Good evening Mr Ruddock,
In your capacity as chairman of the review of legal protections for religious freedom – now that that topic has become contentious since the passage of legislation on gay marriage – I would urge you NOT to be sucked in to more legislation in an attempt to enforce by statute natural law which has existed for thousands of years.
Lawyers and politicians seem to seek professional ‘rents’ from greater and greater intervention in the affairs of the people; indeed many politicians and governments measure their success by how many laws and regulations they have passed, paying scant regard to the fact that most represent a loss of personal freedom.
By contrast to statute law, natural law is a concept which was developed by Aristotle and then refined by the Roman philosopher Cicero. Natural law holds that certain rights stand above all others by virtue of human nature, as distinct from law imposed by the state. As the US Declaration of Independence proclaims, everyone is endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Declaration of Independence did not just appear in a flash in the 1760s. It is the product of a long and refined cultural heritage stemming from Judeo-Christianity; Martin Luther who stood up for his beliefs against the ruling elite (Catholic church and the network of prince-bishops); John Locke who highlighted the supremacy of the rights of the individual to life and liberty; Edmund Burke who stressed the importance of institutions, especially family, the church and local community – but not the state; Adam Smith who pointed out the benefits to a nation from open competition and limited interference from the state; and (after the Declaration of Independence) John Stuart Mill who called for individual freedom, free speech and equality of opportunity.
Significantly, these principles are the foundation of Liberal Party philosophy today, although you might doubt it when you observe how the current government is behaving.
These principles – these inalienable rights – are the moral standard to which every nation should strive. That is why I urge you to uphold them and make sure they are the centrepiece of your review. They must stand above attempts to (say) defund religious charities which don’t toe the line drawn by the Left, or defund schools whose teachings ‘offend’ the Left, or for governments of the Left to dictate what parents must and cannot teach their children.
Rather than seek to counter ambiguous legislation with more legislation and create even more uncertainty, this review is an opportunity for you to assert the primacy of natural law and to challenge the judiciary to uphold it.
Good evening Mr Ruddock,