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Secularism is fairest for everyone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019



Did you know that Australia is what’s called a “secular democracy” which means that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law as regards their beliefs – as well as regards their rights and obligations?

To secularize means to ensure the laws we all live under don’t favour one religions’ beliefs over those of another. Secularism promotes freedom OF belief as well as freedom FROM belief. Secularism protects churches at the same time as protecting those who have no interest in churches.

Religion, spiritual values and beliefs are important to our health as individuals and social beings, but history shows that being ruled by religious leaders can be as horrible as being ruled by dictators or tyrants. When those who don’t agree with the rulers are persecuted, tortured, murdered. History also shows that dreadful things can happen when the state persecutes a religious or church group.

Let’s not forget the Inquisition or the Holocaust.

So, what is the point of saying this?

It’s to remind us of the value of what we have as Australians: Imperfect as our political system is, it’s among the best in the world. Our right to have a say in our government -without being persecuted for it.

It’s to remind us of the rule that our government not favour one religion or belief system over another – particularly if it means that one group of peoples’ reasonable rights or opportunities are overlooked or disrespected.

It’s because religion (as well as some ‘ideologies’) can be intolerant of ideas or practises that really should not be anyone’s business but our own. Laws are meant primarily to protect us from others, more from than from ourselves.

I’m a great fan of a guide used by Rotary Clubs called ‘The 4 Way Test’ that they apply to discussions and then to the decision. It’s not hard to see how relevant it is to many of the challenges we face:

The 4 Way Test

  • 1.Is it the TRUTH?
  • 2.Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • 3.Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  • 4.Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

It can be difficult to find the balanced, fair answer when there are conflicting views and interests. But using a test like the one above can make it easier, particularly when we start from a place of respecting other peoples’ beliefs, - even when they are quite different to our own.