Religious Freedom
Monday, 24 June 2019 10:38

Folau, the Left and double standards

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Go Fund Me have pulled the campaign to raise money for Israel Folau's legal defence - all in name of tolerance.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 11:12

Religious Freedom Campaign from the ICS

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Many organisations around Australia are attempting to pressure the Morrison government into legislating to protect religious freedom. Of special concern is the attempt by the Greens and the ALP to remove 'religious exemptions' in anti-discrimination law. The ICS (Institute for Civil Society) has released a video and briefing paper to provide resources so that we can become more informed and also reach out to politicians. 

Friday, 14 June 2019 10:28

Did Qantas fire Israel Folau?

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Did Qantas fire Israel Folau? Are SJW corporations running the nation’s public policy now? What can we do to make them stick to their knitting? Dr Jeremy Sammut has written a book answering just that question.

In a previous post I commented on the events surrounding celebrity rugby player Israel Folau’s posting on social media of a meme stating that various groups of sinners, including “homosexuals”, were destined for hell unless they repented and put their trust in Jesus Christ. He was immediately threatened with dismissal by his employer, Rugby Australia (“RA”), a threat subsequently implemented through an internal tribunal finding that he was guilty of a high level breach of the RA “code of conduct”.

Friday, 17 May 2019 22:05

Scott Morrison on Religious Freedom

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In many regards, it may be true that there is litle difference between the major parties. But Scott Morrison is at least ostensibly in favour of religious freedom.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019 20:11

Religious Freedom and the Federal Election

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Australia goes to the polls in a Federal election on May 18, 2019. It seems worthwhile to note, for those interested, some recent information about the views of the major political parties on religious freedom, and to report an important study of public opinion on the topic.

It’s wonderful news that all of a sudden Rugby Union Australia believe in God, Heaven & Hell. Many of us had been under the distinct impression they were largely indifferent to Christian theology & doctrine. All that was cleared up marvelously though when they judged the record try scorer of all time, Israel Folau, to be more immoral than the philandering, drunken cokeheads which litter the various Australian football codes.

Monday, 15 April 2019 21:16

Folau's Foolish Wisdom

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Israel Folau has lost his job (or come very close to it) for quoting Scripture on social media. That statement should make us think long and hard about the state of religious freedom in Australia. The football star has exposed a huge divide that exists among the Australian public by preaching basic Christian doctrine, but his comments are a challenge to all of us to defend the Truth, no matter what the cost.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has now (Feb 14, 2019) tabled its Report on the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Removing Discrimination Against Students) Bill 2018, a Private Senator’s Bill introduced last year by Senator Wong with the support of the ALP.

There is no discrimination by Christian Schools against gay kids.

No kid has ever been expelled for being gay & no school wants to. Yet if you were to believe Labor’s Senator Penny Wong, she claims to be fighting against such discrimination. Dr Greg Walsh, senior law lecturer at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney joins me to discuss her proposed legislation, the arguments for and against it, and what he thinks the Parliament should do instead.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018 22:41

Ruddock Report response (part 3)

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In my former posts (here and here), O Friend of Law and Religion, I have dealt with all that the Ruddock Report covered in recommendations 1-12 and 15, along with the official Government Response to those recommendations. In this post I aim to cover recommendations 13-14 and 16-20. These deal with important issues of the law of blasphemy and religious free speech, along with State discrimination laws, collection of data, education on religious freedom, the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the exercise of leadership in the area by the Commonwealth.    

Saturday, 15 December 2018 07:13

Ruddock Report summary and responses (Part 2)

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Following my previous post giving comments on Recommendations 1, 5-8 and 15 of the Ruddock Report and the Government Response, I will comment here on another set of recommendations (Recs 2-4, 9-12) and the likely outcome. Comments on recommendations 13-14, and 16-20, will (hopefully) be made in Part 3!

Friday, 14 December 2018 07:55

The Ruddock Report has Landed! (Part 1)

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The long-awaited Religious Freedom Review: Report of the Expert Panel (chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock) has now been released publicly, along with the formal Government Response. After the prior leaking of its 20 recommendations there were no major surprises as to the final conclusion, but there is much interesting background to the recommendations (and in one or two cases the full Report seems to have a significant impact on how one should read the language of the recommendations.) It is also important to see the announced intentions of the LNP Government as to how they will respond. In this first post in response to the full Report I will comment mainly on recommendations 1 & 5-8 and recommendation 15, with the other recommendations to be left for part 2 or later.

Friday, 07 December 2018 19:04

SDA amendments referred to another enquiry

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A brief note about the Sex Discrimination Act amendments which have the subject of a number of recent posts. The House of Representatives has now adjourned for the year without a Government Bill being introduced to make any changes concerning religious schools and discrimination. So no binding changes will be made this year. On 6 December the Senate referred the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Removing Discrimination Against Students) Bill 2018 to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 11 February 2019. Submissions to the Committee can be made at the website linked here, and must be provided by 11 January 2019: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Sexdiscrimination.

A number of Christian and other religious organisations are deeply concerned about the proposals in the ALP-sponsored private Bill due to be debated in the Senate on Monday Dec 3. As I have discussed in previous comments (here and here) the Bill, which started out as an agreed measure to stop religious schools from expelling gay students on the basis of their “orientation” alone, has a number of other serious consequences for religious freedom, not only for schools but for churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious organisations (such as, for example, University student ministries.) The Bill amends the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to remove some clauses which have previously provided protection for Christian organisations to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Monday, 03 December 2018 07:18

Government amendments to religious schools bill

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For those following the debates about proposed amendments to discrimination laws removing religious freedom from faith-based schools, the LNP Government has now tabled a number of amendments to the ALP Bill released earlier this week. While these amendments are a move in the right direction, there are still some serious concerns about their effect on religious schools and their ability to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. The Government amendments can be seen on this page as separate documents. I will aim to briefly outline the effect of the amendments. I will assume readers are familiar with the ALP Bill discussed in my previous blog.

Friday, 30 November 2018 06:56

ALP Bill on religious schools and students

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[Senator Wong, leader of the Opposition in the Senate, has introduced a Private Senator’s Bill aimed at removing the power of religious schools to discriminate against same sex attracted students. Unfortunately, the amendments do much more than stop schools expelling students on the basis of their internal sexual orientation (a goal all sides of politics agree on.) They will have a serious impact on the ability of such schools, and other religious bodies, to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. A more nuanced approach is needed.  

Saturday, 24 November 2018 10:26

The Labor/Greens Ongoing War on Christianity

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With the crucial Victorian state election just hours away, the two major hard-left political parties in Australia have told us yet again how much they hate Christianity and how much they want to see it silenced altogether. While Victorian Labor and the Greens will be unleashing yet more damage and devastation if re-elected, the federal parties also continue their war on Christianity. Consider several recent items which demonstrate all this. The first concerns the Greens with more anti-Christian bigotry. They have come up with yet another bill to further clamp down on free speech and religious expression. The Institute for Civil Society offers this frightening headline: “Greens’ 2018 Schools Bill to Regulate Sermons?”

Monday, 19 November 2018 15:22

12 More Consequences of Redefining Marriage

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Just over a year ago, during Australia's debate about changing the millenia-old meaning of marriage, I wrote an article called, "55 Consequences of Redefining Marriage". Unlike most of my articles, which are read by only a few hundred people, this one has been read by over 12,000, with several thousand shares. This is evidence of just how concerned ordinary people are about homosexual unions being called 'marriage' and the massive repercussions that has for everyone. That article was a simple list of 55 examples of discriminatory laws, legal challenges, policies and persecutions taken from 13 countries where same-sex 'marriage' has been legalised. Now, twelve months on from that day when Australians learned that the majority of their conferes had voted to redefine marriage, it seems like a good time to revisit the topic. How many of those consequences have come to pass in this country? Were our fears unfounded?

As foreshadowed in the press reports noted in my previous post, the ACT Government has now introduced a Bill designed to curtail the current religious freedom enjoyed by religious schools in the Territory to operate in accordance with their beliefs. The  Discrimination Amendment Bill 2018 (ACT) is an unwise proposal and it is likely that it would be invalid as contrary to Commonwealth law. I will assume the reader is familiar with the background to the Bill as noted in my previous post. Here I will just briefly indicate how it achieves its goals. The central provision is cl 6, which simply repeals s 33 of the Discrimination Act 1991.

Reports in the press note that that the ACT Government has announced its intention to “close a loophole” in discrimination laws by removing the capacity of religious schools to apply their religious beliefs in staffing decisions. The law being referred to is not a “loophole”, it is part of the fundamental architecture of discrimination law around Australia, with rare exceptions, and removing these provisions would not be a good idea.

This is the first part of a series of articles written by Neil Foster about the Ruddock Review's leaked contents. The subsequent articles can be accessed at Neil website, here.  

A media outlet here in Australia has released what it says are the 20 recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock. The Report itself was delivered to the Government in May 2018, but has not officially been released. Apparently the Government is planning to release the Report at the same time as announcing its official response. The main issue which has generated controversy during the last week, in which there was a selective leaking of some of the recommendations, were proposals dealing with the rights of religious schools to take into account the sexual orientation of students in certain areas. The changes proposed were not radical changes to the existing law, but were presented as such when first publicised. In this post I want to briefly set these recommendations in context and offer my preliminary response.

[An extraordinary claim before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal recently, Secular Party of Australia Inc. v the Department of Education and Training (Human Rights) [2018] VCAT 1321 (27 August 2018), alleged that a child at a public school should be prevented from wearing Islamic religious garb in the child’s own interests! Thankfully the claim failed, but the fact that the case could even be argued illustrates the pressure that some groups in society are placing on parents and children of faith.

Trinity Western University, an evangelical tertiary institution in British Columbia, has lost two cases it had brought protesting the decision of two Canadian Provincial Law Societies to not authorise graduates of their proposed Law School as able to practice in the Provinces. The reason for the denial of accreditation was that TWU requires students and staff to agree to a Community Covenant Agreement, which undertakes (among other things) that they will not engage while studying or working at TWU in “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”.

On the 7th June, in the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, (and now in South Australia, starting on October 1st), it has been enshrined in law through the introduction of the Ombudsman Amendment Bill 2018 giving the State[s] power to compel ‘minister of religion, religious leader, officers of a religious body, an individual primarily in charge, or any person who provides services for the religious body’ to report ‘Reportable Conduct’ heard in a confession.

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