In this week’s update: Malcolm Turnbull extends the religious freedom review, more trouble for Sydney’s Santa Sabina College and the politics of gender takes over at Sydney University.
Please read on…
Religious freedom inquiry overwhelmed by public submissions
The Federal Government-appointed Religious Freedom Review committee was originally due to report on 31 March. However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has released a statement saying he has agreed to extend the reporting date to 18 May following a written request by the Ruddock-led panel.
“The response from individuals and organisations has been unprecedented – with more than 16,000 public submissions received,” Mr Turnbull wrote.
“In light of the volume of submissions, I have agreed to this extension to ensure that the Panel has adequate time to carefully consider the issues raised.
“While it was anticipated that the original deadline of 31 March would be met, the number of submissions has made this impossible.”
Philip Ruddock and Malcolm Turnbull (photo from the PM's website)
This is welcome news, and it demonstrates how strongly the Australian public feels about religious freedom.
Thank you again to our many supporters who contributed a personal or organisational submission to the inquiry. We will keep you posted with any further developments.
Further controversies for a Sydney Catholic girls’ school
As we shared with you last week, hundreds of parents at Santa Sabina College called for the resignation of Principal Maree Herrett after she publicly promoted gender fluidity.
Since then, it has been revealed that the school’s religious coordinator was promoting same-sex marriage and Islam to the students.
Several ex-students and parents told The Daily Telegraph they complained to Dr Herrett about the Islamic teachings in Helen Smith’s religion classes from 2015.
“She was obsessed with Islam,” one ex-student said. “She was a religion co-ordinator at a Catholic school but promoted Islam (and) gay-marriage.”
Ms Smith was allegedly promoted by Dr Herrett to Head of Mission and Identity last year, despite the complaints, but later left the college.
The school board has now hired a public relations firm to manage the crisis, as Dr Herrett last week called an assembly to declare that she was a victim of bullying.
According to columnist Miranda Devine’s article on the weekend, after that assembly six former Santa Sabina staff approached her separately to describe what they say was a “toxic” atmosphere of “bullying”, “spying”, “backstabbing” and low morale at the school.
They described volatile scenes of shouting, swearing and pens being thrown at staff, and some staff suffered anxiety and depression.
As Miranda writes, “For many parents at Santa Sabina, while they knew little of the staff turmoil, this public endorsement of gender theory was the last straw. It crystallised misgivings they had about the direction of the school, which they regard as attacking their Catholic faith, and the autonomy of their families.”
Miranda Devine, who broke the Santa Sabina saga in her column
There’s no debate: political correctness is king at Sydney University
Sydney Uni's debating club will no longer be represented by its best debaters.
This year, the university’s student union will field teams of debaters comprised mainly of “non-cis-males, wom*n, and persons marginalised by white supremacy”, as opposed to the best debaters they can find – all due to a new "affirmative action policy".
# Note: The term wom*n is apparently used to include females, trans women and anyone who identifies as a woman.
“At least four non-cis-male women-identifying people must be selected in the top three teams,” the guidelines say.
“There must be “one non-cis-male women-identifying person in each funded team.”
“At least one third of adjudicators must be “women-identifying”.
There are quotas for people from non-elite public schools too, who get in on the grounds that they are “disadvantaged in debating opportunities”.
The union, which boasts of being an equal world record holder when it comes to making the finals at the world debating championships, will also employ “equity officers” to attend the tournament to assist those who find debating “intensely competitive and stressful”.
So much for being chosen on merit and hard work!
There's no debating the fact that our once great institutions have been taken over by activists and social justice warriors. Where will this all end?
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