Religious leaders have called for an update on Scott Morrison’s plan to introduce a religious discrimination act. Source: The Australian.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said yesterday the “relative autonomy and legal protections afforded religious institutions, including schools and hospitals, had come under increasing scrutiny and even attack”.
He called on believers to “resist attempts” to exclude them from public life and urged the parliament to “ensure that respect for religious freedom informs our laws and social policies”.
“Anxiety about religious freedom was heightened in recent months, with debates about the funding of faith-based schools, proposed repeal of protections afforded religious schools, the seal of confession, and high-profile cases around freedom of speech and belief,” Archbishop Fisher said.
Michael Stead, chair of the religious freedom reference group for the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, said the issue of religious freedom was “very significant in a number of electorates” during the federal election on Saturday.
“It demonstrates the need for the government to push ahead with its promise for a religious discrimination act, which would help to alleviate some of the concerns that emerged, particularly during the last part of the election campaign,” Dr Stead said.
Christian schools grew alarmed when Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus wrote to them during the campaign to explicitly confirm that a Shorten government would remove key legal protections for religious freedoms. This would have seen the scrapping of legislative protections for religious freedoms – enshrined by way of exemptions to the Sex Discrimination Act – around the employment of teachers in religious schools.
Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous yesterday voiced his concern about the expression of religious freedoms by way of exemptions to the Act, which allow faith-based institutions the ability to discriminate in some circumstances.
“I am always concerned about exemptions. They make us look outside the law,” Archbishop Porteous said. “The principle of religious freedom needs to be recognised and enshrined.”
Religious freedom fears swayed poll, clerics claim (The Australian)