RELIGION AND POLITICS IN AUSTRALIA Lecture 4 (26 July 2007) RELIGION AND POLITICS IN TWENTIETH CENTURY AUSTRALIA 1. Church and State • Federation and Constitution. Protestant support for a “Christian nation”. Dissenters, including Seventh Day Adventists, wanted separation of church and state. 96% of Australians were Christians, so the battle was inter-denominational. Compromise between S. 116 (HB Higgins) and the Preamble (Patrick McMahon Glynn) • Public Formalities. The opening of the new Parliament House (1988) was accompanied by a multi-denominational service. Marriage, funerals and burials have a (declining) religious flavour. Prayers in Parliament, but swearing on Bible optional. • Churches and War. Protestants firmly behind WW1. Catholics concerned to demonstrate loyalty. War linked to temperance through ‘fitness for battle’. 1915 referendum in SA to introduce 6.00pm closing; flowed on to other states. • State Aid to Church Schools. Catholic schools, privately funded, suffered by 1950s because of population explosion through migration and ‘baby boom’. PM Menzies found a political and policy solution initially (1963) in ACT by offering Commonwealth grants for science buildings in public and private schools. • Politics and Law. D.O. G.S. (late 1960s), made up of teachers unions and some Protestant denominations, unsuccessfully ran election candidates against state aid. Legal case followed. Gough Whitlam (1972, Labor) responded to potent issue with needs-based policy. High Court rejected D.O.G.S. case (1981). 2. Church and Society • Demographic Change and Church Decline. The balance between denominations was changing in favour of Catholics, because of higher birthrates and non-British migration. Church attendance declined from mid-century. Those who never attend church rose from 24% (1950) to 37% (1983). Now probably a majority. • Immigration. Irish Catholicism was altered by immigration of Catholics from Italy, Poland, Croatia, and later from Asia. • The Great Depression. Churches broadly supported conservative fiscal measures. But churches were also active in social welfare. Minority radical church criticism of capitalism. • Communism, Catholics and Cold War. From 1917 Russian Revolution communism became political issue. Catholics supported anti-communist dictator General Franco in Spanish Civil War (1930s). Catholic Social Studies Movement led Labor’s Industrial Groups. Two disciplined

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political organizations, Catholics and Communists, fought each other in trade unions. Protestants and Moral Conservatism. Sundays became more for recreation than religious observance. Slow weakening of church imposed moral order. No “Prohibition” in Australia. Moral Decline in 1960/70s. Lotteries/gambling in SA (1965) and extended hotel hours till 10.00pm in Victoria (1966). Casinos introduced against church protests. Religious Pressure Groups. Festival of Light and Right to Life exemplified reaction to law reform on issues like abortion and censorship. Church Radicalism. From 1970s onwards churches joined radical opposition to government policies on issues like social justice and land rights. Churches opposed Gulf War and GST.

3. Inter-Church Rivalries and Cooperation • WW1. Ireland neutral and Germany opposed. Catholics divided but volunteered for military service. The war “renewed identification of Protestant churches with Australian imperial loyalty” (Thompson, 57) • Uniting Church 1977: Methodists (all), Congregationalists (90%) and Presbyterians (66%). Complex property divisions and legal issues. • Catholic School System. Growing system consolidated social “separateness”. System peaked in 1950/60s as high proportion of Catholics involved. • Ecumenical Movement. Greater cooperation between churches. Catholic renewal with Vatican 11 Council (1962-65) 4. Churches and Party Politics • Anglican/Protestant Non-Labor (Brett in RB). Individualism, freedom of conscience and Britishness. See Hogan, 106-07, for sensitivities of two Catholic Liberal MPs, John Cramer and Philip Lynch • Conscription Referenda (1915, 1917). Many Protestants believed Catholic Opposition and Mannix’s leadership of NO case proved Catholics were disloyal. • Catholics and Labor (1917-55). Conservative Influence? Catholics overrepresented. Catholic ideas critical of both socialism and capitalism. Catholics opposed abolition of private property but Labor had socialization objective. • Labor Split and DLP. Santamaria clashed with Evatt. Consequent suspicion of Catholics in Labor and fewer of them. • Non-Denominational Parties? Social change led to lowering of sectarian heat, fading ethnic and class differences among Anglo-Celts. More Catholics in Coalition. • Reading on Religion and Politics in Howard Decade takes up the story

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