“Religious institutions and schools are free and are protected by our existing legislation and our constitution to teach their beliefs. That will not change because same-sex couples can get married.” – Same-sex marriage Yes case leader Christine Forster, 2017

We didn’t have a Jacinta Nampijinpa Price nor a united Coalition firmly in the No camp when woke elites dismantled the definition of marriage, unleashing today’s threats to freedom of speech and religion.

The grief for those who fought the 2017 marriage campaign is that everything we predicted and more has come to pass.

The frustration at the time was that few leaders spoke publicly. There was no political cover.

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Voters never heard the counterargument.

They fell for the “no consequences, love is love” lie peddled by the Yes campaign – the type of emotive lies the Voice Yes campaign did not get away with last year thanks to the Price-led display of conservative courage.

After same-sex marriage, Christian and religious schools who dissented were always going to be the canary in the coal mine whose oxygen was to be poisoned first.

So it was no surprise last week when the Albanese Government’s Attorney General Mark Dreyfus tabled an Australian Law Reform Commission report in Parliament recommending that Christian schools be stripped of their freedom to uphold a Christian ethos on marriage and gender.

The title “Maximising the Realisation of Human Rights: Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws” is Orwellian.

That’s because it trashes parents’ human rights to educate their children in the values of their religion.

In this mad moment of history, if elites like Dreyfus tell us something is true, be sure the opposite is the case.

Protections which allow Christian schools to preference staff who believe what parents want for their kids are to be abolished if the Government, which wrote the terms of reference for the ALRC, gets its way.

This will leave children to be influenced by school role models who hold radical views about gender fluidity, homosexuality and even bestiality.

This is exactly what the ALRC, doing the bidding of the LGBTIQA+ political lobby wants.

The ALRC report says that excluding LGBTQ+ staff “risks perpetuating the notion that LGBTQ+ adults are a threat and a danger to children”.

But surely a staff member who is an advocate of gender fluid ideology or who has just attended, in kink, a bestiality-themed fetish event at a weekend Pride festival would in the eyes of most parents be considered a dangerous role model for their children.

Why role models like this must be forced upon Christian and other religious schools in the name of “equality” is mind-boggling and shows just how beholden politicians are to rainbow ideology.

As Paul Kelly points out in The Australian, the ALRC (and presumably the Albanese Government) have taken the view that religion is intrinsically harmful to children and school staff who identify as LGBTIQA+.

This is the justification for stripping their freedom to be Christian or of another socially conservative religion.

This is a purge that will not end with schools.

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During the plebiscite campaign those who believed marriage is heterosexual and gender is binary were told there was nothing to fear.

In a 2017 Sky News debate with one of the Yes campaign leaders, Christine Forster, I challenged her about the looming threat to Christian schools and parents’ rights.

“Religious institutions and schools are free and are protected by our existing legislation and our constitution to teach their beliefs. That will not change because same-sex couples can get married,” she said.

We knew at the time this was a lie and for the past seven years, Christian schools have been under sustained pressure leading up to last week’s ALRC report being tabled in Parliament.

Forster and the Yes campaign have never been held accountable. How many people voted Yes for same sex marriage after constantly hearing there were no consequences for anyone else’s freedoms?

The Albanese Government has secret legislation ready to go to give effect to the ALRC’s anti-freedom recommendations but without bipartisan support, the Prime Minister won’t introduce it.

He’s now considering a deal with the Christian-hating Greens political party.

Sadly, his party is not much better.

And doubly sadly there are those on the Liberal side, like newly appointed Senator Dave Sharma, who won’t back Christian schools and parental rights over LGBTIQA+ demands for “equality”.

The silence of Christian and conservative leaders has allowed narratives to take root that assume Christian schools are inherently harmful places for LGBTIQA+ people and that rainbow ideology poses no risk for children.

Both ideas are false.

It’s almost like no one in leadership in Australia has heard of the WPATH leaks or that Britain’s NHS, along with many other nations, have banned using puberty blockers on children as a gender conversion therapy.

One of the few leaders who did speak up during the 2017 plebiscite campaign was Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher.

He joined the fray again this week, penning a piece for The Australian newspaper. He wrote:

“It is a depressing feature of this nation’s recurrent discussions of religious freedom that they are framed as one group fighting for “the right to discriminate” and the other group fighting for equality. It’s as if religious providers are only in the education game in order to promote hate.”

This goes the lie at the heart of identify politics – in this case the politics of sexual and gender identity.

If a person or sector of society is not on board with their ideology that person or sector deserves punishment and defamation.

Not enough has been done in public to counter the lies.

Thankfully Archbishop Fisher is one who is working to redress this imbalance. He went on:

“Religious providers are only asking for the freedom to keep offering their services from within their own spiritual tradition. People then vote with their feet. When the law protects religious freedom, faith communities use it to serve those around them, especially the most needy, and to bolster our society by filling gaps in government and free-market provision.

“Today that freedom – to gather, speak freely, pray together and undertake works of service for others – is being reduced slice by slice.”

This is where silent leaders have brought us.

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Lyle Shelton is National Director of the Family First Party. He started his career as a rural journalist before being elected as a member of the Toowoomba City Council and serving the Australian Christian Lobby for 10 years, half of that decade as ACL's Managing Director. He was a Director and spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage during the 2017 postal survey campaign which resulted in the legal undefinition of marriage. He also blogs here.

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