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Freedom and The Politics of Outrage – Part 2

Religious Freedom and The Politics of Outrage – Part 2

By Akos Balogh (taken from Gospel coalition website)

(Part 1 of this article appeared in our newsletter on 23rd Dec and can be accessed off our website)

5)  No doubt the SMH reporting has impacted relationships between members of the Christian and gay communities.

Sadly there’s always been tension and mistrust. But this sort of reporting only serves to make the polarisation worse through reinforcing stereotypes. It doesn’t enlighten, but shuts down debate.

6) Outrage is being generated over a report that hasn’t even been released yet.

I’m all for public conversation over public issues, but at the very least, shouldn’t media ensure that their reporting is verifiable? We have no idea if what they’ve reported is accurate, nuanced, or qualified. And yet social and mainstream media is abuzz because of it.

7) There’s already widespread misunderstanding about Religious freedom.

This reporting only makes it worse.

One would be forgiven for thinking from the SMH’s reporting that religious freedom is a recent invention of the religious far right, about a good idea as Big Bash Cricket.

From what I’ve seen, there’s been little mention of the fact that Freedom of Religion is enshrined in Article 18 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a signatory. Christians like me are merely asking for this internationally recognised right to be reflected in Australian law.

8) Most interestingly, this so called right to discriminate against gay students was enshrined in law in 2013 by the then Labor government.

That’s the same government headed by Julia Gillard (an Atheist), and which had as a front bench minister Penny Wong, a prominent member of the LGBTI community. Again, this detail was sadly absent from much of the reporting.

Update: I’ve been notified that some reporting on this issue did mention Labor bringing in the current form of the Commonwealth Anti-discrimination Legislation. On Skynews, Labor minister Tanya Pilbersek made this point, and also said that religious schools ‘do not use their practical right to discriminate.’

9) So should Christian schools be allowed to ‘discriminate’ against gay students?

The very framing of this question precludes any reasonable discussion (especially on social media) . A better place to start is by ‘going upstream’ in the discussion, and asking what is freedom of religion (and association), and how is this balanced against other rights in a free and open society.

This article is written by Akos Balough. He is a Christ-follower, husband, father, blogger. And the Executive Director of The Gospel Coalition Australia. He has also worked as a campus Chaplain, helping broken people get to know Jesus, and as a military Aerospace Engineer, fixing broken aeroplanes.