Susie Wang, Wilson Huang, Freya Chen, & Jingxin (Betty) Wang

Susie Wang, Wilson Huang, Freya Chen, & Jingxin (Betty) Wang

Interfaith Officers

Hello and a warm welcome to all students at the University of Sydney!

Faith and Religion at USyd

If you are a person of faith, there is the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre in the Storie Dixson Wing that has chaplains representing many different religious communities. These include Anglican, Antiochian Orthodox, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Christian Community Churches, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Islam, Jewish, Seventh Day Adventist and Uniting Church. You are welcome to drop into the centre or contact a chaplain to make an appointment. For Muslim students, there are also prayer rooms and Friday prayers. For more information, please visit: sydney.edu.au/students/faith-religion.html

There are also many different club and societies representing different faith groups on campus, and you are welcome to visit them at Welcome Week. They are listed on the USU’s website here: usu.edu.au/Clubs-Societies/Our-clubs-societies/Faith-Religion.aspx

If you are a queer person of faith or a faith background you are welcome to contact the Uniting Church chaplains at USyd if you need any guidance.

If you are interested in exploring faith, religion or culture in an academic context, you are welcome to enrol in units offered by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. These include subject areas such as Studies in Religion, Philosophy, Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew, Ancient Greek, Jewish Civilisation, Thought and Culture, Asian Studies, Celtic Studies, Indigenous Studies, European Studies and Arabic Language and Cultures.

Interfaith Advocacy 

Discussion around religious freedoms in Australia has primarily centred on a specific subset of conservative Christians. Proposed and current exemptions in discrimination law generally favour those who hold conservative views on reproductive rights, gender, marriage and sexuality. At the same time, these conservative Christians often ignore or even restrict the religious freedom of people in faith traditions that disagree with them.

For example, recent debates on abortion decriminalisation in NSW and marriage equality involved conservative religious groups who wished to force their own views on the rest of society. Religious groups are not obliged to marry same-sex couples, and the current NSW law allows conscientious objection of abortion by medical practitioners provided that they meet requirements designed to mitigate patient harm.

However, by arguing against abortion decriminalisation and same-sex marriage in civil society, conservative Christians in effect restricted the right of other people to perform same-sex marriages in their communities and the right of people to make their own decisions regarding reproductive health aligned with their moral conscience.

For some information about this in a United States context see:
southernequality.org/general-synod-of-the-united-church-of-christ-v-reisinger
interfaithalliance.org/cms/assets/uploads/2019/12/JMSvGee-Amicus-Religious-Orgs.pdf

In light of this, our religious freedom debate must involve everyone and not only groups who wish to push their own religious absolutism. Freedom of religion and belief is an important right in our society, but it must not be used to harm others. It must be non-discriminatory, non-coercive and pluralistic. Importantly, it cannot be absolute and must involve those who are of minority faiths or no faith.

Freedom of religion means queer and interfaith equality, an end to hate, access to healthcare, environmental protection, justice for Indigenous people, compassionate immigration policies and separation of church and state.

For information about interfaith advocacy in the United States see:
lawrightsreligion.law.columbia.edu/content/whosefaithmatters
interfaithalliance.org
hrc.org/explore/topic/religion-faith
rcrc.org

For information about past and present issues in Australia involving interfaith advocacy:
theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/22/protesters-defend-sacred-800-year-old-djap-wurrung-trees-as-police-deadline-looms
nswact.uca.org.au/social-justice/the-social-justice-forum/fair-treatment-campaign
equalityaustralia.org.au/freedom-from-discrimination
arrcc.org.au

Wilson

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