Here is a press release about the terrible decision against the Christian pastors in Australia, from the Tears of the Oppressed group (thanks to Mark Durie):
Sex and politics are fine, but don’t talk about religion!
The human rights of average Australians are threatened as two Christian pastors are pronounced “guilty” under the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.
The announcement of the guilty verdict in the test case, Islamic Council of Victoria vs Catch the Fire Ministries, indicates that it is no longer possible to discuss religious ideas in a public context without fear of prosecution in Victoria. Consequently two basic human rights — the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of religion — have been infringed.
“The message to the Australian public is this: “˜Sex and politics are fine”¦ but don’t talk about religion!” ” says Tears of the Oppressed’s President, Senator Grant Chapman.
“In practice, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 has allowed one religious group to take another religious group to court over a difference in religious opinion.
“However, under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — to which Australia is a signatory —
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
“The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act interferes with the right to express religious opinions.
“The guilty verdict in this case indicates the freedom of expression — and consequently the freedom of religion – of the average Australian has been compromised.
“The religious ideas and interpretations raised during the court hearing have been in the public domain for years.
“They have been documented in books, the internet, discussed in the academic world, and in churches and mosques since time immemorial.
“Since religions make claims to truth and morality, they should be subject to scrutiny and challenge,” Senator Chapman said.
“Moreover, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
“It is the role of teachers in every religion to demonstrate why their faith is worthy of adoption, and this may involve showing why — in their opinion — other religions may be less truthful, or even in error.
“Neither should the right to critically examine a faith be restricted to adherents of those faiths.
“Critical examination of other faiths is integral to the process of adopting the faith of one’s choice.
“Critical examination of a belief system is therefore a religious activity.
“The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001, however, limits critical examination by exposing Victorians who make critical or negative comments about a religion to accusations of vilification.
“In the past, Australians have always been free to make critical or negative comments about religion.
“That’s part of what it means to have a religiously free society.
“Until now, we have been able to belong to a religious faith, or not belong to a religious faith, as we choose.
“Now the Australian public needs to be aware that their human right to freedom of religion and its expression is being whittled away by insidious laws which, under the guise of protecting religious freedom, actually diminish it.
“Mainstream public opinion has deterred other States from proceeding with similar legislation.
“The pressure of public opinion must be brought to bear urgently on the Victorian Government to remove this heinous law from the statute book.”
Tears of the Oppressed is an interdenominational Christian human rights organization. Its primary focus is religious freedom, particularly religious freedom for minority Christian communities suffering severe religious persecution in other parts of the world.
Contact: For further information, contact Senator Grant Chapman, President of Tears of the Oppressed, on 0408 812 296.
Tears of the Oppressed
PO Box 188
Calwell ACT 2905
Ph. 02 6291 0900
Fax. 02 6291 0900
Email contact: Elizabeth Scott, National Director – firstname.lastname@example.org