Ruddock Report summary and responses (Part 2)

“Following my previous post giving comments on Recommendations 1, 5-8 and 15 of the Ruddock Report and the Government Response, I will comment here on another set of recommendations (Recs 2-4, 9-12) and the likely outcome. Comments on recommendations 13-14, and 16-20, will (hopefully) be made in Part 3! …”

– More from Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia.

The Ruddock Report has landed! (Part 1)

“The long-awaited Religious Freedom Review: Report of the Expert Panel (chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock) has now been released publicly, along with the formal Government Response.

After the prior leaking of its 20 recommendations there were no major surprises as to the final conclusion, but there is much interesting background to the recommendations (and in one or two cases the full Report seems to have a significant impact on how one should read the language of the recommendations.) It is also important to see the announced intentions of the LNP Government as to how they will respond.

In this first post in response to the full Report I will comment mainly on recommendations 1 & 5-8 and recommendation 15, with the other recommendations to be left for part 2 or later. …”

– Neil Foster provides his first response, at Law and Religion Australia.

Transitioning a Liturgy

“The House of Bishops of the Church of England has issued guidance on the use of liturgy to mark and celebrate a person’s gender transition. This follows a statement from the Bishops in January (responding to a motion at General Synod in July 2017) that the existing rite of affirmation of baptismal faith could be used for this purpose.

Church Society and other groups responded then, as we also have on previous occasions (see below for examples). We continue to have extremely serious concerns.

The bishops start by affirming that all people are welcome at church and celebrating the diversity of the body of Christ. Those are things that every evangelical Christian would want to endorse enthusiastically. Our astonishment at God’s amazing grace, that embraces even a sinner like me, drives us to want others to share in that too.

However, this guidance is highly problematic for a number of reasons …”

– Church Society’s Lee Gatiss examines the newly released guidance from the Church of England.

‘Men Have Forgotten God’: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 Templeton Address

To mark the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The National Review has republished an article adapted from his 1983 Templeton Address.

Among his remarks are these words –

“Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.

Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot. To achieve its diabolical ends, Communism needs to control a population devoid of religious and national feeling, and this entails the destruction of faith and nationhood. …”

Read it all.

Photo: US Library of Congress, via The National Review.

‘Nobody wants to expel gay kids’

John Howard has blasted the “maddening” debate over religious freedoms in Australia …

“Nobody wants to expel gay kids and to my knowledge it’s not happening. I mean, this is the greatest red herring imaginable…”

– former Prime Minister John Howard, in The Australian. (Subscription.) ABC photo.

Debate to be resumed on Sex Discrimination Act amendments on Wednesday morning

“Despite the deferral on Monday of a Bill introduced in the Senate to amend balancing clauses applying to religious bodies in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), the Bill has now been rescheduled for debate in the Senate on Wednesday, December 5, between 11am and 12:35pm.

The Senate Notice Paper for December 5 contains the following entry, listed for 11 am …”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster has the latest. (Emphasis added)

Result of Senate debate on amendments to SDA

“A brief update on Parliamentary developments. The Senate debate on the ALP-sponsored Bill to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 took place today. While initially the Bill had been subject to a tight time limit which meant it would have passed today if not actually voted down, at the last minute a Government motion amended this arrangement. The result is as follows:

Debate on this bill will continue at a later date.

It seems that the bill [reportedly identical is likely to be referred for consideration to a committee, and the debate will presumably be picked up in the New Year.

There was a similar Bill, however, introduced into the House of Representatives this morning by the Leader of the Opposition. At the moment it is not clear whether this Bill will be debated again this week. More updates will be provided when more is known.”

– Thanks to Assoc-Professor Neil Foster for this update.

Photo: Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Shorten, who has introduced a similar Bill into the House of Representatives.

Contacting Parliament on sex discrimination amendments

“A number of Christian and other religious organisations are deeply concerned about the proposals in the ALP-sponsored private Bill due to be debated in the Senate on Monday Dec 3. As I have discussed in previous comments (here and here) the Bill, which started out as an agreed measure to stop religious schools from expelling gay students on the basis of their “orientation” alone, has a number of other serious consequences for religious freedom, not only for schools but for churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious organisations (such as, for example, University student ministries.)

The Bill amends the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to remove some clauses which have previously provided protection for Christian organisations to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. …

I have been asked how concerned citizens can contact their Parliamentary representatives. …”

Associate Professor Neil Foster shares some points you might make to your Parliamentary representatives. (Emphasis added.)

Why Australian Religious Freedom is under legal threat

“Religious Freedom in Australia is under immediate legal threat.

A new bill introduced into the Senate last week (due to be debated this Monday, December 3rd) will, if passed unamended, severely erode Religious Freedom in our land. Especially for religious schools. …”

At the Gospel Coalition AustraliaAkos Balogh urges Christians to pray and act, and explains why.

Government amendments to religious schools bill

“For those following the debates about proposed amendments to discrimination laws removing religious freedom from faith-based schools, the LNP Government has now tabled a number of amendments to the ALP Bill released earlier this week.

While these amendments are a move in the right direction, there are still some serious concerns about their effect on religious schools and their ability to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. …”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster continues his coverage of the debates about religious freedom in Australia, at Law and Religion Australia.

ALP Bill on religious schools and students

“Senator Wong, leader of the Opposition in the Senate, has introduced a Private Senator’s Bill aimed at removing the power of religious schools to discriminate against same sex attracted students.

Unfortunately, the amendments do much more than stop schools expelling students on the basis of their internal sexual orientation (a goal all sides of politics agree on.) They will have a serious impact on the ability of such schools, and other religious bodies, to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. A more nuanced approach is needed. …

Despite the assurances offered in the Explanatory Memorandum, I think there is a real danger that the amendments made by this Bill will seriously impair the religious freedom of faith-based schools, and more legislative clarification is required to avoid this outcome. As noted below, it will also have an impact on other institutions.”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster tracks the latest twists and turns in the religious freedom issue – at Law and Religion Australia.

Religious liberty and Australian culture

“Roughly 40% of Australians voted No to same-sex marriage and, according to a recent Newspoll, roughly 40% also reject the legitimacy of religious protections for Australians who disagree with same-sex marriage. The debates taking place in Federal parliament regarding religious liberty are culturally significant.

The cultural reformation of the 1960s has transformed social views on sex, marriage, family, and, increasingly, gender. And yet clearly not all have gone with the tide. …”

– Dr Stephen Chavura argues that ‘religious liberty and freedom of conscience is not religious privilege”.

Related:

Calls for Macquarie University to distance themselves from Christian Academic (March 2017).

Is It Discrimination for Christian Groups to Require Christian Leaders? – Patheos.

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