There's a lot going on during Donald Trump's presidency… as you may have noticed.
One development that may have slipped your notice is his determination to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which restricts religions and certain not-for-profits from endorsing political candidates or political campaigning. The amendment reinforces the separation between church and state; repealing it is a direct attack on that fundamental democratic principle.
But of course, we don't have a "Trump" in Australia. It couldn't happen here, right? Wrong.
We have the recent spectacle of the City of Casey voting to extend "chaplaincy" into their shopping malls and community groups, indicating a conservative Christian agenda.
There's the upsurge in right-wing parties that generally have religious underpinnings and agendas, Cory Bernardi's being the latest example – and one that is specifically modelled on the rise of Trump.
And we just had the National Prayer Breakfast for returning parliamentarians yet again, perpetuating the dangerous myth that one can't be a successful politician in a secular democracy without asking for help from an imagined supernatural guide.
Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) President Kylie Sturgess said:
"The trend of questioning, speaking out and even taking to the streets and to the ballot box for the rights of women, science, secularism and free speech cannot be dismissed as "someone else's issues, someone else's problems".
If anything, it's demonstrating that everyone can take a stand and show solidarity for our secular and democratic rights – because as history has shown us then and now, you can easily lose those rights unless you speak up for them and even fight for them."
The AFA calls on politicians to remind themselves that Australia was specifically set up as a secular democracy, and that when one wants to serve our country in a political role, this means that personal religious beliefs should be left at home.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 3582
Parramatta NSW 2124
Phone: (02) 8007 4503
Email: [email protected]