Opinion piece published in The Advocate, 8 May 2020 (available here).
No, Rodney Croome (Advocate, May 4) the much needed Religious Freedom laws are neither "absolute" nor "unfettered" as so falsely asserted.
Arguing against protection for religious freedom is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, given its overwhelming acceptance. Therefore resort is had to outright untruths and gross misrepresentations both of which were littered throughout Mr Croome's contribution along with the all too prevalent sneering and belittling of people of faith.
First, the pandemic rules of social distancing apply to all. The proposed Bill will not alter that for the future in any way shape or form.
Why the contrary is falsely asserted can only be based on gross ignorance or malicious mischief-making. To suggest anyone of faith could or would deny a COVID 19 vaccine injection is fanciful.
Suggesting a doctor of faith would tell a COVID19 patient they are "sinful or bound for Hell" is fanciful on steroids.
But these myths must be pedalled to try to justify the unjustifiable. A sure sign of the desperation of the campaign seeking to deny people this basic human right.
Secondly, the medical personnel in any hospital or aged care facility (faith-based or otherwise) are required to be fully medically qualified for their relevant role. This, of course, will not change.
To falsely suggest they will be chosen on religious belief and not competence has no basis. Newsflash ... you can be both qualified and a person of faith. They are not mutually exclusive.
Thirdly, to bizarrely suggest COVID19 sufferers would get lesser treatment at a Catholic hospital is an ugly throwback to the sectarianism which has thankfully long been discarded by mainstream society especially those who genuinely believe in equality and don't just virtue signal with the title while campaigning for the opposite.
Or to suggest "The people who will suffer most from derogatory and humiliating statements will be those who fall foul of traditional religious beliefs... like people with disability" is perhaps the most ignorant statement out of many.
Centuries ago it was people of faith that created hospitals and cared for the disabled and vulnerable when the rest of society would leave them to suffer and die. It took many years before the governments of the day started to provide this type of support.
The legacy of faith-based charities lives on today as they are amongst the largest providers in the world of healthcare, education and care for those with disabilities.
Fourthly, the derogatory descriptors employed against people of faith such as "more holy", "most pious" and "prejudice" exposes the ugly underbelly of so-called "equality" advocates. They disparagingly seek to divide Australians against people of faith.
"Diversity" was all the rage for the "equality" campaigners at one stage. Now it seems some diverse beliefs are more equal than others.
When an Archbishop can be dragged before a Discrimination Commission for promoting his Church's teachings which was accorded with the law of the land you know there is a defect in our laws - a major defect.
The recent increase in litigation against those expressing their religious beliefs is now becoming an alarming trend that spares no-one, whether you are a professional rugby player, medical worker or a school in Ballarat employing teachers who uphold the school's beliefs.
In the USA, Christian baker Jack Philips' case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court after he refused to bake a cake that supported same-sex marriage. Only last month he has been targeted and sued again, this time for not baking a cake celebrating a "gender transition." There is a clear and urgent need to protect freedom of religion.
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right guaranteed in our common law and more recently enunciated very clearly in a plethora of international human rights treaties. The fact Mr Croome failed to mention either is telling.
The lack of protections for religious freedom has been rightly identified by the Australian Human Rights Commission as a major gap in our laws. The Liberal Government is correctly committed to rectifying this omission in our laws.
A simple reminder to all... the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states very clearly in Article 18: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion...and...to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
Seeking to deny religious freedom is akin to denying freedom of thought and conscience as well. That is why protecting religious freedom actually protects all of us from authoritarian forces.