Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Church and State

Australian Democrats nailed it. They have the most comprehensive policy to ensure separation of Church and State, I wonder where Greens stand:

"The Australian Constitution prohibits the Commonwealth from making any law for establishing religion, imposing religious observance or using religion as a test for office. However this has not guaranteed a secular state and boundaries between church and state have become increasingly blurred.

The Howard Government shaped its response to refugees in terms of Australian values which it said were Christian. Exclusively religious chaplains were funded in government schools and all states give as of rights to religious instruction in school hours. Schools are prohibited from providing meaningful activity for those who opt out.

MPs, including prime ministers, have openly declared their religious allegiances and parliaments around the country still pray before each sitting that their deliberations are overseen by God for ‘...the advancement of Thy glory’.

Organised religion is exempt from taxes for their commercial businesses. Earnings for the 10 biggest religious groups were estimated at $23.3b in 2005, costing taxpayers untold sums in lost revenue that might otherwise be spent on services."

The following is my wish list and all seem to be endorsed in Australian Democrats' policy:

We need constitutional reform to ensure separation of Church and State. 
We need tax system reform to remove exemptions for church organisations for profits made from purely commercial operations.
We need replacing prayers in Federal Parliament with period of reflection on the importance of ethical practice.
We need obliging church organizations providing publicly funded services such as hospitals and employment placement to not discriminate on religious grounds in the services they deliver or the people they serve and employ.
We need abolishing grants for proselytising such as the $8m for Catholic World Youth Day.
We need adherence to the fundamental principle that children should not be inculcated in religion before they are mature enough to make judgements on particular belief systems.
We need confining religious instruction or education in government schools to after school hours, changing parent permission to opt in rather than opt out and encouraging ethics education in schools.
We need  the principle that government should be policy neutral when it comes to religion – between different religions and with those of no religion.
For more info refer to: http://www.democrats.org.au/policies/

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