Former leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mark Latham, has called for legal protections of religious freedom to be consistent with the values of Western civilisation.
In an exclusive interview with The Catholic Weekly, Mr Latham said he had been “horrified” by the treatment of Christians during last year’s same-sex marriage debate, in particular the treatment of tennis legend Margaret Court, who had opposed the redefinition of marriage as inconsistent with her Christian faith.
“She was kicked off a tennis academy at a government school in Perth simply because of her quite valid religious point of view that had nothing to do with tennis,” Mr Latham said.
“But I think all these things are wrapped into a general attack on our civilisation, in the universities, in the education system, in the post-modernist Left, it’s a general attack on Western civilisation. And that’s why you’ve got the attack on Christianity, such an important pillar of our civilisation.”
Although not a religious person himself, Mr Latham said he adheres to a “left of centre point of view” against the “excessive use of state power.”
“If one person is vilified and discriminated against by the exclusive use of state power, then everyone should go to the barricades to protect that person,” he said.
A human rights agenda that has “become toxic” is behind the attacks on people of faith, Mr Latham argued.
“Some of the groups that have been beneficiaries of the human rights changes in the 70s and 80s, they’re pursuing a revenge agenda.”
“There’s no doubt that in the same-sex marriage debate a lot of spite and nastiness came from the gay-left community, who were seeking revenge against Christians, their attitude being, these people supposedly did us wrong for centuries, and now we’re in a position to give it back to them.”
“I just find that an appalling attitude and that was the attitude reflected in the discrimination against Margaret Court and the vilification of many people.”
Mr Latham said human rights laws need to be changed to protect people from “revengeful campaigns” and that it is no longer the case that only minority groups need such protection.
“We can’t pretend that human rights laws are now needed solely for so-called minorities. There’s a protection needed for long-standing majorities in the community.”
The ultimate aim of the onslaught against people of faith and religious institutions is to eliminate Western civilisation itself, according to Mr Latham.
“It’s a broader civilisational struggle and unfortunately Christians are being caught in the crossfire.”
“Our civilisation is under attack. You wouldn’t think after the Enlightenment, after the gains of recent centuries with the principles of evidence, rationality, free speech, and academic inquiry, you wouldn’t think these things would ever be under attack.
“But it is an attempt to wind-back the achievements and values of Western civilisation and replace it with a post-modernist agenda, where everything is said to be fluid.”
“Your national identity is fluid, national borders are fluid, sexuality and gender are fluid—everything to confuse young people. The Safe Schools program to confuse young people by making them think everything about their life is fluid, nothing’s fixed.”
Mr Latham said the reason he voted against the legal redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples was because there were no protections in place for people of religious faith.
“I voted ‘no’ and opposed the laws that went through Parliament because they’ve got people into what I think is an unreasonable and unjust position, that some people in the community now will be forced, because of state discrimination laws, to do things that they regard as morally wrong.”
“There’s always instances of the baker, the cake-maker, maybe a dress-maker, who if they refuse service to a gay couple, they’re in breach of the state discrimination laws and there’s no protection for them under the federal government laws passed through Parliament last year.”
The federal government has not released the Ruddock Review into protecting religious freedom because it is such a complex policy area, Mr Latham suggested.
“You can assume the reason the government is delaying it’s release is that it’s a difficult area of public policy reform—what is the structure for not only putting in place safeguards on religious freedom but making sure they don’t have unintended consequences.”
Mark Latham will be speaking at the National Civic Council’s Inaugural Fundraising Dinner on 12 October, 7pm to 9pm at the Epping Club, Epping NSW. More info and tickets: https://bit.ly/2Iz79TO