The recent episode of ABC's Q&A called "Church And State" had plenty of food for thought, with an estimated religious studio audience of around 70%, and included an audience member's question which compared the 'marginalisation of Christians' in modern society to Stalin's purges.
While excellent points were raised during the show about indigenous people's rights and the ongoing issues religion has with inclusiveness, sexism and prejudice against LGBTI communities – there was a distinct tone of anti-secularist feeling throughout the evening.
With a completely god-worshiping panel on display, the biggest question should have been – where was everyone else? Why didn't those without any gods have a chance to respond in person?
Atheist Foundation of Australia President Kylie Sturgess was in the audience, and she observed:
"There were a number of highly engaged and enthusiastic atheists, secularists and humanists not only attending the ABC recording but viewing the show from home. If social media is only a small indication of the public perception, it is high time that the nation's broadcaster steps up to the challenge and actually allows the irreligious some airtime.
We see negative perceptions, persecution and bias against those outside religions regularly on international news feeds – is the ABC too scared to discuss these matters and the ramifications for our country?"
We urge the ABC to consider getting in touch with great atheist communicators, philosophers and commentators who we'd be proud to view on our screens – such as (and by no means an exhaustive list) Russell Blackford, Leslie Cannold, Peter FitzSimons, Jane Caro, Phillip Adams, Andrew Denton and Ron Williams. We also encourage up-and-coming atheist spokespeople to make themselves be known.
It is also recommended that anyone, regardless of whether they believe in god or not, contact the ABC's Q&A program and ask them to restore some balance by getting a "Churchless and State" episode in the near future.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 3582
Parramatta NSW 2124
Phone: (02) 8007 4503