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.
The Census question on Religious Affiliation is misleading – "What is the person's religion?" – which assumes every citizen has one! A more impartial and 'open' question is asked in other western countries – "Does the person practice a religion?" Based on the 'majority' scores for No Religion in UK and Europe, Australia can also be regarded as more than 50% religion-neutral.
Also, 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, but also due to the flawed Census question on Religious Affiliation. 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 against secularists, for non-religious positions.
- lobby to change the ‘closed’ Census question – “What is the person’s religion?” – to an unbiased ‘open’ question.
- select Rationalists for boards/panels, based on "ethics", not Church leaders who claim to be society's "moral voice".
- remove religious bias from all government and legal documentation.
- remove "Royal Assent" to federal Bills (signed by GG for the Queen, head of C of E). This by becoming a Republic.
- 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.