If the rumours are true, the Federal Government is being pushed to introduce aspects of Sharia Law into Australia.
Essentially, this is where people disregard or replace civil law and adhere only to religious tenets according to belief.
It then becomes the legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on religion.
In Australia we don’t have the imposition of Islamic law on our parliaments, but we do have the push from Christianism which presents itself as ‘religious freedom’.
The decade-long campaign for marriage equality has created a backlash from some conservative Christians who are not used to having their privileges challenged or removed.
In response, they are calling for special protections, creating the perception that this will operate like Sharia law; giving Christian beliefs greater legal authority than parliamentary laws.
This will be as worrying for many people of faith as it is for others. It will reflect badly on all people of faith despite the vast majority respecting our democratic values and institutions.
Conservative Christians believe that marriage is holy sacrament ordained by God and that they alone have the right to define how marriage will exist under Commonwealth law, as well as how it will be administered.
This is despite the fact that 75 per cent of Australians do not get married in churches, mosques or synagogues. Three quarters of all marriages in Australia are secular events conducted by civil celebrants. This number grows each year, as does the number of Australians declaring they have ‘no religion’ on the five-yearly census. In fact, the ‘no religion’ demographic is likely to be the largest one presenting at the next census results.
Even so, right wing Christians are lobbying hard for their version of religious law to be injected into any changes to the Marriage Act that will allow for same-sex nuptials.
First, they want it to apply to any public servants who might have to issue marriage licenses from the various Marriage Registry offices around the country. This will mean that any public servant who has ‘religious objections’ to homosexual people, can be excused from assisting them.
This extraordinary situation comes straight from Kentucky in the USA, where the culture war over gay marriage exploded in 2015. County Clerk, Kim Davis, became a hero to the religious right when as a marriage registrar in a government office she refused to issue marriage certificates to gay couples because of her ‘personal religious belief’.
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