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This federal election, the National Secular Lobby wants everyone to stand up for secularism.
In order to have true religious freedom in Australia, we must pursue secular policy.
Secularism – generally, the separation of church and state – is not anti-religious; rather, it ensures that no-one is unduly persecuted or privileged because of their beliefs.
It promotes equal rights and representation for all religions – and for no religion – in public discussion. It protects the rights of individuals under Australian law and international agreements, and ensures that those rights are not eroded by other peoples' religious beliefs.
Whether you have a particular religion or you have none, secularism works for you.
Right now, we are seeing many areas of policy in which secular ideals are not being applied under Australian law to the degree to which they should.
In some cases, one religion is given greater endorsement or credence over others. In other instances, religious practitioners are given privileges that override others' human rights, or religious groups are given special exemptions to laws that apply to everyone else.
As a result, some people are granted a superior legal position over others and the principles of rights and laws are applied unevenly between individuals.
Such special exceptions are often held up as the application of right and proper religious freedom. But this is not religious freedom; it is religious privilege.
Those Australians who have chosen to hold theistic beliefs have the right to do so, and they also have the general right to observe and practice those beliefs as they see fit. The Ruddock review confirmed this was the case and found no evidence that anyone's religious freedom was being systematically and unduly limited in Australia.
It is neither right nor proper that any religion be granted special and unnecessary privilege to override the rights and freedoms of citizens.
As we found out in October last year when Prime Minister Scott Morrison discussed the 'existing laws' that permit religious schools to expel gay students, many people are not even aware that these special religious exemptions exist.
The National Secular Lobby urges you to be aware of how your secular freedom will be affected by the issues raised in this election campaign and by those seeking election to public office.
Stand up for secularism this election, so that we can all benefit.
How you can help
You can help us to have an impact on the election and have a strong voice in Canberra throughout 2019 by:
- Following us on social media and sharing our stories and videos with your friends and family;
- Donating to our fundraising effort; and
- Taking action and asking your local candidates whether they stand for secularism.