In recent weeks Liberal backbencher Julian Leeser has conducted soundings with faith-based leaders across his Sydney electorate in preparation for the religious discrimination debate in parliament, and reports that “I was told things I never believed I would hear expressed in this country”.
Leeser says: “I never thought that Christians in Australia — and I am not a Christian — would find they could not express their faith in the way they had before. I had always felt the expression of religious faith was something that was axiomatic in Australia. But Christians are concerned about how they now operate in general, secular Australian society, from workplaces to schools, in professing their Christianity, and fear this threat will only become greater in the future.
“Anti-Semitism is sadly on the rise in this country, with a 60 per cent increase in attacks on Jews in Australia over the last 12 months. When I have consulted Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists in my electorate about their religious freedom, they have told me of people in public and private contexts asking them to remove articles of clothing that denote their religious devotion and of public libraries not wanting to stock their holy books. While there are fewer physical threats against Christians, there is a cultural and existential threat to Christianity as people are trying to de-legitimise the place of Christianity in the public square and force it off the national stage.”