As Australia goes to the polls, religious freedom remains a concern
David Rogers | Staff Writer

David Rogers | Staff Writer

As the nation of Australia goes to the polls this weekend, there is more than just fiscal policy to be concerned about. Religious freedom is one of the great concerns for Christian voters.

In light of rugby star Israel Folau’s sacking for his comments about gays and hell, there is genuine concern that the country, if Labour wins government, will tighten the laws surrounding freedom of speech.

On Monday, reporters asked the current prime minister and committed Christian, Scott Morrison, whether LGBT individuals will go to hell. He replied, “People’s faith are people’s faith. And, you know, I’m not running for Pope. I’m running for prime minister. And so, you know, theological questions you can leave at the seminary.”

The prime minister attends a Pentecostal church in the city of Sydney. As same-sex marriage has been a game-changer in the nation, the question around religious freedom has been questioned by the country’s religious leaders.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has called on the Labor Party to clarify their policy on religious freedom for faith-based schools. There is a concern that if Labor win government that faith-based schools will lose their religious freedom.

The head of ACL, Martyn Iles, stated that, “This is out of step with what Tanya Plibersek said last week when she seemed to show a willingness to support religious schools’ right to teach their values, and employ staff that faithfully represent those values.

“Religious freedom for schools remains a critical issue for millions of Australians, and so far, it has been sidelined from the election campaign.

“Labor can’t be all things to all people on this issue. They must clarify their position.

“We cannot have faith-based schools, tertiary institutions and potentially even churches themselves being legally challenged for teaching their faith or hiring staff who share their ethos.

“The ACL has already seen litigation against schools and other bodies through our human rights law clinic, so we know the concern about litigation is not imaginary.”

In 2017, when Australia voted for same-sex marriage, Labor’s Shorten was in favor, while Liberal’s Morrison voted against it. For the record, the nation voted in same-sex marriage, making it legal for gay couples to tie the knot.

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