10 Point Plan for a Secular Australia

Pell & AbbottIn March / April 2013 Sean Faircloth of the Richard Dawkins Foundation of America toured Australia and New Zealand.  A coalition of freethinking groups joined together at that time and created a 10 point plan for a secular Australia that might form the basis for working together into the future in what has come to be named the ‘Secular Coalition of Australia’ – SECOA.  Here is that 10 point plan:

1. A secular, pluralistic and democratic Australia

  • Government policies should be based on evidence, reason and compassion, and protect the human rights of all Australians.
  • Everyone should be free to choose and hold their own religious or non-religious worldviews, provided they do not impose such views on others, and provided practices associated with such worldviews do no harm.

2. Clear separation between religion and the State

  • All Australian constitutions should be reformed to ensure clear separation between religion and the State, and all references to God removed.
  • Parliamentary prayers and religious references in statutory oaths should be removed.
  • No laws made by parliaments nor decisions of executive government should privilege or promote religion.

3. ‘One law for all’, with no recognition of parallel legal systems

  • Religious institutions should not be permitted to exempt themselves from the law of the land. Canon law must not take precedence over Australian law.
  • Sharia courts should not be officially recognised.
  • There should be mandatory reporting by religious functionaries of actual or suspected child abuse.

4. Religious organisations subject to the same laws as other organisations

  • The ‘advancement of religion’ should be removed from the statutory definition of charity, and religious organisations should not enjoy automatic tax exempt status.
  • Religious organisations should be subject to anti-discrimination laws in employment and service provision.
  • Government funding to religious organisations such as schools and hospitals should be subject to rigorous accountability to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws and the absence of proselytising.

5. Children not to suffer because of the religious views of their parents

  • Decisions about children’s healthcare should be based on evidence-based medicine, not the religious worldviews of their parents.
  • No organisation, whether religious or not, should be allowed to restrict children’s education or to isolate them within closed communities.

6. Education to be strictly secular, not promoting any particular religion

  • National and state curricula should include the study of a range of religious and non-religious worldviews, taught by professionally trained teachers.
  • Government resources should not be used to support particular religious views, programs of religious instruction, or the employment of religious functionaries in educational settings.

7. No discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex, sexuality or gender identity

  • Australian governments should not impose a religious bias on the definition of marriage, or on the right to adopt.

8. Freedom of reproductive choice, with no religious interference

  • Termination of pregnancy should be decriminalised in all States and Territories.
  • Governments should make access to evidence-based sexual and reproductive health information and healthcare services universally available.
  • Age-appropriate sex and relationships education should be included in national and state curricula.

9. Healthcare available to all regardless of the religious views of the provider

  • Public hospitals must not be allowed to restrict treatment on the basis of religious worldviews.
  • Private hospitals must not refuse emergency treatment on the basis of religious worldviews.

10. Guaranteed control over one’s own body, free from religious interference, when facing the end of life

  • ‘Advance directives’ should be given legal force.
  • Physician-assisted suicide, with appropriate safeguards, should be decriminalised.
  • Governments should fund non-religious palliative care services.