Many of my Christian friends are insisting the Australian parliament go ahead with a proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
But is Australia really mature enough for a plebiscite on this matter?
This week the Mercure hotel at Sydney Airport was forced to cancel an event arranged by the Australian Christian Lobby due to threats being made against their staff by pro same-sex marriage advocates.
A gay lobby group waged a ferocious social media campaign against the Accor Hotel Group (owner of the Sydney Airport Mercure), which, according to some reports included making phone threats against hotel staff.
On the other hand, News Corp recently published an article titled, “Why I don’t have faith in Australians ahead of the same-sex marriage plebiscite,” in which the author reports on a conversation with a woman at an anti-same sex marriage rally who referred to intersex people as “abortions of Satan” sent to confuse “good Christians”.
While at a rally in support of the Safe Schools Program, the same author was accused of “protecting paedos” and called “scum”.
If this is this the kind of “debate” we’re going to get during the campaign leading up to a plebiscite I’m not sure I’m ready for it.
And before you say these are just extreme examples, have you ever followed the snarky and condescending Twitter feed scrolling across the screen during the ABC’s Q&A program?
Face it, Australians fight dirty.
My mature, kind-hearted Christian friends might think we’re all capable of a respectful, measured discussion, and that the Australian public will carefully weigh the facts before making their decision. But that’s because they think all Aussies are mature and kind-hearted like them.
Clearly, we’re not.
The criticism of the plebiscite by some is that it’s just a really expensive opinion poll, but I’d be happy if it was just an opinion poll. It’s the $15 million information campaign that scares me.
I’m inclined to agree with former High Court justice Michael Kirby when he says, “This is going to be, if it goes ahead … running out the old issues of hatreds and animosities, abominations and all the old arguments against gay people”.
But I’d add, “and Christians.”
Are Australians capable of debating this matter without descending into a cruel and divisive fight about intensely personal matters like people’s religious views and their sexuality? I very much doubt it.