Can a Roman Catholic agency involved in placing foster children with carers, decline to place children with same-sex couples because of its religious commitment to the value of traditional marriage? The US Supreme Court recently handed down a significant religious freedom decision in Fulton v City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (593 US ____ (2021); No 19-123; 17 June 2021) which ruled 9-0 in favour of the Catholic agency. This is an important decision, although it did not quite go far enough in clarifying the interpretation of the US First Amendment. As decisions in the US often resonate in other parts of the world, I thought it would be helpful to set out the reasons of the court, and to briefly discuss another case which has already been decided based on its reasoning. (That case involves some Amish people and their plumbing arrangements!)
Let me commend this event, the “Religious Freedom weekend” to be celebrated over June 11-13, 2021; details available at this website: https://www.religiousfreedomweekend.com.au . The weekend is being sponsored by Freedom for Faith, a legal think-tank supporting religious freedom in Australia which I am proud to be associated with. This is not a conference, but simply a weekend where we are encouraging believers all over Australia, and those who just support the important human right of religious freedom, to celebrate religious freedom and consider what they can do to support this right.
There is a Resource Pack outlining some current challenges, with some suggestions for prayer for churches and other religious groups. There is a call which can be sent to Members of Parliament to support proposals to protect religious freedom, especially through laws prohibiting religious discrimination. Church leaders can also email for further resources.
I think this is a great resource and encourage all those who read this blog to support it and share it with others!
I presented a paper at a continuing legal education seminar entitled “Freedom of Religion vs Freedom of Expression: Critical Legal Issues”. A copy can be downloaded here. And yes, it mentions issues raised by the case of Mr Israel Folau!
Australia goes to the polls in a Federal election on May 18, 2019. It seems worthwhile to note, for those interested, some recent information about the views of the major political parties on religious freedom, and to report an important study of public opinion on the topic.
The full paper I am presenting at the SMBC “Hot Topics” evening on 1 May 2019 can now be downloaded from this link: