The Secular Agenda
Secular policy and values are based on the principle of there being a separation between Church and State.
The 2016 Census showed that 30.1% of the population have "No Religion". This will be a catalyst to press more successfully for secular progress. But added to this 30.1% is the 20% of non-practicing Christians (and others) who have abandoned their childhood religion but continue to mark it at each Census, by sheer force of habit. We respect the right to hold a religion, but equally to abstain.
In addition, a national Ipsos poll in 2016 showed that 78% of Australians supported the survey question: "How important do you think it is to separate personal religious beliefs from the business of government?" This principle is embedded in Section 116 of our Constitution.
A public majority now support most of the secular issues below. All are consistently rejected by state and federal parliaments, primarily on religious grounds. This list is not exhaustive, but includes:
- legalise marriage equality for all same-sex couples: passed 7.12.17.
- legalise Voluntary Euthanasia in Victoria: passed 29.11.17. Support VE campaigns in all other states and territories.
- lobby for the mandatory reporting of all child abuse by any personnel in religious and other institutions.
- erase remaining abortion laws and provide legal protection for women, their clinicians, the clinics and their staff.
- remove tax exemptions to "for-profit" Church businesses, their non-charitable properties, investments, and assets.
- remove prayers, religious icons and rituals from all "secular" public institutions, including all tiers of government.
- remove single-faith religious instruction from schools; promote and teach "philosophical ethics" and "critical thinking".
- prioritise government funding for public schools and the principles of "religion-neutral" secular education.
- withhold funding from schools that continue to teach creationism over science and human evolution.
- abolish the National School Chaplaincy Program and replace chaplains with experienced professional counsellors.
- lobby for the full separation of Church and State; Church and Medicine; Church and Science.
- ban the religious practice of genital mutilation inflicted on both girls and boys.
- legislate against Church hospitals banning clinical procedures, based on religious grounds.
- prohibit the fundamentalist religious indoctrination of children in home-schooling.
- abolish existing blasphemy laws; still common law in all states and territories, except Qld and WA.
- endorse the full UDHR definition of "Freedom of Religion and Belief" which includes the right to express non-belief.
- repeal employment laws that allow religious institutions to discriminate in employment for non-religious positions.
- lobby to change the ‘closed’ Census question – “What is the person’s religion?” – to an unbiased ‘open’ question.
- promote the selection of Rationalists for boards/panels, with views based on "ethics", not Church leaders who claim to be society's "moral voice".
- remove religious bias from all government and legal documentation.
- lobby for a stronger voice on all secular issues, with better access to mainstream print and electronic media.
Please advise the National Secular Lobby of other issues that need to be addressed.