Religion, Cultural Diversity and safeguarding Australia
A ROTATING ROSTER of PRAYERS to open parliament - national interfaith services - local 'Multifaith or Interfaith Networks at Council level - a book promoting 'Muslim Australians'. . .
Happening in Australia?
Yes, they may well happen in the future if the recommendations from a series of books published by the Living in Harmony project funded by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs are implemented. The Australian Multicultural Foundation (AMF) was a partner in this production. The books were published in 2004.
The AMF has a webpage explaining the project.
The 149 page publication promoting multi-faith and inter-faith activity is a report titled "Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia".
It profiles religious activity in Australia and makes recommendations for the future.
Submissions were received more than two years ago and consultations were held. The Report was published in December 2004 but it is still vitally important for us to read the Report and understand its implications.
The Summit of Muslim leaders (August 2005) discussed some of the proposals in this Report, including the training of imams and the monitoring of what religious leaders say.
Many of the recommendations in the main report are concerning and, if implemented, would see mandated 'multi-faith' activities. Recommendations about the training of religious staff, employment by religious organisations, 'rotating' prayers to open Parliament and the teaching of world religions in schools are all promoted in this wide-ranging report.
This is an indication of where the interfaith community would like 'religion' to go in Australia.
The Report is essential reading for those who are concerned about these directions in our nation.
More details about the Report are below the ACTION section - including links to the document.
Analysis of the Report
Summary Report (one page) - 'Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia'
A one page summary report was published in August 2005.
Report - 'Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia'
Read a four page report on the key recommendations, with links to the documents.
When the Report was first published, we asked people to write to their MPs, expressing their concern about these proposals.
Even though these three books (RCDSA and the two mentioned below) have been out for some years, it is still important to understand what is being proposed and communicate our concerns about these proposals to our MPs and Senators.
Two of the authors of the Report, Gary Bouma and Des Cahill, are co-ordinating the Parliament of the World's Religions in December 2009 - so they are continuing to promote religious 'diversity'.
Click here for Members of the House of Representatives.
Click here for Senators.
The full Report is available at the AMF website, along with a description of the project.
Click here for the actual 149 page Report (1.35 MB).
What are the main concerns?
The whole report focuses on multi-faith activities. To name just a few, the recommendations include the opening of parliament with a rotating roster of prayers, the establishment of local interfaith networks, an annual Multifaith forum, a Multitfaith Advisory Council, the teaching of world religions in schools, the educating of those training for religious ministry in how to 'participate in a multi-faith society'!
Two Additional Reports
Two additional reports were published by the same project. Both pursue the notion of 'multifaith' activities by getting everyone 'together' to ensure 'harmony'.
The third book highlights the focus of the Report - a book on Islam...
Why isn't there a book on Christianity - or one on Wicca or paganism?
'Constructing a Local Multifaith Network' (pdf, 700KB)
This handbook has been sent to local Councils, recommending they form Multifaith Networks.
'Australian Muslims: their Beliefs, Practices and Institutions' (83 pages, pdf, 1.65MB)
Written by Prof Abdullah Saeed, a Muslim who is the "Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies" at the University of Melbourne This book is designed to be used as a school textbook and highlights favourable aspects of Islam.
Prayer in parliament
Here we'll just elaborate on the "Prayer in Parliament" proposal... for discussion of more aspects see the One Page and Four Page assessments above.
The report recommends that the Parliamentary day be opened by a 'rotating' prayer from one of 17 faith communities including those of no belief - in this case it could be a reading instead of a prayer! Then they recommend that the Parliamentary Day be CLOSED with the Lord's prayer.
From the Report: "Use of the Our Father (P 99)
"The use of the exemplary Christian prayer, the Our Father, to commence each parliamentary day was raised though some Christian leaders considered it ought to be acceptable to all faiths since the name of Jesus is never mentioned. The suggestion that the Our Father be replaced by a series of prayers and readings selected by each of the major faith communities on a rotational basis with, perhaps, the Our Father, in deference to the Christian majority, being recited to close each parliamentary day was received by religious leaders as a more preferred and worthwhile compromise. It is suggested that the rotation also include a reading chosen by rationalist or atheist organizations in deference to those whose world view is not embedded in a theist framework. It is suggested that the rotational system include those faith groups which have at least 0.333 per cent of the total population - in 2001, this would have included the following 16 groups (in order): Catholic, Anglican, No Religion (atheist/rationalist), Uniting Church, Presbyterian, Orthodox, Buddhist, Baptist, Muslim, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Hindu, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, Salvation Army and Church of Christ. Local inter-faith groups such as Hume in Melbourne have utilized a similar system successfully. Such a solution would show to the world Australia as a lighthouse of multi-faith co-operation."