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Religious freedom a right: ACBC


Religious freedom must be enshrined in Australian law and recognised as a right, rather than an exception or an exemption, according to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).

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In its submission to the Religious Freedom Review called by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and chaired by the Hon Phillip Ruddock, the ACBC has called for a framework to support all people of faith as Australian society continues to evolve.

Joining a group of lay Catholic leaders with expertise in health, education and law, Broken Bay Bishop Peter Comensoli last month represented the ACBC at a hearing before the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom to make the argument for an Australian society that upholds the protection of religious freedom of its people.

“Australia is a pluralist society and inherent to this welcomed diversity is the holding of different world views and beliefs. The challenge of how to accommodate these different perspectives, without excluding or discouraging views from people who have a religious faith, is one of the great tasks of our current generation,” Bishop Comensoli said.

The ACBC submission said the Religious Freedom Review “is a timely opportunity to consider whether Australia’s laws need to be updated to ensure all Australians continue to enjoy freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the accompanying freedom of association”.

The submission also called for greater protections across a range of areas, including allowing the Church to determine the use of their premises for purposes that are not contrary to Catholic beliefs; the expression of religious choice in one’s professional life; and the protection for people not to perform a duty at work to which they conscientiously object.


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