Charter of rights Today's post includes excerpts from a recent letter to Australian church leaders from Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. I encourage you to read it, take appropriate action, and ask others to do the same …

With the National Human Rights Consultation Panel having reported to Government in favour of a Charter of Rights, we have serious concerns that this might become a reality, and that while doing little if anything to improve human rights for the most vulnerable, it would create a serious threat to religious freedom. Paradoxically it would inhibit the Church in maintaining the Christian character and purpose of its own welfare and outreach to the poor and disadvantaged.

As we have seen in the Victorian churches and Christian Schools fight to retain their right to discriminate in favour of Christians in employment during the last year, a Charter will almost certainly be used by activists to attack the church and religious freedom. Cardinal George Pell’s article in the Australian clearly articulates the real and present danger a Federal charter of rights poses to religious freedom.

This situation has come about because Christians at the grass roots level have largely been absent from the debate, and particularly the public consultation process, allowing proponents of the Charter to claim they have a strong groundswell of popular support.  It is now necessary to reverse this by Church congregations becoming active.

We need as many people as possible emailing, writing and visiting their local members and Senators and voicing their concerns about a charter … A short brief is attached of points to emphasise … More information is on the Make a Stand web site.

We also need as many people as possible to sign the electronic petition available on the Make a Stand web site. We are currently sitting at about 15,000 signatures but will need over 30,000! We will have the petition tabled in Parliament during the November sitting weeks (November 16-26th), so we need to sign people up quickly.

The Christian constituency is one of the largest and potentially most influential in the country, but only if it shows commitment. This is a critical issue of religious freedom on which commitment is required …

Thanks for your help.

Jim Wallace AM

7 thoughts on “Charter of Rights

  1. Hey Mark,
    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of many and likewise providing the opportunity to participate in the associated petition.
    Whilst I can understand the mention of religious freedom and EO Act exemptions being highlighted to draw many to participate in the petition, I’d like to understand from your perspective what the below means for the Church.
    Topic: Loss of the ability to exercise the Equal Opportunity Act exemptions
    Question: Is this such a bad thing to occur which I read as resulting in employing non-believers in Christ in a place where there are followers of Christ?
    Topic: Comment from Jim Wallace with regard the Charter of Rights creating…. ‘a serious threat to religious freedom. Paradoxically it would inhibit the Church in maintaining the Christian character and purpose of its own welfare and outreach to the poor and disadvantaged.’
    – How could the Charter of Rights inhibit one (and the Church) from maintaining a Christian character?
    – Likewise, how will the Charter of Rights lead to inhibiting the Christian purpose to the poor and disadvantaged?

  2. Thanks fro your comments Dave
    As I understand it, potentially it could mean that a Christian school or even church or welfare organisation may be easily required to employ a person with totally difeerent values and world-views that the organisation. Say a Muslim group having to employ a Jewish person as their Imam or a Christian school not having the opportunity to decide who they wish to teach their children.
    If there is no freedom to choose a person according to their values, couldn’t the next Catholic Archbishop be an atheist or the next head of World Vision an entrepeneurial multi-national executive looking to franchise the work to make a profit throiugh skewing donations away from it’s purpose of helping the poor to making money by buying property etc. The combinations of what could be done are endless.
    Basically, the Charter of Human Rights, if allowed, would put an incredible amount of power into the hands of the judiciary to the point that they realise there would be complications and the Australian Human Rights Commission would then step in. This Commission has tremendous power and is realistically not answerable to anyone and is majorly led by people who have a seriosusly different view of life to Christians.
    Hence, the concerns.

  3. Thanks Mark for bringing this topic to the Church attention.
    It is good that the Church should voice their concerns to the government. However, the most important aspect of this situation is to seek the help of Our Heavenly Father as His children.
    Do bear in mind the power of prayer when pray earnestly in faith believing that Our God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think. Also, in Zechariah, we have the Word of the Lord, “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, ” can we succeed.
    Thus, I strongly urged all believers in Jesus to pray and prove that Our God is mighty to save.!!!
    One can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30)
    Believe and fear not. Remember also, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
    Finally, Jesus said, “I can guarantee this truth: This is what will be done for someone who doesn’t doubt but believes what he says will happen: He can say to this mountain, ‘Be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it will be done for him.” Mark 11:23
    So let us seek the Lord and cast this mountain into the sea.

  4. However it really looks like typical scaremongering to me!
    It is ridiculous to say that the AHRC will not be answer-able to anyone. The real issue is that the AHRC will not be as open to political influence as the ACL would like. Considering the general state of political affairs- perhaps this is a good thing. Rule of law not rule of politics. If you read through the objections on the ACL site (as I did a few months ago) unless there has been additions, the reasons against the legislation seem overly superficial and unsubstantiated (in my opinion).
    From the website:
    ACL is opposed to a bill/charter of rights because:
    • It transfers law-making powers from democratically elected parliament to an unaccountable judiciary:
    (This is both an oxymoron and overly simplistic in its attempt to persuade readers. The courts have always made and interpreted law, the judiciary are accountable to higher courts, and ultimately the parliament and people of Australia, the nation should be ruled by laws not political personalities. It is also based on the assumption that it an elected parliament is better than a judiciary rather than reflecting that there is a balance between the the parliament, the judiciary and the puclic service)
    • It delivers increased power to vested interest groups who have failed to win their case for change with voters
    (This is unsubstantiated in many ways. I presume they mean groups that have different ideas than the ACL! Again don’t we want rule of law, rather than rule by polical interest groups – including the ACL. I’ll take some convincing.)
    • It puts at risk important freedoms Christians take for granted by putting them on a level playing field with other “rights”
    (Does this mean ACL thinks Christians should have MORE rights than others? Which freedoms? Why has this not been the case with the Victorian legislation – apart from the obvious self inflicted trouble Danny Nahlia caused himself- which was eventually overturned due to the nature of the court system. Again an example of how the court system does have check and balanced and higher courts to decide on matter)
    • It turns rights into a tool for conflict through rights assertion
    (Certainly. Healthy conflict over human rights is a good thing.)
    • Supporters of a bill/charter of rights have not successfully demonstrated the need for a comprehensive legislative document enshrining human rights in Australian law
    (Again a huge sweeping statement- really just saying ‘we don’t agree with it’ without much substantiation. Many countries have such legislation including ‘God bless the USA’. It has been helpful and useful there and in various states of Australia.)
    • It fails its stated objective of protecting the vulnerable in society
    (It is supposed to protect everyone! Really this is just being picky.)
    The link to the discussion paper is similarly a cobbled together link of sweeping and probably irrelevant objections with little serious connection to the legislation. I am not a lawyer or a politician but the paper seems so amateurish it would be comical if is was not a poor reflection on Christians. It makes me question the integrity of the objections?
    The problem with many ‘Christian’ Political/Social activist groups is that they think you can change society by changing the law. Really it is the other way round, change society and the law will change. Want to stop abortion – have a significant, long lasting affect on the population and they won’t want or need abortions – and eventually legislate against the minority that do.
    Does this all mean they are wrong? Who knows? If there are genuine objections, then do an honest and decent job at explaining it to the public rather than using scare-mongering tactics.

  5. For a simple- commentary from another perspective please read:
    Of course there are many others too, some that look at the pro’s and con’s.
    But please lets actually think, discuss, argue and explore for ourselves rather than responding to some ‘call to arms’ from the ACL like simple minded oafs.
    And BTW I am not opposed the ACL- just to ignorance (mine own included). Lovely people can be misguided and wrong- which is why we need to examine things carefully before we get worked up into a frenzy.
    Time to go and read the proposed legislation- again.

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