- Life Ministries thanks the Expert Panel for the opportunity to receive and review submissions relating to ongoing religious freedom in Australia.
- Millions of Australians profess to be Christians, not to mention many thousands more who embrace other religions. For these people, religious freedom is both precious and critically important. In fact, for many, they would risk penalties and imprisonment rather than be forced to conform to views that stand in opposition to their religious convictions.
- Freedom of religion consists of far more than freedom to worship in church buildings. While preachers should continue to be allowed to preach sermons regarding (for example) traditional marriage in their churches, they should also continue to be allowed to place their messages on the net without fear of threats and/or prosecution.
- Freedom of religion necessarily entails the freedom to live by and to publicly express one’s religious convictions in public.
- Life Ministries is of the conviction that the legalisation of same-sex marriage poses serious risks to freedom of religion. People should be free to speak publicly about their religious view of marriage without fear of being taken to a government tribunal, as was Archbishop Julian Porteous in Tasmania.
- No one should be prevented from expressing their views opposing same-sex marriage or gender fluidity.
- Parents should continue to have the right to determine how they will rear their children, and what they will accept or reject in relation to their education.
- Parents should continue to have the right, based upon their religious convictions, to hold a view on same-sex marriage that is not based on government whims, but on the teaching of their religion. They should continue to have the right to withdraw their children from public school classes that teach radical LGBTQ sex and gender theory, and thus not to be taught what is in conflict with their religious beliefs.
- Religious schools should continue to be allowed to teach children their view of marriage without fear of being reported to a government commission. They should continue to be allowed to discriminate in employment in favour of people who adhere to their beliefs on marriage.
- The right not to violate one’s conscience must continue to be granted to all who staff religious organisations and charities in relation to their policies and practices. Religious charities should continue to be allowed to hold their view of heterosexual marriage without fear of losing their charitable status or government funding.
- Religious freedom should also continue to protect, for example, celebrants who object to conducting homosexual marriages on the basis of their religious beliefs, religious campground owners who refuse to permit their sites to be used by homosexuals, religious photographers who refuse to shoot wedding photography for homosexuals, religious bakers who refuse to decorate cakes with pro-homosexual messages, and so forth.
- Life Ministries is deeply concerned about the development of anti-discrimination laws which elevate the interests of some groups above religious belief and personal conscience.
- We believe that freedom of religion is inextricably tied to freedom of conscience, speech and association. Without these, freedom succumbs to authoritarianism.
- We believe that in a truly free and healthy society religious belief should not be an exception, but rather, a fundamental right, protected by law.
- We believe that in a truly free society, contrary opinions should be welcomed.
16. We ask that Life Ministries’ submission be considered by the Panel, and we give permission for this submission to be published.