Fourth, as 2017 rolls on, same-sex marriage activists have become shamelessly predatory in targeting individuals associated with Christian organizations that hold to a traditional view of marriage. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Australian Bible Society, Coopers Brewery generously planned to produce 10,000 commemorative beer cans with Bible verses printed on them (specifically, the words of John 3:21). Then, two conservative MPs, Tim Wilson (a gay agnostic) and Andrew Hastie (an evangelical Christian), appeared in a Bible Society video clip where they discussed, over a Coopers beer, their disagreement about same-sex marriage (the clip has since been taken down). The point of the video was to show that it is possible to disagree in a generous and gracious manner.
When Coopers Brewery’s association with the Bible Society was discovered, there was a flurry of outrage on social media, and numerous pubs and bars stopped selling Coopers beer. Coopers Brewery tried to backpedal and finally made what can only be described as a hostage video, where CEO Tim Cooper appeared desperate to pledge support for same-sex marriage and promised to cancel the commemorative cans for the Bible Society. If that were not enough, the government-owned TV station SBS got in on the act, producing a mocking clip of the Bible Society video that portrayed Christians as cartoonishly wicked.
Fifth, in recent months, activists have been applying pressure to ostensibly pro-LGBTIQ organizations who have employees sitting on the boards of the Australian Christian Lobby (like Mark Allaby of IBM) and the Lachlan Macquarie Institute (Steve Chavura of Macquarie University). The clear objective is either to force the employees in question to resign from these boards or to create public pressure for their employers to terminate them.
A good example of the anti-Christian vitriol gaining momentum in Australia comes from prominent marriage equality activist Michael Barnett, who tweeted on March 2, “At least LGBTIQ victims of ISIS die a sudden death. LGBTIQ victims of @ACLobby [Australian Christian Lobby] die an excruciating death. They are barbaric Christians.” Many of his other tweets explode forth with vulgar, hateful denunciations of Christians.
It bears mentioning that an ongoing federal royal commission has discovered patterns of institutional sex abuse within church-run facilities over the last 50 years. Testimonies at the commission have been harrowing and horrifying. Given the criminal negligence of so many churches, one can entirely understand why, in the current atmosphere, their pleas for sympathy would go unheeded.
Still, I’m profoundly troubled to see public esteem for Christianity in Australia reaching what feels like an all-time low. In fact, Simon Smart from the Centre for Public Christianity offers a fair observation: In Australia, at the moment, there is “A thin veneer of resentment toward Christianity on top of a sea of apathy!” Christians are no longer just a moral minority. For many journalists and progressive activists, we are the new barbarians, enemies of the state.