Religious freedom unforgotten

Robert Forsyth, Peter Kurti

30 April 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

One of the many things now in pandemic lockdown is the ongoing discussion about religious freedom in Australia. It may be quite a while before it is let out.  However, religious communities are still flourishing.

Buildings may be closed but services, bible studies, prayer gatherings, and even morning teas continue undaunted — albeit in somewhat unfamiliar forms.

In a spirit of innovation and invention, churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples are using online and social media resources to continue to meet and sustain the lives of their communities.

Before the pandemic, debate about the proposed federal religious discrimination law was descending into sloganeering and caricature. All that paused with the imposition of the shutdown. There is a welcome opportunity to regain much needed perspective.

This is why the publication of a new book from the CIS is so timely.

Forgotten Freedom No More, Protecting Religious Liberty in Australia: Analysis and Perspectives is a collection we have edited that contains a wide range of contributions from writers sympathetic to promoting religious freedom in Australia.

Each of the contributors agrees on the importance — and yet the fragility — of religious liberty in Australia, while approaching the issue from varied viewpoints and experience; even at times disagreeing with each other.

Some offer a general analysis of the problem with suggested ways forward; others offer a more personal perspective. We sought contributions from those who write from a particular religious point of view, as well as from those with none.

Different authors make very different proposals for the path forward — ranging from bringing in a full religious freedom act to removing government entirely from the whole discrimination and human rights arena.

But the value of Forgotten Freedom No More is that it will make a significant contribution to the thoughtful and reasoned debate we still so sorely need.

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