Australian Christians need freedom of speech, not religious freedom. Freedom of speech will give Christians the same rights as non-Christians. Non-believers should be able to mock and disparage believers. Christians only ask for the freedom to share the gospel openly. The Christian faith does not require special protection.
The Christian faith is not like some exotic plant that needs special protection to save it from becoming extinct. The Kingdom of God cannot be eradicated. I remember seeing a television programme, soon after immigrating to Australia, in which God was depicted as an old man sitting on a ledge with a cutout cardboard lightning in his hand, making disparagingly remarks to “You little Christians down there!”. I was incensed and wondered why the church in Australia did not protest against such blasphemy. As I was considering possibly chaining myself to the broadcast tower for the honour of God, I saw in my mind’s eye, Jesus being mocked and spat on while dragging his cross through the streets. A thought came into my head: “I do not need you to protect me; I need you to love those who hate me.” God, his Kingdom, and his church do not need any special protection.
Christians should engage with nonbelievers on a level playing field. Christians are not snowflakes who will melt in any heated exchange of ideas. The church should never hide behind the secular state. Its survival is in God’s hands.
The gospel is the transforming power of God. It is the world which fears the gospel, not the church fearing the world. The church cannot hide behind secure walls. The gospel takes Christians into insecurity, and thereby, into possible victory over the world. Freedom of speech, not religious freedom, is the door to such insecurity.
Written by Dr. Andre van Oudtshoorn, Academic Dean at Perth Bible College.