11 October 2006





 Another Australian politician, this time an ALP Federal politician, Kevin Rudd, agrees with the separation of Church and State. Edmund Barton. Andrew Inglis Clark;  Samuel Griffiths;Henry Bournes Higgins and Henry Parkes would understand his sentiments.

In his article "It's Time to Fight for the True Christian Principle of Compassion", Sydney Morning Herald, October 4, 2006, he wrote:

"Australia's founding fathers rightly chose to separate church and state in this country (unlike in Britain) by not constitutionally establishing any religion or denomination. Given the history of the European wars of religion, they were absolutely right to create a secular pluralist polity where all views are to be distilled and determined through democratic electoral processes."

Political correctness or ignorance has led Kevin Rudd to attribute our separation of church and state to European wars of religion. This is a latter day limited interpretation of English/ United States/Australian history. Australia was founded by British settlers just after the American Revolution. Separation of Church and State principles were thrashed out in both Australia and the United States amongst non-Catholic English speaking settlers. In Australian colonies, these settlers persuaded the Church of England to accept and follow their ideas and forced and insisted that the Roman Catholic Church, against its wishes, fall into line. European wars of religion were referred to by these settlers as only one of many examples of the folly of church state entanglement.

Kevin Rudd would do well to also follow the consistency of the founding fathers. They realised that you cannot endow religion and religious institutions with taxpayers money and talk about separation of church and state. Sole public funding and promotion of Secular public education systems together with the abolition of State Aid to church schools was and is part and parcel, indeed an essential part of the separation of church and state position. Kevin Rudd would do well to read Barton's statements on this issue   before and at thetime of federation.

At the Adelaide Constitutional Convention on 22 April 1897 ( p. 1187) Barton said:

"The whole mode of government, the whole province of the State, is secular. The whole business that is transacted by any community - however deeply Christian, unless it has an established church, unless religion is interwoven expressly and professedly with all its actions - is secular business as distinguished from religious business as distinguished from religious business. The whole duty is to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. That is the line of division maintained in every State in which there is not a predominant church government which dictates to all civil institutions. In these colonies, where State aid to religion has long been abolished, this line of demarcation is most definitely observed, and there is no justification for inserting into your secular documents of State provisions or expressions which refer to matters best dealt with by the churches...."

It is also interesting to note that at the Melbourne Convention in March 1898 in a speech at the end of the Convention, Barton drew the attention of the delegates to two important points in the whole Constitution. Remembering that there were hundreds of points that could be made about the Bill, one of the two points he singled out what was is now known as Section 116 of the Australian Constitution. He remarked:

" was inserted so that there shall not be any infraction of religious liberty under the laws of the Commonwealth" ( p. 2474.)

It is a pity that Kevin Rudd did not acknowledge the importance of setting up a secular public education system in the context of a peaceful, secular Australian society with separation of church and state. Kevin Rudd should realise that separation of church and state and the secular public education systems are two sides of the same coin. Destroy one, and you will destroy the other!

For further information on Statements made by Edmund Barton and Samuel Griffiths go to Press Release 166 on

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Last modified:Sunday, 15 October 2006