Failure to protect religious freedom won’t be forgotten

Failure to protect religious freedom won’t be forgotten. By Jennifer Oriel.

The failure of the government to introduce more robust protections for people of faith will alienate many. What should have been a week to celebrate Australia’s multi-faith society ended in bitter division after a handful of Liberal MPs undermined the government and it was left with no option but to pull the religious discrimination bill. …

In some ways, the fracturing of the Liberal Party mirrors the breakdown of shared cultural values, history and morality in the developed world. Society is becoming more tribal and factions are in the ascendancy. Electorates are divided not only by socio-economic class, but increasingly along ethnic and religious lines. The challenge for major parties is to prevent one-trick ponies taking over seats where single-issue voting gives independents an edge.

It would be an exaggeration to claim the last election was decided on religious freedom, but it did matter. John Black analysed Labor’s shock loss after Bill Shorten weaponised religion against Morrison in the campaign. Writing in The Australian, he noted some seats on the urban fringes of cities had a higher proportion of “activist” religious members than elsewhere. He showed that up to 20 per cent of voters around Queensland marginal seats held by or swung to the Coalition were also strongly religious. …

While conservatives have been left dismayed by the government in recent times, many libertarians had already walked away over management of the pandemic and the adoption of a net-zero climate target. Recent decisions to increase funding for the Great Barrier Reef and ABC as the nation inches towards a trillion-dollar debt are unlikely to restore the confidence of small government fiscal conservatives.

Failure of moral character lies at the heart of the lost battle for religious freedom in Australia. The failure to defend the fundamental human right to freedom of religion. The failure to preserve the cornerstone of the world’s great civilisations for future generations. The failure to respect parents’ rights to raise their children in a moral framework based on the word of God rather than state-sanctioned ideology. The failure to shield families from politically correct activism emboldened by state discrimination laws. The failure to understand that in the free world, religion has served as the basis of a shared moral framework to ensure personal liberty could flourish in a society whose members were held together by civic duty and wisdom enough to know what was detrimental to the common good. The failure to honour a promise.

To the many Australians for whom faith is the substance of society and meaning of life, the failure of parliament to defend freedom of religion will not be easily forgotten.

It is impossible to reconcile the desire of the trans people not to be discriminated against under any circumstances, with the desire of religious people not to be discriminated against due to their beliefs. Who is the arbiter of right and wrong here, the woke collective or religious traditions?

Maybe the government should get out of the discrimination business. Let people discriminate as they see fit. People who discriminate will have to live with the reputational and economic damage. People will sort it out.

At the moment, there is a mish-mash of discrimination laws (including affirmative action), most of which are unfair or selectively enforced.

Why shouldn’t a gay restaurant be allowed to only hire gay waiters? Or an Islamic school be allowed to only hire Muslim teachers? Or a men’s club or a woman’s gym be allowed to allowed to exclude members of the opposite sex?

Freedom of association about covers it.

hat-tip Stephen Neil