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Religious freedom legislation isn’t fooling anyone

Crikey readers discuss the implications of the government's proposed religious freedom bill.

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(Image: Getty)

Is the government’s proposed religious freedom bill anything more than a shallow attempt to shore up conservative power? Crikey readers weren’t convinced, and took to the comments over the weekend to make their grievances heard. While arguments varied, the consensus was that this legislation is anything but simple, no matter what angle the Coalition pushes.

On religious freedom

Mark E Smith writes: This isn’t a can of worms, it’s a container load. What next — religious police and religious courts ? A total own goal happening in slow motion. This is what happens when conservatives wade into unfamiliar territory. Not happy with affecting their lame version of offended culture now they’re trying it on with discrimination. Conservatism, religion and discrimination are natural bedfellows. But the real kicker is the pronouncement that “institutional religious freedom still trumps individual religious freedom”. That is about preserving power not protecting from discrimination. At least they’re being honest about that.

Robert Garnett writes: Students of irony would appreciate the Catholic Church’s somewhat ambiguous approach to the law. On the one hand they want the law to protect them against discrimination, but on the other their leaders have maintained that they will disobey the law requiring compulsory reporting of the abuse of children from the confessional. It would seem that they believe that the law is relevant only when it benefits them.

Mark Dunstone writes: I have less of an issue with the Folau matter, but a far greater concern about allowing discrimination on employment and the provision of services, particularly when the religious institutions are receiving secular funding (from public funds or tax exemptions). It is especially repugnant that a doctor receiving secular government payment through Medicare could, on religious grounds, deceive or not refer a patient for a termination; a religious public hospital in receipt of public secular funds impose their religious beliefs and practices on a patient customer by refusing to provide a caring end of-life service; a religious school in receipt of government funding could discriminate against women or others on marital status or sexual preference, etc.

Mike Smith writes: All I’d say is that the exceptions stink, and have obviously been put in place by the lobbyists of the LNP.

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Peter Fray

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