Dr Don Batten
Australian university moves to crack down on Christian freedoms

by Don Batten

11 December 2001

On October 15, 2001, Southern Cross University (Lismore, New South Wales (NSW), Australia) issued a draft policy on ‘Spiritual Practice’ at the university. A central plank of this policy is that the sharing of personal belief ‘must not include proselytising (seeking to convert) others about a particular faith’. Furthermore, the university will not approve ‘visiting spiritual advisers’ unless they agree to the policy of not proselytising ‘for their particular faith’.

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This policy amounts to an attack on the freedom of Christians to practise their faith. Jesus commissioned his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations…’ (Matt. 28:19). Of course this is to be done ‘with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15)—belligerence, coercion, etc., have no place in obeying Jesus’ command.

The policy is limited to ‘spiritual’ proselytising, so it does not apply to teachers seeking to win students to their point of view—such as materialistic humanism, atheism, postmodernism, or any of the other ‘isms’ that permeate the typical university today—these ‘isms’ are (illogically) not considered ‘spiritual’/religious.

In effect, this is an anti-Christian policy. It underlines the truth that many Christian students learn to their shock upon arriving at university—that universities are not the open centres of learning, seeking the truth wherever that may lead. Rather it’s verboten to follow the evidence if it points to a Designer, no matter how strong, because of an a priori commitment to materialism (see these revealing quotes from Richard Lewontin and Scott Todd). Universities are about inculcating a world-view in students, and apparently Southern Cross University (at least) does not like competition from a viable alternative (the truth)!

While such blatant anti-Christian intolerance might take many Christians by surprise, it has always been on the so-called ‘liberal’ agenda (showing that there’s nothing as illiberal as a liberal in power!). Opposition to evolution has long been censored from journals of the scientific establishment, thereby making secular humanism the only religion allowed in the ‘intellectual’ sphere. Then Christian morality has steadily been eroded to such an extent that funds are now coerced from taxpayers to pay for a woman’s ‘right’ to have her unborn baby butchered. Since Christians have generally put up little resistance, and even rewarded immoral politicians with their votes, it’s hardly surprising that the anti-Christians in power feel brave enough to reveal their real agenda explicitly.

Mr Chris Puplick, the president of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW, said that the proposed ban on proselytising would not be considered as religious discrimination because it was directed at Christians. Only religions associated with ethnic groups—such as Islam (Arabs), Judaism (Jews) and Hinduism (Indians)—are protected under the Anti-Discrimination Act. Further, he said:

‘The Anti-Discrimination Board has always believed that we should have comprehensive law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of all religious belief.’

But he said that the present Labor Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, had rejected a submission by the Law Reform Commission to rectify this anomaly, so:

‘… as a result of deliberate government policy, it is still lawful in this state to discriminate against people on the basis of their being Christian.’

This move by Southern Cross University shows that the espousal of a ‘tolerance of all views’ is really an excuse for intolerance towards the truth claims of Christianity. See also Are there such things as moral absolutes? What about relativism and post-modernism?

Published: 3 February 2006