with respect to the above comments , I do not think that the issues of religious tolerance , religious institutions charitable works , tolerance of diversity are black and white issues , but are actually rather complex and depend on a variety of factors and individual circumstances ; and I will try and illustrate the potential conundrums below .
These comments should be seen as a broad view , and there doubtless are other related issues which I am unaware of , or that I have not covered here.
1 / Mainstream Christian Churches such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican , Non Conformist ( Baptist, Congregational , Methodist , Wesleyan , Uniting ) and some of the Evangelical Churches encourage their congregations to participate in , or support charitable works which are non discriminatory in their application . They also generally allow non members to visit their churches and / or invite non members to attend their services. On this basis I do not have a problem with their charitable status , subject to my previous comments about the governance of their status. In my view these organisations are generally fulfilling both roles satisfactorily . ( The issue of criminal behaviour of some of their members notwithstanding, and such behaviour should be subject to the laws that apply to us all. )
2 / There are some Christian organisations who restrict both access to their churches, and the distribution of their charitable activities to their members only. I also do not have a problem with this either, subject to the condition that as they are no longer a charitable organisation of general application , they are therefore not entitled to charitable status, and are also not entitled to tax relief or subsidies of any kind.
3 / Religious schools potentially also fall into a number of categories.
( A ) There are some religious schools which are run separately from , but are subject to complying with the "owning" Church.
( B ) there are some religious schools which are a stand alone entity, and are no longer subject to the former "owning" or "sponsoring" Church. ( This generally applies to the most expensive Independent schools such as MLC etc.. )
Both ( A ) & ( B ) "Church" schools are required to take in non Church member students as a condition of their Government funding.
( C ) There are some Church schools which only take Church member students and are not open to non member Church students
( the Plymouth Brethren being a case in point ) , and these schools also receive Government funding.
While I personally think that only Government schools should get Government funding , and all Independent and Church schools should be entirely self funded , the political reality is that Commonwealth Government funding of non Government schools has existed since since 1964 ( 54 years ) , so that is highly unlikely to change any time soon.
On that basis , I think that Commonwealth Government funding of Church and Independent Schools ( A & B ) which have a non discriminatory policy to school enrolments is ok , but I do not think it is ok for the Commonwealth Government to fund any non Government school ( C ) which has a discriminatory student enrolment policy , as this is contrary to the spirit , if not the letter , of a non discrimination policy.
4 / The other problem that needs to be considered is that in the last 30 years or so, State Governments have deliberately not built Government schools in some residential areas , relying entirely on Church based or Independent schools to meet the local educational demand . In these instances, many parents have no choice as to where to send their children, as no Government school is available to enrol their children in. In the main, these areas are generally serviced by Catholic schools that are open to all students.
( You could run the argument that this deliberate policy of non provision of Government schools is de facto support for religious schools , and therefore contrary to the Australian Constitution , however, I am under the impression that the High Court has ruled that State Governments are exempt from that Section of the Constitution. )
5 / And now we come to the issues of diversity and inclusion . Not everyone is comfortable with diversity and inclusion , and this may not have an obvious religious bias , but could just be that some forms of diversity and inclusion are threatening to some people. This is a very difficult issue to both discuss, and can easily degenerate into accusations of prejudice and discrimination , where in some cases it can be a form of fear , and not of discrimination.
For example, State Schools have to take all comers ( something Independent Schools have ways of avoiding , such as a "waiting list" ), so , as part of inclusion, State Schools take in students who have some form of disability. Take the case of the disability student that becomes temporarily violent towards another student/s. Those on the receiving end can become quite frightened of going back to school as a result . (This does happen.) So what choices are open to the parents of a child too frightened of a disabled student to go back to that school ? Especially if there are no alternate school nearby ? This is a problem that parents of State Schools have no control over , but which Independent Schools can control due to the "waiting list".
6 / Now what about single gender schools ? Are single gender schools inherently discriminatory ? Are they less diverse ? Does this mean that only co educational schools are non discriminatory ? What about those students who thrive in a single gender school, yet fail in a co educational school ? ( An issue faced by a work colleague , whose wife and he realised that one of their sons might do better at an all boys school, which, it later transpired, was correct in this particular case. ) What do we do about transgender or fluid gender students ? ( I will ignore the point that chromosonally you are either female or male, with female being the default gender in humans. )
7 / My above comments probably also have application to non Christian institutions as well, but I have very little personal knowledge of those.
For your consideration,