Oaths and prayers

Oaths sworn in association with a chosen religious book have legal standing in Australia. Prayers to a particular deity are used to open parliaments and religious references are made on other ceremonial occasions. The veracity of such oaths and the solemnity of such occasions are not enhanced by such references.

The Secular Party believes that all citizens should be bound by the same undertaking, irrespective of their religion or non-religion, and that ceremonial references to religious beings are anachronistic, ethnocentric and divisive. It is our policy therefore that affirmations be taken, following which a religious oath may also be sworn upon request. On ceremonial occasions it is our policy that these entail pledges of loyalty to principles, and to the people of Australia.

Parliamentary prayers

Adapting a proposal by Dr Steven Tudor and Dr Gonzalo Villalta Puig of La Trobe University, it is the policy of the Secular Party that parliamentary prayers be replaced by the following oath, followed by a minute’s silence:

“All stand. We, the members of this House, humbly recognise the solemn responsibility placed upon us by the sovereign people of Australia to work together for the peace, order and good government of this Commonwealth, and we resolve to perform our duty with honour and integrity. I now ask all members to remain standing and, in silence, to reflect on our responsibilities to the people of Australia.”

Citizenship pledge

To ensure that new Australian citizens understand that their primary loyalty must be to Australia and its values, not their religion, it is the policy of the Secular Party that there be a uniform Citizenship Pledge, to be used at citizenship ceremonies, as follows:

“From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights, liberties and values I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.”

NB: Compared with the existing Pledge, the word “values” is inserted, and the optional words “under God” are deleted.

Food labelling for religious purposes

Any food labelling scheme should provide a public benefit. It is acknowledged by halal food certifiers that some of the money raised through halal certification schemes goes to religious institutions such as mosques and Islamic schools, and to Islamic communities. This is not a public benefit, as least to the general public. The the consumer has the right to make an informed choice about the purchase of goods that have been halal certified. It is the policy of the Secular Party that where halal or any religious certification has been paid for a product, then this should be disclosed on the product label.

A 2015 Senate inquiry into food labelling determined that there was an apparent degree of corrupt practices in relation to payments for halal certification. It is the policy of the Secular Party that all payments in relation to religious certification be limited to recovery of legitimate and necessary costs incurred in Australia.