Meet the

Freedom for Faith is a Christian legal think tank that exists to see religious freedom protected and promoted in Australia.

Michael Stead

Bishop Michael Stead is the current Chairperson of Freedom for Faith. Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales, is an honours graduate of Moore College with a Bachelor of Divinity and a Diploma of Ministry and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Gloucestershire in 2007.

Dr Stead has been the Bishop of South Sydney since December 2015. He chairs the Religious Freedom Reference Group for the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church. As the diocesan spokesperson on religious freedom, he has worked closely with representatives of other faiths on matters of common concern. He has extensive experience in Anglican church affairs nationally and internationally.  

He is married to Felicity, and the couple have three adult children.

Patrick Parkinson

Patrick Parkinson is a Professor at the TC Beirne School of Law, and was the Academic Dean and Head of School from 2018 – 2021. Professor Parkinson is a specialist in family law, child protection, law and religion and the law of equity and trusts.

Professor Parkinson served from 2004-2007 as Chairperson of the Family Law Council, an advisory body to the federal Attorney- General, and also chaired a review of the Child Support Scheme in 2004-05 which led to the enactment of major changes to the Child Support Scheme.

He was President of the International Society of Family Law from 2011-14. He has been a member of the NSW Child Protection Council, and was Chairperson of a major review of the state law concerning child protection which led to the enactment of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.

He also works with churches on child protection and religious freedom issues. In 2018, Professor Parkinson was awarded a Doctor of Laws by the University of Sydney for his book, Family Law and the Indissolubility of Parenthood (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Michael Quinlan

Professor Quinlan is Dean of the School of Law, Sydney at The University of Notre Dame Australia. Prior to taking up this role in 2013, Professor Quinlan had a distinguished career of over 23 years at the commercial law firm Allens where he was a partner for more than 14 years.

Professor Quinlan is a Vice President of the St Thomas More Society, a board member of Freedom For Faith, a board member of the Legal Profession Admissions Board, a member of the advisory board of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s Anti-Slavery Taskforce and a member of the Wilberforce Foundation.

Professor Quinlan has a deep interest in the relationship between law and morality and law and religion. Professor Quinlan is married to Kate and they have four (now adult) children Edmund, Brigid, Sinead and Liam.

Neil Foster

Neil Foster is an Associate Professor in Newcastle Law School at the University of Newcastle. He has a combined Arts/Law degree from the University of NSW, a degree in Theology from the Australian College of Theology, and a research Master of Laws degree from the University of Newcastle.

He teaches Torts, Workplace Health and Safety Law, and an elective in “Law and Religion”. He is a co-author of textbooks on Torts and Property Law published by LexisNexis Australia, the sole author of a book on WHS Law published by the same company, and runs a blog on Law and Religion issues,

Kim Bailey

Kim Bailey is a lecturer in law at Charles Sturt University. She holds a combined arts/law degree with honours from Macquarie University and the Preliminary Certificate in Theology with honours from Moore College. Kim lectures in tort law and legal ethics.

Kim comes from a background in legal practice and has published a number of works on embedding Indigenous cultural competency in legal curriculum. She is sole authoring a book on legal ethics with Thomsen Reuters. Kim has experience working with not for profit organisations supporting ministry.

Mark Edwards

Pastor Mark Edwards is the current Chairperson of the Freedom for Faith Board of Reference. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2014 for services to the church and community of Ipswich and in 2010 was honoured as an Ambassador for the City of Ipswich in the City’s 150th year.

Mark currently serves as Chairperson of Wave Leadership College in Virginia Beach, USA and is the previous Chairperson of the St. Andrew’s Private Hospital Board and the University of Queensland Ipswich Campus Strategic Advisory Taskgroup. He has served on the State Executive Board of the Australian Christian Churches and has been Senior Minister of Cityhope Church in Ipswich for 29 years.

Alex Deagon

Dr Alex Deagon is an Associate Professor in the School of Law, Queensland University of Technology.  His research focuses on jurisprudence, law and theology, law and religion, and religious freedom.  His PhD, ‘Using Christian Theology and Philosophy to Construct a Jurisprudence of Truth’, received the Chancellor’s Medal for outstanding excellence.  The PhD was subsequently published as a book in 2017: From Violence to Peace: Theology, Law and Community with Hart Publishing, Oxford.

Alex’s second book, A Principled Framework for the Autonomy of Religious Communities: Reconciling Freedom and Discrimination, was published in 2023 also with Hart Publishing, Oxford. Alex has more than 25 publications including in leading national and international journals such as Law, Culture and the Humanities, Political Theology, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, the Journal of Law and Religion, the Melbourne University Law Review, the University of New South Wales Law Journal, and the Federal Law Review.

He is the founding co-editor of the Australian Journal of Law and Religion. Alex has been cited extensively by Commonwealth Parliamentary Committees and Inquiries on religious freedom, including in the proceedings of the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia.  He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and lectures in Theories of Law and Constitutional Law.