As students return from their summer break to Christian schools around the nation, the movement’s leaders are working hard to ensure schools remain free to be true to Biblical truth.

The Attorney General Christian Porter has called for further submissions to the religious freedom bill he is crafting.

Christian Schools Australia’s submission is featured in a news story in today’s The Australian.

A consequence of the changes to the marriage law two years ago has been the uncertainty for Christian and Muslim schools to be free to uphold what parent communities believe about marriage and gender within their school communities.

CSA, on behalf of the parents of 60,000 students nationwide, is arguing that further changes are necessary to protect parents’ freedoms to send their children to schools which offer Christian education.

The CSA submission argues that a proposed Religious Freedom Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission is unnecessary and potentially a vulnerability to freedom.

There could be no guarantee that such a powerful commissioner would be someone of Christian faith who understood the unique Bible-based perspective Christian schools seek to uphold on behalf of their parents.

CSA has also called for the Charity Act to be amended so that there is no doubt that promoting the time-honoured Biblical view of marriage is a “public benefit”.

Sadly, it has become necessary to put something as basic as this beyond doubt to avoid the potential for vexatious anti-discrimination lawsuits in the future.

At the core of Christian teaching is the idea that God’s vision for marriage leads to human flourishing for those who marry. But this vision is contested by some who seek to use the new definition of marriage to restrict the promotion of the Biblical view.

Schools’ freedom of speech is also vulnerable to state-based anti “vilification” laws. Again, sadly, some activists see the promotion of Biblical marriage as “vilification” because it does not recognise that marriage can be redefined.

While Christian schools are always respectful and tolerant of others’ points of view, they seek to be free to be true to Christian teaching without the threat of legal action.

They are seeking to retain freedom of speech and parents’ rights to associate around shared Christian values, both of which are under a cloud since the Marriage Act changed.

So-called “gay conversion” therapy laws which are before the Victorian and Queensland Parliaments also seek to solve problems that largely do not exist.

No one supports electric shock treatment, coercion or harming same-sex attracted people and if that needs to be banned, no one in their right mind would quibble.

But the laws overreach to make it an offence to “supress” someone’s “gender identity”.

This goes to a relatively new debate arising from an epidemic of children presenting at gender clinics confused during their emerging adolescence.

The “gay conversion” laws make it a crime to “suppress” someone’s gender identity. Suppress can mean gently discouraging a young and still developing child to head down the path of changing their sex through experimental puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones leading to irreversible surgery.

Under the Queensland bill, jail is proposed for doctors or counsellors who do anything other than “affirm” a child in their wish to change their gender.

CSA’s submission to Mr Porter calls for his Religious Discrimination Bill to provide protections against such extreme state-based laws.

These are challenging times for Christians but it is heartening that the Morrison government is taking its time to ensure freedoms once taken for granted can continue to thrive in Australia.

The freedom legislation is due to be finalised in the next months.