Burke is no icon of freedom of expression

Published date13 September 2022
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
A large poster hung on the door. On it was the face of evil: Daniel O'Donnell

In his book, written in 2020, The Hedonism and Homosexuality of John Piper and Sam Allberry: The Truth of Scripture, Burke explains that not only is O'Donnell "a Roman Catholic", but "he has never professed to be a Christian, is married to a divorcee, and in recent years came out in support of both same-sex marriage and abortion rights".

According to Burke: "When the couple asked the shop manager why he was selling the music of such a singer in the shop, he was antagonistic in his response. The shop owner said he didn't know what Daniel believed and what his spiritual condition was and claimed that, if he wished to find out, he would have to meet him."

Burke is having none of this flabby tolerance of the crooner of corruption. He denounces the shop manager as a hypocrite, every bit as bad as those Christian pastors who "shake hands with fornicators and infidels at the door of the church when the whole town is aware of their sins".

Cause célèbre

Burke has become a cause célèbre for right-wing culture warriors everywhere, a martyr, allegedly, for free speech and the tolerance of dissenting views. He was suspended on full pay because he publicly confronted the management of the school he taught in for allowing a gender-fluid pupil to be addressed as "they".

Burke's imprisonment for defying a court order to stay away from the school is very sad. But his transformation into an icon of freedom of expression is frankly hilarious. Genghis Khan would be a better poster boy for tolerance.

Burke's book argues that pretty much everything that is rotten in the state of the world is the fault of the gays. "The lawlessness of our day," he thunders, "has as one of its hallmarks the widespread normalisation of homosexuality."

He deplores laws banning so-called conversion therapies as "an aggressive homosexuality seek[ing] to limit the church's freedom". That's what he means by freedom.

He very much approves of God's punishment of the Sodomites: "The church does not have to repent of its 'homophobia' any more than the Lord Jesus Christ, who commended the destruction of Sodom". Likewise, he endorses God's chastisement of homosexuality by "the egregious medical afflictions which often accompany it, including the chronic scourge of HIV".

At a personal level, Burke makes a point of his particular disdain for former minister Katherine Zappone for being a "childless homosexual". He seems to suggest...

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