Critical Thinking: Submission to the Ruddock Review

John Eisenschenk

The unlimited right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and the freedom to practice one’s religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights of others.

Public policy should be informed by evidence and reason, not by dogma.

Our society must remain a secular society based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

The only equitable system of government in a democratic society is based on secularism: state neutrality in matters of religion or belief, favouring none and discriminating against none.

Private conduct, which respects the rights of others, should not be the subject of legal sanction or government concern.

Believers and non-believers alike should have a right to participate in public life and a right to equality of treatment in the democratic process.

All Australians should have the right to freedom of expression, subject to limitations only as prescribed in international law. All blasphemy laws and restrictions on the right to criticize religion or nonreligious life stances should be rejected.

The principle of one law for all, with no special treatment for minority communities, and no jurisdiction for religious courts for the settlement of civil matters or family disputes is fundamental to Australian society.

All discrimination in employment and the provision of social services on the grounds of race, religion or belief, gender, class, caste or sexual orientation is unlawful and must be rejected.

Any special consideration for religion in politics and public life must be rejected.
Charitable, tax-free status and state grants for the promotion of any religion must be abolished because they are harmful to the interests of non-believers and those of other faiths.

State funding for faith schools should be abolished to ensure secular education for a secular society.

All Australians should be educated in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge, and in the diversity of religious beliefs. We must support the spirit of free inquiry and the teaching of science free from religious interference and indoctrination, religious or otherwise.

David Pieper