Attention All Aussies

Attention All Aussies

Below is a quote from a recent Australian Prayer Network bulletin. It is vitally important that Christians have their say in this "review" - if we don't, we could end up living in a country where it is illegal to preach the Gospel, to declare publicly that Jesus is the only way of salvation, or to take a Biblical stance on such issues as abortion and homosexuality.

Please don't ignore this! Go to the website, download the relevent info, and have your say. Also pass the info on to your church and every Christian you know. Remember, all it taks for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent!

Here's the quote:

(Editors note: This review is presented as being about protecting religious freedom in this country. The past record of the Human Rights Commission however does not exude confidence that the review will come out in favour of greater religious freedom. Indeed the comments of the Commissioner when announcing the enquiry would give the impression it is tailored to try and find ways of limiting the voice of "fundamentalist" Christians on moral and social issues of the day where they do not accord with the secular humanist agenda seemingly propagated by such bodies as the Human Rights Commission. This issue requires much prayer.)

A national review of what Australians think about religious freedom is being launched by the Human Rights Commission. The commission's race discrimination commissioner Tom Calma says Australia needs to understand what religious freedom means in the 21st century. He says in a secular, multifaith society, people sometimes have different expectations about the way laws reflect those beliefs. Mr Calma says there is evidence of a growing fundamentalist religious lobby, in areas such as same-sex relationships, stem-cell research and abortion.

Mr Calma says there is a balance to be struck between the freedom to practice a religion and not pushing those beliefs on the rest of society. "The fundamental human right of freedom of religion and belief is protected by a number of international treaties and declarations," said Commissioner Calma. "It encompasses freedom of thought on all matters and the freedom to demonstrate and express our religion and belief individually, with others, in private or in public."

In calling for submissions from the public, the Commissioner pointed out that the intersection of religion and belief with human rights is illustrated daily in our news headlines. "The involvement of religious institutions in school curriculums and practices, religious and ethical concerns about scientific research, the status of Muslim communities in society , the involvement of religion in debates about homosexuality or abortion - these are just some of the stories that involve us every day at the intersection of religion and belief with human rights," said Commissioner Calma.

"Given that these issues are continually in the headlines, it is timely that they be comprehensively evaluated in terms of their impacts on the practice, expression and perception of religion and spirituality in Australia," said Mr Calma. "A better understanding of the way they influence our attitudes and laws will assist us as to advance our nation's social and cultural prosperity." Commissioner Calma emphasised that gaining a comprehensive understanding of these issues could not be achieved merely by consultation with academics, religious institutions and government.

"To achieve the intention of our discussion paper, we need to hear from as many people as possible, from as many walks of life, with as many different experiences to share as we can." Mr Calma said. Submissions close on 31 January 2009. Electronic submissions are encouraged by visiting or emailing [email protected]

Submissions can also be made by post to

Race Discrimination Unit: Education and Partnerships Section,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission,
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001.
For enquiries, call (02) 9284 9600 or 1800 620 241.

The Freedom of religion and belief in the 21st century project is being run by the Australian Multicultural Foundation, RMIT University and Monash University, in partnership. The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has expressed concern at the calling for such a review, saying that it appeared to be biased before it even started and aimed at undermining the rights of people with faith to have an influence in the public sphere.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said that comments from the Commission's race discrimination commissioner Tom Calma questioned whether religious beliefs should influence policies being determined in Australia. "It is unbelievable that an organisation supposedly working to "respect, protect and promote" human rights should bring into question the basic rights of people of faith to freedom of expression and political participation," Mr Wallace said. "Unless there is another agenda here, we are clearly short of reasons to justify such a review," he said.

"Everyone, whether of faith, no faith, or a faith in secular humanism, has a right to bring their views into the public square," Mr Wallace said. "I expect the Human Rights Commission to be protecting that right - not challenging it." Mr Wallace said that, historically, Australian society had been founded on Christian values and people of faith have contributed a great deal to the laws and government of our nation.
Source: Compiled by APN from information provided by the ACL