Religious Freedom in a Godless Age

I recently read an article by Frank Brennan on the Bill on religious freedom. He quoted a High Court judgment of 1983 in which justices Anthony Mason and Gerard Brennan said this:

The freedom to act in accordance with one’s religious beliefs is not as inviolate as the freedom to believe, for general laws to preserve and protect society are not defeated by plea of religious obligation to breach them. Religious conviction is not a solvent of legal obligation.

Tortuous prose aside, what exactly is meant? Roughly speaking, it means you can act on your religious beliefs providing you don’t break laws. What laws? Presumably laws that impinge on your freedom to act out your religious beliefs. Circular, do you think?

These laws are most likely to be human rights and anti-discrimination laws. Religious freedom is thus captive of other laws. This would be fine if the other laws were enacted by enlightened parliaments steeped in traditional Christian values. No longer.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (recall, without nostalgia, the past tenures of Gillian Triggs and Tim Soutphommasane) and the various state human rights and anti-discrimination commissions and boards, established under law, are always in the mix; potentially sniffing around ready to spot offence on the part of Christians against protected minorities.

You might recall Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission taking up a case against a Catholic Bishops for issuing a pastoral letter on the ‘same-sex marriage’ debate titled: “Don’t Mess with Marriage.” This was distributed in the form of a booklet to parents of Catholic high school students throughout Australia. The Catholic Church had been offensive, it was claimed in September 2015 by an aggrieved party.

Offensive how? Apparently by expressing the mainstream Christian view that the term ‘marriage’ should only apply between a man and a woman, and that such a union offered the best environment within which to bring up children. Evidently some people are easily offended by Christian values — by values that used to be everyone’s values not so long ago. And the reason offence is taken is that some fornication doesn’t merely dare to speak its name but now shouts it from the rooftops.

Most of us heterosexuals have fornicated (had sex outside of the confines of a marriage between a man and woman) and take in our stride the Christian perspective that it’s sinful. Some, like me, take it as gospel, so to speak. But what we don’t do, in any event, is to jump up and down in fits of high dudgeon.  Not so for some on the gay side of the street. They seek public ratification, glorification almost, of their sexual proclivities; mere tolerance is passé. Claims of homophobia await those who don’t kowtow.

Hence Israel Folau got into trouble and lost his rugby-playing job because, as a lay preacher for his church, he paraphrased a passage from 1 Corinthians. To wit: “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Drunkards, thieves, adulterous took no offence. Guess who did?

The Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 (RDB) is meant to protect religious institutions from LGBT activists and from increasingly militantly atheist-filled parliaments and human rights bodies. Though it will not protect the Folaus of this world; that protection has been struck out. Liberal moderates at work, otherwise called ‘politicians’, who might well find a more convivial home on the green-left side of politics.

I skimmed the RDB. It bamboozled me but, if passed, will no doubt offer many hours of lucrative employment to human rights lawyers. And, to boot, employment in a whole new bureaucracy under a Religious Discrimination Commissioner.

The RDB covers a whole gamut of activities within which religious tests or discrimination are not allowed. However, one of its principal objectives is to allow religious schools to give preference, when hiring teachers, to those who share the faith of the school. Common sense when you think about it. Hmm? In the past maybe.

Among other things, Liberal moderates apparently want more protection for gay students in the Bill. Specifically, they want Section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) struck out.  This Section provides a carve-out from Section 21 which, among other things, outlaws educational institutions from discriminating against students on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Relevantly, Section 38(3) of the SDA reads as follows:

Nothing in section 21 renders it unlawful for a person to discriminate against another person on the ground of the other person’s sexual orientation [or] gender identity… in connection with the provision of education or training by an educational institution that is conducted in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of a particular religion or creed, if the first-mentioned person so discriminates in good faith in order to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion or creed.

As a rule, discrimination has no place in human affairs, particularly when it comes to important things like education and employment.  However, to my mind, and leaving students aside for the moment, a Christian school should be allowed to reject applications from openly gay men and women teachers.

I dare say some teachers at Christian schools live sexually impure lives. But someone in a heterosexual adulteress relationship, or who sleeps around, or who, if a man, visits prostitutes, is not going to extol such behaviour or broadcast the fact of it. Gay pride, on the other hand, clashes starkly with the precepts of Christianity. Are there any moderate Liberals who have a problem with this? My local dripping-wet federal member, Trent Zimmerman, for example? If so, despair.

However, students are a different kettle of fish from teachers. I’m uncomfortable about discrimination against ‘straight’ gay students, if you understand my meaning. In my view a student’s sexual orientation should not, per se, be a factor in gaining entry to a religious school. On the other hand, a religious school should not have to put up with gay students flaunting their sexuality or with cross-dressing students.

The Australian Christian Lobby, which I generally support, has reportedly threatened to withdrew support for the RDB if Section 38(3) of the SDA is removed. Difficulties abound in finding a sensible way through when commonsense and unifying traditional values are gone. It’s hard to construct legislation which satisfies widely disparate points of view. That’s why the RDB is floundering.

38 thoughts on “Religious Freedom in a Godless Age

  • lroyjh says:

    “It’s hard to construct legislation which satisfies widely disparate points of view”. and there’s the rub not widely disparate numbers, put it to a plebiscite.

  • Katzenjammer says:

    If LGBT advocates established their own private schools, would they be allowed to discriminate against openly religious teachers and students? Or would they be required to supply a safe room for any minority hetersexual or religious pupils.

  • Brian Boru says:

    The Gay Pride Event which the ABC has paid our money to gain the rights to is in part a heterophobic event. As such it is offensive to heterosexuals and a breach of anti-discrimination laws.
    I believe that Lesbians and Gays should have the right to live in peace with each other but I don’t want it to be compulsory.
    I also do not agree to changing the meaning of words such as “marriage”.

  • STD says:

    Firstly gay marriage is masturbation not procreation, so NO love is not love from that vantage point. Tolerate that which is tolerable.
    Secondly the rules of the game used to portend that children should be off limits to this type of crap.
    Thirdly the orientation of that flag defies the laws of nature, in regard to the natural rainbow that is created in nature- close to plagiarism in regard to false sense of natural sense, if you could call it that.
    May be gay students could take tuition from gay teachers in the interests of comfort and sexual safety. And maybe non gay children could be taught by Christian heterosexual teachers in the interests of that human right, in regard to cultural Christian values and sexual safety too. That way every body is happy except the powers to be.
    Trent Zimmerman = Trent Zimmerman, less said ,the better. I certainly will not be parking my vote in the liberal progressive camp.
    This decision is based on what Sir Robert Menzies stood for and why he never voted Liberal in retirement.
    Thanks Peter, again , well done.

  • STD says:

    Religious freedom in a misguided age – Godless rage.

  • lbloveday says:

    “I also do not agree to changing the meaning of words such as “marriage”.”
    I go further – I never use the ursurped word “Gay” but always the unambiguous, time-honoured “homosexual”. To me “gay” still has the meaning as in “Gay Paree”, “The Gay Bachelor”, and the words of the iconic Herman Hermits song “No Milk Today”:
    “The company was gay, we’d turn night into day”.
    I popped into a small bar and the manager, in his 60’s found it necessary to come over and introduce himself with “I’m xxxx, I’m gay” as if I’d care an iota about his sexual life. “You don’t look particularly happy to me”.

  • phicul19 says:

    I am surprised that it can be called a rainbow flag as it is lacking one colour (ROYGBIV).

  • STD says:

    By the way Peter the portrait / pic on the homepage , takes straight and straight forward and turns them on their head- will a 180 ever be the same?

  • rosross says:

    While I have studied many religions but hold to none, I will say I am struck by the number of Christians defending principles of justice, rule of law and human rights in regard to Covid. This has been a strength of Christianity through the best of its history and the loss of the Christian underpinnings of the Western world is a great loss indeed.

  • lbloveday says:

    ‘..heterosexual adulteress relationship..”
    I trust you mean “adulterous”.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Thanks lbloveday, I do indeed mean adulterous. Unfortunate mistake altogether. I am going to blame Word which often completes, rejigs, my spelling incorrectly. Though it could have been me.

  • Salome says:

    In all of this obsession with throwing gay children out of schools, they missed the important part–the freedom for people in or seeking to join the medical profession to choose not to participate in any way (even by referral) in procedures that not all that long ago were illegal. Doesn’t even have to be a religious freedom.

  • andrew2 says:

    Peter, we are looking at this situation all wrong, from the perspective of religious freedom, Israel Folau and christian cake bakers.
    Religious freedom should be looked at from the perspective of what is needed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Israel Folau got it wrong because his tweet was not directed at believers but 1 Corinthians is. Jesus considers non-believers to be lost sheep or prodigal sons wasting their inheritance. It is believers that need to be castigated for their sin lest they lose their place at the wedding feast. So being ok with employing the quiet adulterer, fornicator or thief at a Catholic school is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing and it will ultimately harm our kids through their bad example.
    Likewise, the Christian cakebaker makes the mistake of advertising that they make wedding cakes. They should make a general assortment of cakes for the masses but reserve their best and most holy work for Sacramental unions within the Church. That way a gay couple cannot argue discrimination.

  • STD says:

    Query, rainbow or rain beau, why the ambiguity?

  • Katzenjammer says:

    The rainbow – in religion is the symbol for the pledge after the flood, when two by two, male and female creatures repopulated the world. Why is it a symbol for those who are an evolutionary dead end.

  • whitelaughter says:

    ‘throwing gay kids out of schools’ – eh, shouldn’t schools have the right to chuck out straight kids who are fooling around?
    Schools are not meant to be a pickup joint; if the school knows the way the kid swings, something is already wrong.

  • abrogard says:

    Isn’t it funny that nearly everything that’s ever written in and around religion is nonsense or at least has a large quotient?
    Listen to that:
    “As a rule, discrimination has no place in human affairs, particularly when it comes to important things like education and employment. ‘
    Discrimination is the essence of human affairs. To each according to need, from each according to ability.
    Education in particular suffers from a failure to discriminate.
    However there’s a nuance, isn’t there?
    For if the overall failure to discriminate means that some carefully beneficially discriminatory policy is applied to all: then all’s good.
    So that assume a kind of tiered view of things.
    So where’s that leave us?
    At: you can’t generalise and you should define your terms.
    And that right there is why talk of religion is always essentially rubbish.

  • STD says:

    All this gay and transgender proliferation throughout society, but particularly the manifest stuff aimed at children coming out ,is all about adults grooming and acquiring their future sexual fodder .
    Abrogard you make some good sense. I especially agree with the thought,”For if the overall failure to discriminate means that some carefully beneficially discriminatory policy is applied to all , then all is good”. This would be nice if such a non discriminatory policy included unborn babies would it not!
    Lastly the explosion of all this gay / homo sexual stuff is largely I believe because men are not being men any more, we have this sort of mutant female type of male, with all the bitchy stuff that that entails. It’s not the physical DNA structure that exhibits confusion – the confusion lies/ lays elsewhere, me thinks.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    I am getting old and intolerant. I believe in God and I believe He is wise so when He created men and women and then gave them the urge to go forth and multiply He was stating that it was their responsibility to populate the Earth and to keep the species alive. He also created or oversaw the development of the myriad species that keep us company and He made sure that they procreated wherever and whenever the circumstances were right. I have lived on a farm since birth and I am a keen observer of nature and nowhere have I seen a male of any species pass up the opportunity to mate with the female of the species. In similar vein I have never seen homosexual activity except as it pertains to the beginning of oestrus. How can it be that the one species made in God’s image acts unlike the rest of nature’s kingdom? Queer? It certainly seems that way. But is it another way in which the West is destroying itself spurred on by Satan and his friends on the left?

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    There was a time that men in particular who were homosexuals married to hide their homosexuality. I do not know if they handed on their proclivity through their genes but if they did it might explain why there are so many claiming to be gay now. It maybe a good thing that they are outing themselves and feel no inclination to marry to repeat the errors of the past. It may be a way to keep their genes out of the gene pool; nature self correcting.

  • andrew2 says:

    Lawrie Ayres, maybe it is because the human species is the only one capable of abstract thought. That allows us to perceive or distort the image we have of ourselves and our role in the world. Our society is deeply, deeply flawed. Media presents us with an unattainable image of beauty which makes some people feel worthless and unattractive to the opposite sex and makes them idolize the beautiful in the same sex. School is a ruthless place where you are bullied for any and every minor flaw. Kids are sexually abused. Kids within families judge themselves against their siblings. If we were a society of good people, we would have none of these things and not see many of the problems we do now.

  • andrew2 says:

    Our society has also distorted to the point where victim mentality is a badge of honour. When my daughter went to a Taylor Swift concert, I followed the concert on Instagram and various people were doing their best to get noticed enough as a “big fan” to score a one on one encounter with Taylor. There was a (not small) number of fans saying “choose me Taylor, I’m gay”. You would only say things like this if you felt that rewards came to you for making such statements.

  • Peter Smith says:

    “Israel Folau got it wrong because his tweet was not directed at believers but 1 Corinthians is.” Point well made, andrew2.
    “…discrimination has no place in human affairs, particularly when it comes to important things like education and employment.” In context, I thought my use of the word ‘discrimination’ would be understood, abrogard. But I might have made it clearer. I meant disadvantaging someone purely on the basis of attributes which they cannot control, like their race, or age or state of ableness or their sexuality. Though, of course, it’s hard to draw hard and fast rules.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    According to the Bible, sexual immorality of any kind is a sin. That means it can be controlled, no matter what “science” may say.

  • christopher.coney says:

    Time and repentance ought to be given more space in these debates.
    Nearly everyone does wrong. For Christians, and in Christian terms, we sin. We are expected to repent our sins periodically, and Catholics do this by going to Confession.
    As I understand it, Catholics will always be welcome in the Church and its institutions if we sinners acknowledge our sins and try not to sin again.
    Therefore, there is no problem with being a Catholic priest or student as long as the person knows that sexual activity outside marriage is sinful and must be struggled against.
    Therefore, gay students who engage in homosexual activity without recognising it as sinful or who do not struggle against it ought not to be admitted to Catholic schools or engage in other Church activities because they are flaunting their sinfulness. If they are serious Catholics, they will not flaunt their sexuality or their sexuality. Of course, they might be open about having homosexual attraction, just as an alcoholic might be open about his disorder, and face no repercussions.
    All of us are disordered, but I do accept that homosexuality, as a disorder, is quite special. It is special in the sense that sexuality and sexual activity are special for human beings. Chris Coney.

  • Stephen Due says:

    I’m opposed to the whole corpus of modern anti-discrimination legislation, because in effect it discriminates against people with moral views opposed to those of the framers. So a church, which wants to discriminate against gays, cannot do so because the framers of the law do not want gays discriminated against. It is claimed that the offense is ‘discrimination’ but actually the law itself discriminates. The real offense is: not believing that homosexuality is morally neutral. Therefore anti-discrimination legislation in practical terms is actually just creating an offence out of your opponent’s belief system.

  • STD says:

    Stephen Due each one of us that is not gay , subliminally discriminates against this type of behaviour- because we do not choose to do it. Therefore we are in breach , in a legal and technical sense.
    I personally think we should be discriminating in regard to homosexual behaviour, if grown adults want to this type of thing, that’s there beeswax and thats fine, and we don’t need this type sexual behaviour peddled as being acceptable and virtuous by the main stream media, corporate businesses and government departments.
    Lastly ,children do not need to be exposed to this type of sexual orientation. They should be allowed to grow into adulthood as happy confident individuals, who are not perturbed or quizzical or even confused about simple matters of fact, that is ,there are only two sexes that of being boys and the corollary is that of being female.
    Homosexuality should not be something that is lorded publicly- in a way it is a form of sexual voyeurism ,whereby the homosexual wants all and sundry to be aware and accepting of their lifestyle choice- to be honest who gives flying fig.
    Children at any level of age should never ever be sexualised- such a concept is the antithesis of perversion.
    I may sound bigoted but the fact is I know many people and have the odd friend ,who is this way inclined. I choose people as friends or are friendly to people regardless of their sexual mores . I choose friends basically on the content of either their character but more commonly on their brand of bull- one does not need to know if they are queer or not . The queer thing is of very little interest to the rest of us.
    So to all the homosexuals out there, if you feel violated or discriminated or unloved or liked it’s because people like me could not give a stuff about your homosexual behaviour , and are fed up of being force fed the sexual diet of modern day homosexuality by the ABC ,HRC ,GOV and the posting of that flag at every opportune. In short if you do not want to be offended then stop offending the rest of us.
    The reason the rest of us do not confront you people with how we really feel, is because we are just too polite in wanting to offend.
    And to think the mainstream Church’s are starting to embrace this garbage as a viable option in regard to lifestyle.
    The world is on a collision course- madness is the new sanity.

  • STD says:

    One last point, from a Darwinian evolutionary perspective, it is indeed the very nature embedded in creation, that what lays at the core of the survival instinct of all surviving living creatures is the continued evolutionary propensity to discriminate- this is innate to life and from a navigation standpoint, charts that path we call living- homosexuals for example exemplify this force we know as willed discrimination.
    The mere fact that most of us ,the majority, are not in fact practicing homosexuals, should tell government bodies such as the Human Rights Commission, that the mainstream subconsciousness of wider society at large, either abhors, dislikes, finds profane or just plainly ,is sickened and has a seated hatred of the homosexual act (especially when developing children are in the homosexual sights[+])regardless of the homosexual factoids- most of us do not subscribe to what can only be called homosexual nonsense, not to be confused with homo sexual common sense (evolutionary sense).
    Maybe what the mainstream media, governments and for that matter corporate bodies should do’ is ditch their unmanned collective agenda ( un-mandated) and take a leaf out of the naval handbook ( texts) and start the dis- mantling process and set an endeavour course for the promised land ,and scuttle butt.
    Disambiguation is what separates real men from homosexual indignation ( hatred).
    Homophobia is not a word that resonates within homosexual acts, however heterophobia lays at the heart of their subconscious being- so there are other powers and principalities at play.
    True to His word.

  • lbloveday says:

    “According to the Bible, sexual immorality of any kind is a sin. That means it can be controlled, no matter what “science” may say.”
    David Garrow, who received a Pulitzer prize for a biography of Martin Luther King Jr, wrote in his book “The Making of Barack Obama”:
    “Obama wrote somewhat elusively” to a girlfriend “that he had thought about and considered gayness but ultimately decided that a same-sex relationship would be less challenging and demanding than developing one with the opposite sex”.

  • STD says:

    Could it be a case of Less of / for God and more for me- whoever we consider me to be!

  • STD says:

    Their there,thanks.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    Lawrie Ayres

    Male dogs do at times couple with male dogs.

    Apparently they don’t know God intended them to act otherwise.

    If you believe in God you’ll probably believe that God created everything.

    Everything includes people who are homosexual.

    • Roger Franklin says:

      I had an female American cocker spaniel, Margie, whose delight it was to hump the pillows she’d pull off the couch. Does that mean God endorses canine inverts with a fetish for soft furnishings?

  • rosross says:

    This time of Covid has demonstrated the importance of religious freedom because, while I subscribe to no religion I have noticed the high number of Christians working to defend principles of justice, rule of law, democracy and common sense. Then again Western civilization is sourced in Christian principles.

  • STD says:

    Roger, I think Margie was trying to convey the point, with canine subtlety and somewhat delicately , that you need to get yourself some new pillows – these ones are no good- (naughty being a word that springs to mind).

  • rosross says:

    There is a difference between what consenting adults might choose to do in privacy and what society allows children to be taught in terms of responsible and sensible behaviour. Sexuality has become a fad if not a fetish and is being sold to society and children as an equal alternative when it is not. In the very best of worlds the optimal situation is healthy heterosexuality because, without it, there are no humans and there is no world.

  • STD says:

    @BO…….I can only think of one biblical analogy for the predicament with which you find yourself.
    When the baying mob wanted the execution (crucifixion) of a bloke whose name was Jesus. They sort exoneration and freedom for a male convicted of treason ( an imposter) so named Barabbas, incidentally this is the crime the other bloke ‘Jesus’ was accused of.
    So what was Jesus and what did he do?
    ‘Well’ he not only had a great understanding of human nature a frailty (failings), and in a nutshell he was ‘just’ a good guy who ‘s only crime was being kind , considerate and being nice to people , know matter who they were- sinner or not.
    +The upshot being that the crowd wanted to murder him for being pleasant and nice and humble, essentially for exhibiting the normal and pleasant traits in human nature.
    Barabbas on the other hand was or represents the wrong or bad side of human nature , that of violence, destruction and murder ( this also included that of our true and intended nature).
    So the majority , or that particular crowd, chose to do what was wrong over what was clearly good and right.
    I mean that is queer if ever there was a case for queer.
    The inference being, when it comes to human nature there are those who express or exhibit that which is strange in comparison to the rest of us.
    So yes God created strange as ‘well’.- find reference to the biblical story of the woman at the well ,if you will.
    I trust I will find you well!

  • STD says:

    @BO. Just to clarify for now, when I say God created strange, I mean that relative to the truth, the whole truth.
    However homosexuality as with, and all sorts of fornication for that matter ,even in heterosexuals is actually a strange state, where we are actually estranged from God or if you like our intended nature.
    So it is not God who creates the fornicator or the homosexual ,it is the act of turning your back on God that does that, this is not God’s want or his doing. Gods capacity for forgiveness and mercy is actually an acknowledgement by Him of us accepting the error of our way by accepting life in Him.
    #i have to head to work for now ,however I will try to expound on this from the vantage point of temptation and wilderness . All of us are free and have the freedom to make mistakes and are just as free and more than welcome to return to the natural order of our being-when this occurs we understand Gods plan for us because we befriend him and not our own ego (vanity). Face, value, your true worth in His eyes-then the shroud of Turin makes sense, natural sense.

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