As Christmas draws ever closer, the National Secular Lobby wishes to remind Australians that celebrating this festival is something that everyone can do, no matter their religious or non-religious beliefs.
"Christmas is a time for sharing and caring – whether you have a personal faith or not," says Peter Monk, President of the NSL.
"It’s a myth that secular, humanist and atheist movements want to ban Christmas. Isolated incidents are blown out of proportion. Inclusiveness is actually at the very core of secular values."
"While our primary focus is the separation of Church and State, that does not apply to people, whose religion is personal and private. For Australians who wish to observe the religious rituals associated with Christmas, they are free to do so -- as Christians have been doing for more than 2,000 years."
Mr Monk says from a secularist's perspective, religion is sometimes politicised at this time of year.
"Demonising those who do not share their faith is a theme that we see every year around this time from a very small group of hard-line Christians," he says.
In the 2016 Australian census, 'No Religion' topped 30 per cent, but the NSL believes the actual figure is significantly larger. Polls show that up to 20 per cent of people who claim a religion have lapsed but continue to tick a denomination based on their traditional family faith.
Mr Monk points to Scandinavian countries as a model that an increasingly atheist Australia could follow. They are culturally Lutheran but have a very high proportion of secularists; they continue to observe all their traditional festivals but without the overtones of a supernatural deity.
"Whether your Christmas season takes a traditional Christian form, or whether, like many Australians, you simply celebrate Christmas as a festival which brings people together to enjoy family, feasting and goodwill, we wish a happy Christmas to all, and best wishes for a tolerant, cooperative and inclusive New Year."
National Secular Lobby