Churches and Christian Schools in Australia Demanding Religious Freedom Laws to Protect Right to Hire and Fire Based on Beliefs

CSA has submitted all the necessary documents to prove their contention

Christian Schools Australia (CSA) has proposed that schools should retain the freedom to hire teachers and also fire them as per their beliefs. The same should be applicable to non-teaching staff as well. CSA said such actions could be determined by a person's adherence to any or all religious codes. The organization along with Adventist Schools Australia have jointly submitted for the right to choose students. Their demand includes the expulsion of students as well. These facts came into the light during Philip Ruddock’s review of religious freedom.

If the church proposals come into fruition, the religious organizations would be permanently exempt from any kind of anti-discrimination laws. This will be named the Religious Freedom Act. This will be similar to the charter of rights. It would result first in codification and then expand on the exemptions applicable to anti-discrimination laws presently extended to the churches on matters of hiring and firing staff. The law will go much deeper. It will not only augment the protection for individuals who does not want to be linked with marriages occurring between members of same sex, it will also override and restrict Australia's wide ranging anti-discrimination laws. Freedom for Faith, a think tank, made the submission. Prominent church groups like the Sydney's Anglican Diocese and the Presbyterian Church endorsed it.

Patrick Parkinson, a University of Sydney professor of law and an author, justified the stance saying that the time now is such that religious freedom must be protected. He is also a member of the board of Freedom for Faith. He said that the right to hire and also fire employees as per values is essential to proposed law. This would extend to any employee who engage in same sex marriage after its legislation in 2017.

The professor said that it is natural for any religious organization to maintain moral standards when it comes to sexual conduct and family life. They are not discriminating but selecting. The submission argued freedom is an existential issue when it comes to any faith community. He then said that if employees cannot be autonomously hired by a Christian school, then that school will be the same as any state school. Similarly, the character of Christian health facilities will also be lost. The CSA has asked the creation of a new commissioner of religious freedom in Australian Human Rights Commission.


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