Social Services Minister Dan Tehan has called for a religious discrimination act to provide greater protections to people of faith. Source: The Weekend Australian.
Delivering the St Thomas More lecture in Canberra last month, Mr Tehan said the “creeping encroachment from the state on religious belief” was a key issue, given new conflicts in the areas of euthanasia, same-sex marriage and the sanctity of the confessional.
However, he identified the main threat to religious freedom as the growing influence of empowered minorities that used political correctness as a weapon against traditional beliefs and customs.
The address, made public on the weekend, represents a rallying cry for Coalition MPs who expect Malcolm Turnbull to deliver a substantive response to the review of religious freedoms led by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock following the same-sex marriage victory last year.
Mr Tehan, who describes himself as a “far-from-perfect Catholic”, said all Australians of faith should “take a stand” and “strongly defend our rights and responsibilities to take part in debates of national significance”.
His proposal for a new religious discrimination act offers a path for the Turnbull government to legislate at a federal level to address concerns that religion is being driven from the public square. Citing John Howard — a leading advocate for traditional marriage — Mr Tehan warned against the rise of “minority fundamentalism”, which the former prime minister has called “the assumption that traditional beliefs and practices represent an attack on those who do not support them”.
“Australia has reached an unusual point where the tools of oppression — sowing the seeds of division, conquest, manipulation and cultural division — are being wielded by the minority against the majority,” Mr Tehan said.
Liberal senator James Paterson, a supporter of same-sex marriage who advocated for greater protections for religious freedoms, said it was important for the government to deliver a meaningful response to the Ruddock review.
“The Ruddock review provides the government with a unique opportunity to secure the freedoms of Australians with faith,” Senator Paterson said. “We all deserve the equal right to live our lives according to our values, free from state coercion.”
Dan Tehan in fresh push for freedom of religion (The Weekend Australian)
Defending religion’s place in the public square (The Weekend Australian)