Passing Bull 290 – Religious freedom

A lot of nonsense is spoken about ‘religious freedom.’  What is it that people want to be legally free to do that they are prevented from doing by the law now?  Well, some want to be free to discriminate against people of a different sexuality by firing them.  They want to do that at religious schools and they say that having to subscribe to our discrimination laws inhibits them in the practice of their religion.


It is worth recalling what Kant said.

….the so-called religious struggles, which have so often shaken the world and spattered it with blood, have never been anything but squabbles over ecclesiastical faiths.  And the oppressed have never really complained for being hindered from adhering to their religion (for no external power can do this), but for not being allowed to practise their ecclesiastical faith in public.

(‘Ecclesiastical’ there means, I think, ‘organised body of subscribers to a faith’.)  Of course, no power on earth can stop me from praying to God.  But they may want to have something to say about how I seek to practise that religion in public – by, for example, lacerating their bodies in public, or conspiring to kill their monarch because he or she practises a form of religion that is pure heresy, or campaigning against lowering carbon emissions because it is contrary to the book of Genesis.

From then on, it is pure politics.  How much slack is the majority prepared to cut from their general laws for some believers?  I would be dead against our parliament doing that to allow private schools, which are not there to trade at a loss, to discriminate against gay people.  I say that because it is not fair to them, and because for a government to endorse this kind of exclusion is very unhealthy.  What happens when they line up Catholics, Muslims or Jews?

In about the 60’s, it was fashionable in circles that might properly be called liberal, to say that the law should stop at the bedroom door.  It is ironic that these latterday libertarians want to reverse all that.

And I certainly agree that if these schools want to be excluded from this part of the general law, they should also be excluded from the general law of charities and tax – and pay the full tariff.

And I would not be happy with anyone wanting to send a child to such a constipated outfit.

Passing Bull 210 – Angry church goers


According to the press, people of the church of the religion, if not the denomination, espoused by our head of state have opposed the proposed legislative provisions relating to murder in New South Wales by making provision for abortion.  A reasonable provision to that effect would I think be supported by a comfortable majority of people in that state.  But some people of faith take the view that they have no room to move on the moral issue of murder.   It is in my view sad when debate on a political issue of some nicety is shut down for some by religious dogma.  If people of another faith sought to produce that result, the outrage would be deafening.  That is something to be borne in mind by people of one faith – perhaps of one denomination of one faith – seeking to flex their muscles on the political stage.  But it is preposterous to argue, as some reportedly do, that the relevant laws should be left alone because they are not enforced.  People who embrace that form of inanity may wish to revisit Measure for Measure.

There is a similar flight from reality on requiring priests to report confessions of paedophiles.  My Catholic friends say that this is a non-issue because guilty priests do not confess.  They will be even less likely to confess if that confession must be reported to the police.  So, what is the problem?  Gerard Henderson says this is ‘symbolic politics’:

The Victorian government is giving comfort to the anti-Catholic sectarians in our midst without bringing about a situation where a paedophile is likely to be identified or a child protected.

Sworn evidence that a priest had reportedly confessed to these crimes over many years is dismissed on the footing that the ‘claim was not taken seriously.’  If there is some feeling against that denomination, it can be put down to the horror of the crimes committed in its name and this cold, blind refusal to accept responsibility for those crimes by doing all they can to ensure they will stop.

The notion that a church should or could be above the law is not on.  At this time in our history, the suggestion is revolting.  We need a secular society to monitor the claims, privileges and standing of bodies claiming to be religious.


They [the views of Tim Costello on refugees and ‘our hostility to boat people] matter, in part, because of the policy debate and the constant risk that this nation might again think, as it did in 2008, that it can relax its policies, and therefore, inadvertently, trigger resurgence in human drama.

But they matter also, and perhaps more importantly, because I think they misunderstand and slander mainstream Australians.

Chris Kenny, The Weekend Australian, 3-4 August, 2019.

Does anyone really believe that to comment on our hostility to boat people defames Australians?  To defame someone is to say something about them that causes ordinary people to think less of them.  Is that what a comment about our hostility to boat people does?  Is it possible that the policy of both major parties defames God?


When asked about the observation by Banking Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne that the use of slogans is undermining institutions in the place of policy debate, the PM said: ‘Well, I did stop the boats and people who do have a go get a go under my policies, so I think that’s a pretty good plan.  Cheers.’

Australian Financial Review, 10-11 August, 2019 (Laura Tingle).

Quod erat demonstrandum.