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

Religious Freedom: Not For Religious Schools

Oct 14, 2018

There has been a lot of discussion of the government review into religious freedom, even though the Ruddock report has not been officially released yet, and we do not have an official position yet taken on it. Commissioned last year by Malcolm Turnbull following the homosexual marriage vote, it has been sitting under wraps for some months now.

But snippets of it have been coming out, including twenty recommendations. Many of them have to do with religious schools and what rights – if any – they will be allowed. The big contention of course has to do with whether they will be forced to hire homosexual teachers and staff and retain homosexual students.

Here are some of the recommendations relating to all this:

Recommendation 4 – The Commonwealth should amend section 11 of the Charities Act 2013 to clarify that advocacy of a ‘traditional’ view of marriage would not, of itself, amount to a ‘disqualifying purpose’.

Recommendation 5 – The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to provide that religious schools can discriminate in relation to the employment of staff, and the engagement of contractors, on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:
-The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
-The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter and explaining how the policy will be enforced.
-The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to employees and contractors and prospective employees and contractors.

Recommendation 6 – Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools in employment on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status. Further, jurisdictions should ensure that any exceptions for religious schools do not permit discrimination against an existing employee solely on the basis that the employee has entered into a marriage.

Recommendation 7 – The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act to provide that religious schools may discriminate in relation to students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:
-The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
-The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter.
-The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to prospective students and their parents at the time of enrolment and to existing students and their parents at any time the policy is updated.
-The school has regard to the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in its conduct.

Recommendation 8 – Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools with respect to students on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status.

Recommendation 9 – State and territory education departments should maintain clear policies as to when and how a parent or guardian may request that a child be removed from a class that contains instruction on religious or moral matters and ensure that these policies are applied consistently. These policies should:
-Include a requirement to provide sufficient, relevant information about such classes to enable parents or guardians to consider whether their content may be inconsistent with the parents’ or guardians’ religious beliefs
-Give due consideration to the rights of the child, including to receive information about sexual health, and their progressive capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Recommendation 10 – The Commonwealth Attorney-General should consider the guidance material on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website relating to authorised celebrants to ensure that it uses plain English to explain clearly and precisely the operation of the Marriage Act 1961. The updated guidance should include:
-A clear description of the religious protections available to different classes of authorised celebrants, and
-Advice that the term ‘minister of religion’ is used to cover authorised celebrants from religious bodies which would not ordinarily use the term ‘minister’, including non-Christian religions.

If you think that all this seems a bit unclear, ambiguous, and maybe even conflicting at points, you would be right. But the government says they will not release the whole report and their decisions on it until later this year. So we are still left hanging as to how exactly things will pan out.

Consider the issue of which students are allowed in. At first the new Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the law already allows schools to not have to accept students who are homosexual and that the government was not looking to make any changes to those laws.

But after just a few days of Labor and the lamestream media making a massive outcry, Morrison did a complete reversal on this. Now he says he will NOT allow religious schools to be able to decide on which students they can have. As one media report puts it:

Non-government schools will be prevented from expelling gay students on the basis of their sexuality under new laws to be introduced by the Morrison Government. After days of controversy over the leaked recommendations of a review into religious protections, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the Coalition will legislate to protect children from discrimination.

“Our Government does not support expulsion of students from religious non-state schools on the basis of their sexuality,” Mr Morrison said. “I also know that this view is widely shared by religious schools and communities across the country.” The Prime Minister says to address “anxiety” and “confusion”, he will take action to ensure amendments are introduced as soon as possible to make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality.

Wow, that did not take very long. So our Christian PM has capitulated massively, bowing to the first winds of pressure. That is a very ominous development indeed. And of course we already have the Greens and others saying such changes should also apply to staff and teachers at religious schools.

Anyone still thinking straight and not bowing in subservience to the radical secular left agenda will know just how harmful and dangerous all this will be. So a Christian school with clearly stated Christian values and beliefs will be forced to take in and/or retain any student, no matter what their beliefs or lack of them?

It will of course not just stop with the vague and nebulous things like sex, gender, sexual orientation and the like. Soon a radical Muslim, atheist, Hindu transgender, Scientologist or Satanist will also be told they can enter and stay at such schools, and there will be nothing the schools can do about it.

And we know from past experience and current realities that the slippery slope will fully be in action. Soon enough Christian schools – and other religious schools and institutions – will be forced to accept and retain similar non-Christian and anti-Christian lecturers, principals, teachers and staff members.

All in the name of anti-discrimination of course. But Christian schools are being discriminated against here – big time. They are the ones who are being treated unfairly, all to satisfy the PC crowd. In the name of tolerance they are now the object of rank intolerance. This is frightening stuff indeed, and of course spells the end of religious freedom.

Image of The Tyranny of Tolerance: Threats to Religious Liberty
The Tyranny of Tolerance: Threats to Religious Liberty by Peter Kurti Amazon logo

Last year Peter Kurti, an Anglican priest, released an important volume entitled The Tyranny of Tolerance. In it he speaks of how statist liberalism seeks to dumb down and mute objective religious truth claims. He writes:

One consequence of this “subjectivism” of religious belief is that the mark of a good citizen of the liberal state has also changed. It is no longer the display of personal conviction that counts but the deliberate and even ostentatious display of what is presented as “tolerance”. In truth, however, this tolerance is not “open-mindedness”. It is a form of moralistic relativism concerned with elevating the rights and interests of any who are perceived to be victims of discriminatory or marginalising behaviour.

Tolerance in the name of relativism has, indeed, become its own form of intolerance. We are commanded to respect all difference and anyone who disagrees can expect to be shouted down, silenced or, often, branded a racist. Everyone must be “tolerant”.

Including our Christian Prime Minister. Shame on Morrison for this appalling backflip. Even the leftist Guardian got it right when it spoke of him ‘caving in to Labor’ on this. Yep, he sure did cave in. And the independent and Christian schools will be the main ones to suffer here.

It may well put many of them out of business in the near future. That of course is just what the militant lefties want. They want to see an end to ALL non-state education. They know full well that if all children are subject to the leftist agenda of the monopolistic State, with no alternative education allowed, then they are well on their way to achieving all their radical goals in the total transformation of society.

To which some concerned parents will say, “Well, I guess our only option left is home-schooling.” Yes but… You are living in dreamland if you think the radical left will stop after destroying the religious and independent schools. They will most certainly target home-schooling as well, and either abolish it altogether, or make sure that “guidelines” demand that only a State-approved curriculum can be on offer.

The only thing more disturbing and outrageous than having leftist political parties cramming all this down our throats is when we have an evangelical Christian as our leader of the ‘conservative’ party simply crumbling in a heap before leftist pressure, and handing them on a silver platter all that they want.

Again, to quote Kurti,

The cause of same-sex marriage has become something of a proxy for those who advance a much more aggressive form of secularism. They seek to drive away religion, particularly Christianity, completely from the social and cultural realm where faith is practised, to the private and confined realm of the mind.

Yes quite so, yet with new and ominous developments such as “hate crimes” even the private beliefs of individuals are now being targeted and penalised. Soon both external and internal forms of faith will be verboten. This is exactly where we are heading today.

Shame Scott Morrison. Yes, we Christians will continue to pray for you, as we must. But if this early on in your tenure you can sell-out so dramatically and so spectacularly on one of the most important issues there is for Christians, we have little reason to hope for anything better from you in the days ahead.

We dare you to prove us wrong.

www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/read-the-full-20-recommendations-from-the-religious-freedom-review-20181011-p50918.html
www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-13/morrison-government-vows-to-end-discrimination-of-gay-students/10372956

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31 Responses to Religious Freedom: Not For Religious Schools

  • Yes, Morrison has collapsed in a heap. The logic of his position, assuming there is one, will take away all freedoms for Christian and independent schools.

  • The first publicity tactic I would recommend to anyone who wants to enter politics advocating conservative principles from a Christian foundation is to treat the media as openly hostile, to the point where they would murder you and your family if they thought they could get away with it. Too many of our supposedly conservative representatives simply don’t seem to understand that the time to assume you will get a fair run is long past – the media have a narrative they want to squeeze you into, and you are just a tool to push that agenda, one way or another. They do not care if they utterly destroy you. Tony Abbott for me was a prime example of someone who was unable to grasp this. Nice enough guy, but simply unable to be a man of steel when required.

    This is one reason I have slowly warmed to Trump in the USA – he instinctively understands that the media have be bypassed in order to lead effectively and engage directly with the people, and he only gives those ‘journalists’ minimal time and respect, because they no longer deserve any more. You can easily tell where the people who hate him without notice today get their information – they obviously consume far too much mainstream news! But objective mainstream journalism is as good as dead.

    Politically, we need someone with his attitude in Australia and in other places in the West. It’s simply a losing tactic to give your opponent the ability to set the rules of discussion, when the rules are biased in their favour. Morrison’s mistake in attitude needs correction quickly if he is to be effective and not cave to simple things like this. Here, he allowed himself to be locked into a losing game where the opponent not only sets the rules but operates as referee as well.

    Trump doesn’t play that game, and it’s very enjoyable to watch not just him but other Republicans take their cue from him to stand up to the bullies of the left. Watching that historically weak Lindsey Graham from South Carolina during the Kavanaugh confirmation process recently transform himself into someone actually doing what he is supposed to do is a great example. Like a friend of mine said, “It’s almost like he’s a Republican now!” 😀

    I hasten to add, politics is not the domain of the gospel, but they certainly do overlap substantially in terms of the importance of an objective external basis for morality. A government that breaks (or advocates breaking) the Ten Commandments in a hundred different ways is dooming its population to a miserable future. That’s worth fighting to avoid, if you care for your children. I’m sick of having politicians who won’t stand up for what is right and allow enemies and liars set the agenda.

  • Tragic.
    Dear Lord give him the courage to….
    “dare to be a Daniel,
    dare to stand alone,
    dare to have a purpose firm and
    dare to make it known.”

  • Time to start yelling. Get as many people as possible to contact him over this;
    https://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm

  • Further to this I would agree with the great libertarian economist Murray Rothbard who took these issues as fundamentally a matter of private property rights more so than religious freedom. Christian schools should have a right to dispose of their property the way they see fit. They should not be forced to accept or not expel certain students.

    Where are the Lib Democrats in all this?

  • I am yet to see anything that would protect people and enable them to act on conscience if they bake cakes, are a marriage celebrant, a florist, produce wedding videos, provide wedding venues, hand craft wedding paraphernalia etc. etc. Yes the report looks extremely vague and useless so far and there is not the slightest indication that the government will act on it anyway. Of course parents have every right to protect their children from sexual deviation.

    The term “sexual orientation” is one of those propaganda terms I was mentioning previously. It is a manufactured term that is a self contained lie – the terminology itself is dishonest and so any report or law that uses this terminology is pretty much guaranteed to be flawed. The terminology is flawed because sex refers to the fact that you need two sexes, which each provide different halves of the genome, to create offspring through sexual reproduction. Homosexuality is in reality the opposite of a sexual orientation because it is a dysfunction that opposes the sexual functionality. Homosexuality is in fact a psycho-sexual dysfunction or a a sexual dis-orientation. The reason why the term “sexual orientation” is used is a slight of hand to direct people’s consciousness away from what sex actually means and the true implications of sex and to create a false impression away from the fact that homosexuality is in fact a sexual dysfunction. It controls people’s thinking to create a closed psychological suggestion that forces people to think that there are multiple sexual orientations – in other words that there is no such thing as sexual perversion. It is a manufactured, flawed and overwhelmingly dishonest term that is designed specifically to control people’s thinking and should not be used by moral people except to point out its flaws and to expose the immoral reason it was created.

  • Thank you Mark Wong for that link. I’ve written to our PM. God bless!

  • I on a post on the 24th August on my Facebook page urged caution about Scott Morrison being our first Pentecostal PM, I mentioned about not jumping on the Scott Morrison band wagon. One of my pastor friends gently told me off for saying this. I will admit that I was concerned about Christians especially Pentecostals jumping on the ScoMo band wagon, sadly I was right. What is really sad is those Christians who were vocal and praising God about ScoMo are now silent.

  • Excellent observation about ‘sexual orientation’, Michael. The conflation of identity, attraction and behaviour really is the heart of the error on this topic. I don’t know if you have seen this short essay by Rosaria Butterfield:
    https://rosariabutterfield.com/new-blog/2018/2/14/is-sexual-orientation-a-concept-that-christians-ought-to-use

  • What we have seen is a CHRISTIAN PM sit on a barbed wire fence deciding which way to jump. What we are witnessing on the part of the Greens, ALP and left liberals is fascism with a democratic face, whereby what matters is the State and everything that will contribute to enforcing it. Fascism has no respect for CHRISTIANITY or the individual, despite the GREENS talk of rights – it is only in reference to their utopian totalitarianism, just like Mussolini’s Italy.
    And I agree no one of Christian faith who is in politics should consider giving any time with the media but deal directly with voters with social media and face to face meetings. I am sorry but MORRISON talking about his faith is just that talk not the walk.

  • I seriously believe “we” Christians need to start withdrawing from providing community services be they hospital, schools and what have you. Remaining involved in those activities is just going to result in one claim after another of discrimination. We need to ask ourselves why we are involved in providing elitist schools and private (pay for service) hospitals. Let’s get back to the basics of caring for the poor and disadvantaged and “the flock”. Our involvement in schools and hospitals is way past its use by date.

  • Bill, maybe there is some nuance that may be missed.

    First, what exactly does being ‘gay’ means? Does merely having same sex attraction (SSA) make a person ‘gay’? I’m not a lawyer, but my bet is that the law does not clearly define what ‘gay’ means.

    So, in the narrowest of interpretation, if the law bans Christian schools from expelling students just because they have SSA, then that law is moot. I have a friend who has SSA, but he does not consider himself as ‘gay’ and ultimately, he married someone else of the opposite sex and had kids. But he acknowledge that SSA is something he will probably have for the rest of his life, but he will not act out his SSA (although he failed to do so in the past). So, using my friend’s case as an example, I think there is scope for Christian schools to take care of students who have SSA, as long as this is done in the context of spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

    So, in that sense, the upcoming law is banning something that Christian schools are not practicing anyway (ie not expelling students merely for having SSA).

    But I believe that schools should have the right to expel a student for engaging in sexual acts outside marriage, regardless of whether the act is carried out on someone else of the same sex or opposite sex. That should be done as a last resort. The question is, are Christian schools allowed to retain their traditional definition of marriage consistent with the Bible?

  • The time may be coming when we close all private schools – without notice – and see how the Government deal with the influx of students; and keep the schools closed until their religious rights of people are respected. Parents who choose non-Government Schools also pay taxes so have the right to public education.

  • I agree with Mark Rabich’s comment. I for one just wish that the Libs would stop even trying to do anything whatsoever to appease the left since those who push and promote leftist ideals will never vote for them anyway. They’re far better off keeping their conservative base on side or they may soon find that their own base has abandoned them for any one of the smaller parties that more closely align with their political views.

  • Dear Bill

    I have just now emailed the PM with a request that he defer any legislation until after the report is published, and urge others to do so as well. We must speak up now before there is any further erosion of our rights and freedoms.

  • Well done David – great idea.

  • G’day Bill,

    Goodonya again. I’m wondering if there have been any gay students expelled from Christian schools. The media would love to highlight anyone so expelled. But I don’t see any stories of anyone, ever. Is this a case of virtue signaling rather than fact?

    Andrew Campbell

  • Thanks Mark Wong for the link !

  • I seem to be in a minority on this website on this on but. I cannot for the life of me see that it is Christian to deny a student attendance at a Christian school because of their sexuality. On the other hand if a student behaves in an aggressive, demanding, intolerant and disruptive in any way by promoting homosexality (or abortion or a political agenda …) on a school campus I would expect the school to have the right to not re-enroll said student and to point them in the direction of a school more in line with their thinking. I would hope instead that through prayer, love, kindness that all students at Christian school would see Christ’s love for them and choose to follow Him and his teachings (including His gift of traditional marriage)
    On the other hand, I certainly think all religious school, not just Christian ones, should have set in law the right not to hire teachers/staff whose lifestyle and beliefs are not in line with the values and principles of the school. This right of hire and fire should be guaranteed for faith schools.
    Parents sacrifice to pay fees to send their kids to faith schools for the simple reason that public schools these days are often actively undermining of religious values. Eg the silly, “no we can’t sing Christian Christmas carols they might offend someone”(I know that one from experience) to the (failed) attempt to indoctinate anti-Christian values in the Safe Schools program disguised as an anti-bullying program.
    But a student who is either homosexual, transgender, confused, whatever, welcome them with open arms, accept them, love them and try and help them to find the reality of Jesus as Lord of their life.

  • Thanks Linda. While I am with you for the most part, unfortunately you are missing the point about reaching out to homosexual students, as are so many other believers. IF we could counsel homosexual students in Christian schools that would be great. But most folks are completely unaware of the fact that all over the West this is becoming ILLEGAL. Increasingly Christian schools will NOT be able to tell their homosexual students that homosexuality is wrong, that they can get help, or that they can get out of the lifestyle. But I just wrote a new piece dealing with this very matter:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/10/15/clueless-christians-and-the-rainbow-trojan-horse/

    Let me offer the relevant bits of that article here:

    None of us are saying that a homosexual – or anyone other sinner – should not be helped and hopefully converted if in a Christian school. Or that they should not be prayed for and counselled. But think carefully here and wake up to what is really at stake.

    Recall that Morrison wants “sexuality” to be exempt from the school disciplinary process. That is a massive term as should be known. Most folks assume this means just some quiet “gay student” but it of course can mean anything: not just homosexuals, but trans students, cross-dressers, fornicators, and so on.

    And even if it were limited to homosexual students, just what does that mean? If it meant only a student who struggles with same-sex attraction, knows it is wrong, and wants out, that is one thing. We could deal with that. But without doubt it will also very much mean the loud and proud homosexuals who celebrate and promote homosexuality and want to see others recruited into the lifestyle.

    With more and more governments also making any sort of “conversion therapy” illegal, then no religious school will even be allowed to offer any sort of counsel, prayer or help for that student. That will become illegal as well, and very likely become grounds to shut the school down altogether.

    So this whole thing is fraught with danger, and can only play out very badly indeed for any Christian school seeking to uphold biblical values and behaviour. The issue is this: a Christian school should have the basic right to decide who is admitted, and to discipline students as it sees fit, including expelling them if so required.

    I encourage you and others to read the entire piece. This is very serious stuff indeed. And until we wake up to the war that has been declared on us, we will keep losing, no matter how well-intentioned we might be. But thanks for writing in.

  • The ten recommendations as published here use the term “intersex”.

    A strict and old school understanding of that term may give hope that the ten recommendations are OK, especially since it is bolstered by schools “may discriminate in relation to students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status”–.

    But alas the term “intersex” is under threat of being redefined if it becomes convenient to do so. It will become convenient in the hands of the angries.

    I was struggling with the hard line that was taken here, but the slippery slopers will twist everything and pressure everything to their will, so, I must agree.

  • Hi Bill
    Really we must challenge the LGBXYZ mob to start their own schools. If they really reckon the majority support them then that would be a good way to show us that we are wrong. But of course everyone knows its a lie.
    I sent a letter (see below) to the Sunday Times and West Australian – but of course they wont publish it.
    The letter:
    Just a quick warning to all those Maths students doing ATAR exams soon from a retired Maths teacher. Suppose a survey was done on whether Maths should include Cooking but still be called Maths. And suppose only 79.5% of the population bothered to vote, and 61.6% of those who voted, voted “Yes” and 38.4% of those who voted, voted “No”. What percentage of the population actually voted “Yes”, and can we state Mathematically that the majority of the population actually agree with the name change?
    The answer is of course 61.6% of 79.5 = 48.972% of the population voted “Yes”. As this is less than 50% the majority of the population do not agree with the name change. The warning is: Do not trust the media and politicians if you want to score well in the exam.

  • Bill, thank you for your added ‘new piece’.
    Exactly right, the danger of transgenders in Christian Schools is that others copy and want to change and destroy the Christian ethos. Let one sin in and the door opens.
    Young impressionable Christian student’s mind will be influenced greatly by the godless sodomite students of reprobate minds among them.

  • I, too, have emailed the PM. Thanks Mark Wong. All other readers please write to the PM as well. Let him be embarrassed by our numbers.

  • May one be wrong to think that not long after the curricula of religious including Christian schools will be considered discriminatory? Your thoughts.
    Praying for wisdom, vision and integrity of our leaders.

  • I get the arguments. However rather than attacking the prime minister we must pray for him and encourage him. Andrew Bolt has been positive about him but said should not refuse students who are homosexual. Scomo is caught. If he offends everyone he will not stay pm and Bill Shorten will go further than this when he is pm. See where Vic is already. By all means write to the pm but if you want him to stick his neck out then pray for him to be wise as a serpent and offer to help Libs or conservatives during our next election.
    Even Peta Credlin said she was against banning the students. I can see they could cause problems but also see that it looks bad. Teachers are another problem.

  • Thanks Katherine. Yes I did say in my article that we must pray for him. However, when someone claims not only to be a conservative, but a Bible believing, born again, Spirit filled evangelical Christian, then we have every right to hold him to account. And when he caves on crucial things like this, we must indeed let him know this is just not good enough.

  • Morrison’s record in the past week:

    Strike one: Federal government supports State governments in their persecution of pro-life activists (and undermines Australian Constitution in the process);

    Strike two: Does spectacular back-flip and attacks the religious freedom of Christian schools;

    Strike three: Announces an extra $52m of taxpayer funding for radical pro-homosexual and pro-transgender organisation “Headspace”.

    Feels like we’ve still got Malcolm Turnbull at the helm!

  • Thanks Ewan. Yes things are not looking very promising, are they? No wonder so many people here and in America are getting fed up with the tired old two-party system which more and more is about Tweedledum or Tweedle-dee.

  • Again, homosexuals , in this case children, are being used as pawns by the atheist left to abolish Christianity from all schools and ultimately, society.
    So here’s the question. What happens to homosexual children in a religious school in a sex education class whereby homosexuality is taught, from a biblical perspective as “an abomination” and against the created order?
    How about a bible study on any of these Gen 19/1-30,Jude 7, Lev 18&20,Romans 1:18-32,
    1 Corinthians 6:9-15. 1 Timothy 1:8-10.
    Will they children be able to attend such classes or will these subjects be banned.
    It’s simple, stop teaching biblical precepts or lose your funding.

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