VIEWPOINTS

Rationalists Are Making a Deal With the Devil to Push Out Religion in Australia

August 13, 2021 0:45, Last Updated: August 15, 2021 0:11
By Peter Kurti

Commentary

Every five years, Australians complete the Census survey to give governments the information needed to make essential decisions about services.

Plans for providing for schools, transport, infrastructure, healthcare, and local community services all depend upon obtaining the most accurate possible “snapshot” of the nation.

Since it was first conducted in 1911, the Australian Census has largely been an uncontroversial exercise in gathering population data.

Householders record answers to questions, return the completed form and don’t think much more about it until the results are released the following year. However, in recent times, this data gathering has been weaponised by secular activists such as Meredith Doig, president of the Rationalist Society Australia.

The rationalist movement has been so hell-bent on driving religion out of Australia that they even turned to Satanists to bolster their case for banishing so-called “superstition” and “deception” from our fair land.

But in doing so, they merely reveal the incoherence of their argument—because Satanists categorise themselves as a “religious organisation” under Australian law.

Rebellion against tyranny is listed as one of Satanism’s key objectives on the website of the Australian Temple of Satan, along with the exercise of “compassion” and “critical thought.”

All this has been described as “fantastic” by the president of the Rationalist Society, who failed to reconcile her anti-religion enthusiasm with the religious status claimed by Satanism.

Convinced that the principles of Satanism are entirely compatible with the promotion of secular, liberal, and progressive ideals in Australia, Doig had called on the Satanists to tick “No Religion” when they, along with the rest of us, completed the Census last week.

Over the years, the Australian Census has shown an increase in those not identifying with any religion.

In 1966, the figure was 0.8 percent of the population. In 1991, it rose to 12.9 percent, and then to 30.1 percent at the most recent survey in 2016.

By then, secular activists had succeeded in moving the “No Religion” box from the last available option to the top.

And now, in 2021—not content with the above—they want also to tell us how to respond.

The “Census 21” campaign was in full swing leading up to the 2021 Census, encouraging as many people as possible to tick “No Religion.”

Brought up as a Catholic but now don’t go to church? Tick the “No Religion” box. Went to a Christian school but have had no contact with the church since then? Tick it. See yourself as only “culturally” religious but with no further affiliation? Again, tick that box. And get others to tick it, too.

The goal is to drive the percentage of Australians claiming no religious affiliation to the highest percentage possible.

The aggressive, secular left will then use that figure to argue that religion is fast disappearing from our society and that notions such as religious liberty are no longer worth defending, nor funding for religious activities or religious voices.

In the run up to the same-sex marriage postal vote in 2017, secular proponents argued that faith-based opposition should be given no weight when it came to considering the merits of making a change to the law.

Then they argued that Christian schools have no right to order their affairs according to the tenets of their faith.

And now they are arguing that when it comes to illegalising euthanasia in a secular democracy such as Australia’s, any faith-based opposing views are irrelevant and must be ignored.

Yet, in any liberal, secular democracy that comprises citizens with varied religious beliefs and traditions, a citizen with religious beliefs is as entitled as any other non-religious citizen to contribute to discussions about policy or law changes that will impact wider society.

In the 2016 Census, 52 percent of Australians were affiliated with Christianity.

But Australia also comprises people affiliated with many other religions, such as Islam (3 percent), Buddhism (2 percent), and Judaism (0.4 percent).

Yet religion’s secular activist opponents do not dare attack the beliefs of Muslims, Buddhists, or Jews—even though they often conflict directly with progressive opinion.

Even so, the higher Census 21 can drive the “No Religion” figure, the more insistent progressive voices will become.

Of course, the main object of their ire is the Roman Catholic Church which retains a powerful voice in our society through the provision of health care, aged care, pastoral, and education services. No other church in Australia is as well-organized and coherent in its voice.

The church stood against same-sex marriage just as it stands, now, against legalising’s the killing of people by doctors. But, sadly, its faltering institutional response to the appalling scandal of child sexual abuse has only fueled the hostility of critics who doubled down in attacks on the Catholic Church.

All this is grist to the mill for activist groups, such as Census 21, who are urging people to repudiate their religious affiliation and leave the shadowlands of superstition to ascend to the sunlit uplands of secular progressivism. Rather coincidentally, the Chinese Communist Party also characterises religious beliefs as superstition.

Census 21 is explicit in its aims: to reduce public funding for religious organisations, to diminish their voice in public policy debates, and to show that religion is an irrelevant anachronism in our supposedly enlightened society.

Australians for whom religion remains an important part of their identity must remain on high alert to the bullying “rational” activism of the noisy secular minority in our midst.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Peter Kurti
Peter Kurti is director of the Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society program at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, Australia. He is also an adjunct associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, Australia, and has written extensively on issues of religion, liberty, and civil society.

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