On religious freedom

18 Aug


Yes, I know, this might at first blush seem an odd choice of topic given our current circumstances but really, what can one usefully say about the political shenanigans that currently overwhelm any possibility of good governance?

One can only cling to the words of the late George Harrison: all things must pass, all things must pass away, and hope to dog they don’t take too damn long in their passing.

The erudite and decent Father Frank Brennan published this piece in the Guardian yesterday on the necessity to protect religious freedom as well as to support marriage equality. As far as I can tell from the piece, Brennan is arguing that while he hopes for the prevailing influence of good will all round, there must be room made for the religious to discriminate against same sex couples. He does not quite frame his argument in those terms, of course, however it seems to me that in this instance religious freedom equals the unchallengeable right to discriminate, on the sole grounds that the sexuality of some humans offends your religious sensibility.

If the religious are to be granted a legal right to discriminate against same-sex couples, they better provide some sound evidence of the need for that discrimination. Otherwise, discrimination on the basis of sexuality becomes normalised as “religious freedom” with no justification other than “it’s against my religion.”  I’m going to stick out my neck and declare that this isn’t good enough.

Why should your religious belief trump another’s human rights? On what basis does your religion condemn same-sex couples as humans you are entitled to discriminate against and therefore inevitably less fully human than you, be it in baking them a wedding cake or employing them in your schools?

And why should the secular state support you in your deliberate creation of a lesser class of beings?

It isn’t religious freedom to discriminate against others who don’t fit your vision of how humans ought to live. It’s religious exceptionalism. The language of religious freedom serves to obfuscate the reality: it is unjustified and unjustifiable dehumanisation of those whom it excludes.

Freedom of religion ought to mean, and in my opinion does mean, the freedom to practice your religious beliefs without oppression and persecution. It does not mean you are granted freedom to oppress and persecute those whose ways of being do not accord with your beliefs, and discriminatory behaviour towards such people is inarguably oppressing and persecuting them.

If your religious beliefs demand that you must, through discrimination, oppress and persecute a particular group of your fellow humans, perhaps you need to seriously consider the worth of that religion.

Religious freedom in this instance sounds an awful lot like justification for homophobia. And as long as the religious can’t offer sound reasons for needing this discrimination based on sexuality, it will continue to sound and look like homophobia. If it quacks like a duck…



60 Responses to “On religious freedom”

  1. shadowedmuses August 18, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    Well said

    Liked by 1 person

  2. drsusancalvin August 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

    This argument is currently voiced by major religions. They control a big chunk of NGO, Education, Health and associated services funding. Their current “freedoms” include denying work, denying access, denying services, denying support, denying accommodation, denying spiritual comfort, denying all sorts of things because they can, or would like to continue to do so without looking over their shoulder. In most cases it would be passive, not active, in that they might make your life unfair, difficult, cruel, harsh, or miserable, but in theory you could go elsewhere. Unless of course you can’t.

    They don’t want to be entirely cut off. They have not argued that they should no longer provide expensive, life prolonging, and at times unnecessary medical care in their taxpayer subsidised Private Hospitals for these “pariahs” but that’s different. If we give these dogmatists a pass, why not give the same to adherents of Sharia Law, or Scientologists? Is it reasonable for Religions to not have to accommodate the current social mores in the delivery of their taxpayer funded secular services, yet stay firmly on the tax free public teat? Deny that rainbow sash warrior a wafer in your own church, by all means, just don’t ask us to subsidise your religious choices. I’d be happy to give a little more latitude to god botherers if they self funded, paid taxes, stopped hurting people, and kept it to themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson August 18, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

      Thanks drusancalvin for your post. Agree completely with you.
      Especially your last sentence.


      • paul walter August 18, 2017 at 10:55 pm #



    • Moz of Yarramulla August 24, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

      “If we give these dogmatists a pass, why not give the same to adherents of Sharia Law, or Scientologists?”

      How about Rastafarians? Or the Exclusive Brethren? Or “The Family”, a weird yoga-based child abuse cult (different abuse from the Catholic style). It’s always interesting which religious objections to laws get prosecuted and which don’t. The Family was shut down for fraud rather than child abuse, for example.


      • Anonymous August 26, 2017 at 12:10 am #

        At least you get stoned with the Rastas.


  3. samjandwich August 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    Interesting thoughts thanks Jennifer, and I hope I’ll be able to write as well as you some day!

    I suppose one question that springs to mind is, is it technically possible for there to be a religion which by its very nature doesn’t exert some sort of pressure on its adherents to attempt to convince others that they should adopt it as well? If you think you’re right about something, to the exclusion of all else, then will you be bound to promote what you think is right to those you see who are doing something differently from you?

    And maybe that goes to the heart of what is the difference between a religion and a secular position – ie can you explain the difference not by saying that religions are religions because they have some sort of supernatural element, whereas secularism doesn’t; but that religions have no room for doubt, whereas secularism is characterised by constant doubt and reformulation in the face of newly-arising information?

    Or is it simply all about the degree to which you give a fuck?

    For my part I’m not religious at all, but there are many positions I hold on particular issues which are a constant in my life – one of which being that I am happy for everyone to come to their own positions on whatever issues they like, even if it leads them to adopt a religion, since we all have our individualised combinations of nature+nurture.

    One thing I grapple with though, is, why on earth shouldn’t I discriminate against conservatives, whose anti-social views are clearly deleterious to us all, but whose positions are nonetheless often deeply held and thought through?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson August 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

      I don’t think all religions proselytise, Sam. It seems to be a particularly strong impulse in Christians for some reason.
      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doubt either, I don’t know how anyone can be fully human and avoid doubt, or even want to.
      I don’t understand why religion still has such an enormous influence on our society, & I don’t like that it does.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eva August 18, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

        Born and growing up in Socialist country religion was not strong issue, but the value to respect someone spiritual belief been installed in me to respect and tolerate other, and be good and try do good for others as well. Why I may face un recognized person in burqa at these point I agree that this bit of fashion can be excluded of those that cherish lavishly with all trimming life in country that accepted them? Ms Hanson can stop embarrass her self and us as a nation, there will be other ways to make point. If all Immigrants will start implement their cultural values and costumes on Australia where the country will be? My English is self thought I can’t express myself that well like you but I feel for you Australian and my child that born there. Do not allow take your country from you in any form.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson August 19, 2017 at 11:27 am #

          Thanks, Eva, for commenting.
          I love being able to encounter other cultures in Australia. Without any doubt, in my opinion, they have made Australia richer.
          As for the burqa, personally I wouldn’t enjoy wearing it but I think it’s a complicated thing for women who do wear it and it’s not for me to tell them they shouldn’t.
          Pauline Hanson certainly shouldn’t though.
          Best wishes.


          • doug quixote August 26, 2017 at 8:44 am #

            Make the burqa compulsory dress for prostitutes, and see it disappear overnight. Kemal Ataturk did it in Turkey in the 1920s.


            • Anonymous August 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

              The prostitutes or the burqas?


              • Eva August 27, 2017 at 10:45 am #

                Yes, let your view be know. We can ask to explain to us many thinks as a children when starting learning have many questions so do we! Why our government or more powerful people restricting us in many ways, who given them these rights? If we take the Bible in account there is that we need to be good to one and other to make the world happy place. Why we do not put our energy in these to make the world live in harmony. We are just a papets in some orchestrated play! Are we think of these? I know we are busy make day to day means, and we neglecting ourselves. Have nice healthy and wealthy life, and do not forget those less fortunate. Let same sex couple live their life with any restriction they are valuable citizens. Let the burqa be recognised as is mentioned previously as outfit for free walker on the street that at least serve those that seeking their services giving pleasure, with this I agree…


          • Eva August 26, 2017 at 9:22 am #

            Yes dear lady, I view it that way if all immigrants start wearing their countries national dress just for fun of it as they do the burqa that is just fashion item where will Australia been. Or this is good for throwing money for study if is important for one group of immigrants have the grant to wear whatever they choose? This mean that our government do not have nothing g more important to debate? Check where they missing and neglecting citizens, please read and judge:
            http://www.opentrial.info/index.php=Fleecing_the_Elderly_in_Tasmania and lobby them to check on these to ahead protect
            our selves not to experience he same as Maria did and no one from approached government official took any notice even when her age pension been stopt for four and half month only one brave politician Mr Iva Dean MP try help. Where been the others that been informed what happening to old woman, her assets taken by PT and let her starve. Please someone unswear where is common sense of our


      • samjandwich August 22, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

        Something to look into further perhaps… but one case in point: I spent the weekend in the wilds of the Lockyer Valley (Pauline Hanson heartland don’t you know) where I spotted a sign outside a church which said “Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death!”


  4. rhyllmcmaster August 18, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

    The ‘erudite and decent Father Frank Brennan’ indulges in another piece of religious exceptionalism when he states he would rather go to jail than break the silence of the confessional over pedophile priests. In other words, he puts the private interests of the church ahead of the Rights of the Child. That religious ‘freedom’ hides a very nasty reality.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson August 18, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

      Ah, he’s one of the pro confession brigade is he. I hadn’t caught up with that.
      I’m very happy for him to go to jail. The sanctity of the confessional. Really.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rhyllmcmaster August 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

        “One of Australia’s most prominent Catholic priests will defy any law compelling clergy to break the seal of the confessional to report child sexual abuse.
        Jesuit academic and human rights lawyer Frank Brennan was responding to the abuse royal commission criminal justice report released this week.
        “If the law is changed, abolishing the seal of the confessional, I will conscientiously refuse to comply with the law,” Father Brennan wrote in Fairfax Media on Wednesday.” – The West Australian https://thewest.com.au/news/crime/frank-brennan-rejects-rc-on-confession-ng-s-1760506

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson August 19, 2017 at 11:29 am #

          What a twerp. I don’t understand that decision at all.

          Liked by 1 person

          • rhyllmcmaster August 20, 2017 at 1:24 am #

            … and he’s a human rights lawyer and all.


          • paul walter August 20, 2017 at 5:12 am #

            yep, typo. How do I miss these things? Therefore, not there in third para.


            • paul walter August 20, 2017 at 5:29 am #

              How did this get here rather than in the second comment I made below (render unto caeser), doh.

              What I was going to ask is, what is the situation with doctors, social workers,lawyers, etc?

              I think you and rhyllmcmaster read the situation correctly, but without nuance. For instance, I doubt that Brennan would be concerned about “the reputation of the church” in the way a George Pell might be, so much as to do with a betrayal of confidence involving the one confessing.

              I would like to think he is perhaps thinking of a situation when someone messed up comes for counselling and he tries to convince them to go to the authorities, or at least seek help, or suffer continued trouble with a bad conscience. I hope I am right, I’d hope at least some of them are not nod and wink merchants.

              I hope I don’t offend for playing devils advocate. I respect this site too much to want to trivialise a serious issue,


              • paul walter August 20, 2017 at 5:58 am #

                Doesn’t work, does it?

                What WOULD he do if confronted with a bad case, likelihood of future harms and a recalcitrant on the other side of the box?


          • Marilyn August 22, 2017 at 3:31 am #

            He, Robert Manne and John Menadue have been advocating keeping out refugees in the name of helping those on Nauru and Manus only and think that is some sort of moral argument.


  5. Barry Waters August 18, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    I agree with your definition of “religious freedom”. Part of that freedom ought to be to be able to act according to one’s regions beliefs. Does this mean one should be able to disapprove of the concept of same sex marriage as a result one’s religious beliefs? Does it also mean that the government should be able to pass laws that force one to act contrary to those beliefs?
    For what it’s worth I have strong religious beliefs, but I certainly approve of marriage equality as much as I try to adhere to my understanding of human rights. Allowing churches (and cake decorators) to exercise their religious freedoms seems to me to be one of the sanest ideas contained in the marriage equality act that has been mooted. The irony is that no members of the clergy have ever been able to be sued for not being able to conduct a wedding for a heterosexual couple and we know plenty who have not made their churches available.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson August 18, 2017 at 5:27 pm #

      This is the problem though, isn’t it Barry, when religious beliefs deny another’s human rights. How can a belief ever be a justification for that? Why is discriminating against others a religious freedom? Isn’t there something wrong with a religion that demands that “freedom”?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 8 Degrees of Latitude August 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    A very well argued piece, though I think it rather skates over the fact that religion is not a matter of law but one of faith (not of science); that because of this it is itself exceptionalism; that this particular exceptionalism should be permitted in a free society; and that it follows (in a jurisdiction that validates religion) that faith is beyond temporal legislation and jurisprudence.

    Frank Brennan is an honourable and erudite Jesuit priest; he has the task therefore, as do all those in the SJ, including the present Pope, of melding the irrational (faith is unsupported by evidence) with the rational (science, biochemistry in the case of the Pope).

    The way round the impasse would be to create marriage in Australia as solely a civil rite (and right). Those who wished to bring a religious element into their own marriages could do so through a parallel or immediately subsequent sacrament. This is what happens in many countries anyway, so there is ample precedent for anyone with an open mind.

    It wouldn’t of course remove the possibility of invidious discrimination against same-sex couples still occurring, if they wish to have their marriages sanctified according to the rites to which they adhere, but I think that in most western societies the churches are moving towards a broader definition of their place in the scheme of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson August 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

      Thank you 8 degrees, for extending the argument: I could write an entire post about the exceptionalism of faith and probably will.

      Yes, marriage should be a civil rite/right, the state has no business being involved. There will always be discrimination, but surely we are more evolved than to justify it by appealing to the supernatural

      Liked by 1 person

  7. paul walter August 18, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

    There is no theological basis for discriminating against anybody.

    “Let he who is without blame
    cast the first stone”.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. paul walter August 18, 2017 at 7:28 pm #

    Not quite so sure about the confessional. It will ultimately be up to the priest how far the matter goes, law or no law.

    The older social security system of the church has been superceded by the secular one. If the confessional operated as a counselling service, it does seem to have collided with the modern system of social welfare workers, psychologists and others on the metaphysics at least, and how much this complicates things I cant begin to imagine (if at all),

    But both secular counsellors and priests are increasingly required to ignore confidentiality in situations involving possible offending. Rendering unto Caesar what is Caesars should there mean in most cases a priest should feel he can report a clear cut issue, but both secular and religious workers will claim the loss of trust compromises the respective systems and may do as much harm as good as offenders or other troubled people avoid coming forward to get advice on their particular issues.

    The seriousness of ignoring paedophilia and its gruesome harms ought to challenge any one counselling and I can’t see how any reasonable person could take the risk of an offender being left to recommit with a clear conscience.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson August 18, 2017 at 8:34 pm #

      For the catholic church, canon law overrules secular law. All their mystic shit about communion with god via the medium of the priest triumphs over preventing the rape and molestation of children.
      They need to go to jail for their crimes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • paul walter August 18, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

        Well, that’s basically what I was alluding to in my second paragraph.

        I accept that your interpretation represents an alternative one I was considering as a theoretical problem.

        Perhaps what we are talking about is Catholic mysticism (superstition? ) versus a more practical exemplary manual for what constitutes reasonable, eg “spiritual” in a more universal sense, human conduct. No doubt Plato and Aristotle could comment, given their own interpretations in philosophy.

        For example, in the NT Christ pleads, “Suffer the little children to come unto me”

        I’ve always interpreted that to mean that a good person likes kids, but I see what you mean about an alternative allusion to paedophilia, so the rot must have set in very early indeed.

        If only we had been able to witness first hand, all those years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

        • paul walter August 18, 2017 at 9:41 pm #

          sorry, usual typo omitted second para (to the), after “alternative”.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. drsusancalvin August 18, 2017 at 9:47 pm #

    Thanks Jennifer. Should the mandatory reporting get up, musing on a hypothetical police procedural I can image an episode where someone pretends to report, or pretends to confess child abuse to a priest. Wait for a bit, then report the lack of reporting to the authorities. We integrity test police. It might be interesting to be able to do the same for priests.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter August 18, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

      And others who play games?

      Perhaps a priests should warn people that, if an instance related is blatant enough, they will go to the police if the person confessing or mentioning someone else responsible, doesn’t. It would require quite some diplomatic skill to set up a sequence for some thing like this for a fair result.

      It occurs to me that every instance is going to have its own set of circumstances, it is not a doddle in the park.

      Certainly, a law requiring a priest to report would send a strong message to offenders that the church no longer harbours offenders, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. kristapet August 18, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    I must say, I agree, with this article, “Freedom of religion is not freedom to discriminate”
    Religious freedom is important, but not as a vehicle and a sheriff, for a moralistic and judgemental, ruling class of select citizens, and representatives. Also, religious freedom is not to have rigid belief systems preached by preachers, shoving beliefs and catechism down one’s throat, preached as the only way to live, and prescribing whom to exclude. Neither, is it to have your moral well being governed by unwieldy dogma to suffocate you with and ostracise you, for being different and keep you living in a state of shame and unworthiness.
    I think religion is easily misused, can be weaponized, and can reduce a person to powerlessness, is confusing, and, can addle your brain with confusing ideology and can be divisive.

    I became a Buddhist in my early thirties, having turned my back on the Catholic Church at 18 years of age – it did not fit my idea of spiritual practice and I find, now, I shy away from organized religion – my beliefs are mixed now but still, NOT, organized religion, I find it suffocating, I veer more, towards universal consciousness, some esoteric wisdom, and towards Eastern Philosophies
    Sometimes I am surprised by some religious leaders – Fr Rod Bower is the exception, and is more how I envisage a man of God to be.The only reason I am bringing your attention to him is because he shows true spiritual and humane leadership
    As for the Catholic Church I think it is corrupted and hides behind a shield of secrecy, I find their stand on homosexuality to be abhorrent

    The contrast between Fr Rod Bower and others, and religious leaders is striking
    This priest is unusual, inclusive, speaks out all types of issues, particularly discrimination, rascism, and critical of the government and speaks out quite often – His is not Catholic – is an Anglican priest – progressive writes interesting billboards from the Parish of Gosford
    He is doing a lot of good in the world and staunchly supported Gillian Triggs
    For example:




  11. paul walter August 18, 2017 at 11:20 pm #

    A bit diverted away from the actual questions raised about same sex marriage and the Frank Brennan piece and homophobia.

    Homophobia may well be a weakness, but is it a crime?

    I see Brennan’s point although I am deeply sympathetic to Wilson’s.

    Can you force someone to marry a same sex couple? I dunno, to me it runs the risk of stoking resistance to anti discrimination laws and to gay people. Personally, I think a celebrant who won’t marry people irrespective of gender, race etc is probably wrong and narrow minded and why would you want to be married by such a person anyway?

    Do blogmasters have the right to ban obstreperous commenters, for breaking a libel law say, or just because they don’t agree with a viewpoint? The same with celebrants.

    Can refusing to marry a couple be taken to be “oppressing” them? If I take to someone with a truncheon, it is more clear cut, merely not feeling like doing something, I am not so sure.

    I think homophobia is a sign of conditioned closed mindedness and could be seen as an illness or condition, if you like and then the question becomes one of education or deprogramming rather than coercion or punishment?


    • doug quixote August 19, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

      Deprogramming! If only we could deprogram the religious completely. Suggestions on a postcard please. 🙂


  12. havanaliedown August 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

    I look forward to the first gay wedding at Lakemba Mosque.


    • allthumbs August 19, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

      Well said that man.


      • havanaliedown August 19, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

        It might, however be conducted on the rooftop.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. doug quixote August 19, 2017 at 10:09 pm #

    The history of religion is the history of discrimination.

    The so-called “pilgrim fathers” of the USA did not flee religious persecution; they went to the new continent so they could persecute without interference.

    “How can we be “in” if there is no outside?” as Peter Gabriel put it in Not One of Us.

    The religious will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Depend upon it.


    • paul walter August 20, 2017 at 5:06 am #

      I’d hope people of the present and future don’t do what folk of the twentieth century did, then. With the discrediting of religion, the “wired” human instead had its tiny mind, individual and collective to some extent, latching on to Hitlerism and Stalinism.

      I am also not so sure we are not fooled by the “democracy” ideology of this era, when it seems to allow for the othering and mass death that occurs in third world nations like Yemen and the Congo by various means.

      The current example in the lucky part of the world most reflective of what I’m thinking of is Charlottesville, which could by a certain reckoning be seen as an extreme manifestation of a wider set of patterns and traits for which ideology is a component.

      In olden times they had the pope.

      These days, there is Murdoch and the msm..


      • doug quixote August 20, 2017 at 9:13 am #

        False and defective ideologies abound, Paul. In my optimistic moments I think of John Lennon’s Imagine; but my pragmatic side knows that a good proportion of the world’s people seem to need a religion, the opiate of the masses as Marx put it.

        We can only hope to push religion towards more docile and moderate manifestations. A major part of this would be accomplished if we could secularise education. It is no accident that the religious right seek to control the syllabus, and we see the results in the USA as their profound ignorance swells the ranks of the godly. Ignorance is the true realm of the religious – in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.


        • paul walter August 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

          Remenbering schooldays. The state primary school up the road; all comers. And high school. Where did all this quarantining of rich preppies come from?

          How stupid of them to wallflower their kids to brainwash them.


          • Eva Gutray August 20, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

            Hi,My friend Maria been devoted Christian and financially supported her church.When she needed a priest of her parish to at least testify if he see her to deteriorate mentally, he turned his back on her! She become frightened, and lost trust to official whatever kind. Her story you can read there:Please awake and keep awaken, try to awaken others to reality what happen http://www.opentrial.info/index.php?title=Fleecing_the_Elderly_in_Tasmania with Sec. 13 of excess power to GAB and help lobby our government to correctthese for others.Respectfully Eva  http://worldwin-postcard.com/ 


  14. Joes Garage August 20, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    Your argument is underpinned by the assumption LGBT rights are human rights. Therefore any act which impinges on the human right of LGBT people is assumed to be discriminatory.

    Essentially you are arguing LGBT rights are supreme over freedom of religion rights. Therefore any aspect of freedom of religion which is perceived to be in violation of LGBT rights is perceived as discriminatory of human rights and therefore must be forced by law and government to curtail to uphold the supremacy of LGBT rights.

    But why should LGBT rights be accepted as human rights. And why should LGBT rights be inviolable over all others? Can you please provide some sound evidence?

    Why should your belief system which is aligned with this way of thinking, dominate the freedom of others to think differently, to act differently and to hold differing belief systems?

    Also, if LGBT rights are human rights, then why shouldn’t those wishing to partake in polygamous marriage also have the same human rights. Why shouldn’t those wishing to partake in adult incest marriage have the same rights? Shouldn’t those people have the same rights to marry who they want, to be married in a church they choose, and to be employed by church related institutions, and to foster children? On what basis does your belief system entitle you to discriminate against them, just because they don’t fit your vision of how humans ought to live? Isn’t it unjustified and unjustifiable dehumanisation to exclude those from the same human rights?

    What of those who identify their sexuality as paedophile, and believe they were born that way? What of their human rights too?

    If your belief system demands that you must, through discrimination, oppress and persecute a particular group of your fellow humans, perhaps you need to seriously consider the worth of that belief system.


    • someguyinozblog August 25, 2017 at 10:17 am #

      “f your belief system demands that you must, through discrimination, oppress and persecute a particular group of your fellow humans, perhaps you need to seriously consider the worth of that belief system.”

      I agree entirely with this. But I question how you can say that after the rest of your comments.

      When you ask “why should LGBT rights be accepted as human rights” the answer is obvious: because LGBT people are human.

      The rest of your comments aren’t relevant to the discussion of whether same-sex marriage should be allowed. If you want the question widened you need to take that up with your MP.


  15. paul walter August 20, 2017 at 11:32 pm #

    I am now “awake” to the underlying point and possibilities Jennifer Wilson is making. This piece is about “attitude” and accountability.

    And the following newspaper article emphasises the problem identified as to this in extension.


    Sorry, Frank..


    • Moz of Yarramulla August 24, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

      “I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage,”

      Does he mean the bit where marriage is for life and divorce is impossible, or the where mixed-race marriages are an abomination? Or perhaps the bit where a rapist can marry his victim to avoid punishment? There are so many questions raised by that claim that I’m not even sure what he’s really offended by. I’m going to guess…. the Australian ban on so-called “bigamy” when the bible is abundantly clear that a man can have multiple wives.


  16. FA August 21, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    The only reason the “Christian bakery” story got so much traction is because it was helped along by a media fishing expedition. Several Christian bakeries were approached until they found one that refused service. It is incredibly easy to find bakeries owned by Muslims or Jews that will also refuse service to homosexuals. Service, in this case, means having a cake customised with with pro-gay marriage message. Incidentally, it is also easy to find bakeries owned by gays or lesbians that will refuse to customise a cake with a slogan like “gay marriage is wrong”. I am not a believer, but I find the particular anti-Christian slant a lot of this takes to be bad.

    Personally, I find the libertarian argument strongest here. No company should be compelled to provide any particular person with service for any reason. If you don’t like it, vote with your wallet and take your business elsewhere. If others agree with your vote, that company will be out of business or change their policies. The government, including courts, should not be involved in this. (However, I should say that my opinion on this is being challenged when talking about large companies like Google effectively deciding what opinions are allowed online. There may be a valid argument against (near) monopolies refusing service.)


    • allthumbs August 21, 2017 at 11:39 am #

      What about a surgeon, a paramedic, a teacher, a judge?


      • FA August 21, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

        Depends. A judge is a public servant, so is being paid on behalf of all taxpayers. It isn’t a private enterprise, and there are no private judges (except in the libertarian paradise). Public teachers have the same limitations. Private schools can and do discriminate. Paramedics tend to be employed by ambulance services and are therefore also mostly public servants. Surgeons are more evenly split. Private surgeons absolutely do discriminate in picking their clients.

        I think the idea that discrimination is inherently bad is plain wrong. I absolutely reserve the right to be discriminating about who I choose to associate with, what I choose to eat and how I spend my time.


        • allthumbs August 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

          Politicians are public servants and to some extent financed by private enterprise?

          My own feeling is that Capitalism is not discriminatory and for the sake of a buck will (without regulation) pretty much take, offer and accept anything that comes its way if it is profitable.

          Those cake makers must be communists.


        • paul walter August 29, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

          There is a parallel here to the Jehovah.s witnesses refusing blod transfusion for themselves but more seriously, for their kids.


  17. paul walter August 21, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    Punchy take employing a historical perspectve from excommunicated (former catholic intellectual Paul Collins.



  18. Yarramulla In The Wet August 24, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

    It’s already illegal to discriminate on a whole lot of grounds, but the government hires organisations to do it on their (our!) behalf. That’s wrong. Marriage isn’t special in that regard.

    I think one compelling argument for me is to put the abstract “religious freedom” question slightly to the side and focus on government action. Government should be banned from funding or supporting discriminatory groups. Religious schools, hospitals, bakers, house painters etc should face a simple choice: be open to all and receive government funding; or not. They could choose only one.

    This is like the Christian prayers that open Parliament: it is a requirement of the law that a Christan prayer be used, it’s a requirement of the job that the Speaker recite that prayer… the Constitution forbids a religious test in that situation. We ignore the problem. In exactly the same way the government may not act illegally, nor pay someone else to act illegally on their behalf[1]. But apparently they can pay schools to discriminate against certain students.

    [1] I’m aware that this is not an accurate description of the Australian Government and never has been. Ahem.

    (sorry if this gets duplicated, wordpress is telling me I need to log in, but then I “succeed” and it tells me there’s a duplicate, but when I reload the page my post isn’t there. There’s no “you’ve been moderated” note either. It’s all very strange).



  1. Christian fundamentalists feeding Into the Toxic Partisanship and driving countries into the Dark Ages… #1 | Stepping Toes - February 9, 2018

    […] On religious freedom […]


  2. How to Go Forward without Fear | From guestwriters - July 16, 2019

    […] On religious freedom […]


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