This morning, Tim Costello said that Christians fearing persecution in Australia should “calm down”. However, the perception of a threat to religion, and the judgments made to offer that protection, are not new.
In the centuries gone by, townsfolk and their elected leaders grouped to eke out what they saw as justice. In 1474, a rooster was found guilty of “the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg”. In the eyes of the court, this was a worthwhile pursuit, as they believed that Satan’s spawn would spew forth from it.
While the people of 15th century Basel feared the cockatrice, which is a two-legged dragon or serpent-like creature with a rooster’s head, laid by a cock and incubated by a toad; the instituted religious of modern Australia fear something far more dangerous, the gait of the encouraged homosexual. The cockatrice was feared so, because it could purportedly “kill people by either looking at them—”the death-darting eye of Cockatrice”—touching them, or sometimes breathing on them.”
The movings of Scott Morrison to wind back marriage equality under the guises of safety attest to a similar fear. The future bill to protect religious freedom is certainly a hellspawn laid by a cock, and incubated by a toad.
Clearly, they’ve been cribbing from the wrong sacred texts, as the Australia Constitution expressly forbids any laws either halting the free expression of religion or using religious beliefs as the basis of legislation. Section 116 states:
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
This morning, Tim Costello has called on his fellow Christians to chill out regarding their perceived persecutions and castigated the political manoeuvrings afoot.
As illustrated by The Guardian, Costello said that no persecution is evident in Australia, and noted that they needed to follow the ways of Jesus and treat themselves to a humble cup of cement.
“I don’t think there is a risk of persecution – Christians need to calm down,” Costello said.
“I would say to Christians if you want to see persecution, let me take you to places where there is persecution of Christians and other religious groups – let me take you to Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and I will show you persecution.
“And if they read their Bibles, Jesus said the world will hate you and misunderstand you for following me, but to go on following, loving, serving – so I would say, just suck it up.
“Jesus didn’t go around demanding legislation to protect his rights. Jesus didn’t advocate for freedom of religion legislation.”
While a Christian attacking his own flock is catnip for atheists and the opposed, it’s worth mentioning that Morrison and Co. will continue to fearfully note what they see as the sign of the coming devil. The Judeo-Christian establishment has long clung to this fear, doling out justice when a perceived threat to the belief system stalks over the hill. Clearly, the modernity of this discussion is based on the assumption of ancient prejudice, even if the original text disproves it.
What we’re witnessing, is the cause and effect of manufactured fear. Christianity, by nature, is a system of checks and balances, as those who believe walk the line between fear and punishment. Questioning it is beyond the scope of mere mortals, but the fear is simple. However, in steering that fear, is the root cause of the problem, and much evil in the world. As Costello notes, “There is no question that the mark of our age is anxiety, people are feeling the fragility of life … and politicians play to that anxiety.”
545 years have fallen off the calendar since the gavel fell on that rooster, but we’re still not beyond dressing up something harmless and publically judging it in the name of the law.