About The Victorian Secular Lobby

what secularism means
Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? .
James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, 20 June 1785

The word 'secular' comes the Medieval Latin "secularis", meaning worldly or temporal in distinction to the eternal. It pertains to the world that we all live in and share, in space and time. In George Holyoake's coining of the term, he noted that secularism wasn't an argument against religious beliefs, but an argument independent of it. "Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life."

It is not, as commonly assumed, anti-religious, rather it is non-religious. A secular position is to have 'no comment' to make on religion. In terms of the state, a secular position argues for a clear separation of church and state. Religious people, particularly those who are respectful of other faiths, and wish to avoid state-sanctioned bigotry, can also be secular in this manner. Thus one can indeed be a secular Christian, a secular Buddhist, a secular Muslim etc.

The Victorian Secular Lobby is open to all people who support our principles:

1. To promote the principle of the separation of Church and State and equality for all institutions under the law.
2. To resource and promote secular principles to journalists, politicians, and other contributors to public opinion.
3. To encourage co-ordination with like-minded groups to influence public policy.
4. To encourage persons to take up membership and engage in activities that promote secular principles and the Victorian Secular Lobby.
5. To engage in activities, including generating income and expenditure, to further these aims.

Our policies are also available for review.

News reports on this site compiled from the Proxima Thule Press Extracts Service. The Victorian Secular Lobby is a member of the Secular Coalition of Australia.

The Victorian Secular Lobby's contact details are:

POB 15
Carlton South
Victoria, 3053
public AT victoriansecular DOT org

The Victorian Secular Lobby is incorporated in the State of Victoria, Number A00594400A

Religious discrimination bill will override states’ equality protections, education union warns

Heavily contested legislation in current form ‘would be an extraordinary act of overreach’, equality advocate says

The Coalition’s religious discrimination bill could strip states of the power to regulate religious institutions’ hiring practices, equality advocates and the Independent Education Union have warned.

Equality Australia and the IEU have said provisions of the bill designed to allow institutions such as schools to hire staff on the basis of faith could interfere with imminent changes in Victoria seeking to limit religious exemptions to equal opportunity law.

The federal attorney general, Michaelia Cash, is still yet to publicly release the bill, which will be debated when parliament resumes for the final sitting fortnight on Monday.

Despite ditching some of its most controversial provisions on medical practitioners’ ability to refuse certain procedures and the Folau clause on employers’ powers to regulate employees’ speech, the bill still faces stiff resistance.

The remaining provisions include protection for statements of religious belief and the right for schools to hire on the basis of faith, which the federal education minister, Alan Tudge, confirmed on Wednesday.

Michaelia Cash says no child should be suspended or expelled under religious discrimination laws

Exclusive: Attorney general asks law reform commission to help ensure children are not discriminated against in faith-based schools

The attorney general, Michaelia Cash, has requested “detailed drafting” from the Australian Law Reform Commission to ensure children are not discriminated against in faith-based schools, as the government pushes ahead with its revised religious discrimination laws.

But as the crossbench reveals they will either oppose the revamped bill or seek to reinstate the ability for doctors to refuse patients on religious grounds, the government looks likely to need Labor’s support to pass the legislation before the election.

All government legislation faces difficulty in the final sitting fortnight, with two of its own senators, Gerard Rennick and Alex Antic, vowing to withhold their votes in protest against vaccine mandates and One Nation also promising “so much mayhem” in the Senate.

The government expects its proposal for institutions such as schools to discriminate in hiring in favour of members of their own faith will pose a test for Labor, but the opposition is waiting to see the full legislation before declaring its hand.

Schools can hire teachers on basis of faith under religious discrimination bill, Alan Tudge says

Education minister says revised bill protects ‘critical right’ of schools to employ people of same religion but won’t allow discrimination on other traits

The education minister, Alan Tudge, says the federal government’s revised religious discrimination bill will allow schools to hire on the basis of faith, but they will not be able to discriminate on other characteristics, such as sexuality.

As the government flags its intention to pass the legislation through the Senate by the end of the year, former Labor senator Jacinta Collins is also urging Labor to support the positive discrimination employment right for faith-based institutions.

But even if Labor supports the move for faith-based schools, the revised bill’s passage through parliament is complicated by the inclusion of a controversial “statement of belief” clause that will override other state, territory and commonwealth anti-discrimination laws.

Coalition waters down religious discrimination bill by scrapping Folau clause

Moderates and conservatives still threatening to cross floor over compromise draft legislation after Michaelia Cash briefs government MPs

The Coalition has radically revised its proposed religious discrimination bill, scrapping the so-called Folau clause and removing the ability for health providers to refuse treatment on the basis of “conscientious objection”.

The revised bill – which has been signed off by cabinet and was briefed to government MPs on Monday – still includes a controversial “statement of belief” clause which would override other commonwealth, state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

It is also understood to retain a clause that allows faith-based institutions, such as religious schools, to positively discriminate against people who do not share their faith, something the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said is necessary to maintain their “distinctive faith-based ethos”.

LGBTQ+ groups mobilise against Coalition’s religious discrimination bill

Equality advocates say the bill remains ‘deeply flawed’ and are particularly concerned about the so-called Folau clause

Equality advocates are mobilising against the Coalition’s revived religious discrimination bill and urging changes to ensure minority groups are not harmed by the legislation.

The federal attorney general, Michaelia Cash, met with faith and LGBTQ+ groups last week in a forum attended by the Liberal MPs Dave Sharma and Warren Entsch, who have indicated they oppose a religious freedom act that would provide legal cover for discrimination against vulnerable groups.

Other Liberal MPs and senators have indicated they are prepared to cross the floor over the contentious legislation, which the government plans to introduce to parliament in the final sitting fortnight this year.

The Equality Australia chief executive, Anna Brown, said the current draft bill remained “deeply flawed”, with unprecedented and dangerous provisions that would undermine access to healthcare and inclusive workplaces.

“It was because of these provisions that a broad chorus of voices spoke out against the bill, from industry, unions, people of faith, women, people with a disability and LGBTQ+ people,” Brown told Guardian Australia.

“This coalition is coming back together over coming weeks to highlight the level of community opposition to laws that would take us backward. We urge the government to listen and to abandon proposed laws that would privilege religious institutions and entrench new forms of discrimination.

“Instead, the new attorney general should deliver on the government’s commitment to protect LGBTQ+ students at religious schools, and wind back outdated exemptions that allow religious institutions to treat people unfairly because of who they are or whom they love.”

Equality groups are particularly concerned about the inclusion of what has been dubbed the Folau clause, which would enable claims of indirect discrimination based on a person’s religious belief against an employer or professional body’s ruling of misconduct.


Coalition split over religious discrimination bill with MPs having ‘serious concerns’ over Folau clause

Coalition split over religious discrimination bill with MPs having ‘serious concerns’ over Folau clause

Michaelia Cash in urgent meetings with MPs in government’s third attempt at revising bill

Coalition MPs are split over the government’s revised religious discrimination bill, with the attorney general, Michaelia Cash, holding urgent meetings with MPs before parliament returns to try to resolve the issue.

The push to introduce a bill in the final sitting fortnight this year comes almost three years after the prime minister, Scott Morrison, promised to introduce a new religious discrimination act after a review into religious freedom undertaken by Philip Ruddock in 2018.

Coalition MPs want more school chaplains to help children suffering mentally due to ‘alarmist’ climate activism

MPs ask Scott Morrison to fund chaplains in every school, saying global warming alarmism is causing ‘mental health problems’ in young

Coalition MPs have urged Scott Morrison to increase funding to the government’s school chaplaincy program to help address concerns that activism against global heating is causing mental health problems for Australian children.

In the Coalition party room on Tuesday, Liberal MP Andrew Wallace compared children’s fear of climate change with the threat of nuclear annihilation in the 1970s and 80s, and requested full funding for chaplains in every school to help ease concerns.

‘Right-wing backlash’: Church group to make religious freedom an election issue

The Morrison government has placed religious freedom back on the political agenda, as Attorney-General Michaelia Cash restarts meetings with key stakeholders and church groups embark on a lobbying blitz to shape and enact the laws before the election.

Freedom for Faith, a lobby group run by law professor Patrick Parkinson, is organising a “religious freedom weekend” for June 11-13. Priests will use sermons to preach the need to protect religious freedom and parishioners are being urged to lobby their MPs about the urgency of the issue.

The group has also secured a meeting this week with Senator Cash, who has re-engaged with the issue after the pandemic put it on the backburner last year under predecessor Christian Porter.

As it stands the Religious Discrimination Bill would prohibit discrimination based on faith and provide greater freedom to individuals such as Israel Folau, as well as religious organisations and charities, to act on their beliefs.

For example, the proposed law makes it unlawful for a company with revenue above $50 million to limit an employee’s ability to express their religious views outside work, unless the employer can show this is necessary to prevent “unjustifiable financial hardship” to their business.

'This bill is friendless': Chris Bowen signals Labor could vote against religious freedom bill

Chris Bowen has signalled Labor could vote against the Morrison government’s religious discrimination legislation, characterising the bill as “friendless” – setting up a potential showdown in the final parliamentary sitting week for 2019, if the Morrison government brings the proposal on.

The New South Wales Labor right winger has been one of the more forceful voices internally post-election saying Labor must reconnect with faith communities, given Labor’s campaign review identified a Christian backlash in May. But Bowen says the Morrison government has botched the whole religious freedom process, and the current bill is “friendless”.

“I represent a very religious community,” the Labor frontbencher told Guardian Australia’s political podcast. “My electorate voted no on same-sex marriage and I voted yes, and I knew there would be a political price to pay for that, because I wasn’t representing the views of many of my constituents, but I was honest with them and upfront with them.”

“I think I’m right in saying I represent the most Catholic electorate in Australia, certainly in New South Wales, and there’s a heavy representation of Orthodox Christians,” Bowen said. “They are not just Christians, Christianity is very important to who they are.”

“But this bill is friendless. It is friendless”.

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