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Scott Morrison's religious freedom is damning the nation

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The separation of Church and State seems to be sorely lacking with our Coalition Government (Screenshot via YouTube)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is prioritising his religious freedom bills over the environmental catastrophes destroying our country, writes Noely Neate.

WHILE AUSTRALIA was burning and people in Sydney were getting an even bigger taste of what other Australians in regional areas have been living with for months now, our Prime Minister addressed the nation.

Not about a climate emergency.

Not about a bushfire emergency.

Not about a health emergency.

Instead, Scott Morrison addressed that urgent need to protect the right for religious folk to discriminate — discriminate further, that is.

Even the usually fawning journalists at major publications who normally praise the PM and his so-called mastery of the “game of politics” were struggling to find anything positive to say. To be fair, they were also probably struggling to breathe or work on a phone sitting on the kerb due to a smoke alarm-induced building evacuation.

I won’t go into how utterly tone-deaf and, to be quite frank, offensive that press conference was in my opinion. Plenty of others on social media, even mainstream media, are questioning this move. Though, of course, many will focus on the “choice of timing as a political strategy” instead of the reality and ramifications of this announcement as, sadly, too many just can’t think/write/speak of politics outside that “game” prism. I want to discuss these so-called “religious freedom bills” — note there are more than one.

Yes, our Prime Minister and Government cannot accept and address climate change and the ramifications of it, even when faced with scientific proof, but can urgently address an issue of little consequence propped up by a belief that has no scientific, or any, evidence backing it up.

The PM trumpeted, “This is a bill for all Australians”. Actually, it is not. It is a bill to allow religious Australians to legally discriminate against other Australians, the majority of Australians that may not belong to your particular religious club.

The PM even went so far as to state, emphatically, of course, believing his own lies, “Australia is a country of respect and of tolerance".

I do think Australians are pretty much an apathetic sort of human, more the “you leave me alone and don’t shove anything down my throat and I’ll leave you alone” types. This bill does the opposite of that ethos. Worse, it seems somewhat anti-religious.

Most religions at their base, have “do unto others as you would have done unto you” or “love everyone” type vibes. I know quite a few of these types, so as not to offend them I will distinguish between those of faith who are truly kind, caring and loving of all their preferred entity's children and those who use their religious belief like a weapon to actively discriminate against “others”, profit off people’s misery and at every turn seek to dictate their beliefs upon others.

The latter group I call the “God Squad”. Sadly, these types are the ones in government, giving true people of faith a bad name, most of them so-called Christians (and I use that term loosely).

Personally, I think these God Squad types are just bitter, old, white supremacists who use their religion to comfort them in a fast-paced changing world to give them hope they are still relevant and superior to all those godless, women, immigrants, LGBTIQ – really any form of “other” – trying to displace them from what they think is their rightful place in society (at the very top, deciding upon the lives of others).

Not to mention for the evangelicals – looking at you, Hillsong types – they are making quite a profit out of this religious gig, too. And, of course, the Lyle Sheltons of this nation who are still spitting the dummy about the nation not siding with their nastiness when we voted for same-sex marriage in that ridiculous, bigot-pandering referendum.

This is where my biggest problem comes in. All the religious organisations that somehow seem to have a problem finding the wits to navigate the National Redress Scheme in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and have not signed up to it, have no problem scamming all those Government service contracts John Howard opened the door to all those years ago.

This revamped “religious discrimination bill” – as the only “freedom” in this bill is the freedom to discriminate by religions – is more far-reaching than the ridiculous story of the Christian baker refusing to make a gay wedding cake. These religions have their fingers in so many pies for which they receive billions of dollars in government funding to provide a service to all Australians, not just their own little religious networking group. Services like hospitals, schools, job network providers, domestic abuse shelters, medical centres, counselling services, emergency relief services, homeless services and more.

Worse, this is just the entities themselves, we still have not gotten to the “private” religious beliefs of individuals, such as the revelation that:

‘A pharmacist could refuse to dispense contraception and a doctor could refuse to provide fertility treatment under the government's proposed new religious discrimination laws.’

Just don’t use those services, I hear you say.

That does not work in a regional area. For many areas, the religious groups may be the only ones who operate that service. The next chemist – who may choose not to fill out contraceptive scripts – may be a hundred kilometres away. This is a big problem.

How will that social cohesion go when a favourite local is harmed due to being turned back by a God Squad organisation using their right to discriminate? Don’t forget, not just the godless, some discriminate against their own, too. Like the poor kindy teacher in my backyard because she fell pregnant out of wedlock.

I could give many examples of this nature. Sadly, as we have found from the fire emergency, you don’t get blanket coverage until it hits Sydney and doubt they will have this lack of “choice” issue.

It is ironic that religions who already have privilege in this nation when it comes to funding, exemption of laws, exemption of taxes and are not discriminated against, may find they have pushed apathetic Australians too far this time if this bill goes through and instead of fake “woe is me, we are being picked on” rubbish they may actually find they really will be under siege.

For mine, it was bad enough that Australians did not demand religious institutions get pulled into line after the atrocities they perpetuated and covered up were brought to light by the Royal Commission into Abuse — maybe this “religious discrimination bill”, if enacted, will be the extra privilege that pushes decent, caring Australians too far.

Read more from Noely Neate on her blog YaThink?, or follow her on Twitter @YaThinkN.

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