It is the same Prime Minister who, in the aftermath of his 2019 election victory, pledged to “burn for the Australian people” – which seemed a strange turn of phrase to everyone but Pentecostals.
But while it’s not my job to worry about such things, as Labor tends to rely on Maronite and Muslim votes in Sydney’s main electorates, the party should see itself as devilishly stuck. The government will, of course, introduce laws protecting gay students from deportation – later. As in: after the Australian Law Reform Commission postponed it, at the time of the Second Coming, an eternity after the next election, later.
The government has its priorities, after all. What is the soul and spirit of a few vulnerable children compared to the inalienable and urgent rights of religious institutions that already enjoy privileged tax status, abundant taxpayer funding for their schools and a megaphone on the public place of which they cry victim?
Schools will be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion when hiring as long as they publish a policy explaining their “ethos”. In other words, institutions have the green light for bigotry, provided they are proud of it. One might even conclude that they are allowed to “cancel” job applicants in order to maintain their safe spaces and, as the bill provides, “to avoid injury” to “religious susceptibilities”.
Last week, the president of the National Catholic Education Commission, Jacinta Collins, said The Guardian on the problem of “the law” whereby teachers can claim to be discriminated against on the basis of “inherent characteristics” such as sexuality when “it is in fact something else like exposure to pornography in the classroom ”.
Classroom equipment has obviously evolved since my time!
Having said all that, I applaud the bill. Because as a person of fervent faith and conviction, I am surely a winner. As the late and great opponent Christopher Hitchens liked to say, the Enlightenment is my faith.
And the bill explicitly protects a “statement of belief”. And a statement constitutes “a statement of belief” if the statement “is of a belief held by a person who does not have a religious belief.” (Yes, I quote verbatim.)
This probably means that I could say whatever I want in this column and not get fired, as long as I make the statement in good faith.
For example, I could say – while clasping my hands in quiet devotion – that it is my reverent belief that the bill shamelessly bends to itch and patriarchal, theologies that stopped evolving towards the beginning. from the Middle Ages, to institutions that affect modernity while clinging to wild superstition and worshiping texts as pornographic as anything taught in classrooms, while benefiting from significant tax breaks and funding abundant government for their schools.
And not only would I probably be protected from dismissal for this statement of good faith belief, but I would even qualify for the post of Religious Discrimination Commissioner since one of the objectives of the bill is to “promote recognition. and acceptance within the community of the principle that people of all religious beliefs, including people without religious beliefs, have the same basic rights in relation to those beliefs ”.
In fact, here is my job application.
Julie Szego is a regular columnist.
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