The Australian Christian Lobby has rejected so-called religious freedom exemptions unveiled in a same-sex marriage bill by Senator Dean Smith today.
“The so-called exemptions are extremely narrow and apply only to professional clergy or businesses which have a religious purpose,” ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said.
“There has been no consultation with the Christian community and the Bill ignores the overwhelming majority of freedom concerns raised by the sector at the Senate inquiry and identified in its report earlier this year,” Mr Shelton said.
“There is no protection for Christian or religious schools who wish to teach children that marriage is exclusively heteronormative.
“There is no protection for a business owner who does not wish to violate his or her conscience about what marriage is.
“There is also no protection for people like Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous who was taken to the Tasmanian anti-discrimination commission for distributing Christian teaching on marriage.”
Mr Shelton said given the coverage of the Porteous case, one would have thought Senator Smith would have at least attempted to provide a protection for Christian teaching about marriage.
A raft of concerns from Christian groups were presented to the Senate inquiry into religious freedom over December January but all but the most narrow protections have been ignored.
“It is false of Senator Smith and Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman to say there is consensus about same-sex marriage and religious freedom.”
The Senate inquiry found that if Australia was to remain free and pluralistic under a same-sex marriage law regime, major law reform would be required to preserve freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
The chair, Senator David Fawcett said: "I note that if Australia is to remain a plural, tolerant society where different views are valued and legal, legislators must recognise that this change will require careful, simultaneous consideration of a wide range of specialist areas of law as opposed to the common perception that it involves just a few words in one act of parliament."
Mr Shelton said experience overseas showed that so called religious exemptions were not worth the paper they were written on.
“Leaders of the same-sex marriage movement told the Senate inquiry that any exemptions should be reviewed, which meant they would not stand the test of time.”
The Swedish Prime Minister has just told clergy that if they don’t wish to solemnise same-sex marriages they should “get another job”.
Mr Shelton said the Bill also endorsed the idea that people might not be male or female, something which stems from radical queer theory being taught through the “safe schools” program.
“People who did so not affirm same-sex marriage and gender fluid theory and who speak about this publicly could also face court.”
Mr Shelton said if the Liberal Party did not push back on its own MPs seeking to break faith with their policies, voters would look elsewhere.