Religious freedom is under increasing pressure in Australia and much of the West.
Places such as Victoria have brought in laws that will effectively penalise Christian teaching around sexuality and gender. And our broader culture demands we affirm particular identities and practices the Bible regards as sinful.
It's not alarmist to believe that we could lose meaningful religious freedom here in Australia, and much of the West, within the next 5 – 10 years.
While there are obvious consequences for Christians, Churches, and other ministries (e.g. religious schools), there is another consequence that few people realise.
Losing our religious freedom would impact some of the most vulnerable communities, namely refugees arriving in the West to escape oppression.
Many refugees come to the West fleeing oppression – political as well as religious oppression
My family fled communist Eastern Europe in 1981, at the height of the Cold War.
We risked crossing the Iron Curtain in search of a better life, namely a life of freedom. Millions of others also risked (and continue to risk) their lives and the lives of their children in search of the same freedom. They seek a country free from persecution of their political and religious beliefs.
And such countries are overwhelmingly located here in the West.
But the West is changing. Religious freedom is no longer taken for granted. And this will have consequences on vulnerable refugees who end up here.
If we lose religious freedom in Australia and the West, vulnerable refugees will again be at risk of religious persecution
Author Kurt Mahlburg explains the new danger facing refugees fleeing religious persecution from abroad:
The West is a safe harbour for those who flee persecution from abroad…But as Western nations have begun to restrict speech and expressions of faith, those who were victimised elsewhere and fled to the West are now finding that discrimination awaits them here too.
Australian Parliamentarian Mark Latham also spells out this irony:
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