Support for religious freedom is an issue that bridges the political divide – with today’s Newspoll finding that 59% of Australians support new laws to protect individuals, schools and companies from being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.
The vast majority of both Labor (57%) and Coalition (65%) voters believe it’s important to ensure religious freedom in Australia.
The Government is currently considering its response to the recent Religious Freedom Review, that received more than 15,500 submissions.
Among the recommendations were a number of measures to ensure religious schools and charities were not subject to discrimination laws merely for holding a traditional view on marriage. Other recommendations highlighted the equal status of all human rights under international law, including freedom of religion.
From The Australian newspaper:
“Faith-based bodies have consistently argued for religious freedoms to be expressed as a “positive right” in federal law — an action that would fundamentally reframe religious freedom protections. It is also possible that the government will seek to introduce a Religious Discrimination Act — one of the key recommendations of the Ruddock review — in a bid to reframe the current system of protections. The committee also recommended “that the government immediately release to the public the full report and findings of the Religious Freedom Review” led by Mr Ruddock.
Some Christian schools have warned they will face an existential threat and could face claims of direct discrimination for promoting a biblical view of marriage if the exemptions were removed from the Sex Discrimination Act.”
Advance Australia recognises that faith is a guiding principle for many Australians and that religious freedom is a human right. We also acknowledge the great and positive influence on Australian life of many Judeo-Christian faith-based charities, including World Vision, The Salvation Army, Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul, and a wide range of church-based social welfare, health and education services.
These organisations have helped build our nation and are overwhelmingly a force for good. They should not be stripped of the fundamental ethos and principles upon which their work is based.
Mainstream Australians know that people of all religions should be free to live their beliefs as long as they do not conflict with or contradict Australian law.
In return, it’s the Government’s responsibility to ensure that our laws reflect and uphold the principle of freedom of religion.