Victoria’s pandemic bill would give Dan Andrews the power to target Christians, a power he will likely use. Sadly, too many Christians think the ‘Christian’ thing to do is to assume the Premier has our best intentions at heart.

Christians in Victoria – stupefied by their well-meaning desire to honour those in authority and to preach ‘love’ rather than politics – need to wake up.

While many pastors and leaders make a virtue of being disinterested in politics, politics has no such hesitation about being interested in them.

That Daniel Andrews’ Pandemic Management Bill comes hot on the heels of his Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act should be ringing church bells – if not alarm bells – across Victoria. Let me explain why.

There are many curious aspects to the Pandemic Management Bill currently before Victoria’s Upper House, not least of which is why Daniel Andrews suddenly needs even more power.

He has, after all, overseen the longest lockdown in the world and imposed some of the most draconian conditions endured by citizens anywhere on the planet. It has, at times, over the past 18 months, seemed like there was nothing Daniel Andrews could not do.

And yet he demands more power still!

But most curious of all is why he would desire the ability to apply harsh restrictions to a particular group of people based on attributes listed in the Equal Opportunity Act.

The Pandemic Management Bill gives Daniel Andrews authority to make the application of pandemic orders – from lockdowns to restrictions on movement – specific to different classes of people by reference to attributes including sexuality, gender, religion and political belief.

Reasonable people would wonder why Daniel Andrews seeks such extraordinary power.

And people with even a modicum of curiosity should contemplate how such unprecedented power, if granted, might be used.

Christians – who want to believe the best of everybody – have a problem here. Mistaking Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” with a command to “imagine the best of your enemies”, they risk a failure of imagination that has potentially disastrous long-term consequences.

For wanting to be gracious, Christians refuse to join the dots. But join dots we must.

Who might Daniel Andrews want to single out for targeted restrictions? Which group might the Victorian leader want the ability to discriminate against?

Such questions are not rude. Nor are they conspiratorial. If you are trapped in Victoria – where this legislation is about to be passed – it is irresponsible not to ask these questions aloud.

Let’s be honest: it’s hard to imagine the Victorian government locking down gays while leaving straight people alone.

And it’s difficult to envisage the Victorian Government imposing curfews on women but not on men.

Could anyone seriously foresee the Victorian Government restricting movement for Asians or Africans or Islanders?

So which attribute is the Victorian Government interested in targeting when it seeks the power to punish certain groups under the guise of a pandemic for which they do not require even one case of a disease to declare?

The Victorian Bar legal association has said that the most concerning aspect of the bill is that it permits discrimination against people because of their political or religious beliefs.

I concur with the association. These are the only attributes I can think of that Daniel Andrews might want to target. And he has form. Political opponents have been shot at with rubber bullets and even targeted by police for social media posts.

And what of religious people?

The unprecedented powers now being sought come in the wake of an incredible piece of legislation passed last year that effectively made it a criminal offence to express a belief in gender identity or sexual orientation that is Christian in nature.

Christians have always believed that God created people in His image, as males and females. They have always believed that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.

The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act was a direct attack on those bedrock Christian beliefs.

Under the Act, a Christian minister can be jailed for agreeing to pray for a parishioner who requests help resisting sexual temptation, if that temptation is gay sex.

The same legislation criminalises parents who do not affirm their child’s gender confusion.

For instance, imagine that your son comes home from school and tells you he believes himself to be a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Suppose you advise him to wait before acting on his feelings (since research tell us that as many as 90% – and no less than 70% – of young people naturally resolve such feelings once they go through puberty). In that case, you could be dobbed in to authorities by a neighbour or your own children and made to face criminal charges.

The legislation was a direct attack on the Christian faith and on parental rights, and it was unlike any legislation we had previously seen in this country.

But few Christians were game to publicly oppose it at the time because, as everyone knows, there is little to be gained by being seen to oppose the LGBTQ juggernaut. Just ask Margaret Court.

The Victorian Government is the most anti-Christian government Australia has ever seen. There is little doubt in my mind that Daniel Andrews has an issue with people of faith.

The Pandemic Management Bill, which would permit him to target religious people with punitive measures under the guise of ‘health’, raises the stakes even further.

To give Daniel Andrews the powers contained in the bill, when one of his clear objectives is to silence the views of orthodox Christianity, is incredibly concerning.

Am I guilty of an overreaction? Let’s hope so. But church leaders need to stop being coy when it comes to playing politics, for Daniel Andrews has already demonstrated he is not coy when it comes to interfering in religion.

Image via Pedestrian TV (Getty Images / Darrian Traynor).