Religion in the Australian Constitution

Section 116 of the Australian Constitution prevents the Commonwealth from:

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 for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

In the United States almost identical constitutional wording, section 116 was modeled on the First Amendment to the US Constitution, has been interpreted broadly:

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government... can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another... No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion...
In Australia, a 1981 High Count ruling that federal government financial support to religious schools was not unconstitutional, illustrates the the scope of section 119. Chief Justice Barwick held that in order to breach section 119 a law must be:

intended and designed to set up the religion as an institution of the Commonwealth.
Unlike in the US, the establishment clause in Australia has been interpreted very narrowly.

And as a result we get rubbish like the National School Chaplaincy Program.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

like all atheist, and people like them they cannot tolerate and opther people having their own things or beliefs, yet they stick down other people necks their laws, and then say they are not a religion, atheist are more religion the them all,,,? thruth will always find its way, but a lie, has to have a law to make it leagal, but not right.