News Item

Real, lived experience shows religious freedom laws essential

The following opinion piece was published in ‘The West Australian’ on 25/6/20:

Yes, Brian Greig, Australians won’t cop discrimination on the basis of sexuality. (Australians won’t cop discrimination on basis of sexuality, 16/06/2020). But they won’t cop it on the basis of beliefs either.

Desperate to stop the passage of a Religious Discrimination Bill, some resort to fake examples, outright untruths and gross misrepresentations.

By contrast, here in Western Australia and around the nation, everyday Australians with the real, lived experience of the denial of their human rights, tell a different story to Mr Greig’s bogeyman stories.

Australia is one of the most tolerant societies on earth. We have a ‘live and let live’ attitude. The notion of a ‘fair go’ is a core Australian value.  Hence, most of us don’t take kindly to discrimination of any kind. To assert that Australia would become a place where law-abiding citizens could be hauled before various tribunals or kangaroo courts for expressing their Christian faith would have been preposterous a few years ago. But not anymore. It is now the lived experience of countless Australians every year. 

The Hordyk family in WA is one sobering example. Despite the overwhelming need for foster carers, they were deemed unfit to be emergency carers for at risk infants and toddlers because they hold to a traditional Christian view of sexuality. 

Photographer Jason Tey was hauled before the WA Equal Opportunity Commission for politely explaining to a potential client that he did not support same sex marriage. 

A WA tertiary lecturer who engaged in friendly informal conversations with staff and students about their use of the name of God and Jesus as a swear word, was issued with a formal warning for sharing his beliefs.

The Human Rights Law Alliance has dealt with dozens of such cases in the past few years. This ‘culture war’ is not ‘imported’ from the US, as Greig claims. The war is here and vigorously waged by LGBTI activist groups and supported by self-appointed and government-run political correctness police alike. In our post-Christian society, those holding traditional Christian beliefs have become a marginalised minority group. They are understandably calling for protection. While the draft Religious Discrimination Bill does not provide all the protections sought by most Christians, it is a modest step in the right direction.

Greig’s assertion that the Bill ‘targets LGBTI people, women, people with disabilities and any other group that falls foul of traditional religious doctrines’ is perhaps the most ignorant statement of many in his grim fairy tale. How quickly many forget that people of faith created hospitals and cared for the disabled and vulnerable when the rest of society left them to suffer and die.

I am sure Mr Greig would support a Greens MP’s right to refuse to hire, or sack a staffer, who declares that human generated carbon dioxide is not driving climate change. Yet he claims to be dismayed that religious organisations can do the same with people who don’t share their belief system. Talk of hypocrisy!

Mr Greig’s attack on the Samaritans Purse Field Hospital in Central Park New York is scurrilous. Samaritan’s Purse does incredible, front-line charitable health care work around the world. Mr Greig claims this organisation demonstrated the terrible consequences of allowing a religious organisation to require its staff and volunteers to subscribe to their statement of faith. He falsely claims, “The result was chaos, with religious belief being privileged over medical expertise in a health crisis”. The only chaos was caused by demonstrators who preferred that people die than be cared for by Christian medical professionals. Like their eponymous first Good Samaritan, Samaritan’s Purse have never discriminated as to who is admitted into their hospitals. 

Anti-discrimination laws give special privileges and power to those with so called ‘protected attributes’ such as race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation. LGBTI activists have enjoyed special privileges through anti-discrimination laws. It seems incongruous to deny people of faith their foundational human right of freedom of religion which, according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Australia is a signatory, should only be limited by criminal law.

We may live in a post-Christian culture, but Christian charity and goodwill are desperately needed. ‘Salt of the earth’ Aussies who hold to traditional Christianity are seeking laws that will allow them to continue to be part of mainstream society. That is hardly asking for too much.

Brian Greig’s opinion piece

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