Strange things are happening to our country.
National icons are being denigrated, simply for holding an opinion based on their religious beliefs.
Take the case of tennis legend Margaret Court – the most successful player in the history of the game, winning 24 grand slam singles titles in the 1960s/70s.
Today she serves as a pastor at Perth’s Victory Life Church, helping over 10,000 disadvantaged families each year with food parcels, health services and counseling.
This is what Left-wing activists used to do before they fell in love with symbolic identity politics.
They actually met the poor and helped them in-person – something Pastor Margaret does every day.
I’m not a Christian and I’ve certainly never been a tennis player, but for some reason I can’t stop thinking about Mrs Court’s situation.
For a woman so great, for someone who has served her nation with impeccable skill, dignity and compassion for more than half-a-century, how has she become one of the most abused figures in Australian public life?
The problem is she’s a non-believer.
Sure, she believes in a Christian God.
But that’s no longer a test of character in politics.
To be accepted, to be part of the “in-crowd”, one needs to believe in a new deity: the secular religion of same-sex marriage (SSM).
In late May, Mrs Court wrote a letter to the West Australian newspaper declaring she could no longer fly with Qantas, given the airline’s public campaign for gay marriage.
It was a straightforward statement of her convictions.
She wrote of how, “I love all people” but “I also believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible.”
Immediately, the voices of “tolerance” and “inclusion” shouted her down, demanding she be excluded from our nation’s sporting history – rewritten out of existence.
They wanted the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne renamed.
In Perth, the Cottesloe Tennis Club sacked her as its patron.
In Albury-Wodonga, the Margaret Court Tennis Academy was physically attacked.
But that’s not all.
There was another act of exclusion for which the details are only starting to emerge publicly.
This incident, perhaps the worst of all, was lost in the noisy clatter of the recent debate.
Yet now, as Federal Parliament legislates for SSM, it highlights the pressing need for the protection of religious freedoms.
Two weeks after her letter about Qantas, Mrs Court received correspondence from Dr Megan Lloyd, Chairperson of the Board of the John Forrest Secondary College, a government school in Perth.
For many years Margaret had been patron of the college’s Specialist Tennis Program.
According to Lloyd, she had fulfilled this role superbly, “sharing your tennis wisdom in talks with our students”.
“As a tennis player with an unparalleled world class record, you speak with authority on tennis matters and our students have greatly benefited”, the chairperson wrote.
But then came the sting, the Star Chamber test of ideological purity.
Lloyd claimed that Mrs Court’s views “concerning family and sexuality diverge from those held by this school.”
Pastor Margaret is a supporter of the nuclear family, believing that children are better off if both their biological parents raise them.
According to her Bible teachings, she regards homosexuality as sinful.
In her letter, Lloyd presented no evidence of how these views were relevant to the teaching of tennis.
People play and watch sport, not for its religious or political content, but as an expression of physical prowess.
Lloyd concluded her letter by demanding that Mrs Court comply with the school’s values of “diversity and inclusivity” regarding “different sexual identity”.
Otherwise she could no longer “be promoted to our students”.
Amazingly, the Western Australian Education Minister, Labor’s Sue Ellery, has supported the actions of the school board.
Sometimes it is said there will be no persecution of Christians under SSM laws because only a small minority of gays are intolerant.
Please understand what has happened in Western Australia.
A State Minister has endorsed a policy of excluding committed Christians from school sporting academies.
A precedent has been set for forcing out of the education system people who do not believe in homosexuality and SSM.
Mrs Court wasn’t teaching sex education at John Forrest; she was a tennis mentor.
Presumably the same rule now applies to Muslims who, under the teachings of the Koran, also regard homosexuality as sinful.
I put this question to Lloyd and Ellery but neither responded.
It is noteworthy that another State Labor MP, the openly gay Lisa Baker, is on the school board.
This is the problem with gay-Left thinking about SSM.
In wanting to exercise social control, they are not content with people simply respecting homosexuality – that is, passively acknowledging its place in society.
Instead, they want a community celebration and promotion of it.
If people fail to do so, they will be expelled from government institutions and/or prosecuted under anti-discrimination laws.
In a society dominated by diversity and difference, mutual respect acts as the glue that stops citizens from attacking each other.
If any group makes excessive demands – in this case, forcing Christians and Muslims to comply with the new orthodoxy – the system of social tolerance and balance breaks down.
This is a very dangerous time for Australia.
Step by step, we are moving closer to police-state powers enforcing the radical demands of identity politics.
This article was originally published by The Daily Telegraph.