Thursday, 1 June 2017

Sick and tired of having religion forced down your throat in a secular democracy? Want the third tier of government to remain neutral? You're probably not the only one

Once again Clarence Valley Council is making a mockery of the separation of church and state.

Not content with the affront to secular democracy by having an ‘opening prayer’ read out at the start of each council meeting, in recent years the council has frequently imported ministers of religion to read this prayer.

Have they never noticed that not everyone in the visitors section will rise for the prayer?

A prayer which is somewhat humorously referred to on occasion as being “non-denominational” – although it is often so packed with Christian imagery that one wonders if the council understands the meaning of the word or the fact that there are literally hundreds of non-Christian religions and belief systems in existence.

Now the current set of councillors want to formalise this affront to genuine democracy by including that prayer in the Code of Meeting Practice.

Did they never ponder the fact that organised religions are not benign, disinterested parties – they are major players on the political stage. For centuries right down to the modern era they have made or broken both kings and governments in an effort to assert social control.

Are councillors not aware of the low repute of established religions due to centuries of institutionalised child abuse and misogyny inflicted on their followers, including abuse victims now living in the Clarence Valley local government area?

Do they not recall that a certain minister of religion was a Clarence Valley councillor who supported the Opening Prayer during his time on council - frequently reciting this prayer himself at the invitation of the mayor. He was later implicated in evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concerning failure to report such abuse and was defrocked in 2015.

Have they never observed that 22.3 per cent of people living in Australia answered they had “no religion” to the optional question on their 2011 Census forms? Or that the Australian Bureau of Statistics expects that percentage to rise in the 2016 Census results.

What on earth were these nine eight elected men and women thinking when they resolved to include that amendment and impose their personal religious world views on an entire electorate?

Such arrogance quite takes my breath away.

Clarence Valley residents and ratepayers have until 4pm on Friday 9 June 2017 to send religion out of the council chamber and out of local government politics.

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