Mr. Christopher Pearson had some interesting things to say in an opinion piece of his a few Saturdays ago in The Weekend Australian:
Victoria's Interfaith Committee represents various branches of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. Its response to the government's options paper, signed by 53 religious leaders, is a trenchant analysis of the public service brand of secularism.
"The main assumption that the options paper makes is that religious activity can be divided into core activities, which are restricted to matters of worship and private devotion, and peripheral activities, such as the delivery of health, welfare and education services. In fact, no such distinction is made by religious organisations. The distinction is a fabrication and does not correspond to the reality of religious activity. Particularly for religious people, the delivery of services is integral to faith activity."
Shortly before I read that piece I read, at the angelqueen.org/forum discussion board, about a similar development overseas:
The bishops of England, Wales, and Scotland are warning that a proposed EU directive against discrimination and harassment could lead to the erosion of religious freedom. [...] Art. 13 requires Member States to ensure that ‘any …internal rules of undertakings, and rules governing profit or non-profit-making associations contrary to the principle of equal treatment are, or may be, declared null and void or are amended.’ This could have the effect of requiring Catholic organisations to act against their ethos: if a Catholic event takes place at a venue that offers double, twin, and single bedded rooms, the teaching of the Church would require that double bedded rooms were only available to married couples. Under Article 13 the rule (and the practice it governed) could be unlawful for failing to provide equal treatment to unmarried heterosexual couples or to homosexual couples. At this point the EU would effectively be dictating to religious bodies what their faith does or does not require: a wholly unacceptable position.
But unfortunately, it seems that State arbitration of what are a religion’s ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ doctrines—indeed, whether a given notion is to be regarded by the State as a religious doctrine at all—is already happening here in Australia:
The [N.S.W. Administrative Decisions] Tribunal rejected the argument put by Wesley Mission that the exemption in section 56 of the Anti-Discrimination Act applied to this situation [“the Tribunal found that an organisation run by Wesley Mission had discriminated against a same-sex couple on the grounds of homosexuality when it refused to provide them with services relating to making an application to become foster carers” ]. In making its determination, the Tribunal considered (among other matters) the meaning of the terms ‘religion’ and ‘doctrine’ and concluded that the belief that ‘monogamous heterosexual partnership within marriage is both the norm and ideal’ was not a ‘doctrine’ of Christianity so as to attract the exemption in section 56(d). …
[New South Wales Parliament Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice, Inquiry into adoption by same-sex couple, Final Report, p. 124
Feast of St. Stephen, King, Confessor, A.D. 2009