Many of the same people that are calling for religious freedom protection are also resisting constitutional recognition of our First People. They say we are all Australians and no-one should be given special consideration – unless they are religious, in which case they want to be exempt from the laws of the land.
Religious people want protection from discrimination enshrined in law but want to ignore the laws that offer that same protection for people of diverse sexuality.
They want to ignore the marriage equality law and teach their children that it is evil. They don’t just want religious schools to teach that – they mounted a concerted campaign against the optional Respectful Relationships program in state schools.
They insisted that we have religious chaplains in state schools to reinforce their message. Parents have to go to the trouble of asking for their children to be excluded from scripture classes rather than the other way around.
One state school principal sent home a note advocating Special Religious Education saying “The potential to develop moral and ethical positions within a framework of Christian values should not be underestimated in today’s world.”
Which kind of implies that the rest of us are incapable of behaving ethically without the fear of divine judgement motivating us.
They want the choice to send their children to religious schools, but they want you to pay for their choice by taking money from the public system which is available to all. They then want the right to decide who they will accept in their schools whereas state schools must provide a place for all children and cater for the needs of the individual no matter how challenging they may be.
Despite our Constitution insisting on the separation of state and church, Christians resist any call to remove the Lord’s Prayer from parliamentary proceedings. The juxtaposition of promising to do God’s will on Earth with the dishonesty, greed and cruelty of the proceedings that follow just make the whole exercise a farce.
Christians have an abiding belief in the sanctity of life with seemingly no regard for the quality of that life. They insist that others must not be given choices about reproduction or assisted dying. Because of their beliefs, they feel others should have no agency over their own lives.
Charities face deregistration if they engage in political advocacy. For some reason, this rule seems to be ignored when it comes to religious organisations.
Their tax-exempt status applies not only to their charitable work but also to their profit-making business enterprises.
As was painfully exposed in the Royal Commission into child sex abuse, Christianity does not automatically confer some higher moral status. It does not guarantee goodness. The prospect of ‘burning in hell’ did not cause these men of the cloth to repent and seek forgiveness. On the contrary – they abused the trust placed in them and the power given them. They protected their reputation at a dreadful cost. Even now, they refuse to comply with the mandatory reporting of suspected abuse claiming the sanctity of the confessional overrides the law of the land and the protection of innocent children.
To ask now for even greater ‘special protection’ is gobsmackingly arrogant and shows a complete lack of awareness of the dangers of exalted status.
There are many wonderful Christians making practical contributions towards making this world a better place. I would suggest that is because they are good people rather than a consequence of their worship (or fear) of any supernatural being.
In 1965, Pope Paul VI gave a Declaration on Religious Freedom.
“..all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.
It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility
…men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.”
Or as twitter puts it:
Freedom of religion is “Hey, that’s against my religion so I can’t do that”, not “Hey, that’s against my religion so YOU can’t do that”.
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