Church leader in talks with PM

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with faith leaders, including Pastor Michael Worker (fifth from right).

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was represented at a meeting of faith leaders with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday (August 5).

Pastor Michael Worker, general secretary for the Adventist Church in Australia, was among around 20 faith leaders, including representatives from Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu faiths, invited by Mr Morrison to discuss the government’s proposed religious discrimination bill.

The bill, an election pledge from Mr Morrison, is currently being drafted by the government and would make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of someone’s religion.

"Let's continue to pray for God’s leading as our government wrestles with how best to shape this bill."

Pastor Worker said the purpose of the meeting was for the Prime Minister to gauge the mood of faith communities towards the proposed bill.

“Our concern is that Australia is the only Western democracy without positive protections for the fundamental human right of religious freedom,” Pastor Worker said. “We believe in the right to freedom of speech, conscience and religion for all people, those of all faiths and even those of none.”

Pastor Worker said Mr Morrison was very generous with his time in listening to their various points of view.

“It was a very positive meeting,” he said. “And the Prime Minister indicated that there will be further consultation with all community groups.”

Last week Pastor Worker was invited to a private meeting with Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill where he shared Adventist perspectives on religious freedom.

“We spoke at length about the merits of positive protection of religion in harmony with ICCPR Article 18 and balancing provisions as opposed to framing the discussion in terms of exemptions to discriminate against others.

“Let’s continue to pray for God’s leading as our government wrestles with how best to shape this bill.”