There seems to be a shift happening in our culture at the moment. Australia has become a popular destination for right-leaning media commentators and activists.
This began to emerge last year when a men's rights conference brought a number of prominent men's rights activists to Australia such as Karen Straughan. Things really started to take off though with the successful tour of provocative controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos in December. Since then Jordan Peterson has come to Australia, Nigel Farage is touring here, Gavin McInnes is coming here and Milo is coming back with Ann Coulter.
Recently popular Canadian YouTube personalities Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux toured here.
Lauren and Stefan have built up successful platforms bringing reasoned arguments to a range of current popular topics including feminism, multiculturalism, immigration, economic philosophy, race relations and defense of the traditional family unit.
I find both of these commentators thought provoking and interesting and I am certainly not the only one who has become interested in the angle that they and others like them have brought to cultural and political conversations. It is clear there is a demand for these kind of speakers in Australia at the moment, which would have been hard to envision only a few years ago. So, what is the reason for this?
Is there a rise in hate and bigotry?
Given some of the media reporting and intense protests by agitators on the political left during their tour in Australia and New Zealand, you might be led to believe that the popularity of these speakers is due to a rise in hate and intolerance.
You may have heard how difficult it was for them to simply get a visa to come to Australia or you may have heard about the fierce protests in Melbourne or about their show in Auckland getting canceled not once but twice.
But dig a bit deeper and you will find that they are not hateful at all.
While they were here they went out of their way to engage peacefully and respectfully with hate-filled protesters. They kindly gave an umbrella to protesters on a rainy night in Adelaide and attempted to engage in debate with them despite their irrationality and bitterness.
No, Lauren and Stefan have not become popular for peddling hate and appealing to people's baser instincts. To the contrary, they have become popular because they are talking about important issues that many people care about but that are often being ignored or downplayed by mainstream media.
It is clear to anyone who follows Lauren and Stefan that they care deeply about the world, ethics and morality and want to find real solutions to complex social issues. But what they say is not always politically correct hence the attempt to demonize them.
The growing hunger for forbidden truths and critical thinking
This whole attempt to silence them is creating a curiosity for what they are saying. People are beginning to see that they are articulate and intelligent and communicating truth. This is fueling a greater hunger for truth and reality in our culture.
These speakers are committed to the search for truth no matter how controversial. They don't back down from controversial conversations whether it be the challenge of Islam in the West, the sensitive science of race and intelligence, the contentious Australian history wars, the differences between the genders and western identity. Many people are not satisfied with the politically correct view of such topics and are looking for a more thorough, careful, intellectual and ethical discussion of them.
Stefan's now famous catchphrase is 'not an argument!' The commitment to facts, reason and evidence that he advocates is something powerful that we as Christians should wholeheartedly embrace. We should not be afraid of the search for truth and those who are asking hard but important questions that we may not be entirely comfortable with.
What I believe God is doing
The now thriving conservative counter-culture was almost non-existent three years ago, but the signs of its birthing were there. When I first came across Lauren Southern in mid-2015 she was relatively unknown, but I instantly knew that there was an anointing upon her life and that she was going to be influential in the culture wars.
When I see so many alternative speakers coming to Australia I have no doubt that God is up to something. It is a sign that people are searching for meaning and truth. Although not all of the speakers are Christians many of them like Stefan seem to be becoming more sympathetic to the Christian faith and I think they are bringing a lot of people along with them.
God is doing something significant in Australia right now. I believe we are in the beginning stages of a spiritual awakening and revival and I think it will impact upon the cultural and political aspects of society.
Associating spiritual revival with a revival of conservatism may make some uneasy but this seems to be what God is doing right now. Christian truth transcends the left/right divide and there are two or more sides to every issue including the ones discussed by Lauren and Stefan. But in a time when progressive values are being pushed ever more aggressively there is definitely a need for conservative truths to be particularly emphasized.
Conor is from Adelaide South Australia. He is a gardener and is involved in ministry. He loves God, music, reading and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html