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Law prohibits full name use on prayer listscomment (0)

February 6, 2003

SYDNEY, Australia — Federal law now restricts Australian churches from using the full names of members on their prayer lists without specific permission from each person. The law, which went into effect Dec. 21, says churches cannot put the names of ill members of their congregations without their consent.

Deputy privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim told the Daily Telegraph said that the law encourages churches to check with each person before disseminating a prayer list.

Anglican Bishop Roger Herft said that the law restricts churches’ attempts to comfort the ill and encourage a “family” atmosphere. “It would seem to me that the Privacy Act, if it is not used sensibly, can contribute to the biggest disease of mankind and that is loneliness. People can feel completely left out of the loop if we are not careful” Herft told the Telegraph.

Australian privacy laws also restrict clergy from visiting patients in hospitals unless each patient signs a permission form before they are admitted.

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