Some Key Ideas
1. Religion is a fundamental part of Australian society and culture.
2. It manifests in many organisations, practices and institutions well beyond churches and makes a vital contribution to our country, community and people.
3. I am a person/we are people of faith and for me/us, religious freedom is both important and precious. It represents much more than freedom to worship.
4. Our way of life in Australia would be served by ensuring protection of freedom of religion given the influence and significance of religion in our national history, culture and society.
5. There is very little formal protection of freedom of religion in Australia and such protection is worthy and necessary in these times of rapid change and uncertainty.
6. I/we welcome this review, thank the Expert Panel for the opportunity to be heard and would appreciate knowing of opportunities to participate in the panel’s work (for instance via public meetings).
7. During the legislation of same-sex marriage, principles were raised and amendments were moved which were suggested to be better addressed later as part of this review.
8. These principles and reforms are worthy of review and recommendation by the Panel.
9. It is essential to me/us that these elements of religious freedom are protected by law in Australia:
a. The rights of parents in relation to the rearing and education of their children;
b. The rights of individuals to express their views on same-sex marriage and other issues;
c. The right of individuals to not be coerced into making or endorsing a statement with which they disagree;
d. The rights of charities in relation to their policies and practices;
e. The rights of religious organisations in relation to their services and facilities, policies and practices;
f. The rights of religious organisations and individuals having access to government funding; and
g. The rights of celebrants in relation to the conduct of ceremonies.
10. I am/we are concerned at the development of anti-discrimination laws which in our view place other interests above those of religious belief and we submit that religious belief should be no exception, but rather, a substantive, recognised right.
11. I/we submit that freedom of religion intersects with and relies upon other fundamental freedoms of conscience, speech and association, and these must be equally upheld and protected.
12. I/we support the submissions of our [church/organisation] in this important Review.
13. We ask that this submission be considered by the Panel, and we give consent for this submission to be published by the Panel among its default, public list of submissions received.
14. Thank you again for your consideration.