Monday, August 01, 2005

Decisions, decisions.

Looks like VCAT have got something right for once. The ongoing waste of taxpayer funds that is Fletcher Vs the Salvos and others looks to be finished.

Basically, Robin Fletcher is in jail at the moment, and has been participating in a christian religious program run by the Salvation Army. So far, so good.

BUT...... Mr Fletcher classifies himself as a witch and a wiccan, and apparently a part of the Alpha course run by the Salvos is not very complimentary towards witches. Well, I didn't see that one coming, did you?

Mr Fletcher promptly complained to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal under our infamous Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and was taken seriously.

Thankfully, there was an uncommon outbreak of sense, and this complaint was dismissed.

What I really like are the comments by Justice Stuart Morris.

9 Even if the conduct of a person is prima facie in breach section 8 of the Act, any one of the exceptions in section 11 or 12 may apply to the conduct in question. For example, section 11 provides that a person does not contravene section 8 if the person establishes that the person’s conduct was engaged in reasonably and in good faith in the course of any statement or publication made for any genuine religious purpose or for any purpose that is in the public interest. It will not be easy to define what is meant by “a religious purpose” or to recognise a “genuine” religious purpose. As Sir John Latham famously observed in 1943 in the context of section 116 of the Commonwealth Constitution,

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to devise a definition of religion which would satisfy the adherents of all the many and various religions which exist, or have existed, in the world. There are those who regard religion as consisting principally in a system of beliefs or statement of doctrine. So viewed religion may be either true or false. Others are more inclined to regard religion as prescribing a code of conduct. So viewed a religion may be good or bad. There are others who pay greater attention to religion as involving some prescribed form of ritual or religious observance. Many religious conflicts have been concerned with matters of ritual and observance. Section 116 must be regarded as operating in relation to all these aspects of religion, irrespective of varying opinions in the community as to the truth of particular religious doctrines, as to the goodness of conduct prescribed by a particular religion, or as to the propriety of any particular religious observance. What is religion to one is superstition to another. Some religions are regarded as morally evil by adherents of other creeds. At all times there are many who agree with the reflective comment of the Roman poet - "Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum."18
Hence, in my opinion, a genuine religious purpose may include the purpose of asserting that a particular religion (or, indeed, no religion) is the true way; and that any way, but the true way, is false.

Please note that the bold emphasis is mine.

While on the whole this is a good decision, I'd prefer the abomination that is the Racial and Religious (In)Tolerance Act repealed.

Maybe I should go into politics. As they said in the advertising for the Alien movies, be afraid......

(it's a joke Joyce)


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