Australia is not a theocratic state but a secular state. Australian Federal Constitution, Chapter five, section III states that; "The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the Commonwealth." Formally no specific religion is preferred in social structure or public administration in the Australian community. However, according to 2006 National Census, 64% of Australians identifies themselves as Christians; with 26% being Roman Catholics, 19% being Anglicans and Other Christian denominations with 19%. Besides, non-Christians constituted 5% of the entire population; with 2.1% being Buddhists, 1.7% being Muslims, and 0.7% being Hindus. Moreover, 19% of the entire Australian population identified themselves as non-believers (Turner, 2014). The objective of this article, therefore, is to discuss the role of religion in the contemporary Australia.
Religious groups and churches contribute significantly in providing services such as health care, education, and humanitarian aids, especially where the government has failed to provide enough of these services. Besides, religious groups play a vital role in the formulation of public policies especially those which touch on family and marriage institutions, human autonomy, and on fundamental rights. For example, religious groups are known to express their views against approval of same-sex marriage, pornography, and abortion (Celermajer, 2007). Religion thus has a unique role in the Australian politics. Religion has a significant force in government policies especially toward refugees and the migrants. Religious organisations, on the other hand, play a critical role in the Australian's civic life. In sectors that lack civic associations religious organisations steps to aid in civic and political awareness. Various religious groups also mobilize their faithful to participate voter registration and in political activities. However, some religious groups are more zealous hence does it excellently than others. In politics, therefore, religion has an immense contribution in imparting civic skills to their faithful in Australia. Similarly, political leaders seek the contribution of religious leaders before enacting any legislation. This is done in Australia to ensure that no law or policy is offensive to any religion (Keneally, 2015).
Religious institutes and organisations contribute immensely in the education sector in the Australia. Many non-government schools are owned by religious organisations or by churches. Although Australian High Court ruled against funding of the chaplaincy programme and schools belonging to religious groups, Gillard government continued and in fact expanded the schools in terms of the numbers and funding. The funding of the school owned by the religious institutions has also continued past 2014. Tony Abbott government has also promised to ensure the financing of the schools belonging to religious organisations and churches continue. Religious organisation and churches have thus made a significant contribution to the expansion of the education in Australia and continue to participate in expansion and provision of education through meaningful contribution in partnership with major stakeholders like parents, Ministry of Education, and the school management boards. As a consequence, religious education is rampant in the Australian public education; hence, religion plays a vital role in forming the Australia's conscience of what is right and wrong (Repstad, 2013).
Public healthcare in Australia is provided by both the government and the non-government agencies. Most of these non-government agencies are religious organisations. In Australia, religious organisations and churches play a significant role in the provision of primary healthcare and training of the healthcare workers. Besides, faith-based organisations are involved in activities which promote health. Some of the activities religious organisations participate in include support groups, Community meals, and mentoring programmes (Connell, 2005). Moreover, religious organisations encourage disease screening and conduct health education seminars regularly. Similarly, religious organisations and churches make an enormous contribution to charitable work; hence, improving Australia's social well-being and social infrastructures. Many religious institutes offer services like ambulance, housing services, aged care services, and disability services (Potrafke, 2016). As a result of all these humanitarian services, religion is a symbol of hope and the real meaning of life for Australian society.
In conclusion, it is evident from the essay that religion and religious organisations have a tremendous impact on the Australian society; hence, religion remains a vibrant force in the Australian community. Religious groups have collaborated with the government to improve the lives of the Australians. However, in some instances, religion can be used to perpetuate intolerance hence violence results. For example, in Australia religion has been used to propagate discrimination against those who support same-sex marriages. In fact, during deliberations about the same-sex marriages, religious groups expressed their condemnation of such laws hence causing stigma to the homosexual couples. It is, therefore, advisable not to let religious affiliations impend rational judgment. As a consequence, all Australians should remain tolerant in all that which does not cause damage to the society or personal harm.
Celermajer, D. (2007). If Islam is our other, who are'we'?. Australian Journal of Social Issues,
Connell, J. (2005). Hillsong: a megachurch in the Sydney suburbs. Australian Geographer,
Keneally, K. (2015). A role for religion in Australian democracy. Meanjin, 74(3), 233.
Potrafke, N. (2016). Policies against human trafficking: the role of religion and political
institutions. Economics of Governance, 17(4), 353-386.
Repstad, P. (2013). An introduction to the sociology of religion: classical and contemporary
perspectives. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Turner, B. S. (2014). Religion and contemporary sociological theories. Current Sociology, 62(6),
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