Two steps toward religious freedom in June.
Pray, and talk to your MP Churches are being asked to schools and organisations to mark Religious Freedom Sunday this month with prayer, and Christians are also encouraged to contact their local MP. “People of faith endure immense suffering in many countries, deprived of their freedom and subjected to the harshest of persecutions,” says religious liberty expert, Professor Patrick Parkinson (right). Professor Parkinson is chairman of Freedom for Faith, the group organising Religious Freedom Sunday and lobbying governments on the issue. Professor Parkinson adds that, although the conditions experienced by people of faith in Australia “are not comparable to this global experience, religious freedom is only very weakly protected in Australian law. “Core elements of that freedom, such as the right of faith-based
have staffing policies consistent with their religious ethos, are increasingly being called into question. Discrimination against people of faith is increasing, and people are seeing more and more restrictions on their liberty to live out their faith in the workplace, in educational settings and in other contexts.” The weekend of June 11-13 has been designated Religious Freedom Weekend and churches are urged to include a segment on religious freedom in Sunday services on June 13. Bishop Michael Stead, chairman of the Sydney Diocese’s Religious Freedom Reference Group, says this will provide a focal point for prayer for Christians overseas who are persecuted for their faith, and prayer for the protection of religious freedoms in Australia. “One of the aims of the
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Religious Freedom Weekend is to raise the profile of this issue, and encourage people to contact their local member of parliament to request that the Government take action,” he says. Freedom for Faith ha s created a website (www. religiousfreedomweekend. com.au), where churches can download a resource pack and individuals can be informed
about contacting their local MP. Says Professor Parkinson: “We rightly expect our elected representatives to care deeply about principles of liberty, conscience and justice. We hope this weekend inspires faith communities to reach out to their parliamentarians, encouraging them in their duty to uphold the religious freedom rights of individuals and institutions.” SC
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