The Need

Non-religious solutions are needed for many of Australia’s and the world’s problems.

Only the Secular Party can provide the required policies.

We Believe in:

Separation of Church and State
Individual Freedoms and Choices
Progressive Economic Policies
A Fair and Equitable Society
Secular Solutions to Global Problems

Religions are difficult to talk about – that’s part of the problem. We believe in religious freedom, but not to the extent that religious beliefs should be imposed upon others. Unfortunately, if we look around ourselves realistically, many of our problems today are caused by just that. Those that think they are possessed of the “one true religion” assume they are entitled to impose their beliefs upon others. We disagree.

After centuries of religious warfare in Europe, modern civilisation was built on the concept of secularism – the separation of religion from the public sphere. With the problem of terrorism, and the even greater problems caused by the “war on terror”, many of the pillars on which our civilisation was built are eroding. Our liberties are being curtailed by draconian legislation. Internationally, the rule of law is being disregarded. Rational thought is no longer considered paramount. Secularism has been eroded and replaced by tacit endorsement of all forms of religion, especially in education. Religious intolerance is increasing, as is social disharmony.johnlennon1

We aim to reverse these trends and reassert the ideal of establishing truth through reason and observation. We aim to re-establish the ideal that represents the only real alternative to sectarian strife – the ideal of secularism, based on the universal values of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice. In view of the many problems that humanity faces in the 21st century, this is a critical task. We need your support, and your help.

In his song “Imagine”, which is of increased relevance today, John Lennon thought of a world without countries and without religion, where there would be no motivation to kill and die and where people could live in peace and brotherhood.

We hope you’ll join us. Today!

Authorised by John Goldbaum, Secular Party of Australia,
7 Rockwall Crescent, Potts Point NSW 2011

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About Religion

Views on religion

The Melboune Atheist Society and the Secular Party is not anti-religion in the sense that we believe that people should be free to indulge their beliefs, provided they do not infringe the rights of others. So while we support freedom of religion, we recognise that, as with any freedom, there are inevitable limitations that must be applied in support of the public good. Where religious practitioners err, we contend, is in presuming that the supposed authenticity of their beliefs gives rise to a right to impose their beliefs on others. progress_evolutionToReligion

Belief in religions requires faith, which necessarily entails a departure from rationality. It is widely presumed that this departure is either desirable or acceptable. The Secular Party questions this presumption. On the basis that the validity of any contention must in some way be tested on the basis of reason and observation, we assert that, due to their lack of supporting evidence, and due to their numerous contradictions with each other, within themselves, and with known facts, we cannot accept that any religion could be true.

The fact that people willingly adhere to false beliefs is not necessarily harmful. Indeed, we concede that in providing psychological consolation and in inspiring charitable works, the practice of belief may be somewhat beneficial. We contend however, that only wilful blindness to the violence and destruction caused by religion, over centuries and to the present day, could obscure the fact that religions are on balance harmful to society. Whatever moral, charitable or consoling advantages religions may have had, in the 21st century these are best obtained by other means.

In a climate of tolerance and multiculturalism it has become taboo to question the authenticity of anyone’s religious belief. In sympathy with the motivation behind this convention, the Secular Party also seeks a harmonious and peaceful world. However we contend that is it wrong not to confront beliefs that are not only false but harmful. This confrontation must extend, not only to extremist beliefs, but to all false religious beliefs, since all carry the potential of causing harm. The Secular Party thus advocates rational discourse as the antidote to delusion and unfounded bigotry.

While in an ideal world we might prefer that all religious practices and freedoms should be conducted in private between consenting adults, we are realistic enough to accept that this will not be achieved. However we certainly think curtailing government support, endorsement, subsidy and promotion of religion is possible. This we vigorously advocate.

On religion in particular, the time appears to me to have come, when it is a duty of all who, being qualified in point of knowledge, have, on mature consideration, satisfied themselves that the current opinions are not only false, but hurtful, to make their dissent known. John Stuart Mill


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Policy Directions

The Problems We Face

The world today faces grave problems never before encountered in human existence. Global conflicts caused by religious delusions threaten civil disorder and destruction, such that the continued existence of civilisation as we know it is at risk. In addition, global warming threatens the environment of the planet, portending such disaster to the extent that, again, civilisation as we know it is under threat. No policies currently exist that effectively deal with these problems. Here, we outline some policy directions that are designed to address these two most critical issues. Outlines of the policies of the Secular Party on other matters may be found elsewhere on this web site, further details of which will be forthcoming.

In the Middle East, the delusory presumption that Judaic mythology is literal and factual has led to the assertion of territorial claims that have ignited a firestorm of conflict. This has particularly inflamed believers in Islam, which is a religion that its adherents claim originated from the revelations of an angel in a cave. While this is perhaps no more implausible than the doctrines of any other religion, the effects of this religion on its adherents, and on others, is particularly devastating. The Secular Party believes not only that all sides are victims of violence due to the religious beliefs of others, but that they are also in fact victims of their own beliefs.

Adding to this volatile mix, the Christian majority in the most powerful country in the world, the United States, believe that they have a divinely ordained Manifest Destiny to lead the world, and in effect, to rule it. The United States has at times been a great force for good in the world. However the situation now exists where an American leader believes that he has been divinely chosen to use the world’s most powerful military forces to act in accordance with his delusory religious beliefs. This situation is critically dangerous. The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world is dangerously wide and the threshold to their use is dangerously low.

Apart from the threat of destruction by nuclear weapons, global society also faces the gradual erosion of the secular values on which it depends. Particularly at risk are the essential pillars of civil liberties and the rule of law. At a time when global rules and co-operation are increasingly necessary, international law, as agreed in United Nations charters and conventions, is being increasingly disregarded in the name of national self-interest and the so called “war on terror”. In gross abrogation of its responsibilities of global leadership, perhaps the biggest culprit in this regard is the United States of America.

In this political climate it is perhaps little wonder that the other critical global issue, that of global warming, has received so little attention in terms of the effective and rational proposals for remedial action that it desperately requires. The Secular Party here offers its proposals regarding these critical issues. The solution to global conflict requires a solution in the Middle East. The solution to global warming requires that we stop, or at least drastically reduce, the burning of coal. In offering these solutions, there is no more important a function that the Secular Party can perform.

In a political context, the solutions we offer are no doubt courageous. Many people, even those inclined to secular views, may find them difficult to accept or may even find them emotionally abhorrent. We ask that you try to eschew any emotional reaction and think about the proposals rationally. The issues deserve this form of attention. If this is done, we are confident that it will be seen that in fact there is no other form of solution possible.

The Secular Party solution to the Middle East

That religions are delusions there is no doubt. That the delusions are pathological, the evidence is overwhelming. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Middle East. It seems that there, not only is the conflict founded in delusion, but that the solutions commonly proposed are also entirely delusory. This applies in particular to the proposed two-state solution. The so-called road map to peace is in reality a road map to nowhere. This is not just because the conception of a Palestinian state that the current Israeli position would allow amounts to such a limited grant of sovereignty that no responsible Palestinian authority could be reasonably expected to accept. It is because even if a viable independent Palestinian state could have been established, which unfortunate Israeli “facts on the ground” have now prevented, there is simply no way that this would have permanently resolved the underlying grievances.

The Holocaust against Jews was the greatest crime against humanity ever committed in history. Resulting feelings of injustice and guilt led to the formation of the state of Israel. Prior impetus to realisation of the Zionist dream was given by the Balfour declaration and a similar U.S. Congressional resolution which stated in part “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christians and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. This part of the bargain has never been honoured. The concept of a nation that seeks to define itself in terms of its ethnic or religious identity, as Israel does, is an anachronism and is totally at variance with universal secular values.

The only possible long-term solution to the Middle East problem, consistent with principles of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice, is a unitary secular state in which all people have equal rights. This will perhaps require a degree of compromise that all sides will find painful to accept. To allay Jewish fears that a specific homeland is required for their security, the Secular Party proposes that a coalition of countries be formed that will guarantee their asylum in the event of their persecution. In the proposed unitary secular state, no religion should be presumed authentic and no rights or privileges should be granted on the basis of claimed ethnicity or religious belief.

The primary obstacles in achieving this solution are firstly the Judaic beliefs that presume exclusive territorial entitlement, and secondly the irreconcilable Islamic beliefs that also necessitate superior claims to territory. The key to dissipating this irreconcilability is simply to put forward the proposition, which is impeccably based in reason, that the beliefs on which the conflict is based are false, unnecessary, undesirable, harmful, and based on nothing more than ancient mythology. Astoundingly, it seems that perhaps no political leader anywhere has ever put forward this proposition.

The Secular Party believes that reason and rationality can prevail over superstition and delusion, and that they must. This may not be as daunting a task as may be supposed. It is not long ago that the addictive and harmful practice of cigarette smoking was considered acceptable, desirable, and was widely promoted and widely practised. More recently, with limitations on promotion and health warnings, the habit of smoking has been greatly reduced. Religion is a similarly harmful addiction but has not been recognised as such. Perversely, it is still widely promoted, encouraged, even enforced. It is the mission of the Secular Party, within a political context, to seek to reverse this trend wherever possible by promoting reason and secular ideals. Nowhere is this more relevant and necessary than in relation to the issue of Israel and Palestine. Once secular ideals are implemented, the Zionist dream of Israel being “a light to the world”, will truly have been achieved.

Only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities of the world today. Without a doubt it is the prime aggravator of the Middle East. Those of us who for years have politely concealed our contempt for the dangerous collective delusion of religion need to stand up and speak out. Things are different now. “All is changed, changed utterly.” Richard Dawkins

The Secular Party solution to global warming

That global warming is upon us and that greenhouse gas emissions are responsible is a proposition that cannot be ignored. The potential for global catastrophe is too great. Scientists warn that world emissions of carbon dioxide need to be reduced by at least 50 per cent to stabilise the climate. Yet even with the Kyoto protocol and all other proposed measures in place, the best estimate is that global emissions will increase by 50 percent by 2050. That is, the problem is not even remotely being addressed in the manner required.

The solution will be painful and costly which is no doubt part of the reason it has been avoided. Short term thinking, ignorance and cowardice on the part of politicians, local and national self-interest, and the lack of a global ethic are perhaps other reasons. One might also conjecture that, as with religion, susceptibility to mass delusion and inability to face reality might also be a contributing factor.

Most carbon dioxide is produced by the burning of coal and hydrocarbons in industry, transportation and in power generation. There are unfortunately few viable alternatives to using hydrocarbon liquid fuels and gas. In any case supply shortages and rising prices are eventually going to limit their use. We must focus our attention on the use of coal. Most of this is used in power generation. It is here that the greatest potential for substitution may be found. Proposed carbon dioxide emissions trading schemes are inadequate and in any case insufficiently targeted. We need to focus on seeking to eliminate the free burning of coal.

Coal is Australia’s primary energy source, and our major export commodity. We have 200 years of reserves. Coal fired plants produce the cheapest electricity. The grim reality however is that we must drastically scale down the use and sale of these reserves. It is said that with billions of dollars of new investment, coal fired plants can be made more efficient and produce less greenhouse gas. This appears to ignore the basic fact that for every atom of coal (carbon) burned, one molecule of carbon dioxide is produced. No amount of political or commercial spin can alter the basic law of nature embodied in this chemical reaction. No further investment should be made in emitting coal fired plants, and all resources should be devoted to alternatives including nuclear.

The only way to properly address the problem is to impose a tax on the use of coal. This will need to be a substantial tax, in order to induce reallocation of resources away from coal into other forms of energy production. Japan has already implemented a small tax in this regard. However there is no reason to suppose that any country would unilaterally disadvantage itself to the extent required. Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter and will continue to dominate the international coal trade. What is not often considered, is that due to inelastic demand, an export tax on coal would increase national export revenues, not decrease them.

As an interim measure the Secular Party proposes an International Coal Tax, to be levied per tonne on internationally traded coal. Given Australia’s dominance of the global coal trade, it is incumbent upon Australia to initiate this proposal. The fact that coal is a highly visible commodity will assist implementation. Administratively, the tax could operate in a manner similar to that proposed for the Tobin tax on international currency transactions. An export tax on coal will serve as a precursor to the introduction of a more general global carbon tax.

This tax would operate in addition to proposed trading schemes for carbon dioxide emissions. International agreement may be easier to secure than for Kyoto type agreements because of the more limited number of exporters involved and because incentive could be provided in that revenues from the International Coal Tax could be used to compensate exporters and to assist them in restructuring their domestic energy production industries. Higher world coal prices would provide incentives for diversification of energy production globally. A similar tax, by agreement, should be applied to coal for domestic use, in all countries. The Secular Party suggests that the tax could be introduced at a rate of US$5.00 per tonne of coal, rated by carbon content. (This is equivalent to a tax of about $1.60 per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide.) The tax would then be increased by an additional $5.00 per a year, indefinitely. A proportion of the International Coal Tax revenue would be used to assist developing countries with the required adjustment.

Whatever the eventual details may be, it is obvious that some drastic measures of this kind are required. They will be extremely expensive and initially unpopular. The costs of doing nothing however, in terms of future global climatic catastrophe, may be far higher. The Secular Party believes that in offering reasoned and rational policies in this regard, the imperatives of human survival can provide persuasive arguments.

While all forms of renewable energy should be explored, the economics of which would become more viable with a higher coal price, it seems that the global restructuring or energy production world wide will be impossible without increased deployment of nuclear energy. The reason that Australia, per capita, has the highest per capita production of green house gasses in the world is because we do not have any nuclear power plants. Anomalously, we are a major uranium exporter. Like it or not, we must investigate the commissioning of the construction of nuclear power plants, as a matter of urgency.

A key aim of the Secular Party is to support a rational approach to human problems. Effectively dealing with the problem of global warming will likely require an international mobilisation of resources never before seen in peacetime. It will require an unprecedented level of goodwill and co-operation. This will not be achieved without the active promotion of a global ethic based on the universal values of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice. Instead the world is currently preoccupied with conflicts based on ancient religious ideologies that should have been confined to the dustbin of history centuries ago.

Few,even among climate scientists and ecologists, seem yet to realise fully the potential severity, or the imminence, of catastrophic global disaster; understanding is still in the conscious mind alone and not yet the visceral reaction of fear. We lack an intuitive sense, an instinct, that tells us when Gaia is in danger. James Lovelock

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Policy details of the Secular Party

Education

The Secular Party recognises the economic and social importance of education and its role in the promotion of universal secular values and social harmony. The Secular Party supports the 19th century notion that education be “universal, secular and free”. In recent decades, this principle has been disregarded, and there has been a massive shift in funding towards private schools. Privilege has been entrenched and indoctrination encouraged. The seeds of future divisiveness and sectarianism have been sown. We seek to reverse these trends.

The Secular Party recognises the public good of public education. This is best provided by high quality and inclusive government schools, incorporating teaching based on universal values and principles.

The Secular Party also supports an adequately funded tertiary education sector. The future economic health of the country depends upon investment in education.

Tax exemptions for religion

Religious institutions receive significant advantages in terms of tax exemptions and benefits. At the same time these institutions are largely unaccountable for their receipt and distribution of funds. The policy of the Secular Party is to end these religious tax exemptions and subsidies. This will benefit the average taxpayer and a level playing field will be provided for all charities.

Oaths and Prayers

Oaths sworn in association with a chosen religious book have legal standing in Australia. Prayers to a particular deity are used to open parliaments and religious references are made on other ceremonial occasions. The veracity of such oaths and the solemnity of such occasions is not enhanced by such references.

The Secular Party believes that all citizens should be bound by the same undertaking, irrespective of their religion or non-religion, and that ceremonial references to religious beings are anachronistic, ethnocentric and divisive. It is our policy therefore that affirmations be taken, following which a religious oath may also be sworn upon request. On ceremonial occasions it is our policy that these entail pledges of loyalty to principles, and to the people of Australia.

Personal Freedoms

Personal freedoms should be based on modern secular humanist principles. Only secularism can guarantee religious freedom and we endorse this freedom. However those that adhere to faith-based morality frequently seek to impose their religious views on the entire population. This occurs in policies concerning areas such as abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, drug policy and gay rights.

The Secular Party believes in equal human rights. Same sex couples should receive the same privileges as heterosexual couples, in inheritance, and for all ceremonial, legal and medical purposes. Our policies on issues of high moral content such as abortion and euthanasia favour freedom of choice, and are based on rational assessment of the relevant issues.

Civil Rights

The rights of citizens have been curtailed as a result of the ‘war on terror’. There is a risk that these new laws will produce greater alienation amongst target groups. Citizens therefore need the protection of legislation that protects human rights. The Secular Party endorses and supports a Bill of Rights Act such as that proposed by New Matilda. The purpose of this act is to formalise in Australia rights that have already been agreed to in international treaties that Australia has signed and ratified.

Religious Attire

The Secular Party believes that ideally, expression of religious belief should be a private matter for adults. However we endorse the right of adult individuals to wear clothing of their choice.

The Secular Party believes that the religious indoctrination of children in schools violates the rights of the child. The requirement, whether by parents or schools, that children wear religious attire, is a form of indoctrination. The Secular Party therefore opposes this practice. It is the policy of the Secular Party that all forms of religious attire be prohibited in all government schools.

Censorship

The Secular Party supports the right to access information and entertainment, in private, free from censorship dictated by religious ideas. We acknowledge the need for censorship for reasons such as violence and child pornography and to accord with accepted standards on public decency.

Economic Policy

The Secular Party stands for the use of balanced judgement in economics, rather than any ideology. We recognise the general need for balanced budgets but do not accept free market fundamentalism. In cases of market failure, government intervention is required. We recognise that Australia’s structural trade deficit and burgeoning foreign debt is unsustainable and must be addressed by appropriate industry policies.

Republic

The Secular Party recognises that monarchies embody the concept of hereditary privilege, and that this is incompatible with the principle of equal human rights. The British monarch is also head of the Church of England. Having the monarch as the Australian Head of State is thus a violation of the basic secular principle of separation of church and state. It is therefore the policy of the Secular Party that Australia become a republic, with an Australian head of state.

The Secular Party recognises there are many other motivations for a republic, including that the people of Australia be ultimately sovereign and the source of any authority in government.

Defence

Strategic defence planning, as indicted by scheduled purchase of military equipment for the army, navy and air force, indicates the assumption that the future use of the Australian Defence Force will be used for long range external purposes in association with the United States. The Secular Party acknowledges the need for alliances, but does not accept that these should predetermine our entire defence strategy. We therefore will restructure our defence capabilities in favour of greater self-reliance.

International Law

The Secular Party recognises that civilisation is sustained by the rule of law. Globally we support the enhancement of the International Criminal Court as a means of dealing with problems, rather than arbitrary superpower intervention. We support the development of international corporate law as a means of addressing adverse transnational corporate behaviour.

International Secularism

We recognise that secularism is a principle that has wide application in solving a number of global issues. We support the concept of comprehensive secularism, (as defined by the International Humanist and Ethical Union) which entails not only impartiality between religions and the separation of religion from state institutions, but also the intervention, where necessary, to protect human rights from violation by religious assertions and injunctions.

Israel-Palestine

The Secular Party is opposed to theocracies, whether Christian, Islamic or Judaic. A state that preserves privileges to a particular religious, ethnic or national group violates secular principles and universal human rights. The Secular Party advocates that the only possible long term solution is one in which all citizens have equal rights.

Global Warming

We recognise global warming as a significant and dire threat to global civilisation. To address the problem, global carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced dramatically. Existing “cap and trade” proposals may not achieve anything like the magnitude of reduction required. They may therefore be a counterproductive diversion. The required emission reduction can best be achieved by the global cessation of emissions from coal fired electricity generation. This requires the phased introduction of a carbon tax, nationally and internationally.

The cost of investment in alternative energy production will be at least a hundred billion dollars in Australia alone. This can be financed from revenue from the coal tax. To facilitate the introduction of this tax internationally, and to ease the transition for Australian industry, the Secular Party proposes an International Coal Tax to be levied on coal exports, in conjunction with other coal exporters. Revenue from the tax will be distributed domestically and internationally to assist structural adjustment and provide welfare compensation.

All forms of alternative base load energy production will need to be utilised, including geothermal, tidal and nuclear. Given Australia’s prominence in the world supply of uranium, the Secular Party considers that it is Australia’s responsibility, and to our advantage, to participate in all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, including power generation and waste disposal.

Law and Order

The Secular Party recognises the need for incarceration to prevent harm, to foster reform and as a deterrent. Revenge should not be a motivation in punishment. The Secular Party advocates policies that stress rehabilitation, crime prevention and harm minimisation.

Medical Research

The Secular Party endorses all medical research, with appropriate ethical oversight, that benefits humanity. This should not be limited by misguided or religiously inspired “sanctity of life” prohibitions. We do not support research involving animals for purposes such as the development of cosmetics.

Health

The Secular Party recognises the need for health services to be accessible and affordable for all citizens, including dental care and prescription medicines. We recognise that multiple funding streams together with the burden of oversight means that private health insurance, and particularly public subsidies for private health care, are an additional inefficient burden and should be removed.

We further recognise cost shifting and perverse incentives through the tension between State and Federal Governments as a major problem in providing adequate funding, necessitating thorough reform of Federal-State health arrangements.

Intellectual Property

The Secular Party recognises that intellectual property rights protect the interests of creators and provide incentives for innovation. However, property rights should not be derived from non-creative findings. Native communities should maintain ownership of innovations derived from their custodial knowledge, and patents derived from the human genome – the custodial property of us all – should be limited.

Recognising that such rights are a reciprocal arrangement, and the need for ideas to return to the public domain, our policy is that copyright not be extended to more than 50 years after the author’s death (as compared to the current 70 years).

Intellectual property rights should not subvert long held understandings about what “ownership” means – they should not limit an owner’s freedom to make continued private non-commercial use and copying of a purchased item.

The Free Trade Agreement with the USA is noted to have damaged an equitable property rights approach; we therefore support the renegotiation of the Free Trade Agreement and limitation of its inequitable consequences.

Welfare

The Secular Party recognises that those who have become marginalised in society, such as drug users, criminals, mentally ill, need support and fair treatment. We view that unwarranted cuts to services, that push responsibilities back to carers or others, merely create further problems. Our policy is to provide incentives for individuals and companies to support individuals in need.

The Secular Party recognises the crisis in housing affordability. We recognise the need for Government intervention, including the need for the provision of public housing.

Children

The Secular Party believes that the UN International Convention on the Rights of the Child should be enshrined in legislation so that children receive fair and equitable treatment, without being taken advantage of or being abused. We endorse institutions that support and educate parents in parenting issues including preschools, schools as well as other organisations that support the family.

Reconciliation

In order for a democratic society to prosper its people and communities must show respect for each other. Even though individuals involved in past wrong doing may no longer be present, when the institutions within which they acted remain, it is a necessary first step towards future understanding and cooperation for those institutions to acknowledge their wrong doing and apologise.

Other Policy Areas:

The Secular Party is engaged in continuing discussion on policy development. While detailing our policy in the following areas the Party will use the same secular humanist values that have been used to develop its other policies. If you feel you could contribute, please feel free to join the party and assist us in our policy development in these areas:

  • Environment
  • Population
  • Industrial Relations
  • Immigration

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Secular solutions to Global problems

We stand for:

  • Upholding and strengthening international law
  • Application of the rule of law in combating terrorism
  • Promoting secular values, laws and constitutions worldwide
  • Asserting the rights of children to be free of religious indoctrination
  • Rational solutions to global problems based on international cooperation
  • Strengthening of the Kyoto agreement to provide an international carbon tax

We stand against:

  • Unilateral pre-emptive military action
  • The policy of any country that seeks to promote a sectarian religious agenda
  • Policies based on the presumption of religious superiority
  • Theocracies of any kind, be they Judaic, Christian or Islamic

The unlawful invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not only the greatest travesty of justice in modern history, it was also the greatest strategic blunder. Religion not only inspires the modern scourge of terrorism, it has also inspired many of the most egregious acts in the so called ‘war on terror’, including the disastrous invasion of Iraq.

The breakdown in the rule of law internationally, the widespread and significant erosions of civil liberties, the prevalence of dangerous myths and superstitions, combined with the proliferation of destructive means, portend of a most alarming global scenario. It is urgently necessary that secular values and rational modes of thought be advocated, defended, and secular policies adopted world wide. The Secular Party undertakes to use all possible means to further the secular agenda internationally.

The core problem in the Middle East will never be resolved until all sides agree to put aside their religious claims to territory, claims that are derived from mythology rather than legitimate rights. The Secular Party advocates for Israel and Palestine what is in fact the only possible long-term solution – a unified secular state, where all have equal rights and no-one has any entitlements to impose or infringe upon the rights of others based on their religious belief or allegiance.

The disruption caused by the continuing strife associated with this religious dispute is a gross distraction and an impediment to taking action on the most significant global problem that we face – global warming. This problem is urgent and requires rational action to be taken at a global level. It is quite apparent that the amount of coal burnt annually in power plants must be severely reduced, and that this will require the massive global deployment of all forms of non-fossil fuel electricity generation, including nuclear. This will be extremely expensive. The Secular Party advocates that this be funded by the introduction of an international tax on the use of carbon fuel.

 

 

“Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not survive an elementary school education. That so many of us are still dying on account of ancient myths is as bewildering as it is horrible, and our own attachment to these myths, whether moderate or extreme, has kept us silent in the face of developments that could ultimately destroy us. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past.” – Sam Harris

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A Fair and Equitable Society – Secular Viewpoints

We believe in:

  • Equal opportunity for all children
  • Universal secular education
  • Compulsory sex and drug education
  • Anti-discrimination and anti-homophobia education
  • Harm minimisation for drug users
  • Crime prevention, not large prison populations
  • Proper funding for our health system
  • Fair wages and conditions
  • Lower taxes and a broader tax base
  • Properly funded social security and pensions
  • A secular republic with an Australian head of state

The Secular Party believes that to build a better society requires greater respect for secular values and morals based on universal principles such as compassion, freedom and justice. Developing freedom of thought, unconstrained by artificial divisions caused by religion and prejudice, is the best way of inspiring dedication to this common purpose. Laying these foundations within the education system is an essential step on the path to a fair and equitable society.

A rational solution to many social questions can be found by better application of the proposition that prevention is better than cure. The transparent application of balanced judgement in pursuit of objective principles is the best way of inspiring citizens to act responsibly. Justice must be seen to de done.

A society where compensation is based on inherited privilege rather than merit is inherently more inequitable. The Secular Party is in favour of an Australian Republic because the concept of hereditary privilege as embodied in the monarch as head of state cannot be morally or practically justified.

“The principle of utility is … that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the [benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or] happiness … not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.” Jeremy Bentham


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Progressive Economic Policies

The Secular Party stands for:

  • Balanced budgets over the long term
  • Increasing the competitiveness of Australian industry
  • Reducing the trade deficit
  • Encouraging new technologies
  • Using the benefits of economic growth for the long-term advantage of all
  • Implementing an international tax on currency transfers (Tobin tax)
  • Implementing an international carbon tax

The Secular Party recognises that the age-old struggle between forces of labour and capital is no longer the major determinant in political economy. Unlike the major parties, we have no allegiance to the sectional interests of labour or capital. The Secular Party bases its economic policies on judgements concerning the long-term public interest and in the interests of global humanity.

In doing so we are guided by the heritage of the classical economists of the Enlightenment, including both Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham. The Secular Party is also not so constrained by ideology to suppose that the macroeconomic management insights established by J. M. Keynes will never again be relevant. We therefore maintain that balanced government budgets, over the long term, as well as a balanced foreign trade account, are legitimate concerns of government policy.

We recognise that the benefits of capitalism are derived neither by exploitation nor by the exertion of monopoly power of any kind. Such benefits, as are apparent in the continuous rise in living standards that have been sustained for over two hundred years, are due not to any religion, but to what is in fact a Humanist phenomenon – technical progress and commercial innovation. The Secular Party has as its core philosophy the development and maintenance of economic policies that support this process.

The major economic challenges that lie ahead derive from international inequity and environmental problems associated with oil resource depletion and global warming. Insufficient provision has been made in Australia for looming environmental problems, especially in terms of water conservation and addressing dry land salinity.

Eliminating world poverty is a feasible goal, requiring the fostering of aid, trade and good governance, but will not be achieved without a far greater degree of international good will and co-operation. The continuing and egregious nature of global religious conflict is a severe impediment to achieving the co-operation required. Secular values must be promoted and secular policies implemented far more widely in order to achieve this.

Addressing global inequity requires genuine trade liberalisation, but this alone is insufficient. To provide global funds for poverty reduction programs, the Secular Party supports the implementation of a tax on international currency transactions (the Tobin tax).

It is necessary that the combustion of carbon by the electricity generation industry world wide be drastically reduced. Highest priority must be given to the introduction of taxes on carbon emissions. As an additional measure, due to the urgency of the global warming situation, the Secular Party proposes a tax on the international trade in coal, the proceeds of which should be mandated to providing alternative energy programmes, particularly in those countries adversely affected by the tax.

The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future. John Maynard Keynes

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Individual Freedom and Choices

The Secular Party of Australia believes in personal freedom

We stand for:

  • A woman’s right to choose an abortion
  • Voluntary euthanasia
  • The right to die
  • Embryonic stem cell research
  • Same-sex marriage

We stand against:

  • Censorship
  • Religious indoctrination of minors
  • Counter-productive “anti-terror” restrictions on civil liberties

Religious values have an unwarranted tendency to intrude into moral affairs. Religious people often claim the right to prevent others from engaging in harmless consensual activity, merely because their own religious preconceptions are offended. We oppose such arrogant intrusion. We believe in equality – in all respects.

Religious values also presume, again on the basis of misconceived dogma, to prevent scientific research that benefits all humanity. We oppose such detrimental interference, often based on religious notions of morality, which have no objective basis.

The Secular Party believes that children should be protected from harmful influences. They should be able, via education, to develop to their full potential as human beings, with the capacity for freedom of thought unimpaired by religious biases. We are opposed to religious indoctrination in education, including via the wearing of religious attire in schools.

A major problem with the religiously inspired ‘war on terror’ is that it is likely to make the problem of terrorism worse. The restrictions on freedom of speech and association that have been imposed in this cause will merely result in greater alienation and hence resort to covert activities. The Secular Party believes in the free expression of religious views, so that the often venal and sinister nature of many such views should be more readily apparent.

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” Richard Dawkins

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The Separation of Church and State

We stand for:

  • Teaching secular values in education
  • Phasing out of government funding for religious schools
  • Removing religious references from statutory oaths and pledges
  • Abolishing parliamentary prayers
  • Ending state support for religious institutions and personnel
  • Removal of tax advantages for religious institutions

We stand against:

  • Religious indoctrination of minors
  • The wearing of religious attire in schools
  • Government support or endorsement of any religion

The separation of “church and state” is the essence of secularism. In view of Section 116 of Australia’s constitution, (“The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance …”), it is commonly believed that Australia is already a “secular state”. This is a gross misconception. In 1981, the High Court determined that there is in fact no constitutional separation of church and state in Australia. Partly as a result, rather than a secular state, Australia now more closely resembles a pluralistic theocracy, where numerous religions have been “established”. gbw-secularism

Despite this however there is nothing in the constitution that necessitates the legislative establishment of multiple religions, or that prevents the creation of a truly secular state. This is what the Secular Party proposes to achieve.

The trend of recent decades towards the effective state endorsement of multiple religions, if not reversed, will have dire consequences for the future harmony of Australian society. Despite all pretences towards tolerance, religions necessarily engender a false sense of moral superiority. This is inherently divisive and is becoming increasingly problematic, in Australia and globally.

The intrusion of particular religious opinions into public life, in such a way that the rights and privileges of all citizens may be affected, is unwarranted. This generally arises due to unjustified presumptions of religious superiority, resulting in imposition of inappropriate and archaic value systems. The Secular Party asserts the superiority of universal value systems independent of any religion, and asserts the right of all citizens, anywhere, to be free from laws based on unfounded and mythological religious doctrines.

The Secular Party believes that it is imperative that Australia leads the way in establishing a society free of sectarian strife arising from ancient beliefs, especially those for which there is no evidence or which contradict known facts. It is urgently necessary for Australia, and for the world, to assume a globalist ethic based on universal moral principles. Without this, freedom and democracy may prove increasingly difficult to maintain.

“In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot.” Thomas Jefferson

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Authorised by John Goldbaum, Secular Party of Australia,
7 Rockwall Crescent, Potts Point NSW 2011

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Atheist Society Lectures

Atheist Society : Lectures

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The Atheist Society was formed in 1990, and has been having holding lectures/meetings every month since then.

To view the up and coming lectures, you can find the next few on the front page, or a more comprehensive list can be found here.

Records of previous lectures can be found here.

There are several different other meetings that are held at different times.

Please see the Melbourne Atheist Meetup.com website for more information.

Meetings in other locations will be arranged as required.

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