The preamble to the Constitution of Australia, notes Australia to be “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” as it became a federated nation. I often hear people talking of our constitution as though its intent was to guarantee freedom from religion. They are no doubt thinking of Section 116 which reads “The Commonwealth shall not make any law establishing any religion or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religious observance…or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion and no religious test shall be required for …[public office]”

Even reading this excerpt ought to show that the aim is freedom OF religion from Government power NOT freedom FROM religion in the public square. The constitution seeks to make sure that there is a free exercise of religion. Even a small understanding of the debates and history of the time show this to be the case.

So, in discussions, don’t be shy, politely point out that those who claim our constitution demands freedom from religion are misguided. The constitution actually aims to guarantee freedom of religion. This is so different to the understanding of many, including politicians.

In the current “culture wars” we need to gently show the religious foundation of our nation. To be true to the spirit of our founding fathers, we too ought to humbly
rely on the blessing of Almighty God.