subscribe btndonate btn

Religious Freedom
Saturday, 24 November 2018 10:26

The Labor/Greens Ongoing War on Christianity

Written by

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

Written by

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.

Yesterday I wrote about the victory of Colorado cake-maker Jack Phillips. While I still stand with that piece, the only thing I regret was the title I ran with – in haste. I had to dash out, so I quickly changed a more innocuous headline to a more eye-catching one. [Read this story here on Bill's website.] However, anyone reading the piece instead of just going by the title would have seen that this win was hardly an end-all and be-all decision by America’s highest court.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 U. S. ____ (2018) (June 4, 2018), the US Supreme Court by 7-2 overturned previous decisions against a Christian cake maker, Jack Phillips, who had declined to make a wedding cake for a same sex wedding. While the basis of the decision of the majority is fairly narrow, the outcome is clearly correct, and even in the narrow reasons offered by Justice Kennedy, there are a number of important affirmations which support religious freedom.

Monday, 14 May 2018 21:26

Preaching to an Intolerant Choir

Written by

Israel Folau is known for being one of the best rugby players in Australia. Folau is also a practising Christian who isn't afraid to give his opinion and express his religious views. He has been under fire recently - to the point of being accused of hate crimes - for publicly stating that homosexuality is a sin. Wayne Smith, of the Australian, complained that Israel Folau should stop 'preaching' if he wants to keep playing football. Former rugby player, George Gregan, agreed and suggested that it is inappropriate for Folau to put his beliefs on a huge platform - despite those beliefs being shared by millions of people, of many diverse religious persuasions.

The recent decision of the England and Wales Court of Appeal in Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564 (22 March 2018) upholds what was in effect disciplinary action taken against a Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Canon Jeremy Pemberton, on account of his entering into a same-sex marriage. The decision is a sensible one which upholds the religious freedom of the Anglican church to operate in accordance with its fundamental religious beliefs.

A student Christian group at the University of Iowa has been reinstated as a registered student organisation by a US Federal District Court Judge, after previously having its status revoked by University authorities. The student group, Business Leaders in Christ (“BLinC”), had been penalised because it would not agree to appoint to its leadership a same-sex attracted student, who said that they would not undertake to comply with the group’s commitment to Biblical sexual values. The University claimed that this was a breach of its Policy on Human Rights, forbidding discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sexual orientation. BLinC claimed, however, that the issue was not the student’s orientation, but their express refusal to modify their behaviour to accord with Biblical norms.

There have been a number of “wedding industry” religious freedom cases arising in the United States and the UK over the last few years. On 28 December 2017 the Oregon Court of Appeals, in Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (CA Or; Dec 28, 2017, — P.3d —-, 2017 WL 6613356; 289 Or App 507 (2017)upheld a $135,000 fine levied on the Kleins, wedding cake makers, for declining to make a cake for the wedding of Rachel and Laurel Bowmen-Cryer. The case is another example of religious freedom (and, arguably, freedom of speech) being over-ridden in the name of “dignitary harm” to same-sex couples. It is a good example of the issues being presented to the current Ruddock Inquiry into Religious Freedom being conducted in Australia at the moment.

Australia is in the middle of a debate as to the extent to which religious freedom rights should be accommodated in legislation introducing “same sex marriage” (SSM). Those who object to this idea tell us that:

Christian conservatives – following the lead of their counterparts in the United States – seek to use freedom of religion to justify discrimination against members of the LGBTQI community. This agenda is now being pursued under the guise of the debate for a marriage equality bill. (“After the yes vote, let’s not remove one inequality and replace it with another” The Guardian online, 22 Nov 2017)

I recently attended a colloquium run by the Presbyterian Church, Religion in the Public Square. Speakers included the illustrious Augusto Zimmerman, journalist Angela Shanahan, and other cultural commentators. The talks covered the current litany of restrictions being placed on Christians in the public arena. It was sobering to hear spectrum of persecutions being waged against us both in Australia and overseas - remember this was before the results of the postal vote on marriage were known. If it was bad before, then it prosises to be much worse from now on.

Australia is a multi-faith society. The 2016 Census shows that, while the mix of beliefs has changed over the years, Australia remains a pretty religious place. In the last census, nearly 70% of Australians self-identified as religious. The number of Australians who have self-identified as Christian in the census has fallen from 88.2% in 1966 to 52.1% in 2016. The number of Australians identifying as being of another religion has grown from 0.8% to 8.2%, with Islam (2.6%), Buddhism (2.4%) and Hinduism (1.9%) being the largest non-Christian faiths. The number who self-identified in the category of “no religion” has grown from 0.8% to 30.1%. This category includes having secular beliefs, other spiritual beliefs or having no religion. This makes it hard to be sure what these Australians believe.

Let me open with a few home truths: -Those demanding the complete redefinition – and thus destruction – of marriage do NOT want a debate on the matter. -They want it rammed through without the agreement of the public. -They do not have facts and evidence on their side, which is why they despise debate. -They therefore do not seek to win the debate – they seek to shut down the debate. -If they must engage in debate, the best they can come up with is ad hominem attacks, mud-slinging, name-calling, hate and hysteria. All this is easily enough documented. As to the other side preventing genuine debate from taking place, and shutting down the ‘No’ voice on homosexual marriage, consider a few recent articles.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017 07:43

As for Me and My House

Written by

Julie Robinson, wife of Queensland MP Mark Robinson, wrote this excellent social media post about the end goal of Marxism - the destruction of the family. Julie has kindly allowed me to reproduce her article here. 

As For Me and My House.

  What we're facing here is nothing new. Marxism has always taught that the nuclear family - father, mother and children must be eradicated. It is, according to Marx and Engels both a result of capitalism, and designed to perpetuate it. Wealth passed down through family lines only ensures class divisions continue. Patriarchy (and marriage) maintain oppression of women and children as they have less control over resources and are therefore less powerful. In a truly Marxist society, Family must go - or at least family as defined as father, mother and their children. To destroy family, one must first undermine or weaken that unique and powerful bond between husband and wife, and put a wedge between children and parents. State encouragement of sexual experimentation is designed to bring an end to monogamy - all in the name of freedom and equality.

The debate over same sex marriage in Australia has been re-ignited by news that some members of the federal governing Liberal/National Party (LNP) coalition are proposing, contrary to their party’s policy, to introduce legislation in Federal Parliament this coming week to redefine marriage to extend it to same sex couples. In particular, press reports today indicate that a new Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 will be introduced, one feature of which is that it contains legislative protections for religious freedom, designed to encourage support of the legislation by believers. In my view the protections to be provided, if press reports about the proposal are accurate, are far too few and far too narrow, and the proposal cannot be seen as providing adequate protection for this fundamental human right.

Thursday, 08 September 2016 19:38

More Anti-Christian Bigotry in Victoria

Written by

Things are growing darker by the day in the People’s Republik of Victoria. I have documented a number of very ominous developments here under the radical leftist reign of Labor Premier Dan Andrews. He seems obsessed with wiping out Christianity and religious freedom while he implements every hard-core minority group agenda around. His latest attack of faith and freedom comes in the form of the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016. It is a frightening proposal which everyone concerned about freedom and religious freedom should know about.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 01:17

The West's War Against Faith and Freedom

Written by

The West developed largely as a result of the Judeo-Christian worldview, and it was known for centuries as the defender of free speech, as the defender of religious liberty, and as the defender of freedom of conscience, and so on. All that is unravelling right before our very eyes, and the West is quickly descending back into a new dark ages of repression and intolerance. It seems every time we open a newspaper or check out the evening news we have more cases of anti-Christian bigotry and the tolerance police in action.

Page 2 of 2