The Australian Government led by Prime Minister Scot Morrison is taking to the Federal Election their religious discrimination proposals to protect people of religious faith.
This is said to be the final ‘anti-discrimination’ legislation – and it comes after the same-sex marriage and sexual anti-discrimination laws and those who would choose to ‘weaponise’ this legislation against Christian leaders, evangelism, religious bodies and charities, Christian schools and institutions and the like.
These proposals have been in the news and media since before Christmas, it is therefore not my intention here to list the issues or details the legislation, rather to look at how our Christian young writers could be effected if this is not given the green light.
Christian Today Australia is part of an international mission, CMC – Christian Media Corporation (International) which is legally based (domiciled) in Washington DC. It includes such Christian news sites as Christian Today UK, (International) along with 101 other mast heads and the largest Christian news provider in the world, the US Christian Post.
The first question raised is that would this legislation affect them in any case.
In many situations where the mission (organisation) is domiciled is the legal homestead (as it were) and being an exclusive on-line ministry, it opens a can of worms for anyone wanting to take offence and weaponise any anti-discrimination claims. Consider international on-line Facebook or Google and what a drama it is to take action.
These young writers are specialising in “Comment” – in other words, opinions. There are already existing legislation protecting opinion and comment and journalism which is out of bounds unless what is written has a discrimination aspect to it.
This is where it gets tricky as there have been court cases where the journalist fell outside those legal protections by expressing opinions that fell within discrimination remits. Many other cases failed due to these protections.
Third is legitimate religious discussion
Should there be someone out there reading everything from every religious publication, from every church pew bulletin, every evangelical publication, plus Mission publications, plus Christian News, plus plus plus ….. the question then becomes how much of that might be deemed legitimate religious discussion.
Those who have the skills and wherewithal to weaponise anti-discrimination legislation against someone expression such religious opinion and discussion, the costs involved to protect themselves might well, in effect, mean closing-up-shop of many of these.
So the question remains, how much might our young writers be at risk along with every other such religious writer or publication. Even the (little old) widowed lady who has been doing the local parish ‘pew bulletin’ for many years.
This legislation is critical
For our young writers, to be sure, to be safe, is paramount that this anti-religious-discrimination is now imperative. The Federal election may well determine whether such ‘religious’ protections will come to fruition.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html