The adequacy of religious freedom protections in Australia has been now reviewed by the Ruddock Inquiry established by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after the same-sex postal survey in later 2017. By late June 2018, however, the government had yet to release Ruddock’s findings.
Nonetheless, advocates acknowledge that many Australians have only a very low level of concern about religious freedom – especially since the 2016 Census found that thirty per cent of Australians indicated they have no religious affiliation whatsoever. Religion, it would appear, is viewed by many as something that should be consigned to the private realm of the mind and have no bearing on wider aspects of social life or public policy.
The result is that religious believers – whether they are teachers, sports superstars, or judges – are increasingly met with vilification, derision, confected outrage, and bullying mockery. Practising a faith is not a separate or completely private part of a person’s life. Yet in the event that such hostility to religion should prevail, religious believers are likely to find it harder to manifest their faith once they cross the threshold of their own front doors.
In this 2018 Acton Lecture at the Centre for Independent Studies, the Honourable Justice Debra Mullins engaged with the increasing hostility confronting religious believers – particularly Christians – when they venture into the public square, and examined the challenges facing the religions believer in the workplace, and beyond.