Following is what came to mind when I read Bishop Forsyth’s statements on devout Christian’s fears if same sex marriages were to be made lawful. The article to which I am replying can be found here (http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-anglicans-fear-devout-christians-will-be-forced-to-celebrate-gay-marriage-20150929-gjwzby.html)
“Dear devout Christian bakers, florists and photographers,
According to one of your bishops you fear that if marriage legislation were to change you could be forced to “… engage in effectively celebrating same-sex marriage against their conscience”. He also fears for your religious freedom, strange as this may seem, considering that same sex couples wish to marry according to the law, rather than live “in sin” so to speak, and surely their act of commitment is far from a threat to your freedom to follow your Christian beliefs. Citing a possible attack on freedom of religion will instantly gain sympathy for you and gives you the opportunity to claim the status of the victim in a victimless crime. In reality you and your preachers are only concerned about increasing the power of your institutions and enforcing your particular views.
However, should marriage equality ever become a reality, you might want to consider displaying your stance in advance. The shopkeeper from Royston Vaysey, a true master in scaring off unwanted customers, comes to mind as a suitable example you could follow. You could amend his catchphrase ‘This is a shop for local people’ to “This is a shop for straight local people” and display your new slogan for all to see. If you wish to be more blunt “Same Sexers are not welcome here” could be an option to ensure that your premises would not become a den of complicity against your will. In doing so, you would not only do yourselves a favour but also keep away those members of the public, who support same sex marriage or who are favourably disposed towards anyone you despise.
At the same time you would be doing the community a service by openly advertising your opposition to marriage equality as it would enable tolerant and accepting citizens to avoid you and the wedding-services you offer. The benefit for you would be no longer having to make decisions affecting your religious conscience, or to give it its real name, bigoted dogma. You would no longer have to interact with customers who do not share your belief system. They in turn would not be forced to “… engage in condoning or supporting fanatical devoutness against their conscience” as they would no longer feel comfortable about receiving goods and services from you or your fellow self-proclaimed guardians of rather dubious ethics and morals.
You can then cry ‘persecution’ and ‘discrimination’ against you and your faith and will be able to blame the loss of income on those awful, godless non-believers out there and being even more convinced of the righteousness of your prejudice and fanaticism. You will blame same sex marriage, secular law makers, the anti-Christ, Satan, liberal Christians, Muslims, political parties and anyone else whom you consider and enemy of your faith, for your misfortune and liken yourself to a martyr bravely facing the lions in a Roman arena.
For decades you and your proselytising lot have imposed and spread irrational belief, rules and dogma, often resorting to vilification and destruction of those who object, dare to disagree or whom you deem evil, dangerous or inconvenient. You judge others by their belief not their behaviour. Your institutions, as those of other religions, have no qualms establishing a rule of religious law based on nothing more than personal convictions sanctioned by a deity .
You considers it a right to interfere in political decisions, purely because you are convinced your rules are to be followed. You have no scruples accepting government money for your chaplains to get easy access to vulnerable young minds, giving no consideration or thought at all to the damage your subjective and prejudiced advice can cause. But then, your conscience has no room for those whom you consider evil or wrong because you are in no doubt at all that you are right. You certainty and lack of self-doubt make you a ruthless in your divinely sanctioned mission to destroy whatever you think is a sin or to demonize whomever you consider an unrepentant sinner.
Considering that you feel the need to voice your opposition to marriage equality as if it were to lead to the destruction of Australian society you ought to put your money were your mouth is. Put up shop signs, carry placards, do what you think you have to. Why would you fear discrimination and persecution? History shows that you love proclaiming martyrdom and persecution, as this seems to give you instant justification of lashing out or vilifying those who dare to question your beliefs.
Of course usually anyone vilifying and denigrating a person due to their religion, sex or ethnicity, ought to face the consequences, but it is clear that you do not agree with such repercussions as far as you being discriminating is concerned. You are very aware that new laws mean could mean new vilification regulations and as you are not prepared to live by those rules or amend your beliefs you will do everything in your power to give you the right to openly discriminate with impunity.
Hopefully decent, caring, moral and ethical people will recognise your supposed conflict of conscience for what is, namely an attempt to exercise power and control by spreading fear, exploiting prejudices and creating doubt.
Those of you who, without a moment’s hesitation and with complete conviction, are prepared to use issues such as marriage equality in order to fabricate a campaign to convince people that their freedom of religion is at stake, are unlikely to ever consider themselves in the wrong or question their motives. You demand respect by all for your belief system, yet at the same time you only give respect to those of your choosing. The most disturbing and frightening aspect however is your utter lack of insight that that it is you who are discriminating against others, that it is your attitudes which are discriminatory. Anti-discrimination laws are in place for good reason and are intended to prevent the horrors of persecution. Your bishop says you fear being ‘caught out by these laws’, a statement which indicates that some churches consider themselves to be above the laws by which everyone else has to abide thereby absolving you of all responsibility.
Claiming that you could possibly be asked not to discriminate against a same sex couple does not constitute persecution of your beliefs it constitutes a dangerous and wilful misrepresentation of facts. Should marriage equality ever become a reality in this country, and I sincerely wish that this happens soon, I hope that Australia will be a better, more inclusive place where your disgraceful self-righteousness and your self-serving utterances will attract neither approval nor support but be dismissed with the disdain and disapproval they deserves.”
Dear Devout Christians – a reply
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