Freedom Of Religion: The Problem with the Manifestation of Belief

in freedomtribe •  3 months ago

It's freeeeedddom Friday Folks!!! @eaglespirit started a fabulous #hashtag here called 'Freedom Friday', and on her introductory post about it she writes:

'It is my hope that people will continue this initiative by posting about not only their ideas of what freedom means to them, but also what is going on in their country as events shift.'

@eaglespirit is in the same steemtribe as me - a beautiful place called @freedomtribe. You can join their server here - they support passionate content creators that are doing what they love, promoting 'life, freedom, truth, love, and happiness in all forms'- so if you're willing to delegate a little to the tribe and join their curation trail, you'll be in for a treat. It's one of my favourite places on Steemit and you can read about it here!

Anyway, @richardcrill threw the word 'religion' at us in the Discord channel when @eaglespirit asked for it this week. Eek! However, never one to shirk a challenge and intrigued by the #freedomfriday initiative, I started thinking about what 'religious freedom' means in Australia and what's going on right now. What I've found compelling, and worrying, is the same sex marriage debate and it's link to exemptions to discrimination laws held by religious institutions.

Any laws that support absolute religious freedom can limit the freedoms of others, and that's what bothers me.

Right now, we're not able to discriminate on the basis of gender, race or sexual orientation. Yet, there's a plea for exemptions based on religious belief - a kind of conscientious objection to, for example, provide services for people that those of particular faiths might object to, such as LGBTQI.

Debate about laws about whether or not you can refuse service based on belief are not particular to Australia.

The laws around this differ from state to state - some religious bodies might have an exemption. For example, if the Anglican church objects to homosexuality, and the bakery is owned by the Anglican church, they could refuse to bake a wedding cake for a LGBTQI, or, as happened in Australia, you could have your church minister refuse to officiate the wedding because you believe in same sex marriage, which might oppose the beliefs of the church. Both are well known cases, and not the only one.
Oh, and for the record (because there are so many Steemians who aren't sure that Australia even exists, let alone anything else about it apart from kangaroos and sharks) at the end of last year, Australia finally legalised same sex marriage. They took their time, being the 26th country to do so, but hey, we got there in the end as it was getting all a bit ridiculous. For fuck's sake, love is love. Der.

The deal with exemptions from discrimination are actually quite hard to operate, and can vary from state to state. For example, a Christian youth camp refused an LGBTI youth suicide prevention group access to their campsite, and because they couldn't show they were a religious body and there was so much disagreement about whether homosexuality is a 'doctrine' of Christianity, it was found to be wrong. Yet a foster care service legally refused a same sex couple access to their services because the organisation was considered 'religous in nature' and that allowing a same sex couple wasn't acceptable to it's members. Huh? It seems pretty murky, law wise, to determine whether a belief is enough to excuse discriminatory conduct.

So all of this led to the Ruddock review, which is meant to sort out these inconsistencies. The panel is looking at perhaps suggestions of amendments or tests for religious exemptions. It's looking at two rights - the right to hold a religous belief, and the right to *manifest* it - that is, to bring it into reality in a way that might affect others - for example, vocally discriminating against LGBTQI. You can believe in something all you like, but when it harms others, well, that's a whole other story! That's my biggest problem with this freedom - whilst I believe in the freedom of BELIEF - remember, we can't dismiss the religion of others just because WE don't believe in their crazy shit (sorry for the dismissal, but you get my point), but when it limits and harms others through discriminatory acts and words, then I do have a massive problem with it.

I get that people have the right to exercise religious freedom. For example, J. went for a job at a Baptist School once (true story) and he wasn't hired because he didn't believe. Not only that he didn't believe, but that, when asked for his opinion on homosexuals, he clearly stated unequivocally that everyone is entitled to do what they want. Like any sane person would say. Whilst on one level this seemed discriminatory, and kinda wrong, on another level, would it have been appropriate to have someone working there that didn't believe in your core values? I wouldn't want a white supremacist, for example, working in my place of employ. But where do you draw the line? Because clearly, this kind of discrimination was totally abhorrent to us.

People are getting crazy about this stuff. Sharia law, for example - people believe that religious freedom laws will allow unreasonable manifestation of beliefs, like corporal punishment for woman. People seem to get confused between the right to have a belief, and the fact most of the time it's illegal to manifest that belief. And so it should be.


This is the problem I have with any religious freedom laws designed to protect businesses and institutions. On one hand, you can say 'well, why should they be forced to provide a service to someone they object to?' yet, if you think about it, once, Australia believed that blacks were savages and included them in the flora and fauna til 1967. I'm pretty sure people are pretty uncomfortable with putting 'race' in as a substitute for 'LGBTQI'. It's just legalising discrimination, surely?

So the major question is, in a nutshell (or a cake tin):

Is religion an excuse for discrimination which would otherwise be illegal?

Clearly, when one freedom encroaches on another freedom, there's a serious debate to had.

There's many that say 'hey! why would I want a homophobe to marry/bake me a cake/allow access to my property' anyway, but seriously? Would we say to an indigenous woman: 'Sorry, can't sell you that hat because I don't like black people' or 'Can't employ you, love, because woman aren't as smart as men?'. I absolutely believe in people's right to belief whatever the hell they want, but when it encroaches on other people's freedom's, I don't have much respect for that.

The Ruddock report came out on May 18, but so far, it's not been released to the public yet, as far as I know. I'm hoping it will take us in the right direction, allowing for religious belief, but not belief manifesting as discrimination.



Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvoting this reply.

Great piece! ❤️

So I’m going to play devils advocate here and offer something.

And that is, in a free market a business that chooses to knock back business does so at their own financial peril.

If a business wants to discriminate, it needs to be prepared to lose customers. Like what happened with Coopers Brewing and their ultra-right-wing pro-Christian advertising. The social backlash was nothing compared to the fact that all the gay pubs that stocked Coopers stopped buying – they didn’t know the gay scene was one of their biggest markets!

I guess the other thing is, if I was LGBTQI and wanted to get married to my partner, why would I go to a church? Why would I want to support an institution that is openly hostile to my nature?

Why would I want to work for a company that had opposing values either? It’s not discrimination if there is a clash of values IMHO.

So it kinda makes no sense that either side of the debate are creating hypotheticals that in reality may never happen.

I’ve got more to say on the broader topic, but maybe I should make my own Freedom Friday post 😉

Posted using Partiko iOS


Yes, make your own post for sure! Thanks for commenting. It's all very well and good to say yeah boycott them, but i do think that there should not be any exemptions for reigious reasons - because I can't see how a law that is meant to benefit everyone doesn't apply to a select group. Sure,you can have your beliefs, whatever, but you shouldn't really have freedom to fuck with other people's freedoms. And I think LGBTQI go through enough without having to make decisions about boycotting haters. Absolutely wouldn't work for someone with a clash of values, and nor should they be expected to hire me, but it shouldn't impact on the day to day lives of ordinary people, say, buying beer or cake.

It's also a moot point - it's not that, as a LGBTQI I would want to get married anywhere that doesn't accept me, but about that I should have the same rights everyone else does. By disallowing them access to the insitutions that everyone else has access to, you'd still be supporting a society that wasn't inclusive and equal of all. Hypotheticals are still exclusive and discriminatory.

It's just like marriage - many lgbtqi shunned marriage as an institution, but still thought the hypothetical - if i wanted to, i should be allowed to. Because as a non lgbtqi, i have that choice. So why shouldn't others?


to play devil's advocate on your own question:

I guess the other thing is, if I was LGBTQI and wanted to get married to my partner, why would I go to a church? Why would I want to support an institution that is openly hostile to my nature?

to answer this one- some LGBTQI peeps identify as christian and are an active part of the church. that the church largely excludes them doesn't stop their belief or desire to belong. a complicated tale. and for anyone reading, the bible, while openly decrying "sodomy" is not strictly against lesbians or gays.


Disclaimer: I gotta say firstly that I personally don't like objectifying and generalising groups of people - especially when I'm not part of that group. Just so's we're all on the same page. And also owning the fact 🙋🏽‍♂️that I am in this instance part of the 'privileged' group (white (well, more olive), male, heterosexual, middle-aged, bourgeois)... which is primarily why I don't believe my opinions actually matter in this instance, and I am personally in agreeance on this issue.

Given we are talking about same-sex marriage in the context of freedom of religion... members of that community are now legally able to get married, and so still maintain the right to do so. And rightly so. If a priest chooses not to officiate on the basis of religion, it hasn't taken away the right to marry. Especially when there would continue to be those who are spiritually and legally entitled and willing to do so.

We're talking about harm here.

And I understand your point @mountainjewel. I know there are priests of the Christian faith here in Oz who openly celebrate and are willing to marry same-sex couples. And that's my point - go get married by those real Christian ministers who are actually practicing their faith rather than the bigots who clearly use religion to hide behind their own bigotry.

I guess I'm saying it becomes a matter of focus - either support and celebrate those who are pro-same-sex marriage, promote their parishes amongst the community, patronise their businesses, and so on.

leave the others to lead their miserable, hypocritical lives.... they will eventually die out and become extinct like the dinosaurs they are.

This is a wider thing about freedom. Human society functions like an organism - anything that doesn't serve our continuity and flourishing eventually dies out. We are evolving.


go get married by those real Christian ministers who are actually practicing their faith rather than the bigots who clearly use religion to hide behind their own bigotry.

Yep, and then eat the cake and beer from sellers who aren't bigots too, I totally get it.

I still think that we need to support true equality in Australia, which means that everyone should have the same access to everything without fear of reprisal, exclusion, hatred blah blah blah. But you make a great point about things no longer serving and dying out. Yet, still, half of us identify as christian, and many more other denominations - what's that all about, in a country where we're not even really practicing? I suppose 30 percent of us on the last census said we don't belong to any religion... I dont even know if it's a good or bad thing. It's a complex issue. But still, I dont really think they should be exempt from laws, as we know where that kinda thing leads to...


So to set aside playing devil's advocate (that term seems rather apt in context, don't you think?)....

Creating exemptions from laws and regulations is a decidedly tricky thing. Because it does create rather nasty precedents. I imagine if any legislation was put forward it would have to get challenged under common law.

One has to ask the question as to the intention of wanting to be exempt from discrimination laws. Which is why I feel the whole argument is based on hypotheticals. Because honestly, I don't imagine any same-sex couples approaching a parish to get married unless they knew that priest was openly and willingly supportive of it. Same with businesses. One would have to question the sincerity of The Church, given their appalling record of abuses over the years. Like when they try to defend against allegations of abuse..... grrrrr..... 😡

The problem is the humiliation that comes by being turned away.... and I'm not sure stuff like that gets fixed with legislation. Hence, I feel the better way, a way that is more pro-active and prevents the humiliation and trauma, is to create databases of businesses/etc that support SSM, and actively promote and patronise those businesses, so the humiliation is avoided in the first place.

Oh this is a big question and one that really holds alot of pain for lots of people in Ireland at the moment, so much suffering at the hands of a church that still has so much freedom, I would get too emotional writing about this now, but I agree with all you say.
I do not support any religion and the fact that they have so much freedom means so many continue to suffer in silence xxx


Yes, I totally understand. I don't think they should have any more power than anyone else in society, and to be exempt from the laws the rest of us are - that's just ridiculous.

Excellent publication friend I Cro in Freedom from the point of view of God gave us freedom to each human being as individuals to choose which or conduct to take, only the fact is whether they approve or not, but there is a freedom established for all men. Now I think as a Christian would never reject a person for being homosexual or LGBT or any religion I want to remember that before being Christians or X religion Somo human beings, and as humans must love and respect us, but to the truth the issue is quite rad ical, by the principles and laws established by each nation, by religious ideology as well.

supersweet post and i thank you so much for tackling this, including the shout-out! i truly appreciate your words and inclusion of freedomtribe/freedomfriday tag. yay! you did awesomely and i enjoyed reading your post. i need to learn how to do the words around the photo text effect on blogging, it looks great! xo

yeah! i'm gonna have to take @eaglespirit up on this type of question-asking- just joined the discord! i'm supremely interested in these topics.

while the christian thinking is decidedly bigoted and backward (and i can say that, right?, i was raised in this type of thinking), i think there is something to be said as @metametheus says below: they must be willing to face the social repercussions of their decision to ban certain people from their service.

when TSU had the big blow up a few weeks back from our bigoted member, i remember lauding his forthright thought. honestly, with trump in the whitehouse, i'm not sure asking people to be open minded or less bigoted is the answer. let's get it all out in the open so we can see where the cards fall and work with THAT.

then create the world that ensues up from the ashes.


Yeah that's right... I think people are scared off rocking the religion boat here...

Posted using Partiko Android


And great you are on the server!

Posted using Partiko Android

I think the real problem is actually the reverse of how most people are looking at it. We shouldn't be trying to decide about whether or not to give exemptions to discrimination laws. (Just hear me out) We should just eliminate discrimination laws altogether. If people want to discriminate against other people (as long as they are not breaking any other laws of course) let them! If they do so unwisely, the market will punish them accordingly. If someone doesn't bake a cake for someone, they lose out on business. If someone doesn't hire women, they will miss out on all the benefits of having women working there and someone who does hire women will out compete them. Discrimination is a self solving problem. And making it illegal is unenforceable anyway. There will always be bigotry in the world just like there will always be jerks, psychopaths and every other degenerate group. And we should treat them all the same, ignore them and don't do business with them.


I see what you mean BUT on the flip... people can be bloody nasty and they should know it's SO unacceptable that there's a clear and legal consequence. A lot of woman have ACCEPTED less for fear of losing their job.. people suffer a lot in silence and people get away with discrimination if it benefits them eg wages, businesses. When you say 'as long as they aren't breaking the law' .. isn't that the point? That there needs to be clear lines about where it becomes harmful. Believe all you like... but seriously there's a line between discrimatory BELIEF and discriminatory ACTION.

Fuck years of woman being disadvantaged in the workplace... it's still going on.. without those laws woman would be even WORSE off. Teachers who go off on maternity leave here can get 7 years and their job is held for them. What employer would do that unless it's regulated? Yep.. there's always going to be jerks which is exactly why we need laws to stop us going back to the 1950s.

Im an idealist... and I wish I.could trust society to unfuck itself... but I don't can without a whole heap of crew coming together and saying yep.. this is the law that's gonna protect crew the most.

Posted using Partiko Android

Hi @riverflows!

Your post was upvoted by @steem-ua, new Steem dApp, using UserAuthority for algorithmic post curation!
Your UA account score is currently 3.702 which ranks you at #5008 across all Steem accounts.
Your rank has improved 20 places in the last three days (old rank 5028).

In our last Algorithmic Curation Round, consisting of 487 contributions, your post is ranked at #135.

Evaluation of your UA score:
  • You're on the right track, try to gather more followers.
  • The readers like your work!
  • Good user engagement!

Feel free to join our @steem-ua Discord server