Does Australia deserve Church/State separation?

In my opinion, yes, but let's face it, according to a 1981 High Court judgement, we absolutely don't have separation. And this has come up today on a discussion among the Committee of the Sydney Atheists.

You see, in one of our first podcasts, we discussed Exo Days. Exo Days are an outreach program kicked off by Hillsong Church so that school kids in nominally secular state schools can be evangelised to, without an explicit evangelistic title. It's kinda stealth recruitment, if you will. Well, it turns out that "Big Exo Day" is sponsored by our beloved Federal Government. For which, see screenshot:


Exo Days, sponsored by the government? So much for Church/State Separation in Australia

Regular readers (of which I'm sure I must have at least one) will remember the World Youth Day fiasco, where one of the world's richest organisations was shovelled money by the ton in order to have a big godfest in Sydney. Well, this really isn't much different except in terms of scale. Hillsong is probably Sydney's richest religious organisation, perhaps excluding the big two, and is certainly the most aggressive self-promoter, and apparently the Federal Govt is shovelling yet more of our tax dollars into one of their outreach programs.

This makes me not happy, because let's face it, we pay a lot of tax.

So, the question is this. We don't have a formal separation of Church And State. As a progressive, western "secular" democracy, shouldn't we get one?

posted @ Tuesday, July 7, 2009 3:04 PM


Comments on this entry:

# re: Does Australia deserve Church/State separation?

Left by Sean the Blogonaut at 7/9/2009 10:17 AM
Now if Hillsong are competing for government contracts for service provision it's one thing. When the government is sponsoring evangelism we need to call them to account. The tax payer is not there to prop up church attendance.

# re: Does Australia deserve Church/State separation?

Left by OzAtheist at 7/9/2009 12:31 PM
Of course Australia should have a formal separation of Church and State, additionally the tax rules should be changed to prevent churches getting tax free status or taxpayers money to promote religion.

The Secular Party of Australia is going to try and get a member in the Senate to do something about this, but I don't like their chances.

# re: Does Australia deserve Church/State separation?

Left by dikkii at 7/9/2009 1:07 PM
Taxpayers have been given a bum deal on this for some time. I resent stuff like this, but it resonates with the voters, and I expect that we'll see more stuff like this in the future.

I totally support the separation of church and state, but secular Australia doen't have the voter clout to make this a reality.

The bit that I don't understand is with regards to religious private schools (or private schools generally, for that matter): Why does a clearly unprofitable sector of the Australian economy need to be propped up by government spending?

Mind you, with the sheer extravagance that was the government propping up the textiles, clothing and footwear industry over the past couple of decades I don't ever expect to see an answer to this.

Good post.

# re: Does Australia deserve Church/State separation?

Left by Frozen Summers at 7/9/2009 11:24 PM
As someone who used to take advantage of some of the benefits the government gives to the religious, I think they should be stripped of it all.... The tax breaks, the charity statuses, the land they got for free, the ability to hold things like exo day or world youth day with their support....

Oh, and the catholic church as an institution should be charged with multiple counts of perverting the course of justice for hiding all those pedophiles.
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