The Australian Christian Lobby has called on a Tasmanian politician to withdraw "ill-advised remarks" he made about the group's opposition to proposed voluntary assisted dying laws.
Independent Mersey MLC Mike Gaffney participated in a question-and-answer session with the National Secular Lobby last week, wherein he discussed his bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying in the state.
It came after the ACL addressed the bill at its Tasmanian conference last month.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz and Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous were guest speakers at the event, held via an online video conferencing platform.
Both Senator Abetz and Archbishop Porteous spoke of their deep opposition to Mr Gaffney's bill.
The MLC told the National Secular Lobby that he disagreed with some of the language the ACL used to describe the proposed legislation, labelling it "emotive and inaccurate".
He went on to say that he believed all groups and individuals had a right to express their opinion on any issue but added that "no religious group should feel as though they should be able to influence policy-making in Australia".
ACL Tasmanian director Christopher Brohier bristled at the comments, issuing a statement urging Mr Gaffney to take back what he'd said.
"Mr Gaffney appears to exclude people of faith from the process of democracy, which is unconstitutional and undemocratic," Mr Brohier said.
"Tasmania is not a two-class society, divided between secularists who get to engage with politics and people of faith who don't.
"Mr Gaffney's comments view people of faith as second-class citizens, whose beliefs exclude them from democracy.
"All Australians have the constitutionally guaranteed right to speak into the public affairs of state on the basis of their beliefs."
When Mr Gaffney's bill is tabled in the state's upper house later this year, it will be the fourth time such laws have been debated in the Tasmanian Parliament.
There is a quiet confidence within the pro-voluntary assisted dying camp that this time they may get the outcome they're seeking.
Both Liberal and Labor politicians will be allowed a conscience vote on the issue and Labor has indicated that all of its parliamentarians support the bill in principle but will wait to read the legislation before they commit to voting in favour of it.
In addition to the Catholic Church, Tasmania's Anglican Church has also spoken out against the proposed laws.
Meanwhile, a new group has formed to fight against Mr Gaffney's bill, calling themselves Live and Die Well.
It's expected the bill will be introduced in the Legislative Council in late August.
Sign up to one of our newsletters: