Religious freedom expert warns tyranny is imminent

By Jordan Grantham, 17 October 2017
Peter Kurti, an expert on religious freedon. Photo: Jordan Grantham / Diocese of Parramatta

Threats to Religious Liberty in Australia
by Peter Kurti –
Paperback, 200 pages, $29.95
ISBN: 9781925501483

Religious believers and their beliefs are an essential part of public debate and Australian society but freedom to live in accordance with belief is threatened by a ‘new sectarianism’, according to a new book.

Peter Kurti is a Research Fellow on Religion and Civil Society and makes significant media commentary as an Australian expert on religious freedom.

Peter’s latest book, The Tyranny of Tolerance (Connor Court, 2017), is an engaging and accessible tour of issues affecting religious freedom in Australia.

His vital work analyses the benefits of traditional religion to the fabric of civil society and the urgent challenges to religious freedom from the influential activism of minority groups, especially radical Muslims and Secularists.

The book prioritises discussion of attempts to stifle debate, such as the complaint against Archbishop Julian Porteous’ under Tasmanian anti-discrimination laws, Andrew Denton’s exhortation for religious believers to stop arguing against assisted suicide, and a trend to bully and target believers in online media, which all have serious implications.

The book zings with catchy phrases like ‘minority fundamentalism’, ‘secular sin’, the ‘fetish of diversity’, ‘tyranny of tolerance’, ‘dialogue of the deaf’ and ‘democratic deficit’.

RELATED: Have we lost the capacity to have a discussion?

Former prime minister, the Hon. John Howard OM AC lauds the book’s defence of free debate.

“In the name of tolerance and diversity an attempt is underway to silence those who might defend the status quo. This onslaught on freedoms we have long taken for granted should be repulsed,” Mr Howard wrote in the foreword.

The Tyranny of Tolerance synthesises an impressive range of academic work and communicates for a general audience. This includes the work of public intellectuals including Martha Nussbaum, Roger Scruton, Ayan Hirsi Ali, Jurgen Habermas, Sanford Levinson, Samuel Moyn, Chandran Kukathas and Kenneth Minogue. It would have been interesting to see this thesis incorporate more natural law theory on the relationship between Church and State.

Peter concludes with a call to action: “act now to recall the foundational principles of our democracy, call out the new sectarianism, and counter the call to silence.”

Potentially, there are dire consequences if we do not heed his advice. We need only look to Canada and Europe to see the potential impact of minority fundamentalism on Australian believers and civil society.

Review by Jordan Grantham

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