The religious freedom bill is the latest front in cultural wars


The practical effect of the religious freedom bill that Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced to Parliament on Thursday remains uncertain, but its symbolic power in Australia’s cultural wars is undeniable.

For religious conservatives who have lost a number of recent historic battles against progressives in social policy, this promises to turn the tide that has flowed against them recently.

After gaining overwhelming support in a popular vote, the Federal Parliament passed same-sex marriage in 2017. After falling behind other states, NSW legalized abortion last year and Parliament is currently debating it. ‘a bill on medical assistance in dying.

In this climate, religious groups feel their views are being ignored. Introducing the bill, Mr Morrison referred three times to the “cancellation of culture” which he said drives believers out of the public sphere. “Many people from various religious traditions are concerned about the lack of religious protection against the prevalence of cancellation culture in Australian life.”

The Herald agrees with Mr. Morrison that it is important to engage in a civil debate and that discrimination on religious grounds is abhorrent. Believers deserve the same respect as the 30% of Australians without a religious belief. As Mr. Morrison said: “Protecting what we choose to believe in a free society is essential to our freedom. In a liberal democracy, it’s like oxygen.

Yet Mr Morrison fails to establish that religious discrimination is a significant problem here in Australia. Overall, Australia already guarantees freedom of religion. The constitution expressly prohibits the imposition of a state religion. Just ask one of the refugees from countries with real religious bigotry if Australia is a free country. The bill is largely a solution to finding a problem.

Where this will make a difference is in cases where religious groups want more rights to break anti-discrimination laws, especially when it comes to LGBTQI people.

This is a difficult question because the idea of ​​giving a green light to religiously justified discrimination terrifies LGBTQI people who remember that just a few decades ago, their very existence was illegal.

The bill introduced by Mr. Morrison tries to appeal to both parties but will likely end up appealing to neither.

For example, while the bill offers some protection against discrimination for genuine statements of religious belief, employers have persuaded the government to exempt cases involving workplace policies, including workplace policies. social media. They argued that if employees were free to make inflammatory statements based on religion, it could damage their public image and cause discord in the workplace.


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