The separation of church and state
We stand for:
- Teaching universal secular values in education
- Phasing out government funding for religious schools
- Removing religious references from statutory oaths and pledges
- Abolishing parliamentary prayers
- Ending state support for religious institutions and personnel
- Removal of tax advantages for religious institutions
We stand against:
- Religious indoctrination of children
- Religious attire worn in schools
- Government support or endorsement of any religion
The “separation of church and state” is the essence of secularism. In view of Section 116 of Australia’s constitution (“The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance …”) it is commonly believed that Australia is already a “secular state”. This is a misconception. In 1981, the High Court determined that there is in fact no constitutional separation of church and state in Australia. Partly as a result, rather than being a secular state, Australia now more closely resembles a pluralistic theocracy, where numerous religions have been “established”.
Despite this, however, there is nothing in the constitution that necessitates the legislative establishment of multiple religions, or that prevents the creation of a truly secular state. This is what the Secular Party proposes to achieve.
The trend of recent decades towards the effective state endorsement of multiple religions, if not reversed, will have adverse consequences for the future harmony of Australian society. Despite claims of tolerance, the religious concept of being “elect” or “chosen” is inherently divisive. This leads to problems on a global scale. The Secular Party asserts the superiority of universal value systems independent of any religion.
The Secular Party believes that Australia should lead the way in establishing a society free of sectarian strife. We need a global ethic based on universal moral principles.
In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot. Thomas Jefferson