The St Vincent de Paul Society has asked not to be “used” to promote the Morrison Government’s religious discrimination bill, saying it does not require its employees and volunteers to be Catholic. Source: The Guardian.
While unveiling a suite of changes to the government’s religious discrimination bill on Tuesday, Attorney-General Christian Porter cited Vinnies – a lay Catholic organisation which runs charity op-shops – as an example of an institution that would benefit from extending exemptions to allow religious organisations to preserve their “religious ethos”.
The new bill provoked a mixed reaction – it was praised by conservative religious groups, cautiously welcomed by employer groups which want further changes, and denounced by human rights, LGBTI groups and the Greens, which all warned it increases religious bodies’ powers to discriminate.
The Sydney Anglican Church – which was one of the fiercest critics of the original bill among conservative churches – welcomed the bill, with Archbishop Glenn Davies crediting the government for “[taking] seriously the deeply-held views of people of faith”.
“In particular, I am encouraged by a number of changes in the second exposure draft,” Archbishop Davies said. “The respect given to faith charities is an important model for the future harmony of Australian society.”
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference also welcomed the second draft bill.
But Claire Victory, the national president of the St Vincent de Paul Society, said that it “does not require employees and volunteers working in the society’s commercial activities to be Catholic”.
It had “never required this of people working in our shops” nor at its secretariat, she said.
“Certain roles within our conferences and councils which have particular responsibility for overseeing our mission and Catholic ethos are usually filled by Catholics but may also be filled by people who share basic Catholic beliefs.”
Don't use Vinnies in the religious freedom debate (St Vincent de Paul Society National Council)
Religious freedom laws: St Vincent de Paul unhappy with being case study (Daily Telegraph)