RELIGIOUS FREEDOM LAWS SHOULD BE A SHIELD, NOT A SWORD
Today’s Government support for the Ruddock Review into religious freedom is being questioned by Australia's oldest freethought association, which believes there is no need for legislation to positively protect religion.
Dr Meredith Doig OAM, the President of the Rationalist Society of Australia, says, “Religions may need a shield, but they don’t deserve a sword. There is no compelling evidence that religious freedom is even under threat.”
She explains that Rationalists are not anti-religious, but are pro-secular. They believe that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of their religious or non-religious beliefs.
"Our government should not interfere with religion; and religion should not be privileged by the government,” she adds. “Religions should not be given a positive right to manifest whatever outdated and unscientific beliefs they may cling to, just because they were written into ancient text.”
The Morrison Government today accepted the main recommendations of the Ruddock report in principle. lt also promised to release a series of legislative measures to prevent religious discrimination before next year's election, and appoint a religious freedom commissioner.
"All faiths have freedom to operate in Australia and what people believe in the privacy of their own minds is up to them,” Dr Doig says. “But as international law has recognised, the freedom to manifest one’s beliefs is limited by the potential to cause harm to others."
"For example, if faith-based schools teach that homosexuality is a sin, or that wives should obey their husbands, this creates a harmful and discriminatory environment. But let's also be clear. Secularism does not want to stamp religion from public life. In fact, genuine secularism protects the rights of all faiths as long as they obey the law."
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND INTERVIEWS
Dr Meredith Doig OAM
0403 246 544
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Rationalist Society of Australia is the oldest freethought group in Australia, promoting reason since 1906. Members and supporters hold that all significant beliefs and actions should be based on reason and evidence, that the natural world is the only world there is, and that answers to the key questions of human existence are to be found only in that natural world.