Prohibiting Prayer in Australia

From Carl Trueman, 2.8.21:

The legislation also demonstrates one of the oddest results of the modern emphasis on the radical freedom of the individual. In such a world, all must theoretically be allowed to have their own narratives of identity. But because some narratives of identity inevitably stand in opposition to others, some identities must therefore be privileged with legitimate status and others treated as cultural cancers.  And that means that, in an ironic twist, the individual ceases to be sovereign and the government has to step in as enforcer. The lobby group of the day then decides who is in and who is out, with the result that, in this instance, the gay or trans person who wants to become straight or “cis” (to use the pretentious jargon), cannot be tolerated. His narrative calls into question that of others. We might say that his very existence is a threat. To grant any degree of legitimacy to his desire is to challenge the normative status of the desires of others.    

And so prayer for such heretics must be prohibited, even if they specifically ask for it. This is not so much because it harms the people for whom it is being offered, but simply because it witnesses to the fact that not all people—not even all gay and trans people—buy into the current confections of the politics of sexual identity.      

Perhaps that is encouraging. Perhaps at long last Western societies are beginning to wake up to the fact that Christianity at its very core witnesses to the fact that the world is not as it should be. But it is also an ominous sign when such a basic religious practice as prayer—so often decried by the irreligious as pointless hokum—is now the target of hostile legislation in a democratic country. We may not yet be at the point where thought is a crime, but we seem to be at the point where the expression of certain thoughts, even in prayer, could be considered criminal behavior. At the risk of encouraging people to commit high crimes and misdemeanors, I would urge everyone to pray that other countries do not follow Victoria’s example, for if they do, it might be illegal to pray for almost anything of which our lords and masters disapprove in a few years’ time.

Carl R. Trueman is a professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College. Read the full article here.

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