2019 Julian Leeser Lecture

Event Details

Later in 2019 the Australian Parliament will consider a proposed Religious Freedom law.

As a contribution to the discussion Australia needs to have, the St Thomas More Society has invited Julian Leeser MP for Berowra to speak on Freedom for Faith, the details of which are set out below:

Time: 6.00 pm
Date: Thursday, 22 August 2019
Venue: The Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

There was a time when Freedom for Faith could depend on the common sense and tolerance of all Australians. This is no longer the case. Freedom for Faith is a dialogue we must have.

Not Merely at Church
Practising one’s faith is not only something one does at church or in the synagogue or in the mosque. The love of God is expressed at home, at work, at play, at school, at university – or simply sitting on the train. It is for this reason that Pope St John Paul II referred to the right to practise one’s faith as the first of all human rights. Religious freedom involves far more than freedom of worship.

Julian Leeser has been the member for Berowra since 2016. Julian, in the 2019 Parliament, will chair the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, and the House Committee on Indigenous Affairs. Julian Leeser remains a member of the Joint Statutory Committee on Intelligence and Security. Julian, prior to his election, was a senior executive with the Australian Catholic University. He is the first person of Jewish faith, a member of the Liberal Party, to be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament from New South Wales.

Religious Freedom
We are called to love God with all our heart and mind and soul, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as our self. We cannot readily do so unless the right to religious freedom is respected.

Soft Persecution
In Australia, it is becoming increasingly difficult for persons of faith to openly practise their faith, and be present in major institutions of society – government, corporate Australia, the media, schools, and universities. Not every issue as to Religious Freedom will be addressed by proposed Religious Discrimination legislation. Indeed, legislation to protect religious freedom may not be entirely the way to go. What is required is a culture respectful of human dignity, respectful of faith, and the practice of faith. If there is a culture of respect, detailed legislative provisions may be unnecessary. But if religious institutions have difficulty maintaining their ethos because of law, and if families with a religious ethos have difficulty, because of the imposition of ideologies, educating their children, then there is a challenge to freedom for faith.

This challenge to freedom for faith in different ways affects Christians, Jews, Muslims.

Blessing to Others
For people of faith, in Julian Leeser’s words, in his inaugural speech:

…our story is part of a much larger story…we should, in (Rabbi) Jonathon Sachs’ words, ‘be true to our faith while being a blessing to others regardless of their faith’…

That is what the right to religious freedom is about.

Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council in the Declaration on Religious Freedom: Dignitatis Humanae (1965) said:

A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man, and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty. The demand is likewise made that constitutional limits should be set to the powers of government, in order that there may be no encroachment on the rightful freedom of the person and of associations.

Religious freedom is about human dignity, the dignity of all, and human dignity is what this dialogue Freedom for Faith dialogue is about.

Limited Places
As places are limited, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, please RVSP as soon as possible.

Dress Code
Please note the dress code at the Union, University and Schools Club requires a coat and tie for males, and comparable formality of dress for females.