13 February 2008 the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments was cited on how sharia law for Muslims would improve Britain after Melanie Phillip's fearful book 'Londonistan' hit the streets. Phillips was interviewed on the ABC's Religion Report who was at the meeting in which the Archbishop spoke. Phillips counters that the Archbishop's 'parallel legal jurisdiction' would be explosive in Britain. (www.abc.net.au)
Stephen Crittenden who then convened the ABC Religion Report illustrated that the furor was not isolated to a few religionists, rather the reaction to the Archbishop's comments was spontaneous across Britain.
Crittenden aired the response of Britain's Anjem Choudary: "Quite honestly I do believe that there is a clash of civilisations. There's a clash between a civilisation based upon God's law, who believe sovereignty and supremacy belong to God, who want to live under the sharia, who believe authority should be in the hands of Muslims, and of course people who believe that man should continue to rule according to his whims and desires, and this conflict is not going to end until one is victorious, and as Muslims, we believe that one day the whole world will be dominated by the sharia law".
In 2008 'stealth' was an issue
Phillips explained that it this brand of Islam which takes centre stage in the public eye, what follows is an incrementation of the sharia – she claimed the stealth of Islamisation of Britain would follow.
Although spokespeople of both Australian major political parties have stated that this will not be considered in this nation, it was contended that should such a situation be countenanced in Australia the following scenario might fall into place.
Take for example the Baptists in Australia. There are more people attending Baptist churches every week than Mosques, and that Baptists too (as a minority Christian group as say, compared to Catholics), would also demand a parallel legal jurisdiction. (The new Census statistics only reveal those Christians who ticked the 'Baptist' box not those who worship in 'Baptist' churches, which would invariably to increase the number by thirty eight percent again). (www.abs.gov.au)
A sacred tenant of Baptist belief and practice is 'soul liberty' in that each believer is guided in their daily living philosophy by the Spirit of God. Therefore with Baptists having parallel legal jurisdiction, Australian Law would only apply where a Baptist's 'soul liberty' was not impinged. Can one even begin to imagine the confusion!
Each State Baptist Union have their own guidelines for the practice of Christian Ministry. This includes areas such as discipline, misconduct and withdrawal of accreditation. These rules too would have parallel legal jurisdiction. Moreover, it was contended that if each Denomination had parallel legal jurisdiction within Australian Law, a person might be a Baptist one day and a Presbyterian the next depending on the circumstance. This whole issue is filled with the ridiculous.
Two years ago 'legislation was strengthened'
Then two years ago it was revealed there are special Jewish Courts for matters pertaining to Jewish religious matters (not issues of State) as there are in areas of Indigenous Law. But there seemed to be a demarcation not to extend this any further.
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made it clear in 2009 that there is one Australia and everyone lives here under Australian law and on 10 March 2010 it was published that the NSW Parliament changed its multi-cultural laws to this same effect. (www.dailytelegraph.com.au)
In those three years (2008-2010) there appeared to have been a paradigm shift, yet at that time Victoria still retained all the hallmarks as the weak link. The situation of the two Pastors remained at that time, that whereas that what they said was truthful and factual, yet under that legislation, that was not the test. Some sort of sanity was restored with the Court of Appeal, but it remains a little unclear. (www.heraldsun.com.au)
Past two years has seen heavy Court decisions
In this past two years other court decisions have seemingly overtaken such concerns as in both Melbourne and Sydney very significant prison sentences have been handed down to those who had designs on terrorist acts. The pendulum it seems has begun to swing. The word 'vigilance' seems to have become the order of the day (as it were).
This has been the catch-cry of Civil Libertarians for decades. Whenever a law is proposed that would limit the freedoms of citizens, a well seasoned media cry is launched against any form of tyranny. It is this same 'vigilance' that has seen would-be-terrorists 'bought-to-book'.
Resurgence of vigilance
The nation over these past two years has witnessed a resurgence of 'vigilance' and the evidence for this is that from time to time, those outside the main stream have put forward proposals, that have subsequently been carefully and analytically 'shown-the-door' along with no-holds-barred public opinion outrage.
Australia is a nation greatly blessed where Christians have the freedom to worship, practise their faith in Jesus Christ and evangelise. Guarding this requires the same vigilance as Civil Libertarians give toward any proposed law that would curtail our political freedoms.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html