The Rationalist Society of Australia has formally invited Attorney-General Michaelia Cash to appear as a guest speaker in a webinar to talk about the impacts of the Religious Discrimination Bill on non-religious Australians.
Earlier this month, RSA president Meredith Doig sent a letter to Senator Cash inviting her to appear as a guest speaker for an webinar as part of the RSA Webinar series (see letter below).
Dr Doig noted the extensive media and speaking opportunities Senator Cash had given to religious groups, including a one-hour webinar with conservative Christian lobby group FamilyVoice just prior to Christmas.
“We note that you have claimed the Religious Discrimination Bill is supposed to treat religious belief and non-belief equally,” Dr Doig wrote.
“Yet there is much concern among non-religious Australians about how the bill will affect their daily lives. Given many of our members and supporters are not religious, we believe the webinar would be an ideal opportunity for you to talk directly to such people and address their concerns.
“It would be a pleasure to have you join the RSA and its followers for a webinar discussing the impact of your proposed legislation.”
The RSA has detailed how, throughout last year, the government ignored non-religious groups while providing privileged across to many Christian lobbyists during its consultations on te new draft of the bill.
The voices of non-religious Australians have been further ignored during the two parliamentary committee inquiries over the summer months, with the committees providing religious lobbyists and organisations with 41 appearance opportunities to speak at the hearings compared to none for atheist, humanist, rationalist and pro-secular groups.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman
Photo by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Flickr, CC)
Letter to Attorney-General Michaelia Cash, 17 January 2022
On behalf of the Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA), I am writing to you to invite you to be a guest speaker in our webinar series in early 2022.
Each month, the RSA holds a public webinar to discuss important topics of interest to our members and supporters.
We would like to invite you to speak on how the topic of how the Religious Discrimination Bill would affect non-religious Australians.
Each webinar goes for about 1 hour and is later uploaded to our YouTube channel. You can view past webinars here.
Typically, our guest speakers present for about 30 minutes on a topic and then answer questions from the audience.
We note that you have claimed the Religious Discrimination Bill is supposed to treat religious belief and non-belief equally.
Yet there is much concern among non-religious Australians about how the bill will affect their daily lives. Given many of our members and supporters are not religious, we believe the webinar would be an ideal opportunity for you to talk directly to such people and address their concerns.
We also note that you have recently appeared on religious media platforms and in other online events with Christian community organisations to talk about the bill. These activities included an interview on Vision Christian Radio on 24 November, an interview on FAITH FM on 29 November, and a webinar with Christian lobby group FamilyVoice on 15 December.
As we outlined in our submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, it seems your government has ignored the voices of non-religious people during your ‘consultation process’ in the past 12 months.
Despite you claiming to have consulted “far and wide” and “across the board”, the RSA and a number of other non-religious and pro-secular groups have confirmed that they have not been consulted on the revised bill.
The RSA has yet to receive a response from you to our request in early June for a meeting to discuss the bill.
Meanwhile, Christian lobby groups have publicly detailed their extensive access to you and to the Prime Minister during the re-drafting of the bill throughout 2021.
With at least a third of Australians positively identifying as not religious – and likely even more once the 2021 census results are released – it’s important your government listens to the voices of this significant and rapidly growing section of society in regards to the Religious Discrimination Bill.
It would be a pleasure to have you join the RSA and its followers for a webinar discussing the impact of your proposed legislation.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Meredith Doig
President, Rationalist Society of Australia