ABC MD and NSL meet – Secularism needs a louder voice
- ABC MD, David Anderson, meets with NSL on the religion/secular imbalance
- Agreement for better representation of the secular viewpoint
- MD requests NSL list of ‘commentators’ with strong secular credentials
NSL Ambassadors and executive met with the ABC Managing Director David Anderson, and Editorial Director Craig McMurtrie, to discuss the need for a “secular voice.”
Jane Caro, who was part of the delegation to meet with the ABC MD, said discussions were "extremely productive” and highly relevant, following the federal election on 18th May.
“The Australian Christian Lobby, among others, has now claimed that Scott Morrison being re-elected Prime Minister is a ‘win for Religious Freedom’. That simply highlights the influence of religion in politics today.”
She said that for too long “the religious viewpoint on social issues – like abortion, gay marriage and assisted dying – had been paramount,” and the more popular non-religious view had been silenced.
“The media has not fully recognised the public majority are secular – with 78% support for the separation of Church and State. Yet the loudest media voice comes from religious leaders and lobbyists.”
NSL has quoted numerous examples of religious imbalance – the most obvious being a Q&A TV program on the “Separation of Church and State” where all six panellists were Christian. Not one speaker was secular!
Meeting with David Anderson, the NSL delegation delivered a proposal to help balance the ABC’s stable of nine religious and spiritual programs, suggesting that just one should focus on the popular “secular viewpoint.”
Ms Caro said, “we understand that religious programming is a part of the ABC’s charter – and naturally, religious people want their programs – but there is an equal need for the majority secular perspective.”
By “secular”, she explained, the focus is not simply on “the separation of Church and State”, but also having “Freedom FROM Religion” – to publicly question the influence of religion on a raft of issues in politics, education, health and the law.
“The topics are endless. Religions either push to repeal laws like abortion and same-sex marriage; or they lobby for more exemptions to discriminate against others, or to increase privileges, grants, and tax breaks.”
Jane Caro said that NSL’s proposal for a “30-minute monthly program on Radio National” was rejected, but Mr Anderson asked for a list of “secular commentators” who could be called on for any ABC program.
“NSL has forwarded to the Managing Director an extensive list of highly credentialed people, all with media experience, and with specific areas of secular expertise to balance the dominant religious position.”
“We trust the ABC will circulate this NSL list to program managers and producers, to provide them with the details of qualified people who are able to speak for Australia’s secular majority.”
As an additional proposal, NSL suggested the ABC’s weekly “Religion and Ethics Report” might include a segment from one of the secular commentators – on any of the issues that are current.
“NSL embraces ‘Freedom of Religion’ – which already exists – but what we need now is ‘Freedom FROM Religion’ and an opportunity to discuss publicly many social issues which have been dominated by the churches and by a variety of Christian lobby organisations.”
“We need a more ‘balanced’ debate,” Ms Caro said.
The National Secular Lobby seeks to raise the profile of secularism on contemporary social and political issues, and to question the political agenda of religious organisations; and that includes the Australian Christian Lobby.
National Secular Lobby