The freedom Australians have long enjoyed to worship their god of choosing and express their religious faith in public is under threat from the organised forces of secularism, according to a new report from The Centre for Independent Studies.
'Many Australians take freedom of religion for granted,' says CIS Research Fellow Peter Kurti, author of The Forgotten Freedom: Threats to Religious Liberty in Australia.
'The right to freedom of religious belief is being trumped by other rights such as the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation.'
'A liberal state like Australia should enable religious believers to live their lives in accordance with their faith as long as they do so in ways that do not undermine social cohesion.'
'Religious believers and non-believers need to be allowed to live together peacefully, despite their differing and often conflicting points of view, and the state must allow for this.'
'Many faith groups fear that marriage equality is being used as a Trojan horse by proponents of aggressive secularism as they bid to restrict freedom of religion in Australia.'
'Marriage equality is a matter for the Australian people to determine according to the processes of parliamentary democracy. However, some advocates of same-sex marriage, such as the Australian Greens, want to see religion eliminated from the public sphere and confined to the private realm of the mind.'
Every state and territory provides for protection of religious liberty according to respective anti-discrimination legislation, yet the federal Parliament has no power to pass legislation to regulate this freedom.
'Religious groups are concerned that if Australia enacts same-sex marriage, there may in time be a legal requirement under anti-discrimination law for them to make provision for same-sex marriage in their faith communities,' says Mr Kurti.
Peter Kurti is a research fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies.He is available for comment.