Noely Neate discusses the Ruddock 'Religious Freedom Review' and its attempt to enshrine the religious "right" of schools to discriminate against gay people.
DON'T YOU JUST LOVE waking up to find that, yet again, our Government seems happy to fund discrimination with our taxpayer dollars?
If you have missed it, Fairfax seems to have gotten a hold of the report from Philip Ruddock’s dodgy ‘Review into Religious Freedom’.
I personally can’t understand why a review was needed.
It would appear that the religious have a heap of freedom. Freedom to score extra taxpayer funds for their schools and freedom to be bigots who think their "opinion" matters more than the mental health of the already vulnerable (as we saw illustrated in the odious same-sex marriage survey). And, of course, we can’t forget their freedom to be above the law as evidenced by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse where perpetrators evaded the law for decades – literally decades – and many still do to this day. I’d like to note how the Catholic Church, in particular, feels it has the freedom to evade mandatory reporting of child safety concerns as it would "break the seal of confessional".
Yeah, those poor religious buggers their religious freedom is so at risk!
I think I understand now why the Government has held onto the report for four months without releasing it. Pretty much, it has just confirmed the privileged status religions have always had in this nation, which, I don’t think is what the sore losers from the same-sex marriage survey really wanted. Surprising actually, considering this Government doesn't tend to do a review unless it has pre-determined what the outcome will be.
Of course, we have the standards that the religious love — you know, particularly the Christians, or, as I like to refer to them, the *God Squad. That is, the "freedom" to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people and those living in sin. But the kicker is if this one gets through the Senate, and I suspect the Coalition are working really hard on getting rid of the two points below, it could be an own goal for some of it’s biggest proponents.
To quote the Fairfax report:
'Any change to the law should only apply to new enrolments, the report said. The school would have to have a publicly available policy outlining its position, and should regard the best interests of the child as the “primary consideration of its conduct.”'
Only new enrolments? The schools won’t like that. But my favourite is: The school would have to have a publicly available policy outlining its position.
Now, this one will be interesting. Most of the religious schools love their corporate sponsors, money donated from old boys and so on, but many of these firms now have LGBTIQ+ executives — not so sure they will be wanting to donate to a school that publicly proclaims its discriminatory practices?
Not to mention how the upwardly mobile, who love to give patronage to these sorts of schools, will feel sitting in the wine bar discussing little Harry’s lovely new school when someone pipes up with: Oh, is that the school that is loud and proud about hating gays, saw it on their website and it makes me uncomfortable.
Yep, no hiding under the radar or keeping things in-house any longer as it seems the schools – and other rent seeking religious institutions that get taxpayer funding for so-called community services, like aged care – would have to proclaim publicly just how bigoted and discriminatory they are before they could actually legally discriminate.
The other own goal gives me great pleasure to point out.
Again, to quote Fairfax:
The panel said it had heard a broad range of concerns about people’s ability to “manifest their faith publicly without suffering discrimination." This included wearing religious symbols and dress at school or work, communicating views based on religious understandings, obtaining goods and services and engaging in public life without fear of discrimination.
As we know, this current Government usually needs the support of Senator Pauline Hanson to get anything through the Senate, though in this case – a bit like anything related to national security – when it comes to religious "stuff", the ALP tend to go weak at the knees and roll over for them too.
And this bit: 'This included wearing religious symbols and dress at school or work', might also be a bit of a problem for Pauline — the woman who famously wore a burqa into the Senate as an odious stunt, finding out she can’t keep up her campaign to "ban the burqa"?
Even old mate Senator Fraser Anning probably would not support that, considering he seems to despise anyone in this nation who is not White and Christian and loves a good old ban on Muslims.
In my opinion, this whole review was called by the sore losers from the same-sex marriage debate, who, like many privileged in society, really don’t like having to share their privilege. So they got their pet Government to do a review, hoping they could follow the ridiculous U.S. rubbish about refusing to marry, or, of course, that burning issue of baking wedding cakes for gays — noting the U.S. Supreme Court actually allowed said baker to be a discriminatory bigot. So in this vein, the God Squad types decided they should have their rights to discriminate extended, under the guise of "protection", to ensure bakers all over Australia could discriminate freely.
Funny thing is, I think they forgot Christianity is not the only religion in this nation. If what Fairfax is reporting is correct – as, with most stuff this Government does, the devil is in the detail and Fairfax may not have been given that – and the Government implements all Ruddock's recommendations then, they will actually have forced religions to publicly declare their bigotry and given the less prevalent religions, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and so on, equal billing to Christianity. Not sure that was part of the original plan!
Stay tuned. As our interim Prime Minister seems so intent on "safeguarding personal liberty in a changing society", let’s see how this one goes. I suspect the "cherry picking" in this report may be interesting.
Freedom "from" religion, anyone? Or will we have to call not believing in a religion – a religion – to be treated as equals by this Government?
* I was raised as a Catholic. I refer to the bigoted as the "God Squad" instead of Christians as the Christianity I was taught was that of loving all God's children and so I refuse to give these faux-Christian bigots the respect of calling them Christians.
Read more from Noely Neate on her blog YaThink?, or follow her on Twitter @YaThinkN.
Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.