Response to reports of Ruddock Review Recommendations

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney

Media Release 15/10/18

 

During his Presidential Address, Archbishop Glenn Davies responded to reports about the contents of the Ruddock Review on Religious Freedom. The following is an extract from that section of the Address, which came at the start of the 2nd Ordinary session of the 51st Synod of the Diocese of Sydney.


‘It is for freedom, that Christ has set us free’ (Galatians 5:1). Or in words of the Collect for Peace―

O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

This prayer may well be one we regularly return to in the days ahead, as we find the freedoms we once enjoyed being pared back. 
In this past week, the enemies of religious freedom have been hard at work. The selective and distorted leaking of the recommendations of the Ruddock Review has been nothing more than anti-religious activism masquerading as journalism. 

This week has exposed the hypocrisy of those who, during the same-sex marriage campaign, repeatedly told the Australian public that same-sex marriage would have absolutely no consequences for religious freedom.   Now they have revealed what has always been their agenda–to force religious schools to play by secular rules. 

Although I am wary of commenting upon a report that has yet to be released, the Ruddock Review, after a careful and thorough analysis and extensive public consultation, has proposed a set of sensible recommendations to ensure that Australia protects all human rights, including freedom of religion. 

There is, in fact, nothing objectionable in the Ruddock recommendations. But in an attempt to scupper the Ruddock ship while still in the docks, its recommendations were mischievously misrepresented. Then ensued handwringing hysteria about an imaginary epidemic of gay students being expelled from religious schools, and this was accompanied by much ill-informed knee-jerk reaction.

Let’s be very clear. Anglican schools in Sydney do not expel students for being gay. It is an absurd proposition and it is certainly not something we asked for in our submission to the Ruddock Review. We would gladly support any amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 which would clarify this. This issue was nothing more than a beat up and smoke screen to discredit the Ruddock Report and obscure the real issues. 

What we have asked for is simply this: freedom of religion. People of all faiths and none should have the right to speak and act according to their fundamental convictions. Church schools should NOT be forced to play by secular rules. It goes to the very heart of religious freedom that religious organisations should be able to operate according to their religious ethos.  Anglican schools, if they are going to remain Anglican, must be able to employ staff who support the Christian values of the school. When the Ruddock Report and the Government’s response is released, it will be time to have an informed national conversation about this. Despite the delay in its release, the report deserves due process and careful analysis before it is kyboshed by the media and ill-informed political commentators.

Yet our real weapons are not political or strategic, however much we may engage in the national debate, but spiritual, requiring the whole armour of God…
 

Dr Glenn N Davies, Archbishop of Sydney

15 October 2018

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