Referendum on Role of Religion? Or Simply Confirming and Practicing Secularism?
24 October, 2016
Today I saw a Change.org petition going around suggesting that Australians should hold a referendum on Muslim Immigration.
I don’t believe we need a referendum on Muslim immigration. I don’t care what religion people follow, as long as they do not impose it or their rules on others.
Perhaps we need a referendum on the role of religion in Australian society given its creep on our individual rights and freedoms?
One person’s religion should have no negative impact on others, including family members. We should have laws against arranged marriages, imposition of restrictive dress codes, lack of personal freedom to go out in public with whomever they want as an adult, regardless of gender. We should enforce no female genital mutilations (FGMs), no child brides, and no restrictive religious schooling.
On that last point I have no problem with any particular religion wanting to run schools. But any religious preaching or studies should be outside of school hours except the part of the curriculum which explains that there are many religions, and what their basic beliefs are, and that the myths of Aboriginal Dream-time have about the same validity as the beliefs of the major religions.
There should be an explanation in the curriculum about how religions developed from the primitive to the complex, and how it serves the human need to explain what we do not yet understand.
One person’s religion should have no negative impact on anyone else. That includes such things as demanding prayer rooms at work, sporting and other public venues. Legitimising ‘prayer breaks’ and so on.
What Australia needs to do is re-assert itself as a secular society.
We need to remove any role of any religion in any level of government. That should include all government grants or funding to religious organizations and any taxation exemptions or deductions for religious organizations.
This does not mean the government would stop providing funding to a legitimate charity run by a religious group. For instance a charity which say provides refuges for the homeless. This would apply as long as they provide those services to people regardless of their religion. So any relevant charitable activities run by a religious group would still qualify equally with a secular run charity, for government funding.
Government funding of private schools is fine, as long as the schools deliver the Government established curriculum, and as long as the funding per student is no more than what is provided to State run schools.
You may have an interest in model aeroplanes, or chess, or horse riding. I happen to have deep interests in science, economics, finance, politics and the environment. But I don’t get any government grants, tax deductions or exemptions for following these interests, just as you wouldn’t for your model aeroplane, or chess, or horse riding interests. So there should be no funding to others for following or practising, or promoting their religion.
Currently the followers of a religion can claim their donations to their religion as a taxation deduction, and their religion can own and run multi-billion dollar business enterprises and be exempt from taxation. This means that total tax revenues to the Government are reduced. This effectively forces all other Australians to subsidize that religion.
Australians should not be forced to subsidize religions in any way.
Additionally our law makers and law enforcement should show no patience or leniency towards anyone who uses their religion to mistreat people, or to violently protest or to claim some exemption from our society’s rules.
We should also acknowledge that religion is not a job or a skill. We should stop any religion from bringing in ‘religious leaders’ under special visas, from overseas to live and preach in Australia. We may as well allow witch doctors, or people claiming they are fairies or leprechauns!
If we run our society on a secular basis, then there will be no need to clamp down on any particular religion. If it happens that Muslims feel aggrieved and feel that they are being limited in practicing their religion by living in Australia, then they should leave and find somewhere better suited to their desired lifestyle.
There are plenty of Muslims having no difficulty flying to Indonesia and Malaysia from all parts of the world in order to get on illegal boats to Australia. Indonesia and Malaysia are Muslim majority countries and seem to allow any Muslim entry. So there are at least two countries which may be more suitable for any aggrieved Australian Muslims. I am sure there are many other Muslim majority countries you can gain entry to without a visa.
Incidentally in case anyone suggest that it would be unprecedented to not allow Muslims to migrate to Australia (and I am not suggesting that), you may be interested to know that there are 16 countries that do not even allow visits by Israeli passport holders. The sixteen countries which forbid admission to Israeli passport holders are:
- Iraq (except Iraqi Kurdistan)
- Lebanon (neighbouring country; territory dispute – Shebaa farms)
- Malaysia (Clearance permit needed from the Ministry of Home Affairs.)
- Pakistan (Clearance permit needed from the Ministry of Internal Security.)
- Saudi Arabia
- Syria (neighbouring country; territory dispute – Golan Heights)
- United Arab Emirates (accepted for transit only; not allowed for admission)
In addition, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen do not allow entry to people with evidence of travel to Israel, or whose passports have either a used or an unused Israeli visa.
But don’t expect to find that out through the ‘investigative’ journalism of our main stream media. It is an inconvenient fact. Instead they would brand any suggestion that Muslim immigrants be especially vetted, as racist.
Another example of obvious religious discrimination, which our main stream media are oblivious to, occurs in our very near neighbor, Indonesia. They recognize only six official religions in Indonesia, (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism). Indonesian law requires that every Indonesian citizen hold an identity card that identifies that person with one of these six religions.
Indonesia does not recognize agnosticism or atheism, and blasphemy is illegal.
Blasphemy is usually defined as something said or done that is disrespectful to God or to something considered holy. Simply saying “there is no god”, “I do not believe in God”, “I think religion is stupid” are all basic examples which could get you in trouble with the law in Indonesia.
So based on global examples, Australia taking steps to assert our secular governance, and the right for all Australians to not be impeded or negatively impacted by others who practice a religion, should be totally uncontroversial both domestically and internationally.