Equal Opportunity?

School staff selection ‘under threat’

Over the last few years, the Equal Opportunity Act has come under review; of particular significance, the freedom of religious organisations to operate upon the basis of their faith beliefs. The above article by Winston Tan highlights the struggle that faith institutions face in contemporary times, we now live in a world where the word is tolerance. Yet, the word, in light of such news, seems to be changing to universalism. Some might see little difference between these words, but the difference is seen in these actions to review the Equal Opportunity Act. Moving from a tolerance of different beliefs and practices towards a universal system where not only tolerance of different beliefs and practices but an integration and co-existence of such differences.

In a review of the Equal Opportunity Act conducted last year, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission recommended the legislation be changed from allowing an exemption where it was “necessary” to comply with a religious doctrine to being “reasonably necessary”.

Being one of many Western nations where the constitution is built upon freedom, including religious freedom, such statements give sufficient reason to be concerned. A case study can be found in the aid organisation, World Vision. World Vision International is predominately founded up a Christian faith system, motivating and driving its operations. However, in Australia, it makes no such claims though having close Christian associations. World Vision Australia is rarely, if ever, associated with the Christian movement and as such, a key perspective is lost, even with Christians. This key perspective lost is that the vision and mission of World Vision (International) is driven by the Christian faith, driven by the love of God displayed through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

If Christian institutions (and schools, as in the above article) lose the freedom to retain their distinct Christian identity, then these key perspectives will be lost. Sure, these institutions will continue to do good things, but these good things will lose their distinct flavour, that is, only found upon the foundations upon which they are built – their faith in an Almighty God. What’s the difference if they are still doing good things? The subtle, but significant, difference lies in motivation: the ‘goodness’ of humanity vs the love of God. To rely on the ‘goodness’ of humanity means there will only be good as long as humanity ‘feels like it.’ However, to rely on the love of God means that there will always be a motivation for doing good whether one ‘feels like it’ or not. The eternal, unchanging love of God must be the foundation of world change: socially, politically, spiritually.

In this changing world, the message of the Gospel, the love of God revealed to us through Jesus Christ, must be made known. In a world moving further and further away from truth, the absolute truth of God must be made clear. In a world where darkness is becoming the norm, we – disciples of Jesus Christ – must be the light.