Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the recent passing of euthanasia laws in NSW has highlighted the extent to which fundamental Christian values have come under attack in contemporary Australian society.
Mr Abbott was speaking at the launch of a new anthology by Melbourne academic and Catholic Weekly contributor, Dr Kevin Donnelly, entitled Christianity Matters In These Troubled Times; the book features chapters from prominent Australian figures including Cardinal George Pell and Australian charity executive and Baptist minister Rev. Tim Costello.
Mr Abbott said the passing of voluntary assisted dying laws by all the Australian state parliaments has been an unprecedented setback for people of faith.
“As Christians, we appreciate that death is a transition rather than an extinction and that suffering is almost an inescapable part of life. Yet our parliaments have sadly succumbed to the culture of death. These laws are not about allowing people to die in peace, but are about enlisting doctors to hasten people’s death”, the former Prime Minister told an audience at the Page Research Centre which hosted the book launch on 19 May.
“The law of the land should be clear: life is sacred and Christianity conveys that with an eternal message that Christ sent his only son to sacrifice himself as an atonement for our faults. Like St Paul, we need to fight the good fight, keep the faith and do our best to stay the course, remembering the words of Jesus: ‘I am with you always, even until the end of time’, Mr Abbott added.
The book’s editor Kevin Donnelly said there is growing evidence to show that governments are increasingly attacking Christian values, especially around the basic rights of parents.
“We now have legislation in Victoria, stopping parents, counsellors and priests from counselling young people not to gender transition which highlights the fundamental problem that socialism has increasingly become the religion aimed at killing Christianity”, he said.
In her chapter in the book, ‘Christianity under Attack’, psychologist Wanda Skowronska shares some valuable insights into the persecution of Christians over recent decades, especially in parts of the Middle East.
“We know that around 80 per cent of victims of all religious violence in the world are Christians”, she told the launch. “In Syria alone, the Christian population has declined from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 today and in Iraq, the ancient Christian community from the Ninevah Plains has slumped from 1.5 million in 2003 to below 120,000 today”.
The Editor of The Catholic Weekly, Peter Rosengren, contributed a chapter to the book entitled ‘Christianity’s Sins.’
He told the book launch, despite the undoubted failures of the past, there are good reasons for believers to maintain a sense of hope in the future.
“I see signs of new life and new forms of Christian existence which gives me enormous hope and optimism for the future. The Church will pass through every crisis, as it has before. It’s good, then, to reflect upon the words of Christ himself: ‘The fields are white for the harvest’.”
Christianity Matters in these Troubled Times is available for purchase from the Mustard Seed Bookshop. Order online here