Australia Opinion

No, the public is not secular. Here’s why.

I constantly read and hear people saying that religious schools shouldn’t be able to discriminate because they receive public funds, and thus they must play by the public rules. The problem with this argument is that the people who send their children to denominational schools are part of the public too, they pay taxes and thus make up this hallowed ‘public’.

The ‘secular public’ argument against denominational school funding and “discrimination” defines the public as ‘secular’; in other words, the public it is talking about is not real, it is a gerrymandered public that excludes the parents of the c.35% of school children who go to denominational schools, and excludes the 50%+ of Australians who identified as religious (50% Christian) in the 2016 national census.

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If public funding is supposed to actually reflect the real nature of the Australian public – not a conjured up secular public – then it will, like the public, be pluralist: given to religious and non-religious schools. In other words, the system that we have now, and the system that has existed in Australian history for over 100 years all up.

Withdrawing funding from denominational schools because they want to preserve their religious distinctiveness doesn’t reflect the actual Australian public, but the way militant secularists would LIKE the public to be. Call it out.

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