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.