Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to introduce legislation to protect religious freedom by the end of the year.
“The first step is to consult with our colleagues, our parliamentary colleagues and then I'm very keen to engage the Opposition in that process as well,” the Prime Minister said.
Religious freedom entered the spotlight after Rugby Australia sacked Israel Folau for paraphrasing the Bible on social media.
Folau’s cause has gained widespread support. He has fundraised over $2 million for his legal defence even after GoFundMe shut down his fundraising page because of his Christian view of human sexuality.
When asked about Folau’s situation, the prime minister referred to faith as merely a private matter, rather than a public activity: “I think it's important, ultimately, that employers have reasonable expectations of their employees, and that they don't impinge on their areas of private practice and private belief or private activity.
“And there's a balance that has to be struck in that, and our courts will always ultimately decide this based on the legislation that's presented.
“Now, that matter [Folau], I'm loathe to make further comment on, because that matter will be finding its way through the courts as well, and that will be done based on the existing legislative framework,” he said.
In his interview with ABC’s 7.30 program on July 1, the prime minister indicated he would protect religious freedom in a narrow way.
“We're looking at a religious discrimination act which… will provide more protections for people because of their religious faith and belief in the same way that people of whatever gender they have or sexuality or what nationality or ethnic background or the colour of their skin - they shouldn't be discriminated against also, and we have discrimination acts that deal with that,” he said.
Faith and family groups are pushing for freedom of religion, association and speech to be protected more broadly.
The report by the WA Ministerial Expert Panel on End of Life Choices shows no regard for known risks to the elderly and mentally vulnerable, according to Darryl Budge of Christian advocacy group FamilyVoice.
“Allowing doctors to raise assisted suicide puts the mental health and safety of the most vulnerable at risk,” said FamilyVoice WA State Director Darryl Budge.
“In our state of WA with dire statistics relating to elder abuse, mental health and youth suicide, permitting the WA health system to openly recommend assisted suicide to patients and the general community would be a backward step.
“This report also makes a stunning admission about the lack of patient knowledge on all treatments including palliative care.
“The report states, ‘Up to 60 per cent of Australians have low levels of individual health literacy’ and ‘people may not have the knowledge or confidence to start discussions about specific treatments or options’ which their health practitioner may not have raised.
“Knowledge about palliative care is desperately lacking, and the panel dares to recommend a doctor can steer a patient into choosing assisted suicide, regardless of the patient’s mental health or the risks of elder abuse by other parties.”
Mr Budge added, “Legalising euthanasia before world-class palliative care is properly provided and promoted across WA is putting the cart before the horse.”
“WA has the lowest proportion of specialist palliative care doctors of any state in Australia. There are just 15 full-time equivalents across WA, less than one third the number required to meet national benchmarks.
“Our state needs more than $100 million in annual spending on palliative care for staffing and education, in addition to funding for infrastructure such as palliative care wards and beds. This terrible funding shortfall was raised in a Legislative Council motion introduced by Jim Chown and passed unanimously.”
Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying bill was enacted today, making Victoria the first Australian state to legalise, and provide for, doctor assisted self-killing of vulnerable people.
Six-hour workshops have been held to provide ‘guidelines’ for medical practitioners willing to assist in the suicides – brief training considering the emotional challenges to staff, doctor or patient, and problems that may arise in administering lethal drugs or ‘safeguarding’ the process.
Many questions are still unanswered.
This is bad, ideology-driven, harmful legislation. Once again, Victoria’s legislators have failed to protect the vulnerable and must now live with the consequences of their awful decisions.
Israel Folau has spoken out against transgender ideology in a sermon at his church.
Folau has been under intense media pressure over the past couple of months after an April 10 Instagram post in which he warned a number of classes of sinners, including homosexuals, that if they did not repent they would go to hell.
In a sermon at his Sydney church, Folau expressed concern about children “gender transitioning”:
In today’s youths and everything, they are allowing young kids in primary school to be able to have the permission to change their gender if they want by taking away the permission of the parents.
Now they are trying to take control as a government to make those decisions for young kids who are basically 16 years old or young, they don’t even know what they are doing.
This is what the devil is trying to do to instil into this government, into this world, into society, and it is slowly happening.
Folau also pushed back against same-sex ‘marriage’:
They say that a man and a man should be able to be married and there is nothing wrong with it. This buys into the theme of pleasing man rather than pleasing God and standing up for the truth.
In May, Rugby Australia terminated Folau’s four year contract worth $4 million for his comments on Instagram.
Folau has launched legal action which, if successful, could bankrupt Rugby Australia.
It’s not the first time Folau has been under pressure for dissenting from LGBT orthodoxy.
Last year the media piled onto Folau over a response to a question on social media asking: “what was gods [sic] plan for gay people??”.
Folau responded: “HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
In response to the post and the firestorm, Folau wrote a PlayersVoice piece in which he spoke of his faith in Jesus Christ:
I would like to explain to you what I believe in, how I arrived at these beliefs and why I will not compromise my faith in Jesus Christ, which is the cornerstone of every single thing in my life.
I hope this will provide some context to the discussion that started with my reply to a question asked of me on Instagram two weeks ago.
I read the Bible every day. It gives me a sense of peace I have not been able to find in any other area of my life. It gives me direction. It answers my questions.
Folau has had an extraordinarily successful football career. He has played across three different codes: Rugby Union, Rugby League and AFL. Folau is Super Rugby’s highest Australian all-time try scorer in the competition.
On election night, one side started with belief which soon became disbelief. The other side started with unbelief which became incredulous belief.
The Prime Minister then gave us the words that will echo through time: “I have always believed in miracles!”
Antony Green is predicting Bass and Chisholm will join the Coalition bringing the number of seats to 77. There is still the possibility that Macquarie will be won by the Liberal party as well. The news about the Senate may not be quite so miraculous but there are signs of life as it stirs from its prolonged coma.
So many Christians and social conservatives will be thankful that the social agenda of the Labor Party and Greens has been checked. However the Labor states may not believe that their social agenda was part of the reason why federal Labor is still the Opposition. We must watch and pray.
The untold story of this election may be how Christians were driven to prayer, protest and to push back against the erosion of Christian values in schools and society generally.
For us at FamilyVoice, it is both gratifying and humbling to have played a small role alongside our supporters and with so many others in this chapter in the national story. It is a historical moment and efforts of all who have worked and prayed will be remembered.
I am so thankful to all who gave to FamilyVoice during the pre-election period so we could play our part in giving Christian voice for family, faith and freedom.
Now more than ever it’s time to work and pray for a society in which all children in the womb will be born into loving families, where children in our schools will be safe from dangers social, sexual and ideological, where couples love each other and honour their marriage vows, where the aged and infirm will end their days surrounded by family and friends, where Christians give others reason to believe and where all people treasure the great freedoms that have made our nation the place we love and cherish. It’s not just about winning elections – it’s about changing the culture.
Now more than ever it’s time to work and pray so that miracles might happen more frequently, where more people say “I have always believed in miracles” and when someone does something miraculous someone else will say ‘He just did a ScoMo’.
FamilyVoice Australia upholds Christian values and the family: permanence of marriage, sanctity of human life, primacy of parenthood and limited government.
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