PM ScoMo fights for religious freedom despite the opposition

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter have released the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review and the government’s response. Although the Ruddock panel said that Australia does not need a religious freedom commissioner, the Prime Minister  has announced his intention to do so. The response also addresses issues like, when can a parent take their children out of studies that conflict with their religious beliefs, treatment of LGBTIQ students in religious schools, framing of a religious discrimination law etc.

The most controversial aspect of the Ruddock review is whether religious schools can discriminate against students, teachers and staff based on their sexual orientation. Most religious groups including Hindu Council, Jewish religious organizations, Islamic organizations and most Christian denominations oppose such restrictions on religious schools.

While the Prime Minister has openly come in support of religious groups, some in the opposition are not so sure and see it as an LGBTIQ rights issue.

We believe that the Prime Minster has struck the right balance between religious freedom and anti-discrimination and that religious schools should not be forced to preach any thing that goes against their teachings. They should not be forced to provide their school and other resources for propagating ideas that are not compatible with their teachings.

You can read about Ruddock review here.

You can read about Hindu Council response to the review here.

You can read more details about the review and comments here.

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Religious freedom collides with anti-discrimination laws in Australia

By: Surinder Jain.

Religious freedom is fundamental to Australian identity said the Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison. And Australians voted in favor of anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of LGBT only recently. One would think that both are laudable achievements for Australia, but the future of religious freedom does not look so rosy.

A clash between Religious Freedom and Human Rights is brewing up.

Religious freedom right to propagate one’s belief permits Christians, Jews, Muslims and all other religions to run their own schools. Does this freedom means that these schools can admit gay students and have gay teachers imparting religious teachings to children when many believe admitting gay in their schools is against their faith.

This debate is heating up in Australia.

Religious freedom rights for an individual come in various parts. Right to belief is a right to believe in a certain religion and some/all the tenants that come with it. Right to practice a religion is a right to practice your religious rituals and actions coming from the belief. It also includes a right to propagate your beliefs either to your own constituency or to other non-believers.

Human rights on the other hand are also a set of rights for an individual and includes Right to Live, a Right to Freedom, a Right to Express and a number of other rights like anti-discrimination and so on.

Australia and most secular and theocratic countries permit Right to Belief. Australia also permits Right to Practice and a Right to Propagate religion without any state interference. Some theocratic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia place restrictions on Right to Practice in public and thus not allowing any temple or church unless it has been sanctioned by the government. Many countries in the middle east ban propagation of any religion other than the state sanctioned one.

Communist countries like China place restrictions on all religions. They frown upon all religious beliefs and control them by total control over appointment of clergy and allow only state permitted rituals to be practiced. Communist ideology and whims of the party are given far higher priority than either religious freedom or human rights.

A clash between the rights of one individual to protect their faith and institutions and the right of other individuals to a fair go requires a balancing act. While the Liberal party PM has vowed to protect religious freedom as integral to Australian identity, the opposition Labor party is considering an “appropriate” balance between the two.

When Right to Life clashes with Right to Practice, the human Right to live wins hands down. Thus I can not take away life or liberty of an individual even if I believe that my religious belief requires me to do so. My Right to Propagate my religion by imposing it on others will be OK in ISIS ruled countries but will be rejected in most other countries including Australia.

In a progressive country like Australia, Right to Propagate once religion has been well balanced with the Right to Practice one’s religion. Thus each religion is prohibited from imposing its belief on another religion. If I believe in a religion that does not have a personal God then I can not ask another religion to permit me to enforce my belief as part of their propagation. Thus if a religion does not believe in God, then s/he has no right to join a christian church/school and expect to teach his/her belief to the christian congregation or to students in a christian school. Religious practitioners can not invoke courts of law to enforce their Right to Propagate through the propagation machinery (churches, schools, congregations, Sunday mass, sermons, communications etc.) of other religions except in their own.

This is tampered both ways. No religion can frown upon the beliefs and practices of others as long as they are valid in law. No religion should propagate a belief that belittles the belief of another religion.

We can find the appropriate balance between right to propagation and anti-discrimination using the above well accepted principal. Thus all religions will respect the rights of LGBT and will not frown upon their practices in their religious propagation. At the same time, LGBT do not have an automatic right to use another religions propagation machinery to propagate their beliefs. Thus LGBT should not expect that they will be able to teach their belief in a religious school as much as a Hindu does not expect to have an automatic right give a Hindu sermon in a Christian church.

Number of Religious schools and number of students studying in religious schools is such a minority that it does not restrict the right of LGBT children to study or LGBT teachers to employment. These children have a very wide choice as to which school they go to study.  Teachers of LGBT persuasion are not constrained in applying for jobs to most schools and have a meaningful employment. And off course, there is nothing stopping people passionate about their gender beliefs to start their own special LGBT friendly schools.

Each new religion in Australia has to do the hard effort to establish their own schools, churches, temples and congregations. A newly arrived religion like Hinduism does not expect Christians or Jews to be forced to give up their resources like church or school for the propagation of Hinduism. Similarly, LGBT have to do their own hard yakka in establishing their own schools etc and not expect to get an easy ride on the resources of other religions in the name of anti-discrimination. And the Religions should not frown upon LGBT efforts to establish their own special LGBT friendly schools either.

By : Surinder Jain

 

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Survey of school going children’s parents on SRE

Hindu Council of Australia is conducting an SRE survey of parents who have school going children and live in NSW.

Name of the school where your children are studying?


Suburb of the school where your children are studying?


Year in which your children are studying?

Does the school offer Hinduism SRE classes?

YesNoNot Sure

Does your child attend the SRE class?

YesNoNot Sure

If your child does not attend SRE, why?

I dont want my child to attend any SREI want my child to attend but school said NoI dont know that SRE is being taughtThe school never told me about SREMy child does not like SRE classesAlternative to SRE is more attractiveOther

Would you like to be informed when Hinduism SRE is offered at your school?

YesNo

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Australia’s first Hare Krishna schoolies: No sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling or meat

 
Australia’s first all-Hare Krishna Year 12 class is shunning traditional Schoolies Week celebrations in favour of a trip to India, while vowing to forgo sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling and meat.

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Giving Tuesday promoting vegetarian diet in New York schools

By : Kelley Wind, Giving Tuesday.
 

I didn’t think it could happen. I didn’t believe that a New York City public school would adopt a vegetarian menu… and then become one of the highest rated schools in the state. But I was wrong. 

 
When the school leadership and staff is fully on board, and there is a great partnership in place, the extraordinary happens. At PS 244, The Active Learning Elementary School in Flushing, Queens, health and wellness are woven into all aspects of the curriculum. And the students are thriving. Test scores are far above the state average, with PS244 in the top 11 schools in the state. Students are absent less, and teachers report they are more attentive after lunch. 
 
Our friend and partner, Principal Bob Groff, reached out and welcomed us into his school. And by working together with the NYC Office of SchoolFood, the menu went from vegetarian two days a week, to three days, and after we asked if they would consider a vegetarian menu, finally by 2013, five full days.
 
We provide cafeteria staff training and support. We get as many of the recipes to be fully plant-based as we can. At Family Dinner Nights, we offer children, their parents/caregivers, and school staff a free fully plant-based meal featuring recipes from the lunch menu, and a nutrition education presentation for the adults. And during our after school classes, students make their own healthy plant based recipes.
 
With your support this GivingTuesday, we can make the unbelievable happen in more schools across the country. I don’t doubt it anymore.

 
Here are three ways you can help TODAY:
 
1. Donate by clicking here.
 
2. Sign up for the RoundUp app, a way to donate your spare change. You link your credit and/or debit cards, and each purchase is rounded up to the  next dollar. You can put a monthly limit on your giving. If we get 24 people to sign up on Tuesday, we’ll get $1000 from RoundUp.

 3. Whether you can give or not, please share this email with your friends, family, and co-workers. Ask them to donate to support healthy food and nutrition education in schools, or to sign up for the RoundUp app.  
 
Thank you for your interest in healthy school food. Together, we can make a difference! 

 
Sincerely yours,
 
Kelley Wind
Program Director

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SRE Teacher Training 2019 starting in a big way

By : Madya Lila.

It’s great to see Hindu Council of Australia has finally been added to the Department of Education’s web page https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-across-the-curriculum/religion-and-ethics/approved-sre-providers#letterH as a provider of Hinduism teachers to state schools for teaching Hinduism.

We held a very successful training day on Saturday and 15 new volunteer teachers are now trained and ready to go into schools to teach SRE next year.  

 

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Hindu Council connects with UWS students for Diwali

Hindu Council of Australia has made contact with University of Western Sydney (UWS) students and had a low key Diwali sweets distribution with them on 8th November 2018. UWS is one of the premier Universities of Sydney and has over 6,000 Indian students many of them from India, studying in it.

Soup

The University holds a light soup and bread session for its Parramatta campus students every Thursday evening at 6pm which provides free food and a place to mingle for all its students. The food distribution is managed by Parramatta Mission and is attended by about 30-40 students every week.

Hindu Council put up some posters about Diwali and supplied Kheer and Diwali sweets. The Mission agreed to our request to have vegetarian only soup and bread for the day. About 50 Australian, Asian and Indian students visited the soup kitchen. There was a visible smile on the faces of Indian students familiar with Diwali and their happiness could be seen beaming from their faces.

Kheer for Students on Diwali Soup Day

One of the students from Gujarat who has been in UWS for two years came up to me and asked if she can touch my feet as she needs blessings of an elder on this new year day. She touched my feet and her act touched my heart.

Students project of Hindu Council aims at connecting University going students with the existing Hindu Community here and to provide emotional support to overseas and away from home students. Bhupinder Chabra and Reshma Krishnappa are helping with this initiative.

Hindu Council Volunteers at UWS kitchen for Diwali

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Survey of University Students

Hindu Council of Australia is conducting a survey of University going students to understand their issues and see how the local community can help them. Take a Survey here.

1. What course are you studying?

MastersBachelorsDiplomaOthers

2. Name of the Institution where you are studying?

UWSUTSUSydUNSWTAFEMQUOthers

3. How was your experience in finding an accommodation in Sydney?

4. To what extent do you agree that you faced cultural shock?

5. How pleasant was your experience with the Australian education system?

6. Was it easy to find part time or casual work?

7. Are you an Overseas student? YesNo

8. What help can make your stay happier?



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An auspicious beginning of first SRE Hinduism class by Hindu Council

By : Madya Lila.

On the auspicious occasion of Dusshera, Hindu Council of Australia began its first Hindu Special Religious Education (SRE) program at Sydney Girls High School. Genedine Sionillo, a volunteer teacher from the Australian School of Meditation & Yoga led the class which was very well received by all the students. They especially enjoyed Genedine’s introduction to Bhagavad Gita. The SRE classes at Sydney Girls High School will continue each Friday for the remainder of the school term.

What is SRE?

Special religious education (SRE) is the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion delivered by authorised representatives of that persuasion. It is the distinctive religious tenets and beliefs of the home and family, provided by the churches and other religious groups for children of parents expressing the desire that they receive such teaching.

The NSW Government, through legislation and related policy, recognises the diversity of Australian society and supports parental choice in educating children about their faith. The delivery of Special Religious Education (SRE) is managed by religious persuasions, which are approved as SRE providers by the Department of Education.

SRE is mandated by the Education Act (1990) and gives parents the choice to have children formed in the faith of their family. Section 32 of the Education Act says that ‘In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion.’

The provision of SRE is not funded by government.

The Hindu Council of Australia is registered as an authorised provider of SRE with the NSW Department of Education.

In 2019, HCA will provide Hindu SRE classes in a further six high schools in the Sydney area and will continue to expand the program over the coming years.

If you would like to volunteer to teach Hindu SRE classes, or if you would like to sponsor the cost of teaching materials please contact us at sre@hinducouncil.com.au   

 

By Veena.svg: Sreejithk2000derivative work: Gringer (talk) – Veena.svg, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11886656

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HCA to Teach Hinduism in NSW Schools

Hindu Council of Australia has been approved by the Minister of Education to teach Hinduism as an SRE (Special Reigious Education) in NSW state schools. The education is provided on a voluntary basis i.e. the department does not pay any thing and Hindu Council has to provide volunteer teachers, their training and teaching material. 

You can find more information about it at Hindu Council web site’s SRE page.

If you would like to help you can contact us here.

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