CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Time For a Minister For Human and Religious Rights?

Aug 27, 2018

Yesterday the new cabinet of Prime Minister Scott Morrison was announced. It was a mixed bag, but given that such appointments are often as much about pandering to various factional interests as getting the right people into the right positions, it was probably to be expected.

The positions and those who fill them in the new cabinet are these:

Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment
Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Special Minister of State, Leader of the Government in the Senate)
Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer
Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Women, Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations
Christopher Pyne, Minister for Defence
Steve Ciobo, Minister for Defence Industry
Darren Chester, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs
Michaelia Cash, Minister for Small Business, Skills and Vocational Education
Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia
Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts
Greg Hunt, Minister for Health
Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Rural Health, Minister for Sport, Minister for Regional Communications
Dan Tehan, Minister for Education and Training
Michael Keenan, Minister for Human Services, Minister for Visual Information
Melissa Price, Minister for the Environment
Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy
David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs
David Coleman, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

Outer Ministry
Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for International Development
Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care, Minister for Indigenous Health
www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/prime-minister-scott-morrison-reveals-new-cabinet-20180826-p4zzve.html 

Conservatives will of course be rather disappointed. Not only were some rather unhelpful lefties given key positions such as Marise Payne and Christopher Pyne, but plenty of solid conservatives were left out altogether, such as Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews, Andrew Hastie and Michael Sukkar.

Yes, Peter Dutton got in along with some other conservatives, like Tehan and Taylor, but it is still a somewhat disappointing team. Again, appeasing various groups and seeking some sort of balance in Party factionalism is always a consideration here.

As I said in my last piece on Morrison, some amount of compromise always takes place in politics – for good or ill. But some questions remain. Why do we still have a “Minister for Women”? Why no Minister for Men, or better yet, Minister for the [Traditional] Family? And just what exactly does a “Minister for Visual Information” do?

Some conservatives have had a somewhat different take on this. Andrew Bolt for example sees it as a clever move, all things considered. He believes that conservative concerns will still be catered for, and the unity of the Party will more easily be facilitated: www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/morrison-divides-conservatives-conquers/news-story/695efaec846cb74c600b58c58b8ad2b7

Other conservatives have said that the lefties had to be added, otherwise they might resign, forcing more byelections and a possible loss of the government’s slim majority. Yes that is indeed possible. But we are assuming Pyne and others would have called it quits if they did not get a cushy cabinet position. And recall that Julie Bishop resigned before the new cabinet was even announced.

But I guess we should be thankful for small mercies. At least we don’t have a “Climate Change Minister”. Instead, we have a “Minister for Energy” – or as Morrison put it, a “minister for reducing electricity prices”. That I can live with. And it was nice to see Morrison being sworn in with a Bible and not a Koran, as a few MPs have done of late!

All up, we are left with the new cabinet whether we like it or not, and my advice from my last two articles still stands: we need to pray for Morrison and the new government. What may not look too hot in human eyes may be something better in the divine mind. Time will tell how it all pans out.

Religious Rights Ministry

One thing I do want to draw your attention to is a new petition making the rounds. It did come out before the cabinet was announced, and it may now be too late to even consider. But who knows, there still might be a place for it. I refer to the suggestion that a new cabinet position/ministry be created, with a strong conservative to fill it.

And that is Kevin Andrews to become our first Minister for Human and Religious Rights. The change.org petition already has some 3000 signatures. It reads as follows:

The new Prime Minister has an opportunity to address some of the significant threats to human and religious rights that the previous administration presided over. These threats include:
-The rights of parents with respect to education and children’s welfare.
-Respecting educational institutions’ right to manage their affairs according to the philosophy by which they were founded.
-Responding to the Ruddock Review post the redefining of marriage.

Kevin Andrews has been a tireless advocate for the protection of human rights and Religious Freedom. Australia has no formal religious rights protections in legislation, only what is accepted and respected out of tradition. Now there are concerted attacks on these freedoms. The Prime Minister should appoint Kevin Andrews to his new Ministry to advocate on behalf of people feeling threatened in this current climate.

As mentioned, it may now be a bit after the fact with Morrison so quickly naming his new cabinet. But places and positions and personnel keep changing in cabinet, so there may be a case to urge the formation of such a new position. Thus I urge you to go to the site, have a read, and sign the petition.

Anything we can come up with that will help stem the flow of the radical secular left agenda sweeping the land might be a good thing and worth trying. In addition to signing and sharing the petition, why not contact your Federal Members, especially the Coalition ones, and ask them to consider the creation of such a new ministry?

The threat to religious freedom continues to grow by the day in Australia, and something like this might be of some help in slowing things down a bit or maybe even reversing some bad trends. The site is here: www.change.org/p/scott-morrison-kevin-andrews-for-minister-for-human-and-religious-rights

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16 Responses to Time For a Minister For Human and Religious Rights?

  • Every society which has set up a Ministry for Religious Affairs or the like has been Erastian and coercive. This petition is misguided. Kevin Andrews is most trustworthy, but the machinery would simply be set up for a successor who would be a menace. For what my view is worth, this suggestion is the last thing Christians ought to support.

  • Thanks Peter. Yes I hear you. Of course there is minimal detail in this petition thus far. So it really all depends on what such a position might look like, what its parameters will be, what it would cover, what its activities and charter might entail, etc., etc. So while there is always cause for concern about how such things might be misused and abused, it might at this stage be a bit premature to dismiss it out of hand.

    To assume such a position might possibly be alright under someone like Andrews, but quite amiss under someone quite unlike Andrews is correct – but that would basically be true of anything. Christianity as expressed and promoted by real Christians is one thing – Christianity as pushed and twisted by its detractors or fake Christians is quite another. Whether religious freedom legislation and/or departments are intrinsically doomed to fail or inherently amiss is a moot point.

    Yes, I am aware of how things like this have at times been unhelpful elsewhere, and how similar sorts of things such as a ‘bill of rights’ can be problematic. So a ministry like this would clearly need to be carefully defined, and its tasks, duties and emphases first carefully established. But I will at least give the idea some consideration, and see how it might pan out, at least under somewhat safe hands.

  • This petition has merit, however I’d be surprised if such a ministerial position was created.

    I am surprised Bill that you’re dissapointed that the ‘Solid conservative’ Tony Abbott didn’t get a position. Surprised because Abbott’s behavior, ever since he was ousted as PM has been divisive and dishonourable. Even Liberal ‘Old boys’ like Nick Greiner’ have been criticizing his behavior.

    I don’t think Australia needs this bad egg on the front bench.

  • Thanks Anthony. But I would see Turnbull instead as being ‘divisive and dishonourable’. And Greiner of course has never been a solid conservative, so I might as well listen to what some Labor MP says about Abbott.

    As to the petition, it is a long shot no doubt. But if it has any merit at all, it has to start somewhere.

  • I think Peter may be a little confused about our parliamentary system. A special ministry as proposed would not result in the creation of a new department, thus there would be no risk of a bureaucratic control of religion taking place should the government change hands. In addition I presume what’s being proposed here is not a ministry for religious establishment or advancement of religion but merely a ministry whose role it would be to ensure, post-ssm plebiscite, that a legislative or political path is navigated that will prevent our courts from placing an unnecessary burden on the free exercise of religion in this country. Although I understand Peter’s concerns, they wouldn’t apply in this case due to a lack of a department.

  • Another informative article. Thanks Bill.
    Michael Sukkar is indeed a good man with Christian values. He spoke at my Church once.
    I am sad about the fact he was not included in the cabinet lineup.
    The new cabinet is rather disappointing – a mixed bag like you say.
    I am not sure if anything will really change.
    Kyle

  • Thanks Kyle. Yes, as I said in my two previous articles on Morrison, one can only expect so much from politics and political leaders. They can often disappoint – even Christian politicians. So it is early days and we will have to see how things develop.

  • As to the energy minister: During the last Federal ALP Rudd-Gillard-Rudd ministry they created a minister for climate change. Abbott got in and abolished it. Turncoat got in and brought it back but renamed it.

  • No need to set up a Ministry for Religious Affairs. It already exists with minister and all; Melissa Price, Minister for the Environment. Most Australians worship the new Climate Cult, which includes all the mainstream churches. Worshiping creation instead of our Creator. Very sad day indeed.

  • Yes you may have a point there Francois.

  • Well for what it’s worth, I’ve started up the same petition on my own FB page, despite the fact that most of my FB friends seem reluctant to contribute to change.org petitions. However I believe that if ever such a governmental position were needed, it’s today. We need to protect religious rights in particular. Human rights as well, of course, although these are well protected by certain demographics within Australian society. You only need to look at how quickly the world is changing, and how political correctness is rampant, to know that the Christian religion is becoming an ‘endangered species’!

  • Thanks Ann. Yes change dot org is mostly a lefty petition site, so I am surprised this one is there. And while we can look to someone like Kevin Andrews to help protect religious freedom, that cannot be said about many other politicians. So such a ministry can at best be of some limited use. It will not be a panacea, but it might be of some help along the way.

  • Have you seen this Bill?

    https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2018/08/22/religious-freedom-and-land-clearing/

    So instead of seeking broad “Type 2” religious protection laws that will be abused by Muslim activists and sympathetic judges, we should seek specific “Type 1” protections and exemptions for what the Bible teaches. E.g. the right to believe and proclaim the sanctity of Biblical marriage and that homosexuality and transgenderism are deviations from God’s creation of man in His image. The other option of protecting whatever a religious group thinks about marriage, without specifying the writers of the law had Christian beliefs in mind, will just open the door to legal recognition of Muslim polygamous marriage and then other aspects of sharia law.

  • Australia is around 1/300th of the world population and is in a hemisphere with around 1/10th of the world population and with vast amounts of ocean, which we know are the main carbon sink, so the only influence Australia will have on atmospheric carbon levels is the remote chance that what we do will convince countries like India and China to do better. The Labor and Greens parties would have people believe that Australia has its very own atmosphere and what they would do would help to prevent droughts and bush fires and that people should pay a premium for their policies and, of course, these are absolute and complete lies but, as the Bible teaches us, people of this world are very much more cunning than God’s people (Luke 16:8) and battles using truth, and not lies, are very hard won. With God’s help, however, they can be won.

    Spending vast amounts of money on solar and batteries may help to appease rich people’s conscience, and this is something people can do individually anyway, but it is not the solution we need because the main problem is how to generate electricity for poor people and how to reduce people’s dependence on power, so subsidizing rich people to appease their conscience is, very much, not a solution other than a political “solution” to get the responsibility off politicians as indeed was provided by energy privatization. Meanwhile, I’m sure the Green’s and Labor’s solution would be to send vast numbers of people around the world to various conferences, and thereby put huge amounts of carbon directly into the upper atmosphere while at the same time wasting huge amounts of resources when clearly part of the requirement is to become more resource efficient. Such is the politics of greed that the left engages in while accusing the other side of what they are themselves doing.

  • One of the Roman Caesars from memory allowed the public to “have their Gods” as it’ll “help keep them all happy”, and I too think this Ministry may eventually lead to just that, recognition of Sharia laws, and allow atheists to build monuments to Satan and such. And besides, once religion is in the realm of civilian government it will become codified over time by departments, and state and local councils; just look at charities and what they suffer due to funding models. And what happens in the schools. In the future you will still be allowed to read Bibles in hospitals but not aloud. A government regulation always draws the line; at the moment reading the Bible in hospitals not-to-loud is probably still under freedom of speech laws. See what I mean. It may be best to stay ‘officialy’ out of the civilian arm of government, and stick with democracy, freedom of speech, media and other ways.

    And a ministry then allows all those who hate us to get involved in those processes of law, regulation and codification making where religion is concerned. It won’t be a march through the institution but a quick step; you listed at least two MP’s alone above; the hi-jackers are on board from the get go.

    I’m not saying no Bill but I hope it’s not a slippery slope.

    God Bless Bill.

  • Hi Bill, thanks for this discussion. I did go to see Kevin Andrews talk in Albury a few months ago. I came away aghast with what Christians are up against as 2019 looms. We (or our freedoms) are under a systematic and thorough attack. I cite the American baker (again) being accused of not cow towing to a trans-gender request.
    Please remember that an Australian doctor was the subject of a large petition to the Health Minister for her de-registration as a medical doctor-having the temerity to state her views on marriage being an institution for a man and women to raise a child! How dare she! All Christians need to be aware of the forces at work in our changing landscape.

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