My boy starts school next year and we’re sending him to a local Catholic school.
The decision-making process on this one was heavy.
Considerations ranged from educational to social to cultural to financial to geographical to spiritual. Not to mention whether the uniform colours suited his complexion! Joke. I was just joking.
Yes, all these things (except the uniform bit) were vigorously discussed as we novice parents weighed up what was best for our first-born and our family unit.
For a whole fleet of reasons, we chose the local Catholic school. The decision didn’t come without implications, without some level of compromise.
You see, we are not Catholics. There are parts of the Catholic tradition and liturgy that we don’t adhere to. Yet, in signing those enrolment forms we entered into the construct of a long-established way and we don’t for a moment expect it to change because one little kindergarten kid’s parents don’t do infant baptism or say the Hail Mary.
There’s so much about this school that we love – like the way that the Bible and Jesus are a part of the everyday hum of classroom activity. This school, like many Catholic schools, has an impeccable reputation and is extremely competitive in terms of educational outcomes for its students.
Having just participated in the enrolment process for a Catholic school, I can tell you that I was well informed that the school is indeed Catholic, that it does indeed do Catholic things – like pray and read the Bible.
Perhaps that’s why I am so grieved that its Tassie leader, Archbishop Julian Porteous will potentially be prosecuted for the crime of upholding and reinforcing just what it is the Catholic Church believes in regards to marriage.
If I had a problem with the Catholic Church’s stance on this, or any other issue, would I send my child to a Catholic school? Well, no. That, or I’d come to terms with the fact that an element of my child’s education will oppose my own beliefs.
What an alarming precedent this case sets for anyone holding views that aren’t popular. God forbid that the views be entrenched in Biblical text revered by hundreds of thousands of believers in Australia alone.
We should be worried – extremely worried – when a person can be silenced by the law for the offense of offending – in all its subjective glory.
For those unfamiliar with the case, here’s the nutshell:
- Archbishop Julian Porteous this year distributed a booklet titled ‘Don’t Mess with Marriage’ to families with children enrolled in the Catholic education system.
- The booklet outlined Christian teaching on marriage and reinforced the current law on marriage, between a man and a woman.
- A transgender Greens candidate filed a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner who substantiated the complaint.
- We now wait on the legal process with the potential for the case to be heard by a tribunal. Archbishop Julian Porteous could be prosecuted for the crime of affirming Catholic beliefs to Catholic people.
It doesn’t even matter what your opinion is on this one.
I’ll repeat: it doesn’t matter an iota what your opinion is on marriage.
What we’ve got is the militant left pulling all stops to gag meaningful debate on an important social issue.
This doesn’t bode well for balanced debate and coverage in the lead-up to the Turnbull Government’s promised people’s vote on marriage.
And if it can happen once, it can happen again.
As I pull my son’s new uniform over his fair, tousled hair, straighten his hat and pull up his socks, I wonder what kind of opportunity he will have to be heard when he graduates.
Eyes like wishing wells and unbridled observations of the world around him will make way for… what? Fear of offense and litigation?
And there I was thinking we lived in a country that cherished things like democracy and freedom of speech.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday December 7, 2015.