AACS Statement on SSM Debate
The following paragraphs might be useful in school newsletters should school leadership choose to do so. It can be adjusted to suit the school’s purposes.
There are a variety of views about the upcoming SSM postal plebiscite and AACS does not make any presumptions as to what position a school might want to take. Many will leave the matter for parents to decide themselves, rather than recommending a particular choice.
What AACS does seek to do, however, is to emphasise the need for a gracious and courteous argument, which allows for different viewpoints and respectful vigorous debate. There is no place for hate speech or condemnation.
Not only should our tone and attitude reflect our faith but we can also have the freedom to express our beliefs about marriage. There are a variety of views, including within Christian circles. For most within our Christian schools, our ‘scripturally-guided’ understanding is that God’s intention for marriage is the loving, committed union between a woman and a man.
We will argue strongly that Christian schools should have the freedom to teach and uphold their understanding of a biblically informed view of marriage without being seen as unfairly discriminating or judging others. Therefore, any change to laws about marriage should provide protection for religious organisations so that they can conduct themselves in accordance with their beliefs.
Our concern as the group advocating of behalf of Christian schools in the public sphere, centres on what protections there will be for Christian schools to teach or uphold a traditional view of marriage if the Marriage Act is changed. At the present time it remains unclear what the implications of such a change might be for faith-based schools. Will schools be allowed to teach a traditional view of marriage without falling foul of future ‘discrimination’ claims? Will the protections that emerge cover Christian School staff modelling an approach to marriage that is consistent with the beliefs of the school? In our view, neither the exposure draft that the Government brought out late last year (followed by a Senate Inquiry) nor Dean Smith’s Private Member’s Bill deals adequately with the contested religious freedom issues.
Should the Marriage Act change, we are asking for a clearly understood level of protection which ensures that faith based organisations, teaching and upholding a traditional view of marriage will not be subject to ‘hate speech’ laws or to accusations of discrimination that might be taken up by human rights tribunals.
These are the important questions that AACS is pursuing with the government and with the opposition on your behalf.
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