Faith Matters: Provoking Discrimination

Words come and go depending on the times.

Recently I heard a man say that he thought with the fall of the Berlin Wall the word “Marxists” would not be heard again.

“Anarchist”, “anarchy” are words we are familiar with but I am surprised to see a growing trend of wearing it as a badge of honour.

And it is these kinds of words that help me appreciate a word like “discriminating”, “discriminate” and “discrimination”.  

“Discrimination” is a great word but on the lips of some it is a loaded word.

It is another one of those words we need to be very careful of and not let it be hijacked by abusers of it. 

I read recently an article where “discrimination” was used no less than ten times in a single brief article.

I am not sure if the author was intentionally clever but I thought the article dangerously clever.  

On religious freedoms the author made very clear that religious organisations will still be able to discriminate should the “Yes” campaign for Same Sex Marriage win.

The clever repetition of language in the article made you feel that discrimination while allowed was somehow evil.

I can’t imagine the psychological impact this may have on those of religious faith but I need to be careful not to damage debate by playing the victim.

Playing the victim is probably a topic for another day.

As I read the article I thought, this is more than a lesson on clever authorship, it is also a lesson on being a smart reader and a critical thinker. 

Sadly the religious freedoms suggested by the article do not speak to the threat of legal intimidation the likes of which saw Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference taken to court by Greens candidate Martine Delaney.

While the case was dropped it is concerning that the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner believed the Archbishop had a case to answer for distributing the Catholic Church marriage booklet “Don’t Mess with Marriage” within the Catholic Schools he bears some responsibility for.

Nor does the article make any reference to changing overseas responses that are challenging such freedoms. 

Deliberate discriminator: An 'unwise' person is one with no door on the mind.

Deliberate discriminator: An 'unwise' person is one with no door on the mind.

“Discrimination” is such a loaded word and it can take on a negative connotation – to be accused of discrimination has everyone running for cover.

So let me make such an accusation of us all.

We are all guilty of discrimination or perhaps to be commended for it.

The front door of your home is a deliberate discriminator.

You lock the door when you leave and sometimes even keep it locked when you are at home. What is the purpose of that door?

To discriminate. It is the point at which you make decisions as to what you will let in and what you will keep out.

The Bible describes the “simple” or “unwise” person as one with no door on the mind - unable to discern or discriminate between good and evil.

The Bible in its attempt to teach wisdom could be seen as God’s way of putting a discerning door on our minds.

Of course a discriminating person will need to consider whether God is a good door or an unnecessary one. 

As a father or a mother we are discriminating as to what we let our children watch, the phones they can own, their internet use, the company they keep and many other aspects of their lives.

At least we should be.  

Equally a parent must exercise some discrimination in the education of their children.

The alternative is to relinquish the authority over one’s children to the State.

Noting the parlous nature of media abused politics, the State would not, in my view, be a good alternative to discerning parenthood. 

“Discrimination” has become a bully word to shut down and to intimidate debate and control the masses but I want to keep encouraging people to be discriminating – to consider carefully what you let in and what you should keep out. 

Well in this short article I have surpassed the other discriminating article in my use of this loaded word.

I pray you surpass less discriminating elements in our society by being more discriminating. 

Rick Lewers is the Bishop of Armidale Anglican Diocese

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