Religion losing relevance in Australia
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