The number of non-religious Australians has accelerated over recent years. In the 2016 Census, 30 percent, a third of the population, reported having no religion at all that’s 2.2 million more Australians ticking the no religion box than in 2011. No doubt the results of this year’s Census will also record a further increase of nonreligionists. And yet religion is front and centre of political life in Australia. Most of the nation’s parliaments — federal, state and territory — open with a reciting of the Lord’s Prayer.
Then there’s our Pentecostal prime minister, whose open devotion to a supernatural wizard in the sky has long been a source of unease. Ever since Scott Morrison was pictured hand aloft at an evangelical church service, questions have rightly been raised as to whether his religious affiliation inﬂuences his political thinking — an affiliation with a movement that believes God is everpresent and intervenes in everyday events (although — much like Morrison the Almighty was awol during the Black Summer bushﬁres).
Our happy-clappy PM — who believes he has been “called to do God’s work” — did just that by personally introducing the religious freedom bill to federal parliament. If it becomes law, the legislation threatens to override existing protections for minority groups, such as trans students and gay teachers. By allowing faith-based schools and other institutions to positively discriminate, the bill — zealously supported by Morrison — is a mandate to hate.
And what of NSW premier Dominic Perrottet? Perrottet has links to a fringe wing of the Catholic Church — the ultra-secretive, ultraconservative Opus Dei. But no worry. Perrottet and his defenders insist he “doesn’t wear his religion on his sleeve, and certainly not politically”. Which is about as believable as, well, a supernatural wizard in the sky. Perrottet has in the past voted against same-sex marriage and the decriminalisation of abortion. Both of which are high on the sin list.
Perrottet also strongly opposes assisted dying. Opening the debate on the euthanasia legislation, Perrottet said: “Once we accept the principle of this bill, we cross a line . . . as we will have started to deﬁne the value of a life.” Which, of course, is God’s call. He and He alone gets to decide which kid dies of cancer. In a new poll, almost two-thirds of NSW voters said they support voluntary assisted dying. Despite this, Perrottet chooses to ignore the people he’s supposed to represent and instead lip syncs Catholic dogma. How can Australia possibly be considered a secular democracy when our political leaders’ religious doctrines dictate their decisions?
I could go on and denounce Christmas. As a devout atheist I can’t help but resent being compelled to take a religious holiday. But I’ll spare you that rant. After all, ’tis the season to be jolly…
- Christopher Kelly
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