Nothing weird about protecting religious freedom

Greg Craven (ACU)

For days we have been arguing passionately about a report on religious freedom that has not even been released, writes Professor Greg Craven. Source: The Australian.

Now, an instant reaction is demanded to a full 20 leaked recommendations when we do not even have the accompanying reasoning of the report, with all its inevitable subtleties, qualifications and limitations, let alone any actual legislation accepting, rejecting and modifying the recommendations.

But because the hard Left loathes religion as most people loathe dentistry, any proposal around religious freedom must be sunk before it even sets sail, lest someone actually may analyse it.

This explains the wild scenarios swirling around the ABC and Fairfax Media in past days. Had you credited them, Philip Ruddock would be proposing reintroduction of the Inquisition and burning at the stake. Prominent has been the vile suggestion that faith-based schools are demanding the right to expel gay or transgender students.

No one is arguing this. No one supports it. Australian Christians as a bloc would oppose it, precisely as a matter of faith. But why let real­ity stand in the way of ventilating outright bigotry? Listening to the usual hobby atheists and faith-phobics, you would believe the idea of protecting religious freedom was the most bizarre since the invention of Big Bash cricket.

Odd, that. In the history of human rights going back across two millennia, freedom of religion always has been front and centre of any list of basic freedoms.

It is, for example, solemnly enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the standard inspiration of any left-leaning cultural warrior. Worse, it has its own detailed UN endorsement in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

It appears in just about every modern constitution or general declaration of rights from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the European Convention on Human Rights. It even appears in a limited and somewhat idiosyncratic form in our own unexciting Constitution, in section 116.

In short, there is nothing weird about protecting freedom of religion.

– Greg Craven is vice-chancellor of Australian Catholic University and a professor of constitutional law.


Deliver us from hostility to freedom of faith (The Australian)


The confused politics of freedom of religion(Eureka Street)

Academics denounce Ruddock approach to religious freedom (The Australian)

Fairfax-Ipsos poll: Huge majority of Australians oppose laws banning gay students and teachers (The Age)

Tanya Plibersek says Labor yet to decide on LGBT teachers Law to stop schools excluding gay students (The Australian)

Coalition 'united' over laws to stop schools expelling gay students, Cormann says (The Guardian

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