Today Barry Hickey, Catholic Archbishop of Perth, declared that Julia Gillard’s Atheism could influence Christian voters not to vote Labor.
This statement is of grave concern given that the two competing leaders’ standpoints on social welfare, economic policy and a multitude of other factors would be completely ignored on the basis of personal beliefs.
David Nicholls, President of the Atheist Foundation of Australia stated “This kind of action represents the polar opposite of making an educated, informed and balanced choice on Election Day. Private and personal philosophy about the existence of a god should not affect a person’s ability to govern a country effectively, especially one made up of people with many faiths and none.”
“What a shame that the group Archbishop Hickey speaks for shows intolerance for people with differing personal beliefs and philosophies. I wonder what this group would state should a Hindu or Muslim candidate for PM be put forward for example?” Mr Nicholls said.
There should be no place for this kind of intolerance in Australia.
Perhaps this radical idea to vote for a candidate solely based on religion comes from fears that the “…Prime Minister will undermine the special privileges that churches enjoy…” as stated by Archbishop Hickey. This comes off the back of a recent Senate inquiry into tax breaks provided to religious groups that amassed combined earnings in excess of 30 billion tax free dollars last year (much of which was not ploughed back into charitable works).
Julia Gillard has outwardly stated that “In terms of the work that the Catholic Church does, that other churches and religious groups do in our society I am a big respecter.” This should be sufficient for the Australian community, especially coming from a leader operating at this level of government.
The Atheist Foundation of Australia urges all of its members, along with the Australian public to closely examine each party’s policy statements and commitments before making their choice, rather than choosing based on religious beliefs or non-beliefs.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc