When has there been a busier time to contend for religious freedom, marriage and family and the sanctity of human life in Australia? It's hard to imagine.
The frenzied attempts in Parliament to block the marriage plebiscite and the concerted campaigns to decriminalize abortion in Queensland and NSW all need our attention. Even so, today we feel we must draw your attention to a critical situation in Victoria where religious freedom is at risk because as Martin Luther King said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Two weeks ago Daniel Andrews' Labor Government launched an extraordinary attack on religious freedom in Victorian Christian schools and churches.
On 30 August the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016 was introduced. If passed this Bill would restrict the ability of religious bodies, charities, schools and educational institutions to employ staff according to their faith and ethos.
Peter Kentley, Executive Director of the Christian Federation based in Melbourne warns,"on Wednesday afternoon this week, the Victorian State Government will debate a bill to deny religious institutions exceptions from anti-discrimination law. ... This is a direct attack on religious freedom that will sooner or later go national if it gets through in Victoria."
The stakes couldn't be higher, reports Dan Flynn, the Victorian Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. He writes "This Bill would be the end of Christian schooling as we know it." Christian schools and churches could be forced to hire people who are fundamentally opposed to what their community stands for. If this were to happen it would be a terrible blow to religious freedom.
The Age has described this as a deliberate crackdown on our schools.
Parents send their children to Christian schools because they want their children growing up and learning in a Christian community.
Christian Schools Australia chief executive, Stephen O'Doherty, said the proposed laws were a "draconian attack on religious freedom principles". He also said, "We feel that the Andrews' government is the most anti-religious government we have seen in a long time."
Catholic Education Melbourne executive director, Stephen Elder, said it was important that a Catholic school had the freedom to employ staff who supported the Catholic faith and didn't undermine the school's ethos.
The Andrews' Government seems determined to undermine parents' choices and the distinctly Christian character and ethos of these schools.
The religious 'inherent requirement' test that the former Coalition Government overturned in 2011 would apply to all religions including schools, churches and organisations - but not to political parties.
Political parties and organisations rightly have freedom to discriminate against a job applicant or employee on the basis of their political belief or activity. For example, the ALP does not have to employ a card-carrying Liberal and vice versa. Only religious bodies are targeted in this Bill.
We need to act fast and with urgency to influence our MPs on this important issue. If this Bill gets through the Lower House on Wednesday, all is not lost. It can still be stopped in the Upper House where it is likely to be voted on in the coming weeks.
For your letter or email you can use any of the suggested points below.
Every child comes from and needs BOTH a mother and a father. Same-sex "marriage" intentionally keeps either a mother or a father from the child. Government should protect the child through upholding traditional marriage.
There is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak”. (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Now is the time to speak, so please speak up and defend children, truth and freedom. Craig Manners
“What the world needs most is a voice that courageously speaks the truth, not when the world is right, but a voice that speaks the truth when the world is wrong.” Fulton Sheen
True marriage offers true equality for children. Every child comes from and needs BOTH a Mum and a Dad. Every human being has dignity and deserves respect. All sorts of relationships can be respected at law without having to change marriage laws. In fact that has been the case legally for many years. The simple fact remains though that not every relationship is marriage.