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In the light of the current discussions on the nature of the “secular” in relation to religion in the public arena, particularly where government funding of religious programs in state schools is concerned, or even access of religious groups within the education system, it’s sometimes helpful to hear a voice from outside.

See Thio Li-ann: Religion & the Secular State. It is in response to document pointed out by a colleague today: Religion and the Secular State: National Reports as presented to the 2010 International Congress of Comparative Law. The report is over 800 pages, but p87ff gives an informed and concise account of the state of play in Australia between state and religious organisations from a historical and legal perspective. It’s worth reading because so many confuse the pervasive US stance as the rule of thumb for all free democratic societies.

Thio Li-ann’s response clarifies multiple ways of defining the term “secular.”  Some would say a reference to another country’s response muddies the waters for the Australian context. Others may see some clues that create new ground for debate that is less polarised due to clarity of terminology.

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