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As a think tanker, I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a fact grubber and barrow pusher who is necessarily consumed by the nuts and bolts of key public policy debates.
So it has been a real pleasure to co-edit (with my colleague Rob Forsyth) the forthcoming CIS book, The Forgotten Freedom No More: Protecting Religious Freedom in Australia.
We have brought together a distinguished group of Australian writers and thinkers to offer their views on what should be done about this increasingly important issue.
It has been a joy to spend some time ‘in the minds’ of eminent scholars such as Henry Ergas, Patrick Parkinson, and Stephen Chavura — to name just three.
Reading their work has enriched my understanding of why properly protecting religious freedom is crucial to the future of Australia as a tolerant liberal democracy and genuine civil society.
As readers will also discover when the book is published, each of the different contributors is sympathetic to promoting religious liberty in Australia, while approaching the issue from varied viewpoints and experience.
Some have been asked to offer a general legal and academic analysis of the problem as they see it with suggested ways forward, while others have been asked to provide a more personal perspective based on their ‘lived experience’.
Sceptical secular readers will learn how important religious freedom is to allow deeply-held spiritual convictions to animate individual identity across their social, professional, and civic spheres of action and purpose.
We expect that this collection will not just be informative but helpful to readers of all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs.
This is crucial. For not only is greater mutual understanding across cultural and social divides important to help stimulate parliamentary action on religious freedom.
This is also the heart of the overall objective of protecting religious freedom: which is to allow all Australians, irrespective of their faith, to live harmoniously together, united in mutual respect for the rights of all.
The Forgotten Freedom No More