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A delegation of about 20 Australian church leaders met with federal Attorney General Robert McClelland on Wednesday to tell him they oppose a national Charter of Rights.

The delegation included representatives of Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Pentecostal churches.

A report in The Australian said they warned “the Rudd government it could curtail religious freedoms and give judges the power to shape laws on issues such as abortion and gay marriage”.

The delegation was led by Catholic Cardinal George Pell.

Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen told the paper he could not attend but “staunchly backed the delegation’s views”.

An Islamic leader also told the pepaer he was opposed to a Charter of Rights.

The full article follows…

Jenny Stokes- Research Director – Salt Shakers

Clergy unite over human rights charter

Nicola Berkovic | October 23, 2009  Article from:  The Australian

THE nation’s most powerful church leaders have united in a bid to scuttle efforts to create a national charter of human rights, warning the Rudd government it could curtail religious freedoms and give judges the power to shape laws on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.
Catholic cardinal George Pell led a delegation of about 20 church leaders to Canberra to raise strong concerns about the impact of a charter on religious freedoms.

The leaders, representing major churches including the Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Pentecostal, warned that a charter of rights could restrict the ability to hire people of faith in churches, schools and welfare bodies. Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen did not attend the meeting with Attorney-General Robert McClelland on Wednesday because of a synod meeting but said he staunchly backed the delegation’s views.

“We strongly support human rights, but we don’t think a charter such as this is necessary or even effective in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable people in our community. It may in all likelihood make things worse, particularly in the area of religious freedom,” he said.

Cardinal Pell said there was no doubt a charter of rights would be used against religious schools, hospitals and charities by other people who did not like religious freedom and thought it should not be a human right.
“If these protections are to be revised, it should be done by MPs answerable to the people, not by judges or human rights commissars,” Cardinal Pell writes in The Australian today.

It is understood the Uniting Church was the only major church not to take part in the delegation because it did not support opposing a charter.
The meeting with Mr McClelland came after the government’s hand-picked human rights committee led by Jesuit priest Frank Brennan recommended the government adopt a charter of human rights and give the High Court the power to declare laws incompatible.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis warned if rights such as the right to found a family were enshrined in a charter, as recommended by the committee, this could allow the courts to shape laws on issues such as gay marriage and adoption.

Senator Brandis, who also met the church leaders to hear their concerns, said such issues should be resolved directly by parliament and not via the “elliptical way” of expanding court powers.

“The agenda of the human rights lobby in Australia is a secular agenda and that fact has been somewhat masked by the fact the chairman of the government’s human rights consultation committee is himself a priest,” Senator Brandis said.

“It’s a Trojan horse for the secular leftist human rights agenda.”

A spokesman for Mr McClelland said the church leaders had raised a number of issues which the government would “give careful consideration to”.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace said church leaders had spent almost two years fighting the Victorian government’s review of the church’s exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, born out of the Victorian charter of rights and responsibilities.

He said no measures could alleviate the church’s concerns about a charter of rights.

“We think it’s a bad idea and the government should not go down that path,” he said.

He said the church was also adamant the government should not establish a human rights charter through the “back door”, for example by changing the law so that courts were forced to interpret legislation with regard to specific human rights.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils member and former senior legal adviser Haset Sali said he was concerned the nation was headed to receive a rights charter.

“My concern is that statutes quite often reduce rights rather than add to them,” he said. “Overall, I think we’ve got a pretty good situation in Australia at the current time.”

The Great Synagogue of Sydney’s Jeremy Lawrence said the Jewish community was passionately involved in the debate but did not have a consensus view.
However, Rabbi Lawrence said: “I’m always hesitant to lock certain values in writing to the exclusion of others, thereby disadvantaging people whose core tenets become abrogated through omission.”

Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty chairman Rocco Mimmo said experience in Britain showed that a human rights charter could be used to limit religious freedoms.

1 Response to “Clergy Oppose Human Rights Charter!”

  1. 1 Audrey & Maurice

    Dear Jason, Thanks for these emails. I will take them with me to church on Sunday. I sometimes think we need to call the church together sometimes for prayer and fasting for our nation. God bless. Audrey & Maurice. PS Jentezen Franklin in USA calls his church at the beginning of each year to fast for 21 days. I have read his book on fasting and been challenged and blessed by it.

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