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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Curtailing the Freedom to Religion

Peter Costello makes excellent and sobering points in this opinion piece on The Age today:

  .. a parliamentary committee has recommended options to extend the power of the state over the province of religion. One proposed change is to restrict the freedom of religious schools to choose their employees on the basis of their religious faith.

... The Federation of Community Legal Services told the parliamentary review .. "To allow religious organisations a broad exemption for conscience encourages prejudice..."

Just think about the moral vanity of that statement. According to these lawyers, a religious conscience leads to prejudice. How did the church arouse public conscience over slavery? How did Florence become a haven for the arts and letters? How did civilisation develop in the past couple of millennia without the Community Legal Services to guide it?

.. The question is whether the law of the land should require them to employ people who are indifferent or hostile to their religion in their schools. Parents who choose to send their children to a Christian school have a reasonable expectation that the child will get a Christian education. How could the school fulfill its obligation to the parents if it is required by law to employ non-Christian or anti-Christian teachers to provide it?

.. We are led to believe that the purpose of these charters is to stop arbitrary arrests, guarantee a free press and guard against dictatorship. .. In practice, it complicates the life of religious schools and opens lawsuits against the churches.

.. Once the churches and religious conscience are out of the way, lawyers will have a clear run. Lawsuits will be used to decide the great moral questions of the age. You can see what’s in it for the lawyers. But don’t think it is a step forward for liberty.

It's a very serious threat. More information can be found in this pastoral letter from the Victorian Catholic bishops.

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