26 August 2013
One area of the political debate that does not receive much attention during election campaigns is the question of religious influence on party policy.
This is a gap. Australians clearly prefer a separation between church and state. According to a Herald/Nielsen poll conducted in the lead up to the 2010 federal election, 84 per cent of people surveyed agreed with the statement ”religion and politics should be separate”. In Australia’s increasingly complex society of many different cultures and different types of beliefs or lack of belief, that would seem to be the only sensible approach.
Given the public holds a firm position on the relationship between religion and politics, the Rationalist Society of Australia has taken on the task of assessing each party’s commitment to the principle of secularism by monitoring comments, statements, and parliamentary voting practices on key policy issues and scoring each party accordingly. [See their Secular Scorecard here.]
Political parties that received a “Fail” essentially took the view that church and public policy is inseparable, particularly on policy pertaining to end-of-life decisions, termination of pregnancy, same-sex marriage, religious instruction in schools, and preferential treatment of religious organizations.
Parties that presented mixed and contradictory messages on these issues received a B or C grade.
And parties awarded an A presented a consistent commitment to the principle of separation of church and state, ensuring the provision of government services does not discriminate on religious grounds.
How each party scored is in the public interest and, more importantly, in the interest of voters.
Given most Australians are in favour of the division between religion and state, the Secular Scorecard is one of many tools that will help voters make an informed and considered decision on who to vote for in this federal election.
For further information:
Chris Fotinopoulos – 0410 355 575
Jonathan Meddings – 0437 435 091