At First Things read this carefully: “Prohibiting Prayer in Australia” by Carl R. Trueman
The core with my emphases and comments:
The state of Victoria in Australia … just passed a bill that will considerably intensify the conflict between religious freedom, individual choice, and identity politics. And it might well become a model for laws elsewhere in the democratic world.
The legislation that just passed is the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020. Its basic intention is “to ensure that all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, feel welcome and valued in Victoria and are able to live authentically and with pride.” It is hard to argue with that, both because the aim seems laudable enough (who wants to live in a place where she does not feel valued?) and because it embodies the nebulous jello-speak of our current therapeutic age. Feeling valued and living authentically are useful, empty phrases that sound wonderfully reassuring but can be given whatever content the month dictates. [This could also describe the state of belief in the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist in many places, where not the Catholic Faith reigns but rather a moralistic (or not!) therapeutic deism.] I assume, or at least hope, that those whose “sexual orientation” leads them to abuse underage minors are unlikely to feel welcome and valued in Victoria despite this new legislation.
The law defines a change or suppression practice as follows:
a practice or conduct directed towards a person, whether with or without the person’s consent on the basis of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity; and for the purpose of changing or suppressing the sexual orientation or gender identity of the person; or inducing the person to change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity.Note that the consent of the person is immaterial to the legal point: The change or suppression practice is illegal regardless of the attitude of the person involved.
But the really important part of the bill from a religious perspective is its list of “change or suppression practices.” This includes: “carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer-based practice, a deliverance practice or an exorcism.”
[NB…] In short, if someone asks a pastor, a priest, or a Christian friend to pray for him that his sexual desires or gender dysphoria might be changed, that pastor, priest, or friend runs the risk of committing a criminal offense. Presumably this also applies to parents praying for their children—or perhaps even parents teaching their children that untrammeled expressions of sexual desire (at least within the canons of contemporary bourgeois taste) are inappropriate.
This provision is clearly not based on any coherent metaphysical objection to the practice of prayer. If the legislators believe God exists, they presumably believe that he is wise enough to ignore such prayers if they are indeed truly harmful. And if they do not think he exists, then it seems reasonable to assume they would regard such prayer as a rather pointless, even nonsensical, exercise.
Again, the concept of coherence enters in, as it did in Weigel’s piece the other day about abortion promoting Catholic politicians, Communion, and the bishops who won’t act like bishops.
But that’s the inevitable liberal outcome, isn’t it: truth isn’t rooted in anything objective, it is rooted in how much power I have over you, in my will. It is the lie of the serpent in the garden: You shall be as gods, determining your truths. No matter matter if other people have their own truths that differ from yours: you are more powerful than they are, so they are screwed and your truth prevails. Black is white, up is down, in is out, 2+2=5, women can be ordained, adulterers can receive Communion, masks are a sacrament… whatever the hell they want you to accept.
Scene: an interrogation room with a one-way glass window by a heavy metal door. Guards with truncheons flank a uniformed interrogator of indeterminate sex. From above the window, bright lights are focused on a man shackled to the opposing wall.
“Prisoner 5993, you have been denounced as having attempted to communicate with a mythical transcendent being for the sake of petitioning a selfish and criminal outcome. In outdated terms, you “prayed”. Your accuser, an autonomous individual with whom you share DNA from the same biological pairing, filed a charge of praying against you. Your DNA corelative stated that, in the time before the Great Reset, xe had fallen into the error of questioning xis desire to alter xis gender identity and asked you to pray for xem, because you were, at the time, still involved in the illegal activity of a so-called ‘priest’.”
The interrogator swipes through some views on a hand-held screen.
“While you offered those infamous petitions before the change to the laws of this now free and borderless domain, Article 2 of the Democrat Reset Reformation Act makes that which is now criminal also retroactively criminal and subject to the Pelosi guidelines of the Build Back Better Proclamation.”
More screens are consulted.
“It appears, Prisoner 5993, that you have also been observed moving your lips when alone while – and we can hardly bring ourselves to say this – you have been present with us as a recipient of the State’s benevolent rehabilitation efforts. That constitutes a crime under Ordinance 32 of the Harris Act, which specifically outlaws attempts to communicate with mythical beings deemed by the ignorant to be transcendent.”
The guards being to tap their truncheons into their free hands.
The interrogator turns to address those who are unseen behind the glass.
“Prisoner 5593’s lack of gratitude and attitude of defiance even while receiving such munificent remedial treatment has been noted. As a result of xis unacceptable defiance, it has been deemed both necessary and generous to make certain adjustments to xis program of self-recognition and renewal. This decision for continued forbearance is for the moment taken in place of the usual proscription and termination. Please make the official log entry after witnessing the State’s leniency. Please begin the video recording for for educational broadcasts. Ministers of grace, please apply the Prisoner’s care.”
The guards take a step forward.