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8 November 2018

7:00 AM

8 November 2018

7:00 AM

It seems that there are a significant number of people who are upset at the principals of thirty-four Anglican schools in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney for having signed a letter urging the Morrison government to uphold their right to religious freedom. And as such, a number of their alumni—championed by The Sydney Morning Herald, of course—are now planning protests so that these private schools will be socially compelled to employ people who do not share either their ethos or values.

Last year, during the public debate surrounding the re-definition of marriage, both Liberal and Labor politicians were adamant that religious groups had nothing to fear from any proposed change. Now, however, just twelve months later, the rhetoric has completely changed and all of that political posturing is being shown for what it really was: empty words!

The issue has been further compounded by left-leaning journalists who have sought to deliberately undermine the governmental review into preserving religious freedom. As the Glenn Davies—the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney—incisively argued in The Australian:

Last month, in the absence of the findings of the Ruddock report on religious freedom, we had a leak that was simply an attempt to scupper the Ruddock ship while still in the docks, by the mischievous misrepresentation of its recom­mendations… The misrepresentation was made possible by the fact that the only mechanism faith-based schools have for preserving their ethos and values is exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. This immediately frames the debate in terms of sex and discrimin­ation. I have described this previously as clumsy. I was too kind. It is misleading, confusing and totally unsatisfactory…

Worse, it placed us in the invidious position of being described as those who discriminate against students and staff, rather than being put positively, where a school had the right to employ staff who were committed to the Christian ethos of the school. A fundamental community expect­ation recognises the rights of organisati­ons to hire staff who uphol­d their values. You wouldn’t expect the Liberal Party to hire a communist any more than the Labor Party would hire someone who was anti-union.

But there is a question that no one in the media is asking and which really needs to be raised. And that is, why don’t those from the LGBTIQ community simply establish their own schools? This is by far and away the easiest solution. They are a smart section of the community. It’s a free country. At least for now. So why should everyone else be forced to comply with what they believe? Or is it simply that they cannot tolerate anyone else thinking differently?

The problem, of course, is that the LGBTIQ community would have to raise the money to establish such schools. And that shouldn’t be any great problem for them. After all, they raised millions last year for the same-sex marriage campaign. As a group they seem to have large amounts of disposable income. And surely QANTAS and the other large business groups who backed them would do some of the heavy financial lifting.

Of course, they won’t like that option. I mean, why pay for something yourself when you can pressure the government to give it to you? That’s why the entire strategy of gay activists is built upon the Marxist paradigm involving the re-distribution of power. And hence, it is framed as a matter of ‘inequality’ or ‘discrimination’. These terms, though, are a smokescreen for the unwillingness of LGBTIQ activists and supporters to invest their own finances into creating educational institutions of their own.

Earlier this year I asked the question, “What would happen if church schools closed?” And the simple answer is, it would be an economic disaster! Because as the following snapshot—from the Australian Bureau of Statistics—shows, Catholic and independent schools now make up 35 per cent of the market. And that figure is even higher for secondary education, especially in capital cities, where according to Independent Schools Australia the figure rises to over 40 per cent.

What’s more, as the Centre for Independent Studies Blaise Joseph has further explained in these pages:

Non-government schools mean less taxpayer money has to be spent — estimates range from $2 billion to $9 billion of savings per year. According to a new report from the Productivity Commission, federal and state governments combined spend over $7,000 more per student in government schools than in non-government schools.

To my knowledge, no one is suggesting this, but what would happen if even just a few private schools decided to close? The education budget would not only be devastated but the political fall-out would be massive.  Significantly, it’s not like this kind of strategy hasn’t proven effective before. As Gerard Henderson has told:

On Friday July 13, 1962, six Catholic schools in the Goulburn diocese closed and instructed their pupils to enrol the following Monday in the government school system. Some 2000 Catholic pupils applied for entry into the public-school system, which had only 640 vacancies.

The immediate cause of the protest was the refusal of NSW health authorities to install additional toilet facilities at Our Lady of Mercy Preparatory School in Goulburn.

This is a defining moment in Scott Morrison’s ever-shortening prime ministership. And the question he needs to ask himself is, “What does he actually stand for?” Will he be remembered as a Colonel George Custer at his last stand, or hopefully, The Man from Snowy River who rides in and heroically saves the day?

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.

Illustration: Comedy Central.

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