The South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia are together hosting a special online prayer meeting this Friday evening, February 4.
The meeting has been called to pray for God’s guidance over the passage of the Religious Discrimination Bill, which was tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Scott Morrison late last year. The bill has most recently been the focus of inquiries by two separate parliamentary committees: the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Both committees are due to report back on February 4, with their reports expected to have a significant bearing on the passage of the bill.
The Religious Discrimination Bill has been the subject of ongoing public interest and debate since it was promised by Mr Morrison in the lead up to the 2019 federal election. The government has conducted extensive consultation through two public exposure draft processes—receiving about 13,000 written submissions—and roundtables involving more than 90 stakeholders from all key sectors, including representatives of the Adventist Church. The Church has also made submissions in response to the three drafts of the bill.
Church leaders say that the bill is vitally important to ensure Australians are protected from discrimination on the basis of religious belief or activity, just as they are protected against age, sex, race and disability discrimination. At present there is very little protection federally and there are inconsistencies at state level.
“Both major parties have made commitments to protecting people of faith, and even those of no faith at all, against religious discrimination and it would be wonderful to see bi-partisan support for the bill as it stands,” said Pastor Michael Worker, director of public affairs and religious liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia, in a statement issued by the Church. (See the full statement below, including details on how to register for the prayer meeting).