Dear Premier Weatherill,

The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) writes in reply to the contents of a letter from Archbishop Philip Wilson to you, as published on the website of The Advertiser on 1 February 2014. We represent Australian atheists, skeptics and non-believers – the second-largest and fastest-growing demographic in the 2011 Census.

As such, we would take issue with the Archbishop’s assertions that “many South Australians” would automatically agree with his stance, including his presuming to speak for those of other religious persuasions.

The AFA is deeply concerned that Archbishop Wilson has seen fit to use his public position to formally request government censorship of ideas and content that he ostensibly does not agree with, and/or takes offense to. Freedom of expression is a vital democratic right, and is not contingent on whether or not someone merely chooses to take offence (in this case, also based on imperfect knowledge of the content that is being objected to).

If religious leaders regard even humorous commentary as “outrageous” and “deeply offensive” and therefore warranting government censorship, it merely underlines an intolerance to questioning and basic accountability – allied concepts also vital to the health of our secular democracy. Unfortunately, Archbishop Wilson’s claims to be a “strong advocate for freedom of speech, and supporter of the arts” are not borne out on this particular occasion.

Your reply statement that it is not the Government’s role to control such matters is most welcome, and the AFA wishes to publicly endorse and support this.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Boyd

Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595

Phone: (08) 8835 2269
Email: [email protected]

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