AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT
SCHOOLS - D.O.G.S.
PRESS RELEASE 171#.
10 October 2006
AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP TEST
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE AND
A SECULAR STATE MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE TEST
If there is to be an "Australian Citizenship Test" DOGS calls upon Andrew Robb, John Howard and Peter Costello to practice what they preach and ensure that a reference is made to separation of church and state and a secular state.
What is more, DOGS consider that there must be a reference made to the importance of public education for the preservation of a secular democratic state and a heterogeneous and harmonious society.
New citizens should be made aware that they are living off the social capital generated in the Australian colonies in the nineteenth century by those who were determined to leave behind the religious and social problems of the "Old World". They, along with those who settled in the United States were determined to entrench and protect the separation of church and state and a public education system available to all children. They were only able to do this by confronting and dealing with religious leaders who wished to impose their peculiar ideologies on the community.
In the Australian context, religious dissenters and men of the Enlightenment held to and promoted and established the two key values and institutions underpinning a liberal, secular, democratic, harmonious and heterogeneous society - that is the separation of church and state alongside a secular public education system with no State Aid to Church schools.
Unfortunately, at the present time in Australia, Andrew Robb has left out these fundamental values and institutions from the draft citizenship test circulated on September 17, 2006.
Before launching this draft citizenship test Andrew Robb made the following points on September 16 to a Conference of Imams.
"I want to start with some brief words about the relationship between religion and a secular state" ...."One of the most fundamental aspects of our democracy in Australia is the separation of Church and State. The separation of church and state has contributed significantly to the stability of our democracy and underpinned our commitment to values such as our respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, including freedom of religion, our commitment to the rule of law, the equality of men and women, the spirit of a fair go of tolerance and compassion for those in need."
The foregoing sentiments have also been promoted by Prime Minister John Howard, Treasurer Peter Costello, and others in both the government and on the opposition benches.
One vital institution which was generated in the Australian colonies in the nineteenth century, alongside the separation of religion and the state when state aid to religion was abolished for both churches and schools, was the public education system. This system of education available to all children regardless of their creed, colour, class or place of residence, is the most obvious manifestation of a secular state and the separation of church and state.
Not surprisingly, private school products and patrons such as Robb, Howard and Costello leave public education out of their equation when they talk about separation of church and state.
But old and new citizens should realise that no State Aid, and secular public education systems, are the natural corollaries of church and state separation and are the social capital on which our free, secular, democratic, heterogeneous society is based.
It is time to stop bankrupting our social capital. The citizenship test, if it is to be created, should touch on the key elements of separation of church and state, the secular state, and the secular public education system.
Church/State separation cannot honestly be promoted if aid to church schools is continued. The cry of "Church State separationists " is "No State Aid to Church Schools" alongside the promotion and strengthening of the "free, secular, public education system".
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|Last modified:Monday, 09 October 2006|