Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Liberal Society

Liberal people have a vision of a society where everyone can freely choose without coercion. They find it difficult to grapple with opponents of that vision. Long ago, Voltaire declared his responsibility to defend the freedom of speech and action of his opponents. At the time of the 'Enough is Enough' march, some voices of the liberal leaders, including Labour parliamentarian, David Benson-Pope, showed little real vision of liberality. Accusing opponents of Nazism because of their black shirts was clever but not very ethical. Defenders of free speech rightly excoriated the way in which Destiny's antagonism provoked an outpouring of anti-gay sentiment.
When Christianity speaks stridently in the modern world, it attracts a wave of vitriol. We may be a liberal society, but we are not a particularly tolerant one. Perhaps a hate speech law would help. Unfortunately, such laws generally backfire. Islam might be protected, but Christianity is constantly targeted. In a very real sense, Destiny was fumbling for a strategy to respond to the inevitable risks when personal freedoms are prized. They have yet to find the solution. More than that, our society as a whole has failed to find the solution. We have all but abandoned the task of helping individuals develop a good sense of personal values and our society defends the freedom of the exploiters of sexuality and wonders why it faces such high levels of sexual abuse. There are no easy answers, and religious answers seem particularly suspect in the light of sexual abuse within the church.

Peter Lineham, in Destiny: the life and times of a self-made apostle, page 140
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