australian culture and customs

find out how australians do things, how we see the world and the world sees us

Is Australia a secular society or not?

Today The Hoopla blog posted an article commenting on the reaction of people to our first Muslim member of parliament using the Koran to swear his commitment to (his) god, the Australian people and ‘our’ English queen (that’s another story…).  Australia is said to be a secular society meaning that religion does not dictate law and all citizens have the right to practise their religion – or not practise a religion.  The separation of church and state is a key foundation of our society and constitution.  Recently it was pointed out to me that the concept of secularism was actually begun by Christians wanting to ensure that their voice could be heard and their rights maintained.

The dominant religion in Australia is Christianity (including Catholicism) but many Australians do not practise any religion and a growing number are declaring themselves agnostic or atheist.  Over the years I have taught comparative religion and ethics to my students and have always been taken aback at the incredulity of some of my students that in this happy and prosperous country so many people do not worship a god, “but you’re so nice, Miss, you must be a Christian”. It has been reported that in the United States no person could stand for high office if they declared themselves an atheist.  In Australia, our now former prime minister, Julia Gillard did just that and many people breathed a sigh of relief.  Of course, many also condemned her for it.

Anyway, take a look at The Hoopla article and see what you think. Comments are encouraged!


One comment on “Is Australia a secular society or not?

  1. Anonymous
    February 5, 2018

    How far can freedom of religion go in a country where Christians have been the majority since European settlement, whilst 30 percent of the population has no religious belief?

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This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.

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