Mr Ruddock’s report is out…
Um, when I say it’s out, I think I need to be clear here. It’s out in the sense that the government has had it for five months and they needed time to consider what it said before they discussed it as a party where the considered and thoughtful discussions may have been leaked to the media who would have spun these considerations to sound like there were deep divisions within the party on such things as how do we best ensure that people’s rights aren’t being trampled by two individuals they don’t know to marry each other and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The second discussion point has already been thrashed out and a compromise reached: none. Those who don’t believe in angels were happy with that, and those that do were content when it was pointed out that angels can’t dance because they have no feet and, anyway, it’s wicked and sinful.
Anyway, looking at some of the suggestions about employment, I’ve decided to give you two scenarios of how this may work in practice.
Scene 1: Religious school. A job interview is taking place. Raymond has applied for a job.
Brother Tony: Yes, your qualifications and experience seem to be perfect. Are you a Christian?
Raymond: Yes, I actually went to this school in the 90s.
Brother Tony: Ah, you’ll probably find some of your old teachers are still here.
Raymond: Not all of them. Brother Thaddeus is in jail, isn’t he?
Brother Kevin: Let’s move on. There’s just one more thing.
Brother Kevin: Your shirt. It’s… ah… rainbow coloured.
Brother Tony: So we were just wondering…
Brother Kevin: Are you gay?
Raymond: Why? Are you?
Brother Kevin: I’ve taken a vow of celibacy.
Raymond: So am I allowed to be gay if I take a vow of celibacy?
Brother Tony: We don’t employ gay people.
Raymond: Isn’t that a bit discriminatory?
Brother Kevin: We have an exemption under the act. We don’t have to employ people whose lifestyle clashes with our beliefs.
Raymond: I see. And what about Brother Thaddeus?
Brother Tony: He wasn’t gay!
Raymond: No, but he was caught with an underage girl? Isn’t that a sin too? So have you sacked him?
Brother Tony: No… It’s not really relevant. The point is you may be gay and…
Raymond: But I haven’t said I am.
Brother Kevin: Yes, but that rainbow shirt. I mean, you’ve clearly got a political agenda here, haven’t you?
Brother Tony: Anyway, thanks for your time. We’ll let you know.
Scene 2: Government school. A job interview is taking place. Eric has applied for a job.
Principal: Thanks. Now I notice that you left your previous school mid-way through a term. Why was that?
Eric: Yes, When they announced that gay marriage thing, I felt I had to do something about the break-down of civilisation and the family unit, so I volunteered to work for one of the organisations trying to stop it.
Principal: I see. Um, you are aware that this school has a strong policy of inclusion and social justice?
Eric: Yes, I felt it was a call from God that I come to work here. When I read about your “Respectful Relations” initiatives, I just knew this was the place for me.
Principal: So you support our Respectful Relations?
Eric: No, I think it’s just Safe Schools by another name.
Principal: You don’t support Safe Schools?
Eric: There’s nothing safe about inviting Satan in. Safe Schools is just a Marxist plot to try and make everyone the same. If God had meant us to be equal he wouldn’t have created rich people.
Principal: I don’t think God created rich people.
Eric: God created everything.
Principal: Then he created LGBTI people too.
Eric: I don’t think you should say that. It’s blasphemous.
Principal: Look, I don’t think you’re really the right fit for this job.
Eric: Are you discriminating against me because of my religious beliefs? That’s illegal you know.
Principal: No, I’m not concerned about your religion. It’s just that you don’t seem to be supportive of the school policy.
Eric: That’s because the school policy is against my beliefs and if you don’t let me work here, then how am I going to save all those poor sinners?
Principal: You can’t push your religion on other people.
Eric: But my religion demands that I do, so if you try to stop me I’ll have you up before the courts for inhibiting my religious freedom.
Ok, it mightn’t quite go like that. I guess the whole question of religious freedom is really the same problem that we always have when we talk about rights. To what extent should society police me exercising my rights when they interfere with your rights? For example, does my playing loud music interfere with your right to a quiet evening? To what extent does putting another Royal Wedding raise the blood pressure of staunch Republicans? With things like that, we have tried to have laws that find a sensible compromise.
However, when we attempt to find the sensible compromise in areas such as religion, logic and reason sometimes go out the window. It seems strange to me, for example, that some of the people arguing that we need protections for religious freedom were the same ones arguing to ban the burqa. Ok, I’m sure they’ll argue that the burqa is cultural rather than religious, but the same argument can be made for almost any religious practice.
Whatever happens, I’m sure of one thing: Scott Morrison won’t be trying to finalise any legislation on this before the Wentworth by-election.