Weekend Wrap for 8 June 2019

While the issue of press freedom might have dominated the news in recent days, ‘religious freedom’ has remained a hot political debate, with the government drafting the religious discrimination legislation it will bring to the new parliament.

We hope you find this new installment of Weekend Wrap helpful in navigating some of the key issues of concern in the secular space. Share it with friends and let us know if we’ve missed anything. The Weekend Wrap is also published on our new 'Secular Spotlight' blog.

From the Capital

Conservatives may lose the struggle within the coalition to have broader and more far-reaching legislation to ‘protect religious freedom’ introduced when parliament returns. Attorney-General Christian Porter has confirmed that the bill would be ‘basic’ and in accordance with ‘standard architecture of discrimination acts’ (The Guardian).

Senator Cormann’s pledge that the forthcoming religious discrimination legislation should equally protect people “not having any religious beliefs at all” may become a thorny issue among his Coalition colleagues (West Australian).

Israel Folau is reportedly seeking as much as $10 million in compensation and damages from Rugby Australia as he begins legal action (ABC).

Religious leaders want Folau's dismissal used as a test case to challenge whether workplace code of conduct agreements impinge on employees' right to expression of religious beliefs (SMH).

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has referred the sacking of Folau to the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman, asking that they investigate the matter. And, with a majority in the House of Representatives and, possibly, a workable Senate, it’s no surprise that Abetz is excited about the prospect of “very real opportunity to bring about some fundamental reform to protect individual freedoms” (The Examiner).

Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow says his office will provide ‘practical guidance’ for employers and employees on how to protect freedom of religion in the workplace (ABC).

Around the Country

NSW: Christian Democratic Party MP Fred Nile has a fight on his hands to retain the leadership of his party, with a revolt spearheaded by some of the party’s youngest members (SMH).

QLD: Conservatives including Lyle Shelton are attacking some Catholic schools for exercising their religious freedom in adopting gender-neutral language to refer to their deities in prayers (Christian Post).

QLD: A new e-petition is gathering signatures from Queensland residents calling for a review into the religious instruction (RI) provisions in the Education Act to determine if RI is the appropriate form of presenting religion in state school.

Commentary and Analysis

Father Frank Brennan, who sat on the Ruddock panel, welcomes the ‘recalibration’ of Labor members toward ‘freedom of religion’ issues and says it’s sensible for the government to move forward with religious discrimination legislation: (Sky News).

The government’s proposed religious discrimination legislation is viewed by some in Labor as an early chance to provide a bipartisan front and help the party reconnect with religious Australians, writes Martin McKenzie-Murray (The Saturday Paper).

The ‘right to be an atheist’ argument – raised by Senator Cormann – adds a new twist to an already complex debate on ‘religious freedom’ debate, writes Samantha Maiden (The New Daily).

Former deputy prime minister and religious commentator John Anderson speaks on why many Christians are embracing Canadian cultural warrior Jordan Peterson (ABC).

NSL in the Media

NSL President Peter Monk appeared on secular podcast The Iron Fist and the Velvet Glove on 5th June, discussing secularism under Morrison and other issues.

That's it for another week! We'll catch up again next weekend for another wrap up of secular news.

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