Aug 21, 2017

Freedom of religion is not the right to dictate others’ lives

Tony Abbott, in his clarion call, said vote No for religious freedom and freedom of speech. Michael Bradley explores how Abbott's invocation of freedom relies on trampling over the freedoms of others.

Michael Bradley — Managing partner at Marque Lawyers

Michael Bradley

Managing partner at Marque Lawyers

Religious freedom is quite the thing at the moment. Of course, it’s not a catch-cry of identity politics, which as we know is a rhetorical error committed only by Marxist relativists (you know -- women, gays, dark people). No, religious freedom is a precious jewel with super-resistance to irony.

On marriage equality, religious freedom has taken centre stage as a show-stopper so obvious that it needs no explanation. As Tony Abbott said, “If you’re worried about religious freedom and freedom of speech, vote no.” That little statement needs quite some unpacking.

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23 thoughts on “Freedom of religion is not the right to dictate others’ lives

  1. John Newton

    Excellent and devastating (for the religious naysayers) analysis. Thank you Michael.

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    If you’re worried about religious minorities dictating public legislation and policy to the masses, up to and including what you do in bed and with whom ………………….

    Thanks Michael.

  3. Ruv Draba

    Excellent argument, Michael. Literally the most incisive, sensible, practical, least inflammatory analysis I’ve seen on this matter in Australian media, and in my view, one of your best contributions to this organ to date.

  4. [email protected]

    Geez, too hard. Good read. Sick of it though. If I see the words LGBTI and marriage in the same sentence after all this is done, I’ll go nuclear.

  5. CML

    Great stuff, Michael! Very good explanation of what is required (and not!) under the Constitution.
    It seems this might apply to other politico/religious questions on such things as abortion and euthanasia perhaps?

    1. Dion Giles

      Openness to closedness is a one-way tap that must inevitably destroy the open society.
      To protect multiculturalism and criminalise hate speech it might well be made a legal requirement to accept every person’s right to hold, promote, reject, proselytise, disrespect, blaspheme against or outright condemn any religion whatsoever along with its symbols and personal requirements. This would include a prohibition against harassment of any person on religious grounds.

  6. Clive Woodworth

    written with real clarity. However, I would like to suggest the phrase really ought to be, “Freedom From Religion”

  7. Kate Roberts

    Excellent article..leaves no wriggle room ….

  8. Venise Alstergren

    Brilliant article Michael. Ideally this would hit the religionists exactly where it hurts, in the “No” category. Unfortunately, one and all of them see themselves as instructed by God to interfere in the running of a secular state.

    I don’t know if this attitude was paramount in the Irish, and/or Spanish decisions. Both countries decidedly more religious than Australia never-the-less managed to field a “Yes”

    1. Marion Wilson

      I read that the Irish referendum was preceded by argument that was uninformative, bitter and bloody. And unfortunately this may also precede our pointless survey – with Abbott leading the way by tossing irrelevancies into the mix. I’m surprised that he didn’t mention gun control being at stake.

  9. [email protected]

    It is pitiful that it is even necessary to point this out.

  10. Hunt Ian

    The fundamental point is that religious freedom in a free secular society is not the freedom to act as you choose in following your religion. You are not free to slaughter infidels if you think your religion tells you to do that. You are not free to discriminate against others if you think your religion tells you to do that.
    In short, you are only free to do what a tolerant religion tells you. The version of Islam practiced by followers of DAESH is not one of those. Versions of Catholicism that tell you to discriminate against same sex couples in employment or business ( trade, finance, wedding cake baking, etc) are not a religion you may practice as you choose.
    This restricts religious liberty quite sharply. Tolerant versions of Islam and Christianity may be followed and are by many people in both cases. But Tony Abbott is not free to practice his version of Catholicism in all ways: he can pray, donate, tell us what he thinks as much as he likes but he may not make laws that impose the intolerant side of his faith on others. Same sex marriage will correct the imposition on others of one version of religious views in Howard’s version of marriage law.
    It will restrict the parts of Abbott’s religious freedom that should be restricted just as our freedom of speech has to be restricted to prevent speech that harms others.

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