I place dots … because what are religious people free to say and do? Does this draft protect religious people or can it criminalise those who critique religion? Bare in mind all religions do not welcome critique. Yet the Enlightenment arose with the philosophers who advocate for questioniong for truth! What of those who abuse as a religious rite, ritual or freedom in secrecy?
In my own experience I have experienced unquestioned beliefs that deny a persons own life in favour of the ‘Word’. I was told by a Christian woman that man is the head of the household and I should obey even if I think he is wrong. In her house she was the head of the household, her husband did as he was told. I did point out this inconsistency and I decided to put a scenario to this person as follows:
‘What if my husband raped me should I do as he tells me given he is the head of the household’. She said ‘yes’. What implications does this have for abuse?
Recently I was told by a Christian that she wouldn’t work with me because I was not a Christian. I am homeless and we were starting an organisation together to help the homeless. I told her it was discrimination, she did not believe that. Yet her reason for not working together was a religious one.
So what of those of us who do not want to be discriminated against by those who are religious accusing those ‘secular’ (no belief in religion) of being a ‘non believer’. I’ve been told that as if there way is the only way (to God). I was treated like I didn’t know God when I have had direct experience. It was evident I had to accept Jesus as God’s son to be included.
I am not a believer I actually know there is a higher power but I don’t subscribe to any religion as I experience God (higher power) as love. Is it loving of me to expect others to see God my way as the only way or arrogant? Or should I show respect and accept they may experience this higher power differently? Some believe a book literally as the ‘Word’ others have had evidence via experience and know. My mother was taken out of her body and looked over the earth when she asked to see as she couldn’t believe unless it was in her experience.
There are also issues of interpretation of the Bible or Koran or Buddha etc. So each person sees this higher power differently between and within faiths/ideologies. It is fraught with misinterpretation and conflict as people typically divide into right versus wrong or righteousness. I’ve been told when I pointed out to a person who said he would only accept those who articulate in a way that he accepts. I stated that some people are not articulate or able to communicate in the way he believes is right. I was told by a religious person that demons had affected me as they saw conflict rather than values. I was seeking inclusivity and felt he was discriminating, yet I was interpreted as the problem as he got upset. Her religious believes meant that she believed I was being influenced by demons, what do you say to that? She was wrong. We have witnessed horrendous wars fought over beliefs fighting infidels, witches, Muslims, non believers, religious sects etc. They are positioned as ‘devils’, ‘evil’, ‘terrorists’ and so on. So the idea of religious freedom raises issues for me instantly.
I would like to state that I am very open to other religions, I sit and listen to their beliefs with respect as I am secular but with a spiritual awareness. I believe this higher power turns up in all forms and who am I to judge anyone as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I can only offer my experience and know each walk their path. I laugh when I think of another religious person I know who believed homosexuality was a sin. She ran a soup kitchen and guess what, homosexuals came for soup. She befriended them as she was face to face not in a pulpit. She even invited them to stay in her caravan when they were homeless. I really loved that. She ended up accepting them as homosexuals and still holding to her belief but she didn’t reject them or treat them with exclusion or disrespect. She treated them as others would want to be treated. That is not only tolerance, it is acceptance of difference but still holding a belief. That is what I vote for.
I wonder what happens when a person withholds medical treatment as they don’t operate on this type of person or that person, what if bias enters into judge’s judgement on the basis of religious beliefs he or she subscribes to? What if it is a gender issue and he believes Eve is the rib of Adam? What if he believes a woman should obey her husband (see point above)? What if he sees women as biologically inferior or asserts that for a woman ‘equality of outcome is undesirable’ as a implied biased belief? What if he believes women should stay at home and have babies? What if a homosexual is raped and he or she believes he is a sinner? If there is a religious bias in a court case and you realise you are not receiving justice, where do you go? The fact that a Judge is immune from prosecution is extraordinary and not equality before the law. What of that bias? What if secular people are not protected from religious discrimination? The regulators are watered down as I have witnessed so it is not easy to gain justice or equality before the law. What if a growing number of politicians in Parliament are of a similar religion then they will support a brother or sister rather than go agains ttheir belief. Does that ensure justice is done and seen to be done which underpins the society’s belief in the system. If unfairness, persecution or protection occurs of those who are discriminating then this will create resentment and despair as justice is really ‘fairness’ at its essence. Certainly for the public it is.
One last point is the paedophilia issue that is arising out of the issue of Catholic priests abusing children in the Catholic Church (and other churches, religions) e.g. Cardinal George Pell. There is extensive information on the internet about paedophile rings at the highest levels. It has been stated by survivors that they have included politicians, police, judges, lawyers, priests, royalty etc. Fiona Barnett has a website Pedophiles Down Under which is a whistleblowers website providing cases about abuse and naming names. Refer https://pedophilesdownunder.com/
Another reference to pedophilia in respect to Freemasons. Are masonic rituals a religion?
What happens if a law enables religious persons to hide behind religious freedom to block freedom of speech against their religion which could culminate in criminal convictions? What if they argue that it is not abuse, as some are saying in the UK (Cambridge) that it is normal and the children want it? What if they are professors asserting this (see next blog). What if these rituals are part of a religion and there are justifications for the rituals.
So how do you legislate religious freedom given the complexities?
I haven’t read the draft Bill but my gut tells me this is an agenda. I am concerned we are losing a secular government which is essential for fairness and non bias.
Religious freedom draft bill may prove to be Scott Morrison’s greatest test
When Federal Parliament finally voted on same-sex marriage in December 2017, 14 MPs abstained from the vote in the House of Representatives, along with eight in the Senate.
Just four MPs voted against the bill in the House. But many of those who abstained had been vocal critics of the legislation, including our now Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
Amid heated debate about whether ministers of religion would be forced to marry same-sex couples — against their teaching of their faith — a proposal was born for amendments that would entrench religious freedom in law.
(The same sex marriage legislation did ultimately contain provisions which meant religious celebrants were not obliged to perform marriage services.)
Mr Morrison was one of the main advocates who argued that questions of religious freedom had to be dealt with at the same time as marriage equality.
But then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull argued there should be a broader and separate discussion of the issues — since they went beyond marriage — and federal cabinet eventually agreed to appoint former Howard-government minister Philip Ruddock to review the protection of religious freedom.
This context is important to keep in mind now that, almost two years later, we finally have a draft religious discrimination bill to consider.
What’s in the draft?
The issue has long been seen as a lightning rod for division within the Coalition. In fact, it is more regularly seen as a political plaything for battles between conservatives and others in the party than as a complex and sensitive issue to be dealt with by the Parliament in the interests of the broader community.
It’s sometimes described as no more than an internal Coalition battle, or even as just a wedge against Labor.
There are strongly held views about what religious freedom actually means, and what needs to be protected, on both sides of the argument, and there has been considerable apprehension about what might emerge with the draft bill.
Attorney-General Christian Porter has released a draft which produced some early grumbles from both sides, but which has grounded itself in anti-discrimination law, rather than in religious rights philosophy.
As he has repeatedly said, the Government has sought the shield, rather than sword, approach to the issue, arguing the alternative would leave too many questions for the courts to have to determine.
The interesting parts of the draft are that, while it seeks to protect against discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or activity, it prescriptively defines neither.
A government summary of the paper says:
“Religious belief is intended to include beliefs associated with major faith traditions (such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or Judaism) in addition to the beliefs of smaller and emerging faith traditions. However, it is not intended to capture beliefs caused by mental illness or that are motivated by criminal intent.
“Religious activity may include participating in religious observances (such as prayers, fasting, ceremonies or other holidays); wearing religious dress (such as a hijab, kippah or kirpan); and not engaging in certain conduct in accordance with religious belief (such as not eating meat or drinking alcohol).”
Folau would have a case
It says you can’t be seen to discriminate against someone merely for expressing a genuinely held belief.
In the ubiquitous case of Israel Folau (who was sacked by the Australian Rugby Union for saying on social media that drunks, homosexuals, fornicators and others would go to hell), according to Mr Porter, the bill would “give someone in Israel Folau’s circumstance an avenue for complaint” he told 7.30 on Thursday.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
“That complaint would look like this: My employer puts a condition upon me which has the effect of restricting my ability to express my religious beliefs in my spare time.
“And what this bill says is that if a large employer with a turnover of over $50 million did that, not merely would they have to show that broad condition on the employee is reasonable, but they would have to show that unless that condition were complied with, that they, the business, would suffer undue financial hardship.”
Mr Porter argues part of the rationale for this provision on larger businesses is that it is a brake on businesses trying to dictate what their employees say outside work hours, which he argues is a restriction on free speech.
(This sits rather oddly with the increasing moves by the Government to close down this very right for public servants, who would not be protected by this provision).
But a practical advantage of the financial-hardship provision is that it gives a non-philosophical, shall we say, point of assessment, against which tribunals and courts could consider complaints about freedom of religion under this proposed legislation.
Equally, there is a “reasonableness” test in cases of indirect discrimination on religious grounds which should ensure complaints are not frivolous.
There are concerns the legislation would over-ride some existing state anti-discrimination laws, though Mr Porter argues the reality is that there are flaws in state laws which have not helped anybody and the legislation merely says commonwealth law would prevail in contentious cases.
A test of faith
But the great test will be how those who wanted more aggressive freedom-of-religion laws might respond and, in turn, what the Prime Minister has to say.
Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said on Friday it was “clear from my ongoing consultation and engagement with religious leaders that the bills are likely to fall far short of properly and fully addressing their requirement”.
If that proves to be the case, and the draft legislation produced by Mr Porter comes under intense pressure to be hardened up, it creates not just a unique dilemma for the Prime Minister but, without doubt, his most complex domestic challenge.
And the challenge is not of the “challenge to his authority” nature. The challenge is to his capacity for political leadership.
Here is an issue on which he has led the running from the start and, without doubt, is seen in the public mind through the prism of his own strong religious commitment.
But his Cabinet has produced a well-thought-through structure for dealing with this thorny issue and a structure which does provide the capacity for people to be able to speak out in terms of their faith without facing prosecution.
But if conservatives push on the issue, Mr Morrison will have to advocate for policies which may offend the very conservative base to which he appealed when he pushed for this review in the first place.
“I do not want religion to be an issue that divides Australians, it is deeply personal for people, I want to work through it in a way that enhances unity, not for political purposes,” Morrison told his party room earlier this year and he has argued equally that he wants to develop a bipartisan position on the issue.
That is going to require some serious and detailed positive advocacy of a difficult issue. It is not something we see a lot of in politics these days.