There has been an amount of talk in Australia this week regarding the right of religious schools and hospitals to discriminate candidates on ideological grounds; something Gillard has hinted that she will do little to stop.
I suspect that I am different from most non-religious in that I believe such institutions ought to be allowed to do so. However, before you rush to the comment section to drill me into the ground, please hear me out.
Firstly, you would never expect an openly hardcore conservative to be employed into a liberal political party. This is just as much on ideological grounds. “But,” I hear returned to me, “this is different; the political ideology is core to the business plan. It is essential to the party to employ people whom align with these principles.”
True, but are religious schools or hospitals really that different? Do not students of religious schools endure religious studies as part of their schooling? Do not medical hospitals make all kinds of hat tips to their religious figures and often hold ethical standings for or against some medical procedures, such as circumcision and abortion?
I would argue that IF they truly are religious schools or hospitals their ideologies very much are part of their core business plan, which would be the only reason as to why they would discriminate anyway.
That said, they are therefore not really providing a public service.
Instead they are pushing ideologies under a guise of such humane activities, only to let down their students and patients when they need them most. If children leave a religious school with any interpretation of the universe other than that a god is not essential (whether or not one indeed exists, of which no solid evidence exists) and an understanding that they and their community are thus responsible for their moral development, the school has failed. If a rape victim is denied an abortion, then the hospital has failed.
If such failures are part of the business model, we can rightly assess that they are not enterprises of public service and are not eligible for government funding or accreditation for their activities.
Let them carry on by all means, but by removing every unearned mark of respect, such establishments will erode. They only have so much infiltration because everyone of us – devout or otherwise – hand it to them on a gold plated tray with the post-it label “virtuous.”
That they fail in key aspects of education and health care demonstrates that they are anything but virtuous.
On the other hand, if they choose not to fail, then they become secular by sheer need and would not discriminate on ideological grounds.
If they do not teach on a set world view (there indeed is nothing wrong with religious studies if done without indoctrination – covering it from a psychological, artistic, historic perspective for instance), but let the young minds learn and develop unfettered by a favoured ideology, then why would they discriminate against a gay or atheist / other religion teacher? If they held their views on abortion to themselves and saved a woman’s life otherwise threatened by the embryo or assisted a rape victim and provided her with mental health support (focused on up to date psychology, not religious practices), then why would they care about anything but the qualifications of the doctor currently applying for a role?
The discussions as they stand demonstrate appalling politically correct weakness. It is attempting to bash a round peg into a square hole and will lead to so many stupid legal ramifications and hurt feelings by unsuccessful candidates. Plus it would be damn hard to build up a strong case – who is to know what really went on in the minds of the review panel?
However, what I suggest above is far more black and white; either such establishments provide the public service they suggest they are, or they are not. That ought to stand as basis as to whether or not they are deserving of the standing, funding and accreditation they hold. That’s it. No changes to laws. No-one rushing to court if they fail to score the position. Simple.
On such a basis, the hiring process can get on getting on without this rabbit hole currently consuming discussions and threatening to waste hours of court time.