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Democrats say keep state out of church.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Lyn Allison Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Victoria Australian Democrats spokesperson for Prime Minister & Cabinet

Dated: 13 February 2006 Press Release Number: ciuxycoq Portfolio: Prime Minister & Cabinet

Democrats Say Keep State Out Of Church

A Newspoll* today shows that 57 percent of Australians would support laws to separate church and State which demonstrates that a debate on the influence of religion on politics is needed. The influence of conservative religious views is perhaps more pervasive now in Australian politics than since the Communist-Catholic split in the ALP in the 1950s, said Democrats Leader Senator Lyn Allison. Mr Abbott's complaints that sectarianism is undermining ministerial responsibility and his much-reported declaration that he is a Catholic politician who would bring Catholic values to the parliament should not go unchallenged in our primarily secular society. Most Australians understand that politicians come to parliament with strong views that have roots in religious conviction. They also get lobbied by interest groups and this is a part of the modern political process. But parliamentarians have a greater responsibility to serve the public interest and to take on board the views of the majority. The current RU486 debate has bought to the forefront this issue of religion in politics. Opponents of women's choice who also have strong religious views such as Minister Abbott, Senator Fielding and Senator Joyce argue that the approval of RU486 should be up to elected politicians because they are the ones who represent community attitudes, but thats obviously not the case. Yet research shows the 68 percent of Australian's support RU486 being available and 78 percent support a women's right to choose and this is without any direct experience of the drug. Clearly these politicians are not representing community attitudes but are instead pursuing not only their personal views but I suggest, a right wing religious agenda. Peter Costello made a pre election visit to Hillsong, the largest Pentecostal church in the country, a Liberal MP in Perth said that people should vote for Howard on the basis that he was a Christian, and the Prime Minister himself used his end of year address in parliament to deliver a mini sermon on Christianity. And we saw at the last election the ascension to the Senate of the Family First party. As more Australian become aware of the influence religion is having on the rights and privileges of all Australians via our political process, the more I think there will be a push to separate church and state, concluded Senator Allison.

*Newspoll, Church and State (Feb 2006) in which of those who expressed a view, 57% were in favor of introducing a law to separate church and state.