Statement from the Rev Peter Catt, President of A Progressive Christian Voice Australia.
“There is no need for a Religious Freedom Bill. There are many people throughout the world who are persecuted for their faith. To align oneself with them in the current Australian climate is self-indulgent.
Freedom of religion has to do with the freedom to hold to a particular belief system, freedom to assemble for worship unhindered, and freedom to undertake religious observance and practice. It does not and should not include insulating church institutions or members from being challenged or criticised for poor behaviour.
There is a real danger that a Religious Freedom Bill will become a Freedom to be Sectarian Bill. Religion when it functions properly is about love and inclusion. No Religious Freedom Bill should ever sanction hate speech. Neither should such a Bill allow people who provide goods and services to withhold them from say, LGBTIQ+ people. To allow this would be a retrograde step, taking us back half-a-century to the days when goods and services were withheld from people based on perceived race.
I get attacked more often for my views and practices by fellow religious travellers than I do by people from outside the faith community. Will the Bill stop that from happening? Not that I think that it should. But the Bill is predicated on the idea that it is them (secular forces) and us (religious people). The reality is more complex. How will the Bill deal with religious people attacking one another?
Finally, the Government should reflect on its behaviour during the last Parliament when the greatest threat to religious freedom was the Government’s attempt to curtail religious charities from speaking out on policy matters that affected the poor and vulnerable.”
The Rev Peter Catt is available for further comment via firstname.lastname@example.org