Senator Antic: anti-conversion practice laws an attack on religious freedom

South Australian Liberal Senator Alex Antic has described laws which aim to stop conversion practices as an attack on religious freedom.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Senator Antic rose to comment on the recent review instigated by the South Australian Liberal Party that saw hundreds of new members linked to Pentecostal Churches questioned about their commitment to the party.

Senator Antic said Christians were being persecuted around the world, and that included events occurring here in Australia and within the Liberal party.

Senator Antic said there was a “need to ensure that Australia’s democracy remains a pluralistic, liberal and inclusive democracy which values freedom of thought, worship, association and speech as fundamental rights.”

The MP said Christians had a long history of being persecuted from events that occurred under Roman Emperor Nero in 64 A.D., through to events in the Middle East in the 7th century, and events that occurred in Russia under Lenin in the 1920s.

” Sadly, around the world, that persecution is alive. In fact, so far in 2021, 13 Christians have been killed worldwide for practising their faith; 12 churches and 12 Christians have been attacked” Senator Antic said, before arguing that in Australia state-based laws stopping conversion practices were also attacks on Christian believers.

“The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act recently passed in Victoria represents an attack on religious freedom in the most egregious form in Australian legislative history. Similar bills have been introduced in Queensland and the ACT, and South Australia is likely to see its own version later in the year.” Senator Antic told parliament.

Alongside bans on conversion practices, Senator Antic also highlighted the passing of laws allowing abortion and euthanasia, as legislation out of line with Christian beliefs.

Senator Antic said he did not support the South Australian branch of the party’s decision to question the membership of many people of faith who had recently joined the party.

“In my view, it sets an undemocratic and dangerous precedent in politics and says to the world at large that exclusion of Christians is okay.” Senator Antic said.

“Christians should neither exclude themselves nor be excluded from party politics, as was the case in South Australia last week. The Christian faith values family, industriousness, community and justice—the very same values that are held dear by the centre Right of politics in this country.”

Earlier in the day there were reports that Senator Antic, alongside colleagues Nicole Flint and Tony Pasin, had raised the issue of a recent purge of Christian members with acting party leader Josh Freydenberg during a party room meeting.  Frydenberg is acting leader while Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends the G7 summit in Great Britain.

The party has terminated the membership of 150 people, and asked an additional 400 to “show cause” on why they should not be kicked out. Moderate members of the Liberal party say the people removed were planning to campaign against endorsed candidates at the next election, and many were not even supporters of the party.

Earlier this year the Western Australian branch of the Liberal party dismissed suggestions that it had been infiltrated by a large number of people who previously had stood for religious based political parties.  Throughout the state election former leader Zak Kirkup was forced to defend comments previously made by candidates with close ties to church organisations.

Back in March Nationals MP George Christiansen told an online forum that Christians needed to join conservative political parties so they could hold the balance of power.

“It’s simple numbers, if there’s five thousand members of the National Party in New South Wales and suddenly five thousand other people join, and they all just happen to be traditional orthodox Bible-believing Christians, well guess what’s going to happen to the National party. Guess what’s going to happen every time a candidate is selected.

“If we want to ensure that were not just winning fights, but if we want to ensure that governments are going to push back on our freedoms and the rights of people of faith being taken away, then we’ve go to get inside the tent. Join, and join a major party, is what I’d say.” Christensen told Family Voice Australia.

OIP Staff

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