“Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. Take thou what course thou wilt.”
Victoria has moved one step closer to undoing one of Australia’s most basic doctrines, that the State will not interfere with or control religious organisations. In a series political moves that may well remind us of a Henry VIII or Vladimir Putin, Daniel Andrews has decided to pull the plug on religious freedom.
Yesterday, a Bill was presented to the Legislative Assembly for debate: an amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act, making it unlawful for religious organisations to not employ persons on account of them holding to different religious views to those believed by the organisation.
Mr Andrews has said, “Religious bodies or schools will be required to demonstrate a necessary connection between their religious beliefs and the requirements of a specific role.”
Should the State force Churches and religious organisations to employ persons who don’t subscribe to their values and vision? Of course not, but then again, Henry VIII shouldn’t have pronounced himself the head of the English Church and Julius Caesar probably shouldn’t stuck his nose into Gaul, but they did.
Schools, Churches, Synagogues, Temples, and hundreds of organisations, will be required to pass a test, demonstrating to the Government that advertised positions inherently require an employee to affirm the beliefs and practices of that institution. The tribunal will then have authority to decide what is religious and what is not, and which roles require a person to hold to the beliefs of the organisation and not; a pontifex maximus for Victoria!
Soon there will be all manner of religious organisations lining up outside a brick Government building, waiting to prove that their employees ought to be on the same page as their school or charity.
Yes, I know, all this sounds like one crazy dream built on an evening of Roquefort and Sauternes, or perhaps the plot line for a whacky comedy. But no, this is real and it is serious.
Victorians who conform to Labor’s strict interpretation of religion and sexuality have nothing to fear, but for 100,000s of Victorians who send their children to religious schools, attend churches, and who support religious organisations, there is genuine reason for concern.
The Bill will be voted on this afternoon (15/9) and is guaranteed to pass the Lower House, given that the Government has the numbers. The final outcome will then depend on the Legislative Council. Common sense ought to prevail, but then common sense would have ensured this Bill had never left cabinet room.
Concerned Victorians should contact their local members of Parliament. We can also pray that common sense will be followed and this Bill rejected.
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