Media Release: Wednesday, 17 September, 2008

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) expressed concern at a review of freedom of religion launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission today, saying that it appeared to be biased before it even started and aimed at undermining the rights of people with faith to have an influence in the public sphere.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said that comments from the Commission’s race discrimination commissioner Tom Calma reported on ABC radio this morning questioned whether religious beliefs should influence policies being determined in Australia.

“It is unbelievable that an organisation supposedly working to “respect, protect and promote” human rights should bring into question the basic rights of people of faith to freedom of expression and political participation,” Mr Wallace said.

“Everyone, whether of faith, no faith, or a faith in secular humanism, has a right to bring their views into the public square,” Mr Wallace said.

“I expect the Human Rights Commission to be protecting that right – not challenging it.”

Mr Wallace said that, historically, Australian society had been founded on Christian values and people of faith have contributed a great deal to the laws and government of not just Australia, but the very character of Western democracy.

He noted that the reason given for the review was “that these issues are continually in the headlines”.

“Unless there is another agenda here, we are clearly short of reasons to justify such a review,” he said.

Media contact: Glynis Quinlan