The Albanese government, like the Morrison government before it, is seeking the power to define what is true and to punish what it determines is not. I wish that was simply hyperbole.
The announcement was made on George Orwell’s birthday.
Churches have largely slept through the undefinition of marriage, the liberalisation of abortion and euthanasia, and the criminalisation of spiritually counselling parishioners with unwanted feelings of same sex attraction. In this next pivotal moment, not just some, but most churches must finally speak with a loud and clear voice against incremental injustice and oppression.
A drowsy lethargy and instinctive trust of government at the turn of the Century was, perhaps, understandable. Churches in Australia and the West have a historical political context of religious freedom and even cultural popularity. From the foundations of our nation until recent decades, Christianity was widely understood to be good for the nation because it is good for nurturing the authentic virtue of character in citizens, which makes for a better society and democratic government.
Less virtuous politicians have over time been threatened by the pulpit and its uncompromising preaching of God’s standards of justice and integrity. Liars and tyrants should fear the preacher as much as the journalist, if the preacher is doing his job. But career-driven politicians have cleverly replaced the value of virtue in the mind of voters with a worthless counterfeit: virtue signalling.
The political context churches find themselves in this Century is one of open hostility toward Christianity, the Gospel and God’s Word. Instead of humbly relying on the blessings of Almighty God, as the preamble to the Australian Constitution describes our union of states, Australian voters and the politicians they elect now arrogantly deny God has anything to offer our prosperity, justice or morality, despite having brought us thus far.
Radical secularists go so far as to even accuse Christianity – the foundation of Western civilisation, justice and civil liberties – of being harmful to alleged human rights such as killing babies, compelled celebration of sexual promiscuity and self-harming identity behaviours. Those are not true human rights. That is not what freedom is for.
The Albanese government is currently seeking powers to “hold digital platforms to account for harmful misinformation and disinformation online.” By this sleight of hand, they can claim that they are not empowering bureaucracy to determine what is true or the power to censor individuals. They are only threatening Big Tech, not you. They are expecting Big Tech to threaten you, censor you, punish you and deplatform you if you speak against the government approved information – but it is not technically the government punishing you directly. The government will bring a big stick to Big Tech if Big Tech doesn’t keep you in line.
Yet even without this proposed legislation, that is exactly what the Department of Home Affairs admitted to doing in recent years. The Australian government interfered more than 4,200 times to censor opinions – many eventually substantiated – which merely disagreed with official government propaganda.
Would critical commentary of the claims that Saddam Hussein absolutely definitely had weapons of mass destruction justifying the invasion of a foreign country by Australia among others have been labelled “misinformation” by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)?
Would ACMA have ordered social media posts disputing that refugees ever threw their children overboard as falsely claimed again by the Howard government have been censored as disinformation because they disagreed with government experts?
Will preachers who publish videos of their scriptural sermons or Christians commenting accurately on God’s design for gender and sexual ethics, and the medical and emotional consequences of transgressing those boundaries, come afoul of Big Tech knives freshly sharpened by the looming threat of new government powers?
The formula for Orwellian imposition of “truth” is simple.
First, appoint lettered experts to important sounding positions in bureaucracy and pay them more than they could make in the real world.
Second, put these hand picked industry professionals in suits or white coats, give them sign language interpreters for dramatic effect, and then parade them in front of cameras as official spokesmen for “the” science and “the” experts. Few journalists will be curious about the implications that science and scientists are a homogenous monolith of unanimous agreement, or that whatever the appointed experts say is representative of all reputable experts.
Third, marginalise and slander all equally qualified and credible experts (as well as those sharing their research, data and opinions) as “conspiracy theorists” and fringe radicals who only offer “misinformation”.
Fourth, employ herds of morally superior academics with the preferred political prejudices to argue against dissenters, call them something serious-sounding like “fact checkers”, and claim their uncoincidental, third party endorsement as credible, independent agreement.
Fifth, criminalise and punish all misinformation, original or repeated, with strategies ranging from censorship to police violence or home invasion and heavy legal penalties including crushing fines or jail time.
The High Court of Australia has imagined a freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution. Although not explicit, it is certainly explicit in natural law and fundamental to any quality of democracy.
I am opposed to a Bill of Rights, as such a thing doesn’t protect anyone from an activist judiciary. Worse, it suggests that rights not explicitly listed must not exist, as surely the important and obvious ones had been included in its writing.
The 18th Century American Federalists also argued that people do not surrender any rights by adopting, or in our modern case, being born subject to, a nation’s constitution. Therefore, stipulating such rights was at best redundant.
More than 400 years in our past, English barrister, judge and politician, Sir Edward Coke, described God as the only “fountain and founder of all good laws and constitutions.”
It is up to righteous lawmakers and judges to discover the Mind of God on good laws, and not limit them to what someone before has codified as best they could. This principle isn’t a licence to judicial activism, but humility and honesty.
However, to compromise with those resistant to the proposed Constitution, James Madison introduced 12 amendments describing what were considered basic civil rights, 10 of which became America’s famous Bill of Rights. These are based on the Christian West’s long history of conservative progress from aristocracy to democracy and fundamental freedom from the arbitrary whims of elitists who presume themselves everyone else’s better.
The First Amendment protects against excesses and abuses of government powers by firstly and foremostly observing that Government had no right interfering in the free exercise of religion, followed closely by the freedom of speech, and only in third place of priority did they come to the importance of a free and independent press.
The Albanese Government’s proposed powers would not extend to whatever they define as “professional news content”. Far from speaking Truth to power during the years of mandatory lockdowns and medication, the Lying Harlot Media was a willing accomplice to incremental accumulation and abuses of government power, so excluding them from the powers is as useless as exempting the mute politicians from both sides.
It is the democratisation of information which tyrants fear, and seek to punish. It is the silencing of critics of the government and larger society which makes way for the entry of autocrats and bully boys into positions of power. When a State actor with accumulated power insists they need more power to protect the people, it is tugging on the thread which will unravel democracy when pulled.
Freedom of press is not enough! We do not surrender our rights to preach the Truth of God’s Word no matter who chooses to be offended or pretends to be hurt. We do not surrender God’s gift of free thinking and speech which this ill-conceived bill presumes to be able to arbitrarily extinguish.
What confidence can we have in a government which demands the power to deplatform or punish citizens who debate the government-approved opinions? How can wicked policies and corrupt laws be exposed if they cannot be howled down by everyone breathing, and not just the statist shills in the Lying Harlot Media?
I fear that President Reagan was wrong, and not enough people are properly afraid of the nine words, “I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” Too many people have not read enough history to know how badly things can go when governments get far too much power to silence whatever the government determines is dangerous for the people to hear.
What is stopping a government or unelected, stuffed-shirt bureaucrat, or Big Tech executive from deciding that all sermons against sexual sin or profaning God’s sacred design for gender are “hate speech”, and deplatforming Bible-believing Christians?
Will preachers really be unable or unwilling to foresee the criminalisation of preaching honestly from certain chapters of the Bible which enrage the prideful hedonists if we continue down this treacherous path?
Sound the alarm! Wake the sleeping, and shake them from slumber. There must be such an unmistakable political resistance to this attack on good law, and the inalienable right to freedom of religion and expression, that every politician is left in no doubt they will end their own career by supporting this legislation.
The Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP has invited you to get off the sidelines and into the national conversation. She said:
“I encourage all stakeholders to make a submission and look forward to introducing the Bill into Parliament later this year, following the consultation process”.
If you’re reading this, you’re a stakeholder. Here’s what you need to do.
First, sign the petition at CitizenGo and everywhere else you see one to add your voice.
Second, send an email in your own words to your local federal MP, and tell them this is a vote changing issue for you. Encourage them to oppose this bill in any form – and that Big Tech needs to be stopped from vandalising legally free speech, not encouraged to do worse.
Third, accept the Government’s invitation to have your say with a formal submission today. The window of opportunity to overwhelm this Government with the message that their idea is destructive to democracy and the nation’s future closes forever at 11:59pm on 6 August. It doesn’t need to be academic writing, just polite enough and absolutely clear what your concerns are.
Fourth, spread the word. Encourage your trusted friends to speak up, or risk losing the right to. Respectfully encourage your congregation minister to share from the platform on why everyone should make a submission. He might want to mention how Bonhoeffer was martyred to resist a government which presumed to tell churches what to preach, and of course worse. I can always be contacted privately (dave@ChurchAndState.com.au) to assist any minister’s research for a short but Biblical message.
The coward is he who stays silent when the vulnerable are oppressed. How much worse are we if we stand idly by and allow Truth to be outlawed?
Dave Pellowe is a Christian writer & commentator, founder of The Good Sauce, convener of the annual Australian Church And State Summit and host of Good Sauce's weekly The Church And State Show, also syndicated on ADH TV. Since 2016 Dave has undertaken the mission of arming Christians to influence culture through events from Perth to Auckland, videos, podcasts and articles published in multiple journals across Australia and New Zealand. [more]
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