In a radio interview with 96.5 FM last year in which he discussed his Christian faith, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner made it clear that he would not be imposing his religious beliefs on others because Australia is “not a theocracy”.
“We can’t forget this is a democracy we live in… It is important that we have that free society,” he said.
Despite this assurance, Mayor Schrinner has publicly rejected the outcome of a petition to remove prayers from Brisbane City Council meetings weeks before the petition is due to close, effectively signalling that neither he nor the Council are willing to consider the outcome.
National Secular Lobby president Peter Monk says that Lord Mayor Schrinner may need to clarify his views on whether Australia is a theocracy given his insistence that Christian prayers will continue to be read at the start of council meetings.
“It seems counter to these prior statements for Mayor Schrinner to insist that every person, regardless of their own faith, join in a request for the guidance of a deity in which they may not believe -- the only alternative being, presumably, to leave the room,” Peter says.
“The recital of a prayer of any single religion is not representative of the beliefs of the entire Council, nor is it representative of the pluralistic nature of our society.”
“Replacing the prayer with, for example, a minute’s silent reflection, would allow people of all faiths to pray in a way that was most meaningful to them, and would allow non-religious people to reflect in whatever way they wished.”
“Given that this petition has already collected hundreds of signatures, the democratic thing to do would be to wait until the petition closes and then allow the elected council members to debate the concerns raised about mandated sectarian religious expression in formal council proceedings.”
Any Australian, whether in Brisbane or elsewhere, can add their name to the petition here before 31 August.
At the National Secular Lobby, we're pleased to have joined forces with a number of pro-secular community organisations in the #DontDivideUs campaign against the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill. Add your voice to the campaign.