Re­li­gion los­ing rel­e­vance in Aus­tralia

The Saturday Paper - - Letters & Editorial -

Fol­low­ing the elec­toral wipe­out in Vic­to­ria, Steve Bracks high­lights the dam­ag­ing right-wing de­mands in­clud­ing can­celling Safe Schools pro­grams and in­tro­duc­ing com­pul­sory re­li­gious in­struc­tion in schools (“The duel in the Liberal crown”, De­cem­ber 1–7). Such is­sues are em­blem­atic of the United States Chris­tian right, courted by the Howard gov­ern­ment, with the en­dur­ing mix of per­mis­sive eco­nomic lib­er­al­ism and re­pres­sive so­cial con­ser­vatism re­cently re-en­dorsed by the for­mer prime minister. How­ever, this be­lies Aus­tralians’ true re­li­gious sen­ti­ments. The 2016 cen­sus data shows the num­bers in the cat­e­gory “no re­li­gion” ris­ing fast. The 2016 Aus­tralian Elec­tion Study sur­vey re­vealed that only 11.85 per cent of Aus­tralians at­tend a re­li­gious ser­vice weekly, and that 74.8 per cent at­tend once a year or less. The un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive pre­s­e­lec­tion of can­di­dates at both state and fed­eral level who will cham­pion poli­cies that are anath­ema to the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion will no longer pay off. The Vic­to­rian elec­tion re­sult clearly shows that we need to pro­tect the church–state di­vide. Aus­tralians seek pro­gres­sive lead­er­ship, not cant.

– Ju­lia Anaf, Nor­wood, SA

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