Poll reveals little support for Religious Freedoms Bill


religious freedom bill israel folau australian christian lobby
Image: Israel Folau Facebook

A Guardian Essential poll reveals only 38% of Australians support a religious freedoms bill as currently proposed by right wing elements of the federal government. Since the federal election and the Israel Folau controversy, politicians and the Australian Christian Lobby launched petitions for federal action.

64% of people surveyed in the poll agreed with the statement, “people should not be allowed to argue religious freedoms to abuse others.”

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Further, 68% agreed that, “Israel Folau chose to share his religious views on social media and should take responsibility for them.”

51% agreed that, “Israel Folau has used his public profile to attack a minority group in the community.”

Despite agitation from conservatives for a religious freedom bill, only 38% of respondents saw a need for such a bill.

46% believed Folau’s actions damaged Australian rugby.

Only 34% believed he had a right to voice his views, “regardless of the hurt it might cause others.”

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

On Tuesday 2 July, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells launched a petition in the Senate for a religious freedom act.

Fierravanti-Wells was a staunch opponent of marriage-equality during the 2017 postal vote.

Since the election, she appears to sense opportunity to re-prosecute that argument.

After the election she said that the election results, “had their antecedents in the same-sex marriage debate.”

“I believe that the recent election has reinforced the need for more immediate legislative action,” she said.

“It’s a new dawn on this issue.”

Any attempt to wind back the same-sex marriage reform by stealth would ignore the overwhelming popular vote of the Australian electorate.

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Many more Australians voted for marriage equality than for the current government.

Australian Christian Lobby

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), a company which calls itself a “grassroots movement of 150,000 people seeking to being a Christian influence to politics” also promotes a petition on their website.

It asks the Senate to “provide greater protection for religious freedom.” Thus far, there are 18,793 signatures on the petition.

The ACL’s chief focus appears to be LGBTIQ issues. Of the 10 stories on the front page of their website at this time, five are on Folau, two on religious freedoms, and one on drag queen story time.

The ACL touts the support of a ‘quiet majority’ of Christian Australians.

However, a relatively small number of Australian Christians appear to support the organisation.

Today’s Guardian Essential poll provides further evidence of a lack of support in the general community for winding back protection for LGBTIQ communities.

The debate about religious freedom appears more concerned with undermining protections for LGBTIQ communities than actually protecting any religious freedom.

Australian law already enshrines freedom of religion. Also, there appears little evidence of any religious persecution in the country.

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