Separation of Church and State Australia

The Separation of Church and State - Part 1 The Australian Constitution

The Separation of Church and State - Part 2 The Rising Christian Right

The Separation of Church and State - Part 3 Secularism

The Australian Constitution

The Constitution of Australia prevents the Commonwealth from establishing any religion or requiring a religious test for any office:

Ch 5 § 116 The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

Unlike the United States, technically Australia doesn't have a separation of church and state.

Despite the wording of section 116 in the Australian constitution being similar to that of the United States Constitution, the Australian courts have interpreted the provision narrowly and so a clear distinction between Church and State has never been established.

Australian '2011 Humanist of the Year', Lesley Cannold, told the ABC:

While some see this as a failure, others protest. They say that it is not that Australia doesn't do secularism, it's just that we do it differently. Not worse, not better, just differently to how it's done in the United States or in France.


My response to this is to say, well, if that is true - if Australia does the secular state in a unique and inclusive manner - then this approach is fatally flawed and has proved to be a miserable failure.

Cannold goes further, citing an example of how the Church attempts to influence supposedly 'secular' governments in Australia.

In a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Freedom of Religion and Belief in 21st Century Australia,The Gospel Assembly of Melbourne claimed:

The Australian government is obligated to respect the Christian religion as its first and foremost responsibility. We object to the idea that other religions are equal to the worship of Almighty God.

(Cannold L. Australia's fading separation between church and state. 13 May 2011)

State Legislation and The Church

Each Australian State has its own constitution and only Tasmania has a provision similar to Section 116 of the Australian Constitution.

Although no State has ever introduced a State Church, the legal standing of most religious organisations is established by state legislation. Most states permit broad exemptions to religious groups from anti-discrimination legislation; for example, the NSW act allowing same-sex couples to adopt also allows religious adoption agencies to refuse them.

The current situation could be described as a "principle of state neutrality" rather than "separation of church and state". Secularists and religious groups have criticised this situation.

Secularists argue that "government neutrality" to religions leads to a flawed democracy or even a "pluralistic theocracy" as the Government cannot be neutral towards the religion of people who do not have one.

Conversely, religious groups are concerned that State Governments are restricting them from exercising their religion by preventing them from criticising other groups and also preventing them from refusing actions that they consider will transgress the tenets of their faith.

Christianity in Australia

Australia's governments and laws evolved from English Protestant institutions (particularly the Church of England) and still reflect many of these traditions.

A wide variety of religions both Christian and non-Christian have been represented in Australia since 1788; however, the religious traditions of Indigenous Australians have been largely unrecognised.

There was little regard for the spiritual beliefs of the indigenous population. In fact, in 1688, the explorer, William Dampier has been said to have encapsulated the established Church's attitude to Indigenous beliefs for the next 300 years with 'I did not perceive that they did worship anything.'


The attitude of some clergy towards Indigenous Australians was one of dismissive benevolence. The Anglican Bishop of Adelaide declared in 1860: 'I would rather they died as Christians than drag out a miserable existence as heathens.'


A penal colony, fighting for survival, was not interested in religion, in any case, the time and circumstances of its foundation suggest that Australia may best be understood as the first genuinely post-Christian society. Its founding fathers, in contrast with those of the American colonies, came from a society where religion was in decline and disarray, eroded by scepticism and indifference. The climate they established was that of indifference to religion generally, although toward Catholicism, Methodism also, this was sharpened into active hostility.

(Freedom of religion and belief in Australia. A brief history. Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. November 2000)

Port Arthur Penal Colony

Religious Influences in Australian Politics

The Australian Labor Party emerged from the devout Irish-Catholic working classes of the 1850s.The internal split that fractured the party through the 1950s and 1960s was driven by the determination of Labor Catholics to fight the "godless communist insurgency".

During this period, much of Labor's Catholic conservative wing broke away to form the Democratic Labor Party. "The split was ugly and bitter".

The Guardian journalist,Peter Lewis, wrote:

"The conservative 'Liberal' party was built on the Protestant work ethic and increasingly influenced by a God-fearing fundamentalist flank inspired by the Pentecostal fervour that created the religious right in the United States."

(Lewis P. 'God Bless Australia'? With a true separation of church and state, there's no need. December 2016)

Robert Menzies successfully wooed the Catholic vote towards his Protestant-based Liberal Party with the unprecedented offer at the time to give Federal funds to Catholic Schools if he was elected Prime Minister in 1961. Menzies "scraped in" by one seat with the help of DLP preferences.

Conservative Catholics left Labor in the mid -1950s - and we now know they were bound for the Liberal Party...within the space of a single generation, all that changed. In 2009, a Catholic leader of the Liberal Party (Turnbull) was challenged by another Catholic (Abbott) in a three-way ballot with yet another Catholic (Joe Hockey). Such a scenario would have been unthinkable even as recently as the 1980s; it has been not just a religious and political change, but also a cultural transformation of some considerable magnitude.

(Abjorensen N. Australia's great political shift. 28 July 2017)

Parliament House Canberra

The Bible in Parliaments, Local Governments and Courts

Although Australian legal systems and institutions are characterised as secular, Christian principles were established in court trials with swearing on the Bible. Christianity has also affirmed its place in Australia with the reading of prayers at the beginning of Parliaments throughout the nation.

At the beginning of each daily sitting of the Federal House of Representatives since the 43rd Parliament in 2010, the Speaker says:

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples who are the traditional custodians of the Canberra area and pay respect to the elders, past and present, of all Australia's Indigenous peoples.

After this Acknowledgement of Country, the Speaker says the following prayer:

Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouch safe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of Australia.

The Speaker then follows with a recital of the Lord's Prayer.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Parliament, by contrast, asks its members to stand in silence, and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the ACT.

At Local Government level in Australia, the practice varies. Some councils begin with a version of the Lord's Prayer or other prayers that commit councillors to working for the 'glory of God'. Others invite local religious ministers into meetings to deliver a sermon and prayer.

The Australian Court system requires witnesses and jurors to swear an oath before the court; that is, a verbal promise to tell the truth.

Following colonisation of Australia, oaths were made while holding the Bible, either the New Testament or the Old Testament.

Witnesses may now choose to swear an oath on other 'relevant' religious texts such as the Koran; however, it is no longer necessary that a religious text be used or held in taking an oath in most Australian courts.

For instance, The NSW Evidence Act 1995 now offers the choice of an oath or an affirmation by a witness:

Oath: Do you swear by Almighty God that the evidence that you shall give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? If so, please say "I do".


Affirmation: Do you solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that the evidence that you shall give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? If so, please say "I do".

The Rationalist Society of Australia argues:

"The imposition of a compulsory religious ritual is discriminatory against people of other faiths and people who are not religious. And it is an affront to the principle of separation of religion and state."

(https://rationalist.com.au/government-prayers/ accessed 12 April 2022)

Sceptical in the classroom

Religious Instruction in State-Run Schools

The Australian public education system is not immune to the criticisms of Christian religious instruction being imposed upon state-run schools.

Australian government schools are supposed to be free, compulsory and secular by nature. Two programs currently running in state-run schools are Special Religious Education (SRE or "Scripture classes") and School Chaplaincy.

As an example:

"In Victoria, 319,305 children attend scripture classes. The law requires these to be delivered by volunteers, 96% of whom are provided by ACCESS Ministries. ACCESS is an umbrella group representing 12 Christian denominations, including the Anglicans Church of Australia, Uniting Church, Lutheran Church of Australia and the Salvation Army."

(Cannold L. Australia's fading separation between church and state. 13 May 2011)

ACCESS Ministries is the only Victoria SRE provider that receives State Government funding. In 2011, ACCESS was receiving over $700,000 in taxpayer funds "to improve volunteer training".

The Buddhists provide scripture teachers to just 14 Victorian schools... because they don't get government funding [and] they simply cannot afford to do more.


What ACCESS is doing is instructing kids in the beliefs and practices of a particular religion. In fact, the ACCESS curriculum is very much in line with their mission statement, which reads as follows:


"Our vision is to reach every student in Victoria with the Gospel. Join the vision and help us transform this nation for God."

(ibid.)

In 2011,

...Edgewater Primary School dropped its 25-year-old tradition of reciting the prayer at assemblies after some parents complained.


Western Australia's Humanist Society president Diana Warnock said the Lord's Prayer had no place in public schools, which were meant to be free and secular.
Humanists believe children should be taught to be open-minded and to understand religion's history and role in shaping society.


Ms Warnock said people should be able to pray in churches or synagogues, but a school assembly was a community space that should remain secular. School is 'no place for prayers.'

(Hiatt B. Education Editor. Schools 'no place for prayers'. The West Australian. 21 September 2011)

Since the days of Australian Prime Minister, John Howard (1996 - 2007), School Chaplaincy programs in government schools have been funded by the Federal Government at an estimated $500 million - $1 billion.

"...theoretically religious folk of all persuasions, not just Christians, can serve in the role. However, the notion of inclusiveness becomes problematic when you realise that - in what appears to be a clear violation of the prohibitions on religious tests for jobs found in section 116 of the constitution - a person of no faith cannot serve as a school chaplain."

(Cannold L. Australia's fading separation between church and state. 13 May 2011)

98% of Australian chaplains in state-run schools are Christians, while less than 60% of Australians identify as Christian. The majority of chaplains in public schools come from ACCESS Ministries and The Scripture Union.

Cannold maintains that both ACCESS and the Scripture Union view chaplaincy as a means by which they can fulfil their mission as found in the following mission statement from Scripture Union:

"...make God's Good News known to children [and] young people" so "they may come to personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ ... and become ... committed church members."

(ibid.)

Freedom Of Religion

Tony Abbott - Catholic or Conservative?

In the 2016 census, the number of people reporting no religion increased noticeably from 19 per cent (in 2006) to 30 per cent.

The largest change was between 2011 and 2016, when an additional 2.2 million people reported having no religion. According to a Gallup poll in 2008, 70 per cent of Australian adults consider religion to be of no importance in their lives.

Regarding Tony Abbott, one of Australia's avowed Roman Catholic Prime Ministers from 2013 - 2015, The Saturday Paper correspondent, Mike Seccombe, suggested the following:

"As Australia becomes less religious, churches have insinuated themselves into politics and gained particular control over Tony Abbott."

(Seccombe M. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Christian Right. 29 August 2015.)

Abbott studied economics and law at the University of Sydney, and then attended The Queen's College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar, studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics. After graduating from Oxford, Abbott briefly trained as a Roman Catholic seminarian and later worked as a journalist, manager, and political adviser.

Abbott was first elected to the Australian Parliament in a by-election in 1994 as the Member for Warringah.

In contrast to Seccombe's assessment of Abbott, Independent Australia writer, Alan Austin, maintains:

"... some of the most articulate criticism of Australia's inhumane refugee policy under Abbott appears in Catholic publications, including the highly-respected Jesuit journal Eureka Street.


Perhaps the most profoundly disappointed group in Australia at the failure of Tony Abbott the prime minister and Tony Abbott the human being is the Roman Catholic community. Once a favoured son for his earnest faith, as evidenced by a stint in a seminary and earnest advocacy for Bible classes in schools, he is now a prodigal son."

(Austin A. Catholics condemn Abbott's callous regime. 11 Feb 2014)

Mary Ward of Mamamia goes further:

... there is no way that you can construe Catholic teachings to support the majority of the Abbott Government's conservative policies... because in Australia, we've come to view Catholicism as synonymous with conservatism.


It's an association that would have been laughable 80 years ago. Back in the days of Lang and Chifley, when Australian Catholicism meant unions, Labor and the power of the working class.


But now the tides have turned. Our country's best known Catholic politicians are middle class. They are economically liberal. And they are socially conservative. Very socially conservative.


But why are we always so quick to attribute Abbott's conservatism to his Catholicism - when so many of Abbott's key policies and election promises are explicitly against Catholic teaching?


Pope John XXIII's 1963 encyclical, Pacem in Terris ('Peace on Earth') explains the Catholic Church's position on asylum seekers and refugees quite clearly:


105...it is not irrelevant to draw the attention of the world to the fact that these refugees are persons and all their rights as persons must be recognized. Refugees cannot lose these rights simply because they are deprived of citizenship of their own States.


As Prime Minister, Abbott's attitude to refugees and asylum seekers are outlined in his policy: Operation Sovereign Borders.


It involves denying access to family reunions and permanent residency through Temporary Protection Visas, refusing to process those without identification documentation, committing to exclusive offshore processing and "turning back the boats."


It is so far away from the position of the Catholic faith that, earlier this year, students from Abbott's old (Jesuit) high school wrote him a letter begging him to reconsider his approach.


"Tony Abbott is not conservative because he is Catholic. He is conservative because he is conservative."

(Ward M. On Catholicism and Abbott. 30 September 2013)

Human Right To Seek Asylum

Pentecostal Heaven and Hell

Chief Political Correspondent for The Guardian, Sarah Martin, pointed out:

"While Australians are now familiar with the non-evangelical Christian beliefs of [past Prime Ministers] John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, Morrison is the first Pentecostal Christian to hold the office."

(Martin S. Scott Morrison tells Christian conference he was called to do God's work as Prime Minister. 26 April 2021)

Pentecostalism or classical Pentecostalism is a Protestant Charismatic Christian movement that emphasises direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the 50th and last day of Easter and the day the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, causing them to speak in tongues.

Pentecostalism refers to Christian denominations who prioritise the spirit and whose worship services may include speaking in tongues, faith healings, and other charismatic expressions. Evangelicalism today is a protean movement that includes Christians on both the left and right of the political spectrum.

Pentecostals believe in a literal Heaven and Hell. Heaven is for those who have accepted God's gift of salvation and the Hell for those who have rejected it. For most Pentecostals there is no other requirement to receive salvation.

Australia's first Pentecostal Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, calls misuse of social media the work of 'the evil one'.

Social Media Work of the Evil One

Comprising over 700 denominations and many independent churches, Pentecostalism is highly decentralized. No central authority exists, but many denominations are affiliated with the Pentecostal World Fellowship. Pentecostalism is one of the world's fastest-growing religious movements.

Hillsong is the largest Pentecostal church in Australia having been established in 1983 by Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie as Hills Christian Life Centre in New South Wales. Hillsong was a member of the Australian Christian Churches (the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God) until separating from the Christian Life Centre (CLC) denomination in 2018.

Hillsong claimed in February 2022 that they have 150,000 members spread over 30 countries with the term "Hillsong" being described as a 'Global Corporate Brand'. Hillsong claim to have 43,000 members spread across its churches throughout Australia.

 

Adult Baptised By Pastor

Morrison and "Brother Stewie"

"Morrison has been open about his faith, inviting journalists into the Horizon Church in the Sutherland Shire during the 2019 election campaign, and describing his subsequent victory as a "miracle" win.


Morrison asked attendees at an Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast in April 2021 to help him help Australia, while revealing his belief that he and his wife, Jenny, have been called upon to do God's work.


Early in the speech Morrison also acknowledges "the other members of my band of Christian believers in Canberra", including "Brother Stewie" - Stuart Robert, the minister for employment who also attended the conference."

(Martin S. 26 April 2021)

Stuart Robert is a powerful member of Metro Church on the Gold Coast where his wife is a Pastor. Metro is an offshoot of Hillsong.

As an MP, Robert has been embroiled in numerous scandals that at one stage in 2016 saw Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expel Robert from Cabinet and banish him to the back bench.

Robert was found to have charged taxpayers over $2000 for him and his wife to attend Hillsong Church functions in Sydney. As Assistant Treasurer in 2018, Robert was forced to repay $37,975 when it was exposed that he had charged taxpayers for this amount claiming it as 'residential internet expenses'.

A recidivist 'offender', Robert has also been embroiled in the following 'activities' while a sitting Federal Government MP:

2012
  • Robert delivers a speech to Parliament that had sections of it written by a lobbyist for Gold Coast property developer Sunland.
2013
  • Robert and his wife receive gold Rolexes, valued at $50,000 each from a Chinese billionaire businessman:
2014
  • Robert made a trip to China for personal business interests, he appeared at a signing ceremony for a mining deal between Australian company Nimrod Resources and a Chinese business. Robert's Chinese hosts believed Robert was meeting with them in an official government capacity. Robert held shares in Nimrod Resources.
2016
  • Robert resigns from the Turnbull Ministry when an internal investigation proves he breached the ministerial code of conduct during his 2014 China trip for Nimrod Resources.
  • Robert bankrolled two former staffers who stood as so-called "independents" in the Gold Coast City Council election to the tune of $60,000.
2017
  • Robert's elderly father said he was unaware his son had made him a company director and had used his elderly parents' home address as the company's "principal place of business". The private company in question had been winning Government contracts.
2018
  • In April, Robert received free tickets to Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. Five days after attending the Boat Show, he advocates in Parliament for the removal of GST on "charter" yachts while denying support for calls to remove GST from feminine hygiene products.

(Jones B. Stuart Robert's litany of transgressions. 16 October 2018)

Stuart Robert 3 Strikes

On 24 August 2018, Scott Morrison defeated Peter Dutton and Julie Bishop in the Liberal Party contest to remove Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister of the Liberal and National Party coalition government. Morrison immediately returned "Brother Stewie" Robert to a Ministry position on Morrison's 'front bench'.

Other sitting Federal Liberal MPs with close involvement in the Pentecostal Church are Alex Hawke and WA Senator, "brother" Matt O'Sullivan. Federal Liberal MPs who are members of 'fundamentalist' Evangelical churches include Steve Irons, Andrew Hastie, Ian Goodenough, Amanda Stoker and Gladys Liu.

Crikey religious correspondent, David Hardaker noted:

"Here was proof of the outsize influence of Pentecostalism within the Australian government. Followed by just over 1% of Australians, the religion now lays claim to a prime minister, a cabinet minister and a new senator carrying its standard in government."

(Hardaker D. Scott Morrison and the Seven Mountains mandate and how the PM is changing Australia in God's name. 27 April 2021)

Morrison described his actions during the bushfire crisis as follows:

"I've been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying, and putting my hands on people ... laying hands on them*and praying in various situations."


"It's been quite a time, it's been quite a time, and God has, I believe, been using us in those moments to be able to provide some relief and comfort and just some reassurance."


After Morrison's comments were made public, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he objected to "the idea that God is on any political side".


"For me faith is a personal matter," he told Radio National. "I respect people's own beliefs, but it is also important we have a separation here between church and state."


"I think that the idea that God is on any political side is no more respectful than the idea that when someone's sporting team wins it is because of some divine intervention."

(Martin S. Stuart Robert praises Scott Morrison for practising the Pentecostal tradition of laying on of hands. 28 April 2021)

*Anonymous quote:

The 'laying on of hands' is God speak for 'forcing people to shake your hand'.

Pentecostal Influences on Liberal Party Policies

How does prosperity theology impact Liberal Party policy?

Hillsong and its associated franchises are strong proponents of the following distortions of Christian values. Morrison's own Sydney church, Horizon (formerly Shire Live), is affiliated with Hillsong, as is Robert's Metro Church on the Gold Coast.

Prosperity theology and personal wealth:

Prosperity theology is the belief that personal wealth is the end result of Godliness. If one works hard and leads a God-fearing moral life, then prosperity will follow. The consequence of this belief is that wealthy people are the most saintly. This belief is at complete odds with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Adherents of prosperity theology believe that the less well-off are only that way because they are lazy and lead immoral lives, then the provision of welfare is seen as an anathema. Why give them money if all they need do is pray and work harder?

Tithes rather than charity:

Tithing is the giving back to the church a proportion of one's income (usually 10 per cent) so that it can be spent supposedly on "good works". The wealthier one is, the more one gives and the more they are celebrated... they do not focus much on charity. Good works usually means money for expansion of the church, recruitment of new members, missions and so on. Not to mention the lavish lifestyle church pastors themselves live. Of course, the church's tax-free status assists with this.

Judgemental God, disability and medical care:

They believe that health and wellbeing is the end result of leading a Godly life. Again, this implies that those who are disabled, physically or mentally ill are not leading moral lives and are thus being punished or tested by God. Many believe in faith healing, the laying on of hands to cure a variety of maladies. In terms of political philosophy, this means that the Government should not be funding medical care or the NDIS, as the provision of medical care could be seen as interfering in "God's will".

God's Will and climate change:

Many Pentecostals believe that the only entity capable of affecting climate change is God. Therefore, anthropogenic (man-made) climate change doesn't exist. Putting measures in place to address climate change would, therefore, be a waste of time and money and interfere with God's will.


Further, many adherents believe that resources were put on Earth by God for humans to use - such as timber from trees, coal and oil. If one holds this belief, then not utilising those God-given resources would be an insult to God.


Clearly, this is one of the core influences in Scott Morrison's climate change denialism and his profound unwillingness to give up fossil fuels.

Sainted Lives and the National Disability Insurance Scheme:

Morrison appointed fellow Pentecostal Stuart Robert - also a former Canberra housemate of his - Minister for the NDIS... It explains why the NDIS is seen as a pool of funds to be allocated at will to other causes - money was stripped from the NDIS to fund drought recovery.


In effect, the Government is using the sick, disabled and their carers to pay for subsidies to drought-affected communities. They would rather do this than wind back franking credit refunds for the wealthy. Remember the wealthy - they are rich because they lead sainted lives.


The NDIS has also been deliberately underspent this year to help effect the faux surplus promised in the 2019 election. We learned this week that over 1,200 people died while waiting for assistance from the NDIS. Robert flat-out denied the readily available statistic.

(Wren J. Scott Morrison's Pentecostal beliefs have affected Liberal party policies. Independent Australia. 1 January 2021)

Miracles, Divine Providence and the fall of humanity:

Morrison's mention of an election miracle in 2019 coheres with the Pentecostal belief in the divine providence. Put simply, this is the belief that, in spite of the apparent chaos in the world, as the old song puts it, "He's got the whole world in his hands".


According to Pentecostal theology, all of history - and the future - is in the control of God; from creation to the Fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, to the redemption of all in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In turn, this will lead to the second coming of Christ, the end of the world and the final judgement.

Pietism, social equity and social justice:

The PM's faith is "pietistic". It is about the individual's personal relationship with God... The result is that Pentecostalism is weak on the social implications of its beliefs. Social equity and social justice are very much on the back burner.


So you would not expect from a Pentecostalist... progressive views on abortion, womens' rights, LGBTI issues, immigration, the environment, same sex marriage, and so on.

 

Pentecostalists are not fundamentalists. Unlike them, they are especially concerned with the direct experience of the Holy Spirit as the key to salvation. But like fundamentalists, they believe in the Bible as the inerrant word of God in matters of ethics, science and history.

Exclusivism and arrogance:

In the Pentecostalist exclusivist view, Jesus is the only way to salvation. Only those who have been saved by Jesus... (those who have had a personal experience of being "born again"...) have any hope of attaining eternal life in heaven. At its best, it generates a modesty and humility; at its worst a smugness and arrogance.

 

Pentecostalism is pretty light on beliefs. Rather, it stresses an immediate personal connection with God that is the exclusive property of those who are saved. This leads to a fairly binary view of the world. There are the saved and the damned, the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the satanic.

(Almond, P. C., Emeritus Professor in the History of Religious Thought, The University of Queensland. 23 May 2019)

Morrison is "Blessed"

Prime Minister Scott Morrison sparked a major backlash with a comment during thetelevised first leaders' debate on 20 April 2022, during the 2022 Federal election campaign.

Morrison has since apologised for the offence he may have caused after saying he felt "blessed" to have children who did not have disabilities.

Mr Morrison made the comment when he and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese were asked about the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme by an undecided voter, Catherine Yeoman, who has a four-year-old autistic son.

"[My wife] Jenny and I have been blessed, we've got two children that don't - that haven't had to go through that," he said

 

Ms Yeoman [said] that "it was a poor choice of words". She also said Mr Morrison had not answered her original question about funding cuts to the NDIS.

(PM sorry for offensive 'blessed' disability clanger. The New Daily. 21 April 2022)

Morrison's response wasn't so much a 'poor choice of words' but more likely his default position and response based on the ideology of his church.

Scott Morrison Been Blessed

They believe that health and wellbeing is the end result of leading a Godly life. Again, this implies that those who are disabled, physically or mentally ill are not leading moral lives and are thus being punished or tested by God.

(Wren J. 1 January 2021)

Morrison subscribes to the ideology that there are those who are 'blessed' like him, Jen and his children and those who are 'cursed' because they have not led a 'Godly life'.

Morrison initially defended his choice of words on radio, claiming :

"... it was "poor form" to twist comments made in good faith into something political."

However, the following day he made apologetic overtures following a huge negative response from disability advocates and the general public:

"I meant no offence by what I said last night but I accept that it has caused offence to people ... and deeply apologise for any offence it caused," he said in Brisbane on Thursday.

(The New Daily. 21 April 2022)

Researched, compiled, composed, written and edited by Dr Steve Gration, April 2022.
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The Separation of Church and State - Part 1 The Australian Constitution

The Separation of Church and State - Part 2 The Rising Christian Right

The Separation of Church and State - Part 3 Secularism

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