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Visiting ethicist says religious 'censored' by secular state

A silent censorship of religion in public debate could put religious liberty at risk in Australia, a visiting moral philosopher warned this week.

Dr Samuel Gregg argues that the trend means religious communities should reconsider accepting government money for their schools and charities before it is used as a bargaining tool against them.

Dr Gregg, visiting professor at Melbourne's John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family gave the annual Acton Lecture in Sydney on Tuesday evening. He is a moral philosopher educated at Melbourne and Oxford Univerities who has written and spoken extensively on questions of ethics in public policy, jurisprudence, and ethics in business. He is Director of Research at the Acton Institute, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Age reports that he said "doctrinaire secularism" is playing a bigger role in political debate and legal judgements and steadily eroding religious liberty.

Dr Gregg said freedom of religion means more than just freedom to go to church, a mosque or synagogue; it includs debate in the "public square". But the secularist state holds that any public action motivated by religion to be unacceptable. This subtle censorship amounts to promoting atheism as the unofficial state religion.

"Faith communities need to think seriously about their relationship with the state, especially when it comes to state funding of schools and charities," he said. "One has to wonder how long it will be before people in positions of power use these financial linkages to tell people how to behave."

Religious 'censored' by secular state (The Age 19/5/04)

The Acton Lecture on Religion and Freedom (Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney 18/5/04) | Text
Dr Samuel Gregg on Secularism (ABC Radio Religion Report 19/5/04)
Acton Institute | Dr Samuel Gregg
John Paul II Institute for Marriage & Family, Melbourne
Samuel Gregg and Wolfgang Kasper: No Third Way: Hayek and the Recovery of Freedom (Institute for Liberal Values, New Zealand)

20 May 2004