The Atheist Foundation of Australia is not surprised by the lobbying of religious leaders in Perth who are demanding a room be made available for their religious practices in a children’s hospital.

The Western Australian Government has provided a room for multi-faith observance in the hospital, but that’s not good enough for Roger Herft (the Anglican Archbishop of Perth) and other religious leaders.

President of the AFA, Michael Boyd, pointed out the irony of Archbishop Herft in describing the multi-faith room as “an empty shell for people who are grasping for hope”. It is our opinion that quote could be used as an accurate description of prayer itself. Ironically, if prayer cured illness we would not need hospitals.

The AFA supports a scientific, evidence based health care system, and there are no scientific studies verifying the efficacy of prayer. In fact, a study conducted by the Templeton Foundation in 2006 of 1,802 coronary artery bypass surgery patients concluded those who knew they were being prayer for fared worse.

The AFA refutes the assertion by Margaret Court, senior pastor of the Victory Life Centre, that “we are a Judaeo-Christian nation and I think we seem to always be bowing to minority groups and I think it’s very, very wrong.” Australia is not a Judaeo-Christian nation. Australia is a secular nation.

If valuable room is to be set aside for reflection, meditation, solace, or prayer it should accommodate people of all faiths, and those with none. As such, it should not be given over to the symbols of any one religious tradition. Space in an Australian public hospital, built and operated with public funds, should be available to all members of the public who need to use it in a non-discriminatory manner.

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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