How religious freedom was weaponised against Christian schools

How religious freedom was weaponised against Christian schools

PM withdraws bill, freedom remains in limbo four years on from same-sex marriage.

Amid a tragic comedy of political errors, Christian schools dodged a bullet yesterday with the Prime Minister withdrawing his Religious Discrimination Bill from the Senate.

It is now unlikely the issue will be resolved before the election, as Christians remain vulnerable to legal attacks from LGBTIQA+ activists seeking to cancel discussion they don’t like on sexuality, marriage and gender.

The bill’s withdrawal followed amendments to it passed in the House of Representatives which would have stripped Christian schools of the freedom to teach Christian values on sexuality and the science of gender.

Five Liberals crossed the floor to side with the Greens and Labor in this attack on Christian schools.

Christian schools lobby groups and the Australian Christian Lobby pushed hard for the bill’s withdrawal as politicians turned something that was supposed to protect religious freedom into something that removed it.

The false narrative of LGBTIQA+ activists, politicians and the media that protections were needed to stop schools expelling gay children was the Trojan horse used to put schools in danger of legal action for upholding Christian values.

In an email to supporters last night, Mark Spencer of the Christian Schools Alliance said there had been a “calculated attack against faith-based schools”.

Earlier he told Sky News that the idea Christian schools expelled children because they were gay was confected.

“I think people of faith across Australia are bitterly disappointed by the outcome from this parliament, this whole conflicted campaign we’ve had since 2018 of trying to link religious freedom and protect people of faith with complex provisions in the Sex Discrimination Act in a way that just simply doesn’t reflect reality.

“The changes to the Sex Discrimination Act are complex, and as we’ve found out today, it needs expert review, not something to be rushed through in the dead of night by parliament.”

Yesterday in an earlier email to ValuEd campaign supporters, Spencer said that the amendments passed, instead of protecting Christian schools, exposed them to discrimination claims by activists.

In a video to supporters, ACL managing director Martyn Iles said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had made a mistake in writing to Labor’s Anthony Albanese suggesting amendments to stop Christian schools expelling kids because they were gay, something which does not happen.

The consequences of Morrison’s actions had been to hurt Christian schools and he belatedly realised this, withdrawing the bill from the Senate.

Religious freedom protections were first promised by then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the wake of the law change to the definition of marriage.

LGBTIQA+ political activists rebadged Australian Marriage Equality as “Equality Australia” and have used this well-funded campaign vehicle to oppose religious freedom tooth and nail with a special focus on Christian schools.

The biggest lesson for Christians and their leaders in all of this is that silence is no longer an option. Lies in the public square cannot continue to go unchallenged.

Yesterday hostile activists came within a whisker of destroying the Christian school movement.

Lyle Shelton is Director of Campaigns and Communication for the Christian Democratic Party. A former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle was a spokesperson for and director of the Coalition for Marriage during the same-sex marriage plebiscite. He graduated from a Christian school and his four children attended Christian schools. To keep in touch with Lyle's political commentary, sign up here