Freedom of Religion

20 September 2010

Professor Patrick Parkinson, AM says religious groups should be able to maintain their identity - unless it is against public morality.

In an article published in Melbourne's The Age, Professor Parkinson says there is a genuine concern about religious freedom in Australia.

''The biggest problem is one of intolerance and, ironically, it's intolerance of Christians who are seen to be intolerant.

"What is under threat is the right to hold beliefs about sexual morality.''

Professor Parkinson thinks political correctness has nearly made genuine beliefs about right and wrong illegitimate.

"What has been an orthodox view for thousands of years is now almost illegal to express.''

He says there are legitimate concerns that moves to protect religious freedom might actually limit them.

''The Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission is exhibit one.

"The HREOC [Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, now the Australian Human Rights Commission] also got off to a terrible start with Tom Calma.

"The religious freedom issue was very significant in resistance to a human rights act, because there was a view that the commission was aggressively secular and didn't respect or understand religious rights when in competition with anything else,'' Parkinson says.

''The commission has a lot of bridge-building to do.

"But the president, Catherine Branson, is very well aware of our concerns and, I think, keen to mend fences.''

Parkinson is less optimistic about the Victorian commission.

''It will need to shed some of its more extreme and dogmatic positions in order to regain the trust and respect of faith-based communities in Victoria.''

View the entire article - Battlegrounds for belief - The Age

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

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