Friday 14 August 2015

Religious Freedom in a Multicultural World

In what way are people really wanting to have and to give others real Religious Freedom in a Multicultural World?

In Australia the organisation Freedom4Faith has been founded and presents hopeful texts, though when I questioned them several things about their openness to non-trinitarian Christians and to other believers I did not receive any reply.

Though the organisation claims and writes on its website that
Religious freedom is a fundamental right recognised by international human rights documents, and one which is integral to our human dignity. It enables us both to pursue truth, and live a life that reflects the truth, which Christians believe is the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His saving grace.
There the last phrase seems to exclude already all other thinking people, which according to me is limiting the freedom of religion for many millions of people.

Freedom 4 Faith, the website tells, has been established to promote freedom of religion and belief in Australia. It seeks to educate the Christian and wider community on the fundamental role of religious freedom in a liberal society and, in time, to assist churches and faith-based organisations in defending legitimate expressions of religious freedom. But I cannot resist to find some bias and wonder if they are really willing to be open to people with other religious ideas than they.

Freedom 4 Faith is governed by senior Christian leaders from the Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist and Pentecostal traditions, as well as legal experts. From this group of trinitarian people it seems also that they are very conservative and want to protect their conservative views by having them to be taken by others in the community. This according to me has nothing to do at all with religious freedom but seems more a restricting of the freedom of others to have different views than they.

They consider religious freedom to be under threat in Australia from a range of sources, because the governement and certain organisations want to have an open mind about gender issues,  mixed marriages, abortion, a.o. delicate issues.

 The issues that confront Australian churches are several. They include:
  • Preserving the right of faith-based organisations to retain their identity by employing staff who adhere to that faith, given the ever-greater reach of laws which prohibit discrimination.
  • Preserving the right of faith-based organisations to uphold Christian moral standards within the organisation.
  • The need to protect Christian employees who face a conflict between their Christian faith and the demands of employers.
  • The need to protect Christian employees who face disciplinary action because they express views that reflect the positions of their faith.
  • Issues about freedom of speech to the extent of the reasonable expression of views on faith or morality.
  • Issues about what is taught in faith-based schools.
  • Maintaining the right of believers to be heard in ‘the public square’. 

In March Freedom 4 Faith was able to make a suggestion to the Attorney-General's review of Commonwealth legislation to identify provisions that unreasonably encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges, for an alternative approach to defining discrimination, and how this may impact the freedom of religion.

Everywhere in the economical thriving countries we see how governments struggle with job-equality rights and with the possibility to show signs of faith.
For all they should be equal. As such people should be allowed to wear their religious symbols on the street and in other public places.

For the faith based schools there also should be certain general rules for general subjects, though out of the civil curriculum each religious school, be it Christian, Jew, or Muslim should have the liberty to chose their own religious teachers and their own religious curriculum, though in such understanding that there is no place given for discriminatory views of people of an other faith or race.

Concerning the general subjects people do have to understand that there has to be a general controlling system, which shows on all levels neutrality in the matter of faith or religion, and best can be constructed on the matter of votes won by parliamentary election.

All  religious communities should be able to maintain the religious identity of their organisations, and not one may receive more advantages than the other. They all should be equally treated but should also all respect animal rights and plant rights. As such killing animals in a cruel way can not be accepted. For kosher and hallal killing of sheep state slaughterhouse can provide professional sheep and cattle killers. Home killing should be prohibited to avoid accidents or wrong killing. It is a safeguarding or protection of the animals, of which the religious people do have to take account and may not see that as a discrimination of their religion.

Christians may not refuse other believers in their shops because this is a form of discrimination.
Naturally they should be free to sell or not to sell certain products. So when a baker is asked to make a special cake for a gay couple and the owner of the bakery finds it against his principles to make such a thing, he always should be free to ask the person to go to a different bakery, explaining why he cannot provide such a cake.

The organisation Freedom for faith says to be an organisation that can be a voice for Christians in protecting and promoting religious freedom in Australia and to provide specialist expertise on religious freedom matters.

They write
We aim to work together with churches, Christian organisations and other bodies concerned for religious freedom, and to be a resource that can assist them in their work. We are funded by grants from churches and other Christian organisations, and by donations from individuals.
Though they seem to find themselves confronted with different opinions about "freedom" by other organisations. The interface of religious freedom with other human rights raises some difficult issues for them.
An organisation with some specialist expertise is more likely to be able to engage in the ‘public square’ on religious freedom matters, and to be able to make constructive suggestions about how to address religious concerns within the overall framework of the relevant legislation.
But is that organisation itself willing to be open for other faith-groups. Not having received a reply, after more than one week, I guess not.

Freedom 4 Faith, according their own saying, seeks to reveal how religious freedom, within due limits, is integral not only to a healthy multiculturalism but also to freedom generally.
I am very curious.

Freedom 4 Faith

In the United States of America we also hear many voices calling for Freedom of religion and saying the Islam world is conquering the western Christian world.

To my opinion many Americans do not seem to understand "Two clauses in the First Amendment" which guarantee freedom of religion. Lots of them consider only their freedom by everybody else to having to adapt to their choice and their views. (A little bit the same way in Australia.)

Lots of Americans do not seem to understand that they have to respect the choices of other people and may not scoff at them or call them dirty names because the other's way of life does not suit theirs.

Find also:

Religious Freedom in a Multicultural World
Freedom of Religion
Freedom of Religion…. Is under assault and dying

additional reading:

Transforming Society
Criminalizing Christianity
We Are All Intolerant And It Can Be A Great Thing So Let’s Be Honest About It
Daring to speak in multicultural environment

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