Media Release: SA election – a vote for Church or State?

As election weekend approaches in South Australia, religious lobby groups are promoting candidates who voted against allowing easier access to late-term abortions in the state. The NSL urges voters to examine all party platforms and support the secular democratic principle of separation of Church and State.

The South Australian election on March 19 raises deep concerns for the 78 percent of people who are committed to the democratic principle of separating Church and State, says National Secular Lobby (NSL) president Peter Monk.

“Historically, religious privilege has arisen through discrimination against others, and condoned through political patronage. This has been evident throughout the recent attempt to pass a divisive Religious Discrimination Bill at the expense of many minorities as well as the majority secular view,” Mr Monk says.

The Family First party is just one pro-religious group that the NSL claims has a vested interest in promoting a sectarian theological agenda over the rights of others, and which seeks to weaken our constitutional right to separate religious influence from the secular affairs of State.

Mr Monk says that election material from the Australian Christian Lobby makes it clear that candidates for the Family First, Australian Family Party, and One Nation parties have an objective to repeal a range of current secular legislation.

“Religious parties perpetuate the myth that Australia always was, and always will be, a “Christian Nation”, to the exclusion of other views.”

“They seek to reject or reduce the rights of others based on differences in gender, sexuality, or faith, and they foster myths of persecution and moral superiority to justify the rejection of secular values,” Mr Monk says.

The National Secular Lobby states that fundamentalist religious agendas are a minority view in Australia. There is little popular support for the re-criminalisation of abortion, the repeal of same-sex marriage and Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation, or the reintroduction of the Religious Discrimination Bill in its original form, which privileged potentially harmful religious expression to an even greater degree.

“Religious political parties and sympathetic politicians are also weak on action to combat climate change, and in their support of improved public school funding – while being overtly generous in the taxpayer funding and provision of grants to private religious schools,” Mr Monk said.

The NSL urges voters on March 19 to examine all party platforms and, in the interest of upholding our secular democracy, ask themselves whether policies:

  • Protect the freedom and rights of all Australians equally.
  • Protect the right of women to make decisions about their own lives and bodies.
  • Protect personal sexuality and sexual identity from control based on religious ideas of morality.
  • Safeguard the right of terminally ill people to end their suffering should they wish to do so.
  • Support safe learning and teaching programs which inform kids and save young lives.
  • Recognise that climate change requires human action.