Church leaders write letter addressing same-sex marriage law concerns


Fourteen church leaders in the country have drafted an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten calling attention to the lack of religious freedoms in the same-sex marriage bill.

Six key concerns are addressed in the letter, including the right of parents to educate their children in accordance with their beliefs, the right of religious institutions to choose who can use their facilities, and that religious organisations will not lose their charitable status for holding to a traditional view of marriage. The letter states:

We welcomed your respective independent undertakings, given during the postal survey, that such freedoms would be protected in the event of a yes vote. Much turns, however, on what is enfolded within the content of those freedoms.

The leaders also call for protection to be given to celebrants who adhere to traditional marriage beliefs; under the law as it stands, provisions are only made for the transition period:

The Bill before the house only provides transitional rights for existing celebrants, who are not ministers of religion, to act in accordance with their genuinely held religious or conscientious convictions. We believe new celebrants should also be able to apply to be a traditional marriage celebrant into the future. 

The leaders also voiced their support for the amendments to the legislation proposed by Senators James Paterson and David Fawcett. The amendments, which would have afforded protections to faith-based charities and individuals who support traditional marriage, as well as upholding parental rights, failed in the senate last week.

Signers of the document include:

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies;
the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher;
the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous;
the Maronite Bishop of Australia, Antoine-Charbel Tarabay;
the President of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Australia, Jorge Munoz;
Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, John P Wilson;
National President of Australian Christian Churches, Wayne Alcorn;
the National Ministries Director of Australian Baptist Ministers, Keith Jobberns;
the National Leader of the Apostolic Church Australia, Wayne Swift;
the Senior Minister of the Life Ministry Centre, Graham Nelson;
the National Chair of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations within the Uniting Church in Australia, Hedley Fihaki;
the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Archbishop Stylianos;
Senior Priest for the Coptic Orthodox Church in NSW,
Tadros El-Bakhoumi and the Executive Assistant to Bishop Suriel of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne.


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