Doubts, divides and, possibly, leaks! We bring you some key updates on the proposed religious discrimination laws from the news of the past week. There’s also plenty of news and analysis on other issues of concern for secular Australia.
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The National View
Reports today suggest that the government’s proposed religious discrimination laws have been leaked, after conservative group Family Voice Australia shared in-depth details of the forthcoming bills with its members (Star Obbserver).
The government will be consulting further with churches and religious groups before holding talks with the Labor Party, with the expectation to complete a draft of the religious discrimination law for mid August (AFR).
While admitting there have been some “complication” in the process of drafting the bill that he will put to parliament, the Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said it was “pretty simple stuff, ultimately” (6PR).
Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick – a potential kingmaker on a vote in the Senate – has questioned whether there was a problem or just a perception of a problem when it comes to religious discrimination (Brisbane Times).
Liberal Senator James Paterson says he’s “not aware” of people’s religious rights being trampled or undermined, but argues people of faith are becoming an increasingly smaller group in society and no longer feel free to espouse their views (The Australian).
The former Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, Greg Thompson, has criticised Christians for using the Israel Folau contract case as a “trojan horse for an argument about religious freedoms” (Newcastle Herald).
A parent who was concerned about the teachings of Israel Folau’s church to her son has labelled it an “isolated hate group” after conducting her own investigations into the services of the Truth of Jesus Christ Church (The Age).
Reason Party MP Fiona Patten has called for greater transparency on who benefits in the Catholic education system as new national-wide figures revealed that the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria topped the list of Australia’s richest charities, receiving much of its yearly $2.3 billion from taxpayers (InDaily).
Around the Country
WA: Church groups in Western Australian have reaffirmed their opposition to the state’s government’s proposed assisted dying laws (The Australian).
TAS: A Christian family that had refused to pay taxes since 2011 because it would go “against God’s will” have been ordered by a court to pay more than $2 million to the Australian Taxation Office (ABC).
VIC: The Catholic Bishop of Ballarat, Paul Bird, outlined why the church preferred settling compensation matters with abuse victims outside the “adversarial”’ environment of the courts (The Courier).
Commentary and Analysis
Author and former Pentecostal Tanya Levin argues that the church informs every aspect of Prime Minister’s politics (7am podcast).
Jason Scott draws a comparison between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US Vice President Mike Pence (Bloomberg).
In a Weekend Australia Magazine cover profile of the Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles, Richard Guilliat reports on how Iles turned up at an evangelical church in westen Sydney to rail for two hours against “radical secular forces ... hounding its followers from their jobs and snuffing its beliefs from public discourse” (The Australian).
Jeff Sparrow explains how coalition members have themselves in knots over religious freedom’, noting that while the conservatives want protections for Christians they also have a long history of vilifying Muslims (Eureka Street).
Janet Albrechtsen argues that keeping the promise to people of faith will become a key test of the Prime Minister’s credibility, especially as divides within the coalition deepen (The Australian).
Tony Walker suggests a better way to protect against religious discrimination and other types of discrimination would be through a bill of rights instead of piecemeal legislation (SMH).
Dr Justin Koonin, president of ACON, Australia’s largest LGBTQI health organisation, warns that without a mature national conversation on religious discrimination, young LGBTIQ Australians will be in harm’s way (SMH).
John Tate points out that Folau’s Instagram post condemning ‘sinners’ had misquoted Galatians, chapter 5, verses 19-21 in the Bible, which mentioned nothing about homoexuals or even hell (SMH).