Hypocrisy Leads to Attacks on Religious Freedom


On 27 January, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released its advisory paper on investigations into religion, educational institutions and anti-discrimination law.

The mandate, outlined in this document, is that the ALRC develop proposals to protect students and staff from discrimination while ensuring that religious education institutions “can continue to build communities of faith.” is requesting

However, on February 13, a letter signed by leaders of all major religions was issued to Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfuss (pdf) expresses “deep disappointment” with the reform proposals put out by the ALRC for comment.

The ALRC document outlines four legislative proposals. While religious schools and colleges offer to teach religious doctrines and beliefs about sex and sexuality, and require their staff to do so, these propositions are effectively undermined.

Preferential treatment in the “selection, appointment, and promotion” (not dismissal) of staff is that teaching religion is a “real requirement” of the position and that discriminatory treatment is “for the purpose of preserving the spirit of religion.” It can only occur if “proportional”. institution. “

However, staff behavior, views or identity regarding sexual activity, orientation or gender identity may not be considered in making these decisions.

freedom of religion
Protesters holding religious freedom balloons outside the US Supreme Court in Washington on April 28, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

In addition, faith-based school staff may be prohibited from “actively undermining” the ethos of their employers, but may not impose standards regarding sexual conduct, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Faith-based schools are therefore compelled to employ, or face legal punishment, individuals who actively oppose the teachings that underpin the special ethos of those schools, not just nominal adherents. .

The effect of these proposals is to impose severe limits on the ability of faith-based schools to maintain their spirit, both in terms of students and staff, and to require religious schools to teach staff in line with the school’s faith. will result in a hindrance to .

“Can you imagine a Catholic school hiring a school leader who claims atheism or considers our church’s beliefs to be ridiculous?” Charles Gouch, Catholic Bishop of Darwin, said Declared when a similar law was enacted. was suggested in the Northern Territory.

ALRC doesn’t seem to understand faith

Schools may give preference to staff members who inform the school’s beliefs about sexuality.But only if other alternative views can be presented.

The ALRC therefore proposes to compel religious schools to teach other moral and sexual norms, which must be promoted as viable alternatives, and therefore religiously-based We need to effectively replace the ALRC’s beliefs about gender and sexuality in schools.

Furthermore, staff are not required to live or even hold their faith unless they are “actively undermining” it. Thus, Christian schools face legal penalties for being forced to employ individuals who actively go against the teachings that underpin the unique ethos of faith-based schools, not just token advocates. increase.

Religious leaders say this interpretation would be a legal nightmare, given the irrational test of determining what “religious teaching, observance, or practice is truly part of the role.” says.

Moreover, the ALRC’s approach reflects a complete misunderstanding of faith. That is, while it appears that religion should not be “actively undermined” in education, in the way students are involved, in life in staffrooms and faculty buildings, it cannot be fully lived in. Contrary to school teaching.

So your beliefs are a set of abstract ideas that you intellectually agree with, and that’s it.

Epoch Times photo
Parishioners pray at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Sydney, Australia, October 25, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

As Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead said: interview With ABC Sydney, the ALRC mandates hypocrisy in its proposal that schools need to hire “religious studies teachers who don’t actually believe (or practice) what they teach.”

It may seem silly, but as he clarified, the ALRC proposal “has a situation where someone needs to say ‘You shall not commit adultery’ and teach the Ten Commandments.” It means that you can do it, but you can also say: Believe it or not, I’m having an affair with my science teacher. ”

It is precisely the education that faith-based schools offer that makes them attractive to both parents and students. The proposal is also an attack on general religious liberty and a form of reverse discrimination by effectively denying parents to send their children to religiously taught schools according to their religious and moral beliefs. There is also. This right is enshrined in international law.

Reforms proposed by the ALRC for religious schools may also apply to other religious institutions. For example, the Catholic Church, along with several other Christian denominations, operates services ranging from schools to aged care and hospitals, providing social assistance to those in need throughout the community.

Do you think the ALRC will tell them whether religious identity should be a factor in governing employment matters? Is that the case in Victoria now?

The new austere regime proposed by the ALRC to restrict religious freedom thus has all the characteristics of an authoritarian state.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.