A Quartet of Freedoms: Freedom of Religion, Speech, Association and Conscience

Political Rights, to which Australia is a signatory, gives high prominence to freedom of religion. But religious freedom is under threat in Australia. An aggressive secular culture, combined with the diminished standing of religious organisations, is putting religious believers under pressure to be silent in the public square. It is necessary now to defend the place of religious liberty in our society and to re-affirm its place alongside the freedoms of speech, association and conscience. The Australian Constitution has in place protections for religion against interference by the state. These protections are now being read as provisions that deny religion any place in public debate. Robert Forsyth and Jeremy Sammut argue that religion is to be conceived not as an entirely private matter but as a public good that enhances both the individual and civil society.