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Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in Law, Politics | 17 comments

Rationalist Society manifesto for a secular Australia

The Rationalist Society of Australia is launching its own manifesto for a secular Australia. I can get behind most of this, perhaps all of it. I also think that it would translate pretty well to other countries. Please feel free to offer your own plans for a truly secular country, applicable to where you live, or applicable generally.

Would I have written exactly the same manifesto? Maybe not, as I have priorities that are not included here, perhaps because they go a step further and rely on political principles that I am committed to, such as freedom of speech, and so there are some reforms that I’d give a higher priority than some of these. But these are not a bad start. Kudos to the Rationalist Society.

Here is the manifesto:

Parliaments and Government

There must be clear separation between religion and the State.

• All Australian constitutions should be reformed to ensure clear separation between religion and the State, and all references to God removed.

• Parliamentary prayers and religious references in statutory oaths should be removed.

• No laws made by parliaments nor decisions of executive government should privilege or promote religion.

The Law

There must be ‘one law for all’, with no recognition of parallel legal systems.

• Religious institutions should not be permitted to exempt themselves from the law of the land. Canon law must not take precedence over Australian law.

• Sharia courts should not be officially recognised.

• There should be mandatory reporting of serious crimes by all professionals, including religious functionaries.

Religious organisations must be subject to the same laws as other organisations.

• The ‘advancement of religion’ should be removed from the statutory definition of charity, and religious organisations should not enjoy automatic tax exempt status.

• Religious organisations should be subject to anti-discrimination laws in employment and service provision.

• Government funding to religious organisations such as schools and hospitals should be subject to rigorous accountability to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws and the absence of proselytising.


Education must be strictly secular, not promoting any particular religion.

• National and state curricula should include the study of a range of religious and non-religious worldviews, taught by professionally trained teachers.

• Government resources should not be used to support particular religious views, programs of religious instruction, or the employment of religious functionaries in educational settings.

Sex and Sexuality

There must be no discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex, sexuality or gender identity.

• Australian governments should not impose a religious bias on the definition of marriage, or on the right to adopt.

There must be freedom of reproductive choice, with no religious interference.

• Termination of pregnancy should be decriminalised in all States and Territories.

• Governments should make access to evidence-based sexual and reproductive health information and healthcare services universally available.

• Age-appropriate sex and relationships education should be included in national and state curricula.


Healthcare must be available to all regardless of the religious views of the provider.

• Public hospitals must not be allowed to restrict treatment on the basis of religious worldviews.

• Private hospitals must not refuse emergency treatment on the basis of religious worldviews.


Children must not suffer because of the religious views of their parents.

• Decisions about children’s healthcare should be based on evidence-based medicine, not the religious worldviews of their parents.

• No organisation, whether religious or not, should be allowed to restrict children’s education or to isolate them within closed communities.

Dying with Dignity

When facing the end of life, everyone must be guaranteed control over their own bodies, free from religious interference.

• ‘Advance directives’ should be given legal force.

• Physician-assisted suicide, with appropriate safeguards, should be decriminalised.

• Governments should fund non-religious palliative care services.