The Ruddock Review
Freedom for Faith is a think tank that exists to see religious freedom promoted and protected in Australia and beyond.
Our submission to the Philip Ruddock led religious freedom review is called ‘Protecting Diversity’. It sets out the way to a better legal framework for religious freedom in Australia. It is not a re-run of the plebiscite debates around marriage.
One of the principles that we spell out explicitly is that we do not propose any winding back of LGBT rights.
We do not want this Review to be perceived through the lens that it involves a battle between LGBT groups and the Churches, as if protection of the rights of one group must inevitably be at the expense of another.
Rather, we propose positive solutions, for how we can all live together well in a multicultural society in which there are a great many people of faith from a range of religions, as well as many who have no faith.
We recommend reforms:
concerning the way in which anti-discrimination laws are drafted, moving away from the language of exemptions and exceptions to avoid any perception of special pleading or special concessions to people of faith.
to provide positive protections for freedom of religion and conscience, and the associated rights of freedom of speech, assembly and association, subject to the limitations which are appropriate and necessary according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
to provide for the appointment of a religious freedom commissioner to ensure an ongoing focus on religious freedom issues.
to give freedom for religious organisations to have staffing policies consistent with their religious values and mission.
to protect from discrimination on the basis of religious belief.
to require employers to give reasonable accommodation for faith in the workplace
concerning marriage which were not addressed by the amendments passed in December 2017 and which were left to this Review to make recommendations about.
concerning parental rights in the educational context.
This submission represents what may be an unparalleled demonstration of unity by the churches on the future of religious freedom in Australia. It has been made on behalf of, or endorsed by, a range of denominations and church groups including the Australian Christian Churches (which includes Hillsong), the Baptists, the Presbyterian Church of Australia, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney, the Barnabas Fund, the Assembly of Confessing Congregations within the Uniting Church, the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia, Free Reformed Churches of Australia, EV Church, Church Communities Australia and the Sydney Chinese Christian Churches Association. Other groups and individuals have also indicated their intention to endorse the submission.