Separation of church and state


(Liam) #1

Considering Australia is becoming a more secular society, according at least to the last few census results;

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyReleaseDate/7E65A144540551D7CA258148000E2B85?OpenDocument

The religious makeup of Australia has changed gradually over the past 50 years. In 1966, Christianity (88 per cent) was the main religion. By 1991, this figure had fallen to 74 per cent

The results of the latest national Census today reveal we’re a religiously diverse nation, with Christianity remaining the most common religion (52 per cent of the population).

The growing percentage of Australia’s population reporting no religion has been a trend for decades, and is accelerating. Those reporting no religion increased noticeably from 19 per cent in 2006 to 30 per cent in 2016. The largest change was between 2011 (22 per cent) and 2016, when an additional 2.2 million people reported having no religion

Why does the parliament still say The Lord’s Prayer before each sitting of parliament? I believe we should advocate the removal of this (MP’s can still say whatever prayer to themselves before hand silently to whatever religion/God they follow), but not impose any such prayers on those who don’t follow any/another religion. I don’t believe one type of religion or prayer should be front and centre over any others.

There could also possibly be a change to section 116 of the constitution to reflect this.


(Ben McGinnes) #2

It doesn’t need a Constitutional change to make this reality, what it actually needs is that section being enforced. The Constitution states that there will be no state sanctioned or enforced religion and if Parliament were really living up to that then they wouldn’t be opening it with that prayer.


(Liam) #3

As far as I can interpret section 116

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

Its not law that The Lord’s Prayer is said but rather tradition. What I’m suggesting is that it is included into the constitution so that in the future no religious traditions/prayers are observed in parliament, so that it remains neutral ground, i.e. separation of church and state.


(Ben McGinnes) #4

Except that’s not why section 116 is in the Constitution at all.

The reason it’s there is because the majority of those old white men, many a drunkard in their midst, who gathered together to write the thing and establish this little Federation of colonies were Protestant. Most of the voting population, however, were Catholic. Mainly Irish Catholic, but a fair whack of Scots thrown in for good measure.

Those guys were well aware of what happens when the upper class outlaws the religion of the lower classes; it results in centuries of bloody civil war which are often euphemistically referred to as merely, The Troubles.

It’s not that they didn’t want their magical man in the sky blessing their reign, it’s just that they didn’t want to get shot. So they gave the Catholics an assurance that they could continue to be the “Marianistic pagans” of old without interference and the newly hatched country avoided being immersed in sectarian violence within a year.

They certainly weren’t interested in providing constitutionally guaranteed rights to anyone. Section 116 is the exception and not the rule. They did, of course, know about the American Bill of Rights and the British one, but decided against implementing anything like that. On purpose.

With maybe one or two exceptions, the so-called “Fathers of Federation” were complete jerks. They screwed the country then for their own benefit and they’re still managing to screw the country now … even though their benefit died with them last century.


(Liam) #5

I’m not arguing why section 116 is there but rather to alter that section (if relevant), or add another section which specifically states that no religious prayers or observance be held in parliament in future.

The other option is to change Standing Order 50 from ‘Prayer and acknowledgement of country’, to something along the lines of ‘a moment of silence and acknowledgement of country’. This would allow people of any faith to say their own prayer silently or to have a moment of reflection.


(Ben McGinnes) #6

Going to all the effort it takes to hold a referendum just for that is a complete waste of time as well as a wasted opportunity. If we had that kind of opportunity then an actual Bill of Rights would do the whole country far more of real value.

To squander such an opportunity on some parliamentary administrivia would be reason enough to discount the Party in perpetuity … and rightly so. We literally now live in a country where online surveillance is mandatory, we have no constitutional or legal protections and a government which wants to criminalise the few technical protections we might empty.

In the current political environment, picking the self-delusion of politicians as the point to fix before addressing their more harmful assault on the body politic and the deception of the populace with which they justified it … isn’t exactly the most strategically sound option.

Besides, we just got through the nightmare that was the same-sex marriage plebiscite … and you want to follow that monstrosity with an actual attack on religion?!

All right, yes, Lyle is a twisted little turd and stomping him politically from one end of the country to the other would be somewhat satisfying. That satisfaction would not last long, though, and the real problems would remain. Plus Lyle would just be replaced anyway.

This, however, is an excellent suggestion. Certainly a more tactical use of limited resources. It’s probably easier to achieve than securing a successful referendum result.


(twisty) #7

Separation of church and state

err… Separation of superstition and state.

somewhat …

Sadly.

Freedom, Democracy, Science.