice, namely using a wedding ceremony to conform with an ideological reconfiguration of husband-wife marriage contrary to the desire of the couple.
The Victorian Government is now caught in a bind. But I do not hold my breath that our senior jurists, let alone attorneys-general around this Commonwealth, will see any problem. It is long past the time when the Marriage Act should have been amended to ascribe due, just and equitable respect to husband-wife marriage and the corresponding Christian views of sexuality and gender identity.
Bruce Wearne, Point Lonsdale
Pingback: A Day of Reckoning: Victorian Government pushes to ban Christian practices with threat of 10 years in prison – Australian Church Record
I haven’t read the bill, but I wonder whether it’s not just going to trap those who pray for others, but even those who pray for themselves, given how broadly defined ‘change or suppression practice’ seems to be. Talk about legislating freedom…!
To take this a few steps further: as you suggest Murray there are critical questions here that should have been addressed long ago by Mr Andrews and his government if he and his ministers wish to be taken seriously – are not “practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” much wider than merely those used by “religious” groups. What about the bio-chemical assault on the bodies of minors that results from medical and psychological professions? What does the legislation say to protect the legitimacy of parental nurture of their children, minors? From what you have written here the question of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is simply to be resolved by what a child says s/he “feels”. This simply opens up further suspicion that Mr Andrews is himself victim of a serious misconception about the role of public governance in this polity and his own role as Premier in relation to ensuring public justice for the crucial task of parental responsibility … is parenting now to be viewed as a task that not only takes place in a polity but is misconceived as a department of state?
Just a correction for clarity
^^you wrote “thwart” with danger, which shought be “fraught with danger”.
(A course of action) likely to result in something undesirable).
yes. my mistake. It’s alrady fixed. thanks for noticing
Sorry, please correct mine to “should be”. Typo day. 😉
🙂 I do it all the time
You encouraged us to write to your local members of Parliament and express your concerns. How do I do this? Who should I write to? Can you point me in the right direction?
Hi Aaron. this link tells you all the Victorian MPs and which electorate they represent. Find you local MP. The contact details should be there – https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/people-in-parliament/members-search/list-all-members
Pingback: A La Carte (November 27) | BiblicalCounselor.com
Pingback: A La Carte (November 27) | Tim Challies – ChriSoNet.Com
For those who are unaware of the real and negative impact this Bill may have on children and families, especially those who are working through questions of sexual or gender identity, read this response by the legal think tank, Freedom for Faith – https://freedomforfaith.org.au/library/labor-government-in-victoria-makes-prayer-a-criminal-offence?fbclid=IwAR378h-hypTQLwfVRM0KAoY-WRnhdQ22L2xUaJLgtXldSWSolZlBypYP8pw
I just want to clarify a comment regarding the church not distancing itself from conversion practices. You stated that conversion therapy did not originate in churches, but rather secular psychology. The general consensus from most of the information I have read states that the rise of conversion therapy happened in the 1970’s, and certainly that’s when we see Christian ministries start to practice conversion therapy. To state that the churches adopted the psychological practices of the time when conducting conversion therapy, is factually incorrect. Homosexuality was depathologised in 1970’s by the APA, and all leading heath organisations were denouncing conversion practices, and the idea that homosexuality was a mental condition. They operated against the Medical advice in conducting conversion therapy, and were able to because they were protected under religious freedom laws. In fact, the psychological research sited by conversion therapy organisations was conducted by Charles Socarides and Irving Bieber in the 1960’s. This research that concluded homosexuality was in fact a curable mental disorder, was rejected within the psychology industry for bias sampling and not using a control group. Essentially these Christian psychologists hand picked the participants of their study to get the desired conclusion. This research was embraced by Christians not because it was accurate, but because it affirmed their own prejudice.
The second comment I would like to take issue with, is the notion that this was a practice that happened decades ago and is not seen today. The leading conversion organisation Exodus International, was only shut down in 2013, after they admitted their practices were cruel, inhumane and destructive. This is a Christian organisation linked to Focus on the Family. Most other conversion therapy organisations were satellite branches of this ministry, and still exist today. Just because you are unaware of the existence of such conversion ministries in Victoria, does not mean they don’t exist. I can tell you first hand that there are still churches referring people (including teenagers) to these organisations, as I was one of these people.
Further research into the issue would hopefully make you aware that not only are Christian organisations still practicing conversion therapy today, but in Western countries, this practice is almost exclusively linked to Christianity. Instead of distancing Christianity from conversion therapy, I think the church needs to own its mistakes and apologies for the appalling treatment of the LGBT community. If Christians put the same amount of time into listen to people that have been affected and educating themselves, as they do fighting for religious impunities, them perhaps a more loving and empathetic christ like response might be reflected by the church.
Hi John, thank you for commenting.
Your summary of the history is not quite correct. A decision in the 1970s did not result in homosexuality no longer being treated as a mental illness. Treating it as a mental disorder was continuing even into the late 1990s. I refer you to this article that summarises some of those cases https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-lgbt-movements-dangerous-hypocrisy-on-conversion-therapy/%3famp .
I have twice indicated in this article that there were some practices adopted by a few religious organisations which were wrong. There is no hiding or minimising that this took place. It was however never mainstream or commonplace and it is certainly not today. I don’t know every church or religious organisation but I am very familiar across the board and I do not know of a single organisation or pastor who practices those techniques.
The government’s narrative (as their reports read) attempts to paint this as a common place practice within churches. That is a lie and incredibly misleading.
It is also incredibly important to define terms. For if we are talking about prayer and Bible study and explaining the Bible’s vision of human sexuality, it is ridiculous to lump that in with very specific and wrong practices that came out of older style schools of psychology.
This is one of the most significant flaws in the bill.
I also take note that there are gay and lesbian groups who are very concerned about this bill as well as Victorians who have experienced transgenderism and who no longer wish to identify such. I refer you to the link for the Australian article.
It is a very dangerous step for a government to ban religious prayers and conversations on the basis that it does not subscribe to the current sexual mileu. No government in Australia’s history has ever tried to stifle freedom this way and they should not approach that precipice
I don’t think it is asking too much to ask that you don’t presume that churches don’t listen and when mistakes are made don’t change. I speak to a range of people in the community including people who identify as LGBT. One transgender woman contacted me to express their disappointment and concern over the belligerent stand Daniel Andrews is taking.
Finally I do not know your story or the ‘practice’ you went to, and so I cannot comment and neither do I make a judgement. If your church did you harm, then I am sincerely sorry.
I wish you all the very best
In answer to your question, no, I do not think that I am confusing listening with acceptance. I do not believe that they are the same thing, or that the former necessarily leads to the latter. However, I do believe that evidence of listening, would be understanding and in the case of someone’s personal experience, empathy. And in turn that would mean that there would be some things that would never be said, if one had experience of it- whether their own- or through someone else’s. For example, ‘Pumping children with hormones and cutting off breasts and penises’, which is not only emotive, offensive, lacks understanding, is misleading, and is actually untrue.
While there is no doubt that conversion therapy for homosexuality has been practised at various times throughout history (and very occasionally still today), I don’t think that the ending of this practice is the primary purpose of the bill. Instead, I think that is the ‘dressing’ of the bill to secure as much support as possible, and its real purpose can be found in the other part – the suppression of gender identity. Transgender activism has stepped up dramatically in several countries over the last five years, and the activists’ aims are to (i) ensure compliance with their therapeutic model for gender-non-conforming young people: gender-affirming treatment; and (ii) to recreate society according to their values, which is to divide society along psychological gender lines rather than biological sex (which means no more sex-based distinction of toilets, changing rooms, sporting teams and clubs). They are going for the big prize here: if they can force compliance from religious schools, their battle is won.
Well put Stuart to identify the ideological “movement” that is seeking to enlist the public-legal process via Parliamentary legislation (as you say, merely as “dressing”, i.e. as a signal of the State’s virtue) in the service of what is assumed to be normative, “popular opinion/sentiment.” The problem with this view of the public-legal order is the assumption that for Parliament to be a true guardian of public sentiment it must ensure that its legislation derives from public sentiment – and hence we trace the genealogy of this legislation to the Federal Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013. This Victorian Parliamentary Bill is the latest attempt to change public perceptions about sexuality and gender, and build upon the Marriage Act 2017. The political assumption is that this is all about “inclusion” of those with “non-binary” views of their own identity (viewed as those hitherto “excluded”) as part of an ongoing project to radically change public sentiment root and branch. The question arises: How then is it possible for the Bill’s promoters to explain that they are not trying to use Parliament to coercively change people’s view of their sexuality and gender to adopt a “non-binary” view? If the aim is to forbid changing people’s perceptions of their own sexual identity, then not only the Bill itself, but the “movement” which has preceded it, comes under its own potential condemnation. The Bill can be perceived as a coercive manoeuvre. And it is indicative of a “mind” that radically misunderstands public governance because of its adherence to the view that the task of civil government is to create reality. That is a political viewpoint that is as idolatrous as the view that reality is sovereignly created by sovereign individuals making choices. We’re caught in a pincer “movement” between two idols.
Very illuminating post, thank you Bruce.
I march in the gay mardi gras and support abortion and like martin luther king and remember LGTBI chrisitians are murdered and put in prision by christian in many african countries what do you say about that
Comments are closed.