January 17, 2020
  • 4:15 pm معايدة صاحب الغبطةيوحنا العاشر بطريرك أنطاكية وسائر المشرقميلاد ٢٠١٩
  • 4:14 pm True Word of Life Church “LIVE” Worship
  • 4:14 pm World Famous Foot Model Sasha Soles Foot Worship
Inspiring Women of ANU: Pauline Ridge

[APPLAUSE] Well, it takes a whole
village to raise a professor. [LAUGHTER] And so I would like to
take this opportunity as well to thank my
law school village and acknowledge particularly
my female colleagues. Peta is one of them. And my junior colleagues
have been so supportive of me in preparing for this talk. And so I’ve had their example
and support over many years. And I want to
acknowledge particularly as well the support
and mentoring given by the late Philippa Weeks. I think she’d be
proud of the number of strong female academics
in the College of Law. So I’ll use this talk to explain
the research project that will be the focus of my
sabbatical next semester. And it concerns a subject
that’s dear to my heart, but that I’ve only really dipped
into throughout my career. So in part, this
is a retrospective. But you’ll see that I still have
lots of unresolved questions to answer. And I’m interested in how
the state, through the law, regulates and controls religious
groups and their members in the financing of their
religious activities. And of course, this is
quite topical, fortuitously, at the moment. So I’ll begin by sketching
in the factual context. Like all not-for-profit
groups, religious groups need to finance their core
activities, such as worship, prayer, ritual, religious
education, and perhaps proselytizing and evangelism. There are buildings to erect
and maintain, workers to pay, religious texts to
produce, and so on. Put simply, the
collective manifestation of religious belief costs money. For some religious believers,
all aspects of their life are a manifestation
of their faith and would be described by
them as religious activity. Similarly, many
religious groups engage in socially beneficial
activity that is motivated by religious
faith, such as caring for the sick or the elderly,
providing education. But I’m focusing
on activity that is inherently and indisputably
religious in nature. So how do religious groups
finance these activities? Well, three common
sources of funds are donations of group members– the religious believers–
investment income, and community fundraising. The value of almost all
these sources of funding is boosted by the
assistance of the state– that is, by federal, state, and
territory government provision of fiscal privileges. So I’ll say a little more
on each of these points. Giving of one’s resources,
financial or otherwise, to one’s religious group
is an expected practice in many religions. The means can be
sophisticated and large-scale, involving instantaneous
electronic bank transfers, as well as
long-term direct debits. Substantial one-off donations
can be made by direct gift or by way of a charitable
trust for the advancement of religion. And they can happen during the
believer’s lifetime or by will. Investment income is a
significant revenue stream for mainstream established
religious groups in Australia. Landholdings, for example,
can be extremely valuable, particularly where
they’ve become unnecessary for congregational use and can
be leased out or redeveloped. Investment income is
tax-free if employed for charitable purposes, such
as the advancement of religion. In relation to
community fundraising, we shouldn’t think primarily of
cake stores and church fetes. We should think of Weet-Bix. Most people would be
familiar with the fact that Sanitarium, the Sanitarium
Health and Wellbeing Company, was established by the
Seventh-day Adventist Church, and its profits are
directed to the church’s charitable purposes. So there’s a clear nexus between
the manufacturer of health foods and the Adventist beliefs
concerning a biblical mandate to eat plant-based foods. Just put in a plug
for vegetarians there. But under Australian
law, charities may engage in
commercial activity that is unrelated to the purposes
of the charitable entity so long as all
profits are directed to those charitable purposes. Thus, a company limited by
guarantee whose sole activities were financial investment
and a funeral business was held by the
High Court in 2008 to be entitled to
income tax exemption because all of its
profits were directed to the financing of Bible
translation missionary work. So it’s no secret that religious
groups minimize their costs and increase income
by availing themselves of legal and fiscal
privileges, particularly through charitable status. Charities registered with
the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits
Commission are exempt from the
payment of income tax. And this includes entities
whose charitable status comes from their purposes
being for the advancement of religion. States, territories,
and local government also provide a
range of benefits, such as exemptions from
payroll tax and rates. So turning to the law, there’s
a large and ancient body of law, fascinating
body of law, relevant to religious financing. It encompasses
judicial decisions, domestic legislation, and
international human rights instruments. Most of that law concerns
charity and charitable trusts, specifically, the
charitable purpose of advancement of religion. The common law of
charity is complicated by an overlay of legislation,
including the Charities Act 2013, Commonwealth act. The dominant paradigm for
determining charitable status requires public benefit. And it’s presumed that purposes
for the advancement of religion provide a public benefit. Moving away from charity
law, the equitable doctrine of undue influence presumes
that a large gift made during the religious
believer’s lifetime to a religious leader
or religious group is the result of undue
spiritual influence. The gift cannot stand unless
this presumption is rebutted. Testamentary gifts,
on the other hand, are not subject to
such a presumption, but are more vulnerable to
family provision legislation that prioritizes the financial
needs of disinherited family members over the believer’s
religious autonomy. Australian law is also
infused with human rights norms in relation to
freedom of religion. The most explicit
source of such norms is the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ICCPR,
ratified by Australia in 1980, although not yet incorporated
into domestic law at the federal level. Article 18.1 provides
for the freedom to manifest one’s religion,
either individually or collectively. And you can see that towards
the end of the article, “to manifest religion or
belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.” Articles 2 and 26 of the
ICCPR protect the right to freedom of
religion in relation to discrimination
against religion or amongst religious groups. At the constitutional level,
Tasmania, in its Constitution Act, guarantees the free
profession and practice of religion, subject to
public order and morality, whereas Section 116 of the
Commonwealth Constitution only protects
freedom of religion through limiting Commonwealth
legislative power. There are no other entrenched
constitutional protections of freedom of religion,
although Victoria and the ACT have implemented the
ICCPR to a limited extent, and Queensland is about to. A right to freedom
of religion is also recognized at an
informal, normative level in the common law by judges. Whatever the source of the
right to freedom of religion, the template is the same– the statement of a
general right followed by qualifications in relation to
the manifestation of religion. And I’ll come back
to that point. Well, so far in my career, I’ve
considered religious financing law in a piecemeal fashion. But now my objective
in my sabbatical is to pull together
the disparate threads and construct a coherent
conceptual framework that identifies the key
themes or concepts of this law and their
relationship to each other. So this is my research question. And I’m just going to
take off my jacket. We’re getting down
to business now. I mean, what could
be so hard, you know? What are the animating concepts
of the law’s regulation of religious financing? How do they relate to
each other, and why? That should be
doable in six months. So the project is primarily
an internal legal analysis of the relevant law. But I’ll enrich that
analysis by situating the law within its historical
and social context. Understanding the
law in this way is an essential
first step before meaningful interdisciplinary
and policy work can be done. So I’m still in the
introduction, folks. Sorry. But I want to just
talk now about bias. I’m not sure which way that
arrow is facing, but disregard. There’s no subliminal
message there. So it’s important to acknowledge
where I’m coming from and ways in which my
understanding of the subject might be influenced by
my own acculturation. Academics don’t normally
do this, certainly not at private law
conferences, which is where I’m normally speaking. So it feels a bit strange. But my experience of law
in religion conferences is that scholarly
presentations are often driven by unarticulated
ideological interests. And I think there should
be acknowledgment of that, because checking for hidden
agendas is distracting, and it’s tiring
for the listener. So I’m thinking of you here
as I put myself on the line. So I grew up in a
Roman Catholic home. As an adult, I worshipped in the
Uniting Church for a long time. I’m still connected
to that community, and I serve on one of
the Uniting Church’s internal tribunals. But I now belong to a
contemplative church that practices Christian meditation. Like many of my generation, I
reject religious fundamentalism and dogmatism. And I’m very wary of
religious institutions. But I consider that
religious faith– or more generally,
spirituality– is a ubiquitous and
valuable dimension of the human condition. So what I want to do for
the remainder of the talk is identify and explain
what, at this stage, I think are the animating
themes of the relevant law. And I’ll give a few
illustrations from charity and not-for-profit law– although I’ve been madly
striking stuff out, so limited illustrations in
order to fit within the time. So the conceptual
framework, then. Well, in essence, I think there
are four main concepts at play in this law, control,
neutrality, autonomy, and public benefit– that is, state control
of religious activity, neutrality towards religion
and as between religions, how religious autonomy,
freedom of religion, is balanced with state interests
and competing human rights, and the public
benefit of religion and its converse,
public detriment. So I’m a visual person. And the way I see these themes
relating to each other– the conceptual framework– is
as four concentric circles, although I’ve
wasted a lot of time on whether it should really
be a Venn diagram with a box and three concentric circles. So my starting point, then,
and the first circle– so the one that is most
pervasive and the premise upon which the whole of this law
becomes intelligible, I think– is that religious
financing law is a means by which
the state controls the behavior of religious
groups and induces them to comply with state interests. This area of law facilitates
the peaceful coexistence of religion with
the secular state. That is fundamentally
its rationale. There’s a symbiotic relationship
between religion and secular state in this legal sphere. The two potential
rivals coexist, often to their mutual
benefit, but not always. Historically, that’s very clear. Charity law in
particular was used to protect state interests
by banning or deterring unwanted religious activity. You might have thought
that that function would diminish with the growth
in religious toleration. But in fact, it’s still
the case that charity and not-for-profit law
are used in this way. And in fact, this accords with
the nature of charity law. It facilitates activities that
are beneficial to society. The clearest modern
examples of state control come from English law. And I can explain why
later if you want. What we see in modern
English charity law is a cracking down on
collective religious activity that is conducted in private. Two examples. In 2010, the Druid Network
sought charitable status. The Network’s
definition of Druidry stated, “As is true of any
mystical religious tradition, the deeper mysteries
and practices that would be confusing or
detrimental to the novice are retained in the privacy
of personal practice and close relationships.” Well, the Charity Commission
of England and Wales expressed concern
about this, that it meant some druid rituals and
practices were private and not available to all. In response, and in order
to secure charitable status, the Druid Network simply
amended its constitution, and by implication,
its practices. “There are no occult,
secret, or hidden practices within Druidry. Teachings are open to all.” And the Commission
registered it as a charity. So you can see their website. And on this side,
“The Druid Network is a registered charity
in England and Wales. All contributions
gratefully received.” [LAUGHTER] This is a simple example of
a new religious group molding its activities in return
for state benefits, but also of what
it seems to have been an amicable negotiation
to an acceptable solution. The more recent interaction
of the Charity Commission with the Plymouth
Brethren Christian church, the PBCC or Brethren, involved
a much more difficult scenario. In 2012, as a test
case, the Commission refused charitable status to
a trust of a Brethren meeting hall in Devon. Now I am told by Google Images
that this is a Brethren meeting hall. But I think it’s in Sussex. And I’m just going
with Google Images. The eventual grounds relied
upon by the Commission were that the
benefits of the trust went to a private group because
of limited public access to the hall and because the
group’s doctrines precluded engagement with
the wider public, and therefore, it was
said, precluded any benefit to the public. Well, as you can imagine, there
was extensive media coverage, a political storm, and a
public relations nightmare for the Charity Commission. And the matter was
settled by the parties. The Brethren varied the
trust deed and revised their statement of their
doctrines and practices– that is, they significantly,
I would respectfully say, modified their religious
practices in order to secure the advantages
of charitable status. And the Commission
accepted this in order to secure regulatory
power over the group– that is, it was in both parties’
interest to reach a settlement. This can clearly be seen
in the Commission’s reasons for decision. “If the trustees do not
comply with the trusts, the Commission will
be able to regulate on the basis of a
breach of trust. If the trustees are unable
to comply with and carry out the trusts, the Commission
may regulate on the basis that a cy-pres
occasion has arisen and the trust property will be
applied for charitable purposes of a similar nature.” And so that story is
still being played out. And I know Bernard Doherty,
who’s here from St Mark’s, is sociologist of religion and
very interested in what’s happening at the moment in that
relationship between Charity Commission and the PBCC. So neutrality, the second
circle in my framework, concerns neutrality
towards religion generally and between religions. Neutrality questions,
I think, can be separated into three
overlapping types concerning the neutrality of judges,
the law, and the state. Now the High Court, in the
case of Church of the New Faith and Commissioner
for Pay-Roll Tax, concerning whether
Scientology was a religion for the purposes of
an exemption from payroll tax, recognized that, quote,
“the acculturation of a judge in one
religious environment will impede his
understanding of others.” And there are many examples
of judicial religious acculturation operating to
the detriment of minority religions, as well,
it must be said, of judicial openness to
religious difference. And that topic is a
research project in itself. I bags it. [LAUGHTER] So judicial religious literacy
is important, as well as presentation of expert evidence. They ensure judicial neutrality. Judicial neutrality is also
promoted through the principle that, generally,
judges do not consider the merits or otherwise of the
religious beliefs in question. So for example,
Justice Keith Mason has referred to the need
for judicial agnosticism. Neutrality of the law rather
than of an individual judge is more problematic, as the
impact of discrimination between religions
or against religion generally is more insidious
when embedded in the law itself. And it’s also quite
difficult to pin down when there is embedded
discrimination. For example, Lord
Reid, in the 1949 House of Lords case of Gilmour
and Coates, said this. He gives a statement
about the law showing “no preference
in this matter to any church or
other religious body. Where a belief is accepted by
some and rejected by others, the law can neither
accept nor reject. It must remain neutral.” This sounds admirable
and very neutral. But the case itself
is often cited as an example of embedded
bias against Roman Catholic practices. The House rejected the
claim by a Carmelite order of enclosed nuns that its
purposes were charitable on the grounds that the
benefits of intercessory prayer are not provable
in a court of law, and evidence of edification
of Roman Catholics generally from the nuns’ example was
too intangible to be accepted. That is, legal neutrality
itself was used to refuse charitable status. Now the reasoning in
Gilmour and Coates is susceptible to
various interpretations. But I suspect social
and cultural context are part of the explanation. The Irish courts
have had no problem at all in finding public
benefit from such purposes, and nor, I would suggest,
would the Australian courts. The issue is only relevant
in Australian trust law now, and not actually for tax
purposes, as almost the only legislative reform
to charity law that the Howard government
was prepared to make, following an extensive
review of charity law, was to remove the public
benefit requirement, and hence, entrench
charitable status, if an entity, quote, “is
a closed or contemplative religious order that
regularly undertakes prayerful intervention
at the request of members of the general
public,” end quote. So that shows the
political influence of the church at that time. And it’s very convenient
for enclosed orders. So the third form
of– oh, sorry. I’ll skip that slide. I was going to give
you another example. But I don’t think
I’ll have time. So the third form of
neutrality in this circle concerns the
neutrality of the state towards and amongst religions– that is, the constitutional
context of religious financing. Australia’s constitutional
framework in this respect is different to that, for
example, in the United States, although people often
assume that we’re the same. The Constitution in Section
116 protects religious equality and freedom by restricting
Commonwealth legislative power. And this doesn’t
prevent the Commonwealth from giving aid to or
encouraging religion. Thus, the majority
of the High Court held in the Defense of
Government Schools case that Commonwealth legislation
providing education funding to non-government religious
schools was valid. State neutrality issues
also arise in relation to the favoring of
particular religious groups. And of course, there isn’t
an unwavering dichotomy between the secular
state on the one hand and religion on the other,
despite what I might have been suggesting so far. It’s more likely to be the case
that a politically powerful established religious group
aligns itself with the state in order to exclude or
suppress other groups. An historical example
of this in Australia is the Commonwealth suppression
of the Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War II at the
instigation of the Roman Catholic Church. So the third concentric
circle in my framework concerns the tension between
religious autonomy or freedom of religion– I used autonomy ’cause it’s
one word instead of three on my slide– the tension between freedom
of religion on the one hand and the interests of the
state and its citizens as a whole on the other. What’s the appropriate balance? Does the law
impermissibly interfere with freedom of
religion or discriminate on the basis of religion if
it withdraws fiscal privileges from a religious
group or strikes down a gift from religious
believer to religious leader? So these questions are obscured
in the current Australian law of religious financing
by at least two factors. First, there’s a real question
whether state restrictions on religious financing, rather
than on religious activity directly, infringes
the right to freedom of religion at all
or the right not to be discriminated against. After all, other than
in extreme cases, making it more difficult to
fund one’s religious activity doesn’t necessarily
preclude that activity. For an example of
an extreme case, there was one in France in
the last decade in relation to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The French tax department
imposed a 60% tax on religious donations to
the Jehovah’s Witnesses and then added an 80%
penalty for late payment. So they were essentially
taxed into insolvency. The second factor which has
obscured the issue of freedom of religion in Australia
is that the ICCPR has not been implemented fully at
the Commonwealth level. We do not have a bill of rights. And it seems unlikely that
we’re going to get one soon. And other protection
for freedom of religion specifically is fragmented. That might change in
light of the leaked recommendations of the Ruddock
religious freedom review. Recommendation 15 is that
there’d be a Religious Discrimination Act– note, not a bill of rights. What is clear, however, is
that wherever and howsoever expressed, the right to manifest
religious beliefs is qualified. According to human rights norms,
it is legitimate for the state to restrict the
collective manifestation of religious belief so long as
it does so on permitted grounds and so long as it
does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Article 18.3, for
example, of the ICCPR provides that “freedom to
manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject
only to such limitations as are prescribed by law
and are necessary to protect public safety, order,
health, or morals or the fundamental rights
and freedoms of others.” So this balancing of
religion, freedom of religion, with the interests of the state
in religious financing law has been tested in the
English context with respect to the European Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. So the Gallagher litigation
concerned the Preston Temple of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are only two such
temples in England. And only the most
devout Mormons are allowed to enter, those
who hold a recommend. The church receives
an 80% exemption from rates on the temple due
to its charitable status. But it was refused a
complete exemption from rates because its temple
was not a place of public religious worship
pursuant to the Local Government Finance Act. The House of Lords considered
whether the refusal to grant a full exemption
amounted to discrimination pursuant to Article
14 of the convention, because it came within the
ambit of Article 9, the right to freedom of religion. Only Lord Scott found
that there was an element of discrimination on the facts. But he held that it
was justified because of the need for openness
in religious practices in a pluralist society. And this is a long
quote, which I won’t read out the whole thing. But he’s talking about
secrecy in religious practices and providing “the soil
in which suspicions and unfounded prejudices
can take root and grow.” And he concludes, “I
can see every reason why a state should adopt a
general policy under which fiscal relief for premises
used for religious worship is available where the premises
are open to the general public and is withheld
where they are not.” So the European
Court of Human Rights affirmed the state’s refusal to
grant the full rates exemption, referring to the wide margin of
appreciation accorded to states in this jurisprudence. Now the church still received
a substantial rates exemption based on its charitable status. And so far as I’m aware, it
didn’t change its practices regarding access to the temple. Interestingly,
the Preston Temple appears to have a terrific
public reputation. This is a Trip– it’s got
a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence, which is
clearly good evidence of that, because it has beautiful gardens
which are open to the public. So that particular
issue, the meaning of place of public
religious worship, has been decided differently
in Australia so far. And, in fact, there
are historical reasons why place of public worship
doesn’t actually mean what you might think it means. In 1987, in Canterbury Municipal
Council and Moslem Alawy Society, the High Court
held that to interpret place of public worship in a
council planning ordinance as requiring access
by the general public would be inconsistent
with, quote, “currently accepted standards
of religious equality and tolerance in this
country,” end quote. So I think that’s a good example
of a judicial norm of freedom of religion in forming
statutory interpretation. So the fourth circle of
my conceptual framework goes to the core of
religious financing law. And I think it’s actually
much more prominent in the law than the third circle. In fact, I’ve agonized over
whether to switch these around. It concerns how the law
determines the public benefit or otherwise of religion. Of what value to
society as a whole is the collective manifestation
of religious belief through explicitly
religious activities? This is the unresolved
question of charity law, not-for-profit law,
and less explicitly, of the law governing
gifts from a believer to their religious group. Charity law in
Australia, for reasons of history and
political expediency, largely avoids the
inquiry by presuming that the advancement of
religion is a public benefit. The English Parliament, however,
abolished this presumption in 2006. Religious groups must prove that
they provide a public benefit. And that exercise has proved
very difficult and costly. Some religious
groups in Australia are currently investing a
great deal of time and money into documenting the economic
benefits to the public of religious activity. And I suspect that such an
exercise has limited persuasive value, although I
don’t want to suggest that the economic
benefits don’t exist. But for any example of benefit,
there will be a counterexample. Furthermore, the issue
is politically charged and divisive. So what follows from here are
really tentative thoughts. I’m still thinking this through. I’ve certainly
argued in the past that it’s more
helpful to consider the public benefit of religion
at an abstract, non-specific level. And there’s an
analogous precedent in the High Court’s approach
in Aid/Watch Incorporated and Federal Commissioner
of Taxation. The court in that
case was determining the charitable
status of groups who pursue their
charitable objectives through political activity,
in that case, lobbying. In Aid/Watch, the court
held that it was not necessary to evaluate the merits
of Aid/Watch’s lobbying, which was to improve Commonwealth
funding of overseas aid projects. Instead, the court
said, it was sufficient that political lobbying was an
integral part of Australia’s constitutional processes
and thus contributed to the public welfare. One could argue that
purely religious activity and religious
pluralism contribute to a healthy,
flourishing society, and thus, the public benefit. What do you reckon? It’s here that the human
rights discourse on freedom of religion may help. In that discourse, the emphasis
is on freedom of religion as an essential component
of a democratic society. And for instance, the
European Court of Human Rights has said this of
freedom of religion. And I’m wondering whether
we can extend this sentiment to religious activity per se. So the court said– and they’ve
repeatedly said this– “Freedom of religion is one of
the most vital elements that go to make up the
identity of believers and their conception
of life, but it is also a precious asset for
atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and the unconcerned. The pluralism indissociable
from a democratic society, which has been dearly won over
the centuries, depends on it.” This still leaves us with the
problem of public detriment from religion– that is, whether a religious
group collectively, rather than particular individuals
within the group, cause harm to the public. Criminal law, rather than
religious financing law, obviously has a role
to play, particularly in relation to individuals. But in the wake of
the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses
to Child Sexual Abuse, who can deny that religious
communities may provide fertile ground for evil to occur? More generally,
spiritual influence can be extremely
powerful and subject to exploitation and abuse. And the doctrine
of undue influence gives us many examples of that. So how do we determine
our public detriment? Well, the 1862 English
Court of Chancery decision in Thornton and Howe
gives us one yardstick. The good-looking man there
is Sir John Romilly, Master of the Rolls at the time. And I did a historical law
and religion study of him. He’s a great guy. And he set up the National
Archives in England. So all historians
should be fans. Sir John Romilly referred
to “doctrines adverse to the very foundations of
all religion and subversive of all morality” as an instance
where the court would not enforce a charitable trust. That’s one possible test. Article 18.3, which I’ve
referred to already, talks about “public safety,
order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights
and freedoms of others” as public interest
deserving of protection, which implies that
religious activity that threatens these interests
is to the public detriment. Whether a religious
groups activities are “inconsistent with the
maintenance of civil government or prejudicial to the continued
existence of the community” was considered relevant
by the High Court in overriding the limited
protection given by Section 116 of the Constitution. And the Irish
Charities Act in 2009 has excluded certain gifts
from being for the advancement of religion at all. And you can see
there on the side, this is Section 3,
Subsection 10 excluding gifts to or for the benefit
of an organization or cult, “the principal object of
which is the making of profit, or that employs oppressive
psychological manipulation.” These various tests
assist our understanding of what may be encompassed
by public detriment, although I think there are
obvious dangers here regarding discrimination against
minority religious groups. And neutrality becomes
really important here. So to conclude, you’ll be
pleased to know, to conclude, how the relationship of
religion and secular state is managed is important to
the security of the state and the well-being
of all its citizens, including those who
hold religious beliefs. National security laws
and the criminal law provide blunt and
potentially dangerous instruments for this task. I would suggest that more
effective and positive regulation of religious activity
occurs within the context of religious financing law. But the state’s power
to mold the activities of religious groups in
this way must obviously be exercised with caution and
consistently with human rights norms. History shows that
persecution by the state will strengthen
a religious group and may encourage
extremism and isolation by weeding out lukewarm
members and strengthening the convictions of
those remaining. The Australian
government’s suppression of the Jehovah’s
Witnesses in 1941 by dissolving their
incorporated association and confiscating their assets,
for example, backfired. The group is said
to have doubled in numbers during the
period of repression. And as the Preston Temple
case in England shows, a religious group may choose
not to change its practices and to forfeit the greater
fiscal benefits on offer. So a burning issue in
Australia at present, albeit concerning direct
funding of religiously motivated activity, the religious
schools issue, is why governments fund
religious groups whose practices are repugnant to
sections of Australian society. So I hope I’ve made it clear
that the right to manifest religious beliefs
is not unqualified, and also that withdrawal
of state funding may be justified on
human rights grounds and may constitute an acceptable
compromise between respect for freedom of religion, in that
a faith-based practice is not prohibited as such, and
the interests of the state. Now whether such a
solution is politically.

Otis Rodgers