Religion is not a “problem” to be “solved”

Recently at a Victoria Police Multi-Faith Council reception, someone made the comment was made that “religion is not a problem to be solved”. This is so true. Unfortunately, there are many in the community, and some political parties (such as the Greens and the Sex Party) who do not view the religious beliefs of members of the community in this light.

For instance, the Greens response to “Your Vote, Your Values” contained this:

The Greens support the right of individuals to express their faith in accordance with their religious doctrines, beliefs and principles. The Greens also strongly support human rights laws. Giving absolute primacy to freedom of religion over the entire range of other rights would not be necessary for the ordinary operations of such organisations, and would serve to undermine the very basis of the human rights system itself.

Misgivings about “giving absoulte primacy to freedom of religion” overlooks the foundational nature of what the international human rights agreements call “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. As Michael Casey explains in this very good run down of what religious freedom actually is and means:

Religious freedom is not some sort of claim for privileges or special treatment for Christians – or any other particular religious community. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right, a right that belongs to everyone by virtue of their being human. It is recognised as such in all the major international human-rights documents. It is so important and so fundamental that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of only seven rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which cannot be suspended or limited – even in a public emergency that threatens a country’s existence.

Religion is NOT a “problem” to be “solved”. It is part of the very glue of human society, and should be regarded as such by our political representatives.

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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