CategoryRights & Freedoms

Quoting the Bible in Public. What our engagement with slavery should have taught us.

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For much of the history of the church the practise of slavery went unchallenged. It’s not difficult to see why. Slavery was a longstanding feature of human society that was rarely questioned by those who were free. In the sixth century BC the philosopher Aristotle argued that slavery was a dictate of nature, that some human beings were by nature given to be ruled while others were by nature given...

Israel Folau, Religious Freedom & Standing for “the Truth”. Some Thoughts

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Last week rugby star Israel Folau posted an image on social media that said “Warning: Drunks. Homosexuals. Adulterers. Liars. Fornicators. Thieves. Atheists. Idolaters. Hell awaits you.”  Folau then offered a comment to the effect that God loves all people and wants them to repent of their sin and be forgiven. His employers, New South Wales rugby and the Australian Rugby Union, have...

Why the right to speak does not make it right to speak

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A few weeks ago Israel Folau made news with his twitter response to the question, “what was God’s plan for gay people?” “HELL…unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.” His tweet evoked strong comment and emotion. The activist CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, weighed in, expressing disappointment and threatening to pull Qantas’s sponsorship of rugby if...

Challenges for the Church #2. Living as a Minority in a Pluralist Society

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One of the great achievements of Western society has been its embrace of religious and political pluralism as a way of enabling peaceful diversity. Throughout history diversity has commonly been met with violence, either the state enacting violence against dissidents, or conflict between groups. We easily forget that the sort of conflicts we see between Islamic groups in the middle east today was...

Finally Some Good News on Refugees

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The Federal Government today announced it had reached an agreement with the United States to resettle refugees on Manus Island and Nauru in the US. This is incredibly welcome news. The indefinite detention of refugees drove them to despair and hopelessness. Now they have the prospect of starting afresh in the United States. We will now have a hiatus during which we just might be able to have a...

Religious instruction is child abuse? Give me a break.

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It’s become a popular claim of the new atheists that teaching children religion amounts to child abuse. The latest to make this claim was Paul Ehrlich on the ABC’s Q and A program earlier this week. According to Richard Dawkins, it’s acceptable to teach children about the existence of religion, but an act of child abuse to teach them to believe the tenets of any religion or to...

Baking cakes for same-sex weddings. Do I have a right to be a bigot?

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What is it about cakes? John Hewson’s election campaign foundered when he couldn’t identify in simple terms how much GST would be payable on a cake. And now the debate around freedom of conscience in the event same-sex marriage is legalised is centering around the proverbial cake maker. Many fear that should same-sex marriage be legalised their freedom to practise and proclaim a...

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