Baptist leader Tim Costello: ‘Christians need to calm down’

Baptist minister and former Chief Advocate at World Vision Australia Tim Costello had spoken against a proposed ‘religious freedom’ bill.

Now a senior fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity, Costello supports the recommendations put forward by the recent Philip Ruddock-led review, but is concerned about a wide-reaching ‘religious freedom’ bill as proposed by some MPs and conservative commentators.

“I don’t think there is a risk of persecution. Christians need to calm down,” Costello says.

“I would say to Christians if you want to see persecution, let me take you to places where there is persecution of Christians and other religious groups – let me take you to Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and I will show you persecution.”

“And if they read their Bibles, Jesus said the world will hate you and misunderstand you for following me, but to go on following, loving, serving – so I would say, just suck it up.”

“Jesus didn’t go around demanding legislation to protect his rights. Jesus didn’t advocate for freedom of religion legislation.”

Earlier this week Attorney General Christian Porter revealed some more information on the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill, ahead of community consultations with church groups and other organisations.

The Attorney General said that a clause relating to ‘indirect discrimination’, similar to section 7b of the Sex Discrimination Act, would protect employees who expressed their religious views.

“This would provide an overarching rule that places limitations on what an employer could do by way of general rules that affected all of their workforce, if those general rules, in an unfair and unreasonable way, had a negative – or what the legislation calls a disadvantaging – effect on a person of faith,” Porter said.

“A bill like this would provide a very powerful avenue for someone who believed that a general rule in their employment especially disadvantaged them because of their religion, to argue that that rule was contrary to the act and unfair.”

LGBTIQ+ advocacy group Equality Australia say the Attorney General’s plans to include a clause in the forthcoming Religious Discrimination Bill would prevent employers providing a safe workplace for all people.

“Anti-discrimination laws should be a shield, not a sword. It sounds like the Government’s proposal would prevent employers from being able to protect their businesses from the damaging public actions of employees”, said Lee Carnie, Director of Legal Advocacy at Equality Australia.

“Employers should be able to provide workplaces for all employees that are safe, healthy, and inclusive. The examples given by the Attorney-General show that he plans to go further with religious discrimination laws to interfere with employers’ ability to uphold their values”.

OIP Staff