Forget the Bakers and Florists, It’s About Schools

Apologies to those Christians who are bakers or florists (or photographers) and who are worried about their freedom of conscience when it comes to gay weddings in Australia.

I do feel your pain, but the real issue, the real target, has always been the mediating institutions such as schools.  And sure enough, all the talk in the week – that’s right, the week -, since the Yes vote won the day, is how religious schools need to be towed into line and sign up to the new sexual ethics.

So we get a plethora of articles in The West Australian this week in which a gay teacher loses their relief role in a Perth independent Christian school for posting Facebook pictures with his lover.

The WA Premier, Mark McGowan, proves how little you need to know about anything to be the premier these days when he says he can’t see why sexual preference should have anything to do with staff appointments in any school.

I am sure he will have a few caveats to make once he thinks about that statement.  But one of them won’t be around the idea of allowing religious freedoms in religious educational communities to shape the ethical framework of their staff.

And then there’s this article today in the Courier Mail from Queensland.  David Gillespie, a lawyer and writer on education, states baldly:

If you want a job in, or your child educated in, a very large chunk of the Australian education system your protections against discrimination are non-existent. Your tax dollars are funding institutions which can legally discriminate against you. And yet the debate of the day is whether a baker can refuse to supply a cake to a same-sex couple.

Thank you David.  We both agree that the debate of the day has NEVER been about bakers and cakes.  It’s been about who gets to shape the minds of our next generation. Thank you for at least saying all along what many who voted No worried about.  That the agenda was far-reaching.  That it was never a case of “Let’s just get this Yes vote over the line so that gay people can marry and we can all get on with the rest of our lives.”

What exasperated me the most was the progressive Christian line before the vote came in that said “Let’s worry about all that other stuff later.”

Well later is now, and the deafening sound of silence from the earnest post-evangelicals who have never had any intention of backing up their traditional brothers and sisters in any of these areas of freedom is, well, deafening!

The Sexular State does not want to let you get on with your lives while it gets back to more important things like transport infrastructure and hospitals. It wants to poke its grubby fingers into every orifice of your life.

The more secular the state gets, the more control it wants. The more control it wants the more it targets institutions that buffer what the state wants to teach, institutions such as schools and churches.

And in a classic pincer move, at the same time this new “Sexular State” pressures religious organisation on who it can and cannot employ, it ramps up the sexual pressure in the government schools, rolling out Safe Schools Coalition-eque material at the drop of a hat.

Bullying the problem?  Roll out a graphic sex program.  Not enough sport in schools?  Weave gender and sex into that program.  What about the quality of school canteen lunches?  Food porn, or food and porn, that’s the answer.

No opt in for religious instruction.  No opt out for the new religious instruction – sex identity politics.

Gillespie ends with these words:

The nation’s attention is now firmly focused on the rights of same-sex couples, so let’s use that opportunity to remove the ridiculous protections afforded to the taxpayer funded businesses we call private schools. That is where ‘religious freedom’ can really bite, not at the local cake-shop or florist.

Nailed it, didn’t he?  Religious freedom is really biting.  We need to render it toothless.  Why do we need to render it toothless?  Because we don’t wish mediating institutions to teach an alternate sexual ethic to what the Sexular State wishes to teach.  We need compliance.

Oh, by the way, Gillespie has written a book called Free Schools: How to get your kids a great education without spending a fortune. Well mate, if you think that “free” only means money, and if you think that the only cost when “spending a fortune” is financial, you don’t understand a thing.

First published on Stephen McAlpine’s blog


Stephen is a pastor, blogger and ex-journalist who writes on issues of theology, culture and the church. He works at a national level for City Bible Forum, developing and presenting evangelistic material for a project called Third Space. He and his family reside in Perth's eastern suburbs.