Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Discrimination or commonsense?

After a long review process, last weekend the Victorian government announced that the current exemptions in place in Victorian equal opportunity legislation that allow religious organisations to not employ staff who share their beliefs will be retained. While the religious organisations themselves have welcomed this decision, other community groups have expressed their deep disappointment. For its part, The Age reported this news with the inflammatory headline, "Government bows to religious right."

Even religious leaders and opinion makers themselves are divided on this issue. Anglican Bishop John McIntyre found the decision "perplexing," while education consultant Kevin Donnelly disagrees with McIntyre. On the day
Donnelly's article was printed, The Age ran an online forum to discuss it further. This is what I had to say when I weighed in with my five cents:

For some of you it seems that this is an emotive issue. Have you thought of it this way? Do you think it's unfair to make accusations of bigotry against religious schools for only wanting to employ teachers who share their beliefs? These arguments aside, it seems to me that it's also a matter of commonsense. Let's imagine you're looking for work. If you don't support the ethos of an organisation, religious or otherwise, you're not going to be a good fit for it, and chances are they're probably not going to waste their time by employing you anyway.

Let me expand further on the above by stating that I speak from personal experience here. Many years ago, when I was looking for work, I applied for a job working for a political party. During the interview, since I didn't wholeheartedly support their ideology and wasn't prepared to join this particular party, it was clear to the interview panel and myself that despite having the skills they required, I was unsuitable for the position. If you don't support the ethos of an organisation, you're probably not going to be a happy, motivated, and productive employee. In no way was I being discriminated against, it was simply a matter of commonsense, and that's all there was to it.


feeno said...

Ross da Boss

This is a tough one for me Boss.
If I spend my money to send my kids to a Christian School, it would be nice to think that there teachers would all be Christian. But I wouldn't object to a teacher who wasn't as long as they followed the schools "guidelines". Now that might make some parents send their kids down the road to the next school? And cause a loss of revenue for that school.

My biggest problem with any Govt. would be telling me who to hire to begin with. I like the ruling but probably for different reasons.

I once heard a story about a Pastor who was witnessing to a stripper, he asked her why she stripped, she said the money. Long story short: his church needed a secretary, they hired her and several months later she accepted Christ? Who knows if this is true, but the idea behind it is pretty cool.

Did anything I say make sense? I'm tired and hungry and am waiting for Mon. night Football to come on. Packers v. Vikings. So I'm not thinking to clear?

Later Boss. feeno

JD Curtis said...

Here's an article from the US concerning the Salvation Army that touches on this subject.

Ross said...

I was talking with my brother the other day about some of his experiences in applying for jobs. Religious organisations aren't the only ones that reserve the right to employ staff that sympathise with their ethos, yet no one is accusing them of discrimination or being narrow minded and intolerant. He was politely told that because he was male and a Christian, this organisation probably wouldn't consider his application, even if he was qualified to do the job.

Ross said...

Thanks for visiting again, JD. What happens in the US is often a useful indicator of what may possibly happen in Australia.

Scottyboy said...

Ross, I'm just searching through your blog. I remember you telling me how you mentioned my situation, in response to someone who accused you of being bigoted.

Who did you write this to?