“Leave religion at home?”

Religion and Secularism. These two ideals have constantly been in tension since the very inception of the Australian nation. Although both of these ideals have been central to the Australian nation since its inception, the relationship between them have been far from pretty. It seems that despite mainstream Australia having clear religious symbology throughout public life, many claim that key minority groups are the ones undermining the secular nature of Australian society. This theme explores this tension over the last decade and interrogates key voices and narratives coming from this national discussion.


A conversation with
Father Rod Bower

Fr Rod Bower is the Rector of Gosford where he has served for 16 years and Archdeacon of the Central Coast. He is an ambassador for the Refugee Council of Australia and Chairman of the Board of Lakes Grammar, an Anglican School.

He is a passionate advocate for a number of social justice and human rights issues, and believes that our treatment of Asylum Seekers, the lack of action on climate change and the failure to adequately recognize First Nations people damages our corporate soul.

Father Rod has also gained quite a bit of popularity and has had national attention around his provocative Church signs which he uses as a departure point for various progressive messages.


“Leave religion at home?”

The tension between religion and the secular nature of Australian society has played out continuously over the past 3 decades. On the one hand, religious groups seek their best interests, claim to operate within the boundaries of the constitution and practice the freedom of religion they were promised. On the other hand, however, and perhaps more contentiously, there is much concern and anguish over a perceived overstepping of religion into the public sphere.


“We decide who comes here”

If Australia is to be consistent with its purported, democratic, foundational values such as that of “fairness”, then it is crucial to not exclude and discredit migrants. It is vital to acknowledge their integral role in building Australia’s past, present and future. Failing to ensure such will contribute to a lack of social cohesion.


A Summary of Theme 4

A workable solution can be reached between religious freedom and the secular nature of Australian society. Through understanding what religious groups actually want – namely to lead a comfortable existence in Australia and exercising the rights afforded to them by the constitution –

mainstream Australian discourse should reduce the distrust and unease concerning varying religious beliefs and practices.
Download Info Sheet

This info sheet is ideal for educators, community organisations and others seeking to educate and elevate community discussions on migrants and refugees.


The internet has become a site of discussion, argumentation and conjecture on all manner of life’s affairs in the last 20 years. Somewhere on the internet, some issue, profound or mundane, is always being discussed.

Politics as an area of concern is chief among these. From migration and refugees, Australian value and culture, the internet is unsurprisingly a hotbed of discussion and debate.

We present an example of how even virulent debate can – given the right conditions – facilitate surprisingly provocative discussions so long as those engaged are willing to open their minds and question their assumptions. This mock conversation resembles real discussions, highlighting that often, all it takes is a willingness to look past long-held biases to actual facts and history.

Read this curious conversation