On religion – its place in society

“While increasing numbers of our younger gen­erations do not see religious affiliation as rel­evant to their lives, the governments of a secular Australia permit the social values of an authoritarian Vatican to impose their values on non-Catholics. By favouring Christian immigrants, especially from Asia and Africa, federal gov­ernments have sought to counter the progressive erosion of church affiliation. Strengthening the Catholic vote almost led to East Timor becoming a dependency of Australia. Religion also interferes with our relations with our neighbours.

Yet, I accept that religious belief can be beneficial. The need is for mutual tolerance, with the power of divisive priests and their acolyte politicians constrained. My musings follow.

Almost all of those who profess to having, or believing in, a religion are born into it. Is it not the religion or faith of the family? Some exchange their religion for another later in life: it would be a well-thought out shift of allegiance, reflecting a search for a more satisfying faith or religious community. There will be of course some who are born into a family without adherence to any religious belief, but who may sub­sequently join a religious sect by a considered choice.

Then there are those who quietly disengage from reli­gion, except possibly in matters relating to hatches, matches and despatches, viz. births, marriages and deaths. The with­drawal may reflect a permanently full belly with security, or a seriously considered conclusion that the rituals and the priesthood of their former religion do not meet any ongoing need; or that there is a significant discontinuity between promise and outcomes; or that the behaviours of priest or congregation are not congruent with the asserted claim of that religion.

I have rejected rituals and priesthoods; but have developed a belief structure which I find acceptable. I also prefer to avoid a middleman.”

The above are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’