The Australian Christian Lobby has today contradicted claims by Mike Gaffney MLC that people of faith should not influence public policy.
Mr Gaffney’s comments, reported on the National Secular Lobby website, suggest that the separation of church and state means, “…no religious group should feel as though they should be able to influence policy making in Australia.”
The comments are made in the context of Tasmania’s debate over assisted suicide.
“Mr Gaffney appears to exclude people of faith from the process of democracy, which is unconstitutional and undemocratic,” said ACL Tasmanian Director, Christopher Brohier.
“Tasmania is not a two-class society, divided between secularists who get to engage with politics and people of faith who don’t. Mr Gaffney’s comments view people of faith as second-class citizens, whose beliefs exclude them from democracy.”
“Tasmania’s constitution protects religious freedom – indeed, it is the only state to do so – and the Commonwealth Constitution guarantees free political communication for all Australians.”
“All Australians have the constitutionally guaranteed right to speak into the public affairs of state on the basis of their beliefs. One of our High Court Chief Justices has said, ‘it could not be otherwise.’”
Mr Brohier called on Mr Gaffney to withdraw his ill-advised remarks and debate the issue of assisted suicide on its merits.
“The ACL has opposed an extraordinary bill which will permit people who are not terminally ill to be assisted to commit suicide on the basis of what might happen to them in the future. This is the sort of issue that needs to be debated.”