About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Monday, April 04, 2011

Freedom of religion and belief - report to AHRC

The long-awaited report to the Australian Human Rights Commission, prepared by a working party looking at freedom of religion and belief in 21st-century Australia, has finally been released. So far, I've only glanced through it, though Chrys Stevenson has a damning review of it here.

From my quick look, the report looks more anodyne than anything else, as if the group involved was unwilling to say anything controversial, or to offend anyone, or to make recommendations that might rock the social and political boat. In a way, that's not a bad thing; this group was never going to say anything of great benefit to secularists, so perhaps the less it does say of any substance the better. All the same, enormous amounts of money and effort went into this whole exercise, with a couple of thousand submissions received from the public.

All in all, this looks like much ado about nothing. However, I need to read the report properly to see whether there's anything there to worry about ... or anything that might actually be helpful.


Mike said...

When I filed a submission, I noted that the response template they had created was entirely framed in the context of religious believers and "interfaith dialogue". Even with a very loose reaing, many of the questions did not make any sense unless you had religious beliefs

Russell Blackford said...

It's also annoying that they only ever linked to a small number of submissions by actual human beings, rather than organisations. Mine was quite elaborate and, dare I say, scholarly, and I saw what Graham Oppy and Julian Savulescu submitted - both very high quality submissions. But none of these have been linked. When I skimmed the report, I didn't see any sign that they were referred to. I wonder whether they were even read.