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Peter FitzSimons: it may come back to bite you

By Spencer Gear - posted Tuesday, 6 August 2019


Who wants freedom of speech folks taking a stand for Israel Folau's cousin, Josiah, who lost his job at a Roman Catholic College over his anti-Catholic rants?

Disguised support through gritted teeth came from an unexpected source, The Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Peter FitzSimons.

I found his language hostile to his 'religious friends, my champions of free speech' who don't treat Josiah Folau like Israel's dilemma. FitzSimons was peeved: 'You were apoplectic with rage at the very idea that Israel Folau could be sacked by Rugby Australia for twice putting up homophobic gibberish'.

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His rage continued: 'You shrieked, outweighed everything else, and his individual "freedom of speech" was so sacrosanct there could be no question of sacking him, even if it did piss off just about the entire rugby community, sponsors et al'.

This got up FitzSimons' nose so he called for the 'religious friends' who opposed Israel Folau's sacking to get behind Josiah:

We really need to hear from you now that Israel Folau's cousin, Josiah Folau, has, as reported by the Herald, been let go from his casual teaching job at the prestigious Catholic school St Gregory's College, Campbelltown, only a short time after describing the Catholic Church as "the synagogue of Satan"'.

Is FitzSimons fighting for his enemy?

Seems to me that, without knowing it, he plays right into the hands of those promoting freedom of religion and free speech for employees, employers and other institutions – including the church, synagogue, mosque and other religious organisations.

This is what I have in mind: He has highlighted this important issue of the need for freedom of religion but without realising he is backing that position in his article.

The very thing he advocates - religious friends speaking out against the sacking of Josiah – is the issue that religious institutions across the country are battling to retain. The proposed Religious Discrimination Act in federal parliament is designed to address this matter. I have grave doubts it will concentrate on some concerns by religious institutions.

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St Gregory's College, Campbelltown NSW should have every right to hire staff that support the ethos of the College. When a staff member violates those religious principles, at the school or by promoting them elsewhere, termination of employment should be in order.

Family Voice Australia promotes the view that:

Freedom of religion is a pre-eminent international right. It deserves primary recognition and protection. Currently exemptions treat religious freedom as a mere afterthought. This is disrespectful and ungrateful in view of the great work faith-based services and institutions provide.

Since Australia is committed to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, our nation should treat freedom as a positive right and not regard it as a narrow exemption.

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About the Author

Spencer Gear PhD is a retired counselling manager, independent researcher, Christian minister and freelance writer living in Brisbane Qld.

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