Author(s): Peter Kurti
It was a confident expectation for more than a century that religion — its beliefs, doctrines and institutions — would atrophy in the face of growing secularisation. But not only has traditional Christianity survived in liberal western societies; other faiths, most conspicuously Islam, have increasingly become a perceptible presence. This evolution gives rise to many questions about the place of religion in liberal democratic society. These questions include the increasing difficulty in giving public expression to moral positions informed by faith; the interaction of faith-inspired practices and the rule of law; and implications of the shift from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ multiculturalism, marked by a fear that — unless carefully managed — diversity would cause intolerance and prejudice to flourish. The essays in this book examine these matters in the context of such current debates as those about same-sex marriage, assisted suicide and wearing the burqa and niqab. Upholding the principle of individual freedom under the rule of law is the only acceptable basis for a healthy, descriptively multicultural society.
Foreword by The Hon John Howard OM AC
Kurti exposes a grand deception: the tolerance and diversity brigade cannot tolerate diversity of thought. — Nick Cater
In a time of ‘fake news’ and social media mobs, Kurti’s thoughtful deliberation about the meaning of tolerance and its tension with political liberty is indispensable. He critiques the origin of Australian multiculturalism and the corrosive cultural effect of codifying diversity in discrimination law. This book is a measured, scholarly treatment of a subject too often submerged in superficial polemic. It resurrects religious freedom and restores the principle to its rightful place in the heart of 21st century democracy. — Jennifer Oriel
The Reverend Peter Kurti is a Research Fellow co-ordinating the Religion and Civil Society program. The program examines the implications of a liberal approach to religion in civil society and investigates the capacity of that society to maintain freedom for expression of religious values. It does not discuss issues of discipline, dogma or organisation. Peter is an ordained minister in the Anglican Church and has worked in England and Australia. His experience includes ministry with inner-city and suburban congregations as well as in the university sector where he also taught. Before joining the CIS Peter had been Rector of Saint James’, King Street in Sydney for eight years. He trained for the ministry in England and the United States, and has degrees in law, theology, and philosophy. He is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.