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Big Australian Churches want exemptions from anti-discrimination laws

by Tola Mbakwe

Freedom for Faith submitted a 100 page document called 'Protecting Diversity' to the religious freedom review led by Philip Ruddock, MP.

The submission was made on behalf of a range of denominations and church groups including the Australian Christian Churches (which includes Hillsong), the Baptists, the Presbyterian Church of Australia and the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney.

Freedom for Faith proposed solutions "for how we can all live together well in a multicultural society in which there are a great many people of faith from a range of religions, as well as many who have no faith".

It claims there "is almost no legal protection for freedom of religion in Australia".

Although the review comes just three months after Australia legalised same sex marriage, Freedom for Faith said its recommendations set out the way to a better legal framework for religious freedom in Australia and "is not a re-run of the debates around same sex marriage".

It added: "We do not want this review to be perceived through the lens that it involves a battle between LGBT groups and the Churches, as if protection of the rights of one group must inevitably be at the expense of another."

The recommendations include reforms on allowing Christian organisations to have staffing policies consistent with their religious values and mission, requiring employers to give reasonable accommodation for faith in the workplace and to ensure that Christian parents have the right to educate their children in accordance with their religious and moral convictions.

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