Monday 27 November 2023

Move scripture out of class time

In NSW valuable class time is occupied by religions imposing themselves on the community. A minority of children attend religious classes in State schools. Such time would be better spent on reading, writing and arithmetic, not to mention morality, ethics and behaviour. This is particularly the case when there is misbehaviour including bullying and even rape.

Please sign the NSW Parliamentary Petition to remove scripture (SRE) from curricular class time in State (Public) schools:

"Run Optional Scripture and Ethics Lessons Outside Class Time in NSW Public Schools"

Thursday 23 November 2023

 Sydney Atheists' President Steve Marton in this Australian Human Rights Commission video states that Human Rights includes "the right to leave a religion or follow none at all"

Australian Human Right Commission

Minns government rejects atheist’s application, privileges religious voice

Si Gladman / 06 November 2023

The Minns government will privilege the voice of religious communities and discriminate on the ground of belief in refusing to allow a non-religious person on the state’s new Faith Affairs Council.

Earlier today, an official informed the president of Sydney Atheists, Steve Marton, that the government had rejected his nomination to represent the state’s non-religious and ex-religious population on the 16-member body.

The official from Multicultural NSW told Mr Marton (pictured) that the Faith Affairs Council was for religious communities only and non-religious people could instead be appointed to other bodies.

The outcome means that religious leaders will gain even greater influence over government policy, with the body to have direct access to ministers and be able to advise government to provide extra benefits and resources for religious people.

Premier Chris Minns and multiculturalism minister Stephen Kamper have promised that the Faith Affairs Council will be able to advise on matters including additional state funding for chaplaincy programs, “objections to euthanasia/voluntary assisted dying”, and religious discrimination laws.

Mr Marton told the Rationalist Society of Australia he was “disappointed” to be overlooked for a position on the council.

“I was advised that there were other bodies that people of ‘no religion’ would be on. However, I reminded the officer that those bodies did not directly engage on the matter of religious impropriety in their many facets,” he said.

“There are people who are suffering because of the actions of religion who will not be represented on the Faith Affairs Council.” 

In his nomination for a position, Mr Marton argued it would be “an injustice” to exclude the non-religious community, given that the Faith Affairs Council would be influencing government policy on matters that affect all people, including atheists, humanists, non-religious and ex-religious people.

A Christian minister endorsed Mr Marton’s application, saying it was important for the Faith Affairs Council to “provide a voice” to people who were moving away from religion.

“In a secular society which values freedom of religion and faith positions, and where atheism is a rapidly growing group in society, I think it is important to have a level-headed, kind, compassionate voice representing them in the NSW Faith Council,” the Christian leader said in their statement of support.

“Steven is a friendly, gregarious, caring person who values human beings, and the environment.”

As the RSA reported last week, the Faith Affairs Council will be stacked with male religious clerics, with only one of the already appointed 12 representatives being female.

RSA president Dr Meredith Doig said Mr Kamper had failed to deliver on his promise to the New South Wales community that the new advisory body would reflect a “diversity of viewpoints”.

Earlier this year, the RSA warned that the proposed advisory body could privilege the already powerful voices of religious clerics even further in policy making and marginalise the voices of non-religious citizens.

“Despite the non-religious community being the fastest-growing section of the New South Wales community, with the Census showing that increasing numbers of people are walking away from religion, the Minns government is choosing to privilege even further the religious voice,” she said.

“We can only expect that the Faith Affairs Council will now make recommendations to benefit religious communities, while non-religious communities will continue to have no equivalent voice or level of access to government ministers and the policy-making process.

“NSW Labor appears to view the non-religious community and the ex-religious community as second-class citizens.”

Mr Marton said he had written to Minister Kamper seeking a meeting to discuss the matter, but that Mr Kamper had declined.

If you want to support our work, please make a donation or become a member.

Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator for the Rationalist Society of Australia. He also hosts ‘The Secular Agenda’ podcast.

Monday 25 September 2023


Atheist group seeks position on NSW religious affairs council

Si Gladman / 25 September 2023

An atheist group has nominated for a position on the New South Wales government’s new Faith Affairs Council.

The application by Sydney Atheists last week could test the Minns government’s commitment to multiculturalism and diversity, with the group’s president, Steve Marton (pictured), arguing in his application that it would be an “injustice” to exclude the non-religious community from the advisory body.

Mr Marton’s nomination for a position on the 16-member Faith Affairs Council has been endorsed by a Christian minister and the Rationalist Society of Australia.

Despite having promised earlier this year that a “diversity of viewpoints” would be represented on the advisory body, the Labor government has instead required that nominees meet a number of religious requirements, including that they be endorsed by a religious group and have ascertained endorsement from two other religious bodies.

Premier Chris Minns and multiculturalism minister Steve Kamper have promised faith communities that the advisory body would have direct access to government decision-makers and be a “solutions warehouse” that could advise on issues including “objections to euthanasia/voluntary assisted dying”, religious discrimination, and providing “additional funding for chaplaincy”.

Earlier this year, Mr Kamper told the RSA that the New South Wales government “provides and promotes opportunities for all individuals…to contribute and participate in all aspects of public life and NSW Government activities and programs.”

In his application, Mr Marton said that, on trends revealed in the ABS Census, non-religious people would now make up about 40 per cent of the New South Wales community.

“It would be an injustice to exclude representation of some 40% (or almost 3 million people) of the NSW community from representation on a body that considers societal, cultural and religious matters that would affect them,” he said.

“I believe that it is imperative that the non-religious be represented on a body that may give preference, privilege, priority and extra funding to those who follow a religion. It is imperative that those of no religion should not be disadvantaged relative to their religious peers. This is particularly the case when religions are indulged financially by elements of government.”

RSA president Dr Meredith Doig has warned that the Faith Affairs Council could privilege the already powerful voices of religious clerics even further in policy making and marginalise the voices of non-religious citizens.

Earlier this year, in a letter to Mr Minns and Mr Kamper, she urged the government to ensure equal access to representatives of all worldviews, whether they be religious, non-religious or ex-religious people.

In his application, Mr Marton said it was vital for people who had left religion and had experienced trauma in religious communities to have representation on the Faith Affairs Council.

“At Sydney Atheists we are conscious of the suffering of people who have left religions and find that they are in great and urgent need of psychological and financial help – help that is not offered to them through other channels,” he said.

“Sydney Atheists are very well versed on religious matters as we are a sanctuary for people who have left virtually every religion in Australia. We have talks monthly from ex-religionists. We have also been involved in various religious debates.”

“It is vital that those who have left religion, then been castigated, isolated, banished, threatened and even violently hurt by their communities, have representation on the Faith Affairs Council.”

If you want to support our work, please make a donation or become a member.

Si Gladman is Campaign & Communications Coordinator for the Rationalist Society of Australia. He also hosts ‘The Secular Agenda’ podcast.

Saturday 23 September 2023

With guest speakers already sharing their excitement for the Secularism Australia Conference in recent days, we want to remind you that the opportunity to purchase tickets at the discounted early-bird rate will end soon – on Saturday 7 October.


The early-bird rate of $90 covers the cost of entry to the one-day conference in Sydney on Saturday 2 December and also includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.


The conference will also be a great opportunity for supporters of secularism from across Australia to establish closer connections within the pro-secular network. If you have friends or networks who would be interested, please share this email with them.




In recent days, Jane Caro and Fiona Patten have shared their excitement about attending the Secularism Australia Conference in two short videos.


Jane – the MC for the event – said secularism was “really important” for Australia. 


“We really need to keep religion separate from government, because people have many faiths and of course many of us have no faith at all.”



Fiona said that, as someone who had been a member of parliament, she had witnessed the impact of religion on policies and on decision-makers.


“I’m really looking forward to coming together and hearing from all of the great secularists who will be contributing on the day.” 



If you want to receive regular updates about the conference and ticketing, you can join the mailing list here on the Secularism Australia Conference website.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Talks for 2023

Friday 10th March: The God Virus

Friday 14th April: Opus Dei, a Catholic cult?

Friday 12th May: From Pastor to Disbelief

Friday 9th June and Friday 14th July Winter socials

Coming Sydney Atheists' talks:

Friday 11th of August: Apostasy in Islam

Friday 8th September: 'Gay News' Trial for Blasphemy

Friday 13th October: The non-believer's butterfly effect: Here's to changing the world

Friday 10th November: Construction of 'Blasphemy' in Bangladesh

Please click on the Meetup link to see details

Monday 30 January 2023


ABS acknowledges concerns about bias in Census religion question

29 January 2023

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has acknowledged concerns about potential bias in the wording of the Census question on religion.

In a statement on its website, the ABS has listed the problematic wording of the religion question among key concerns raised during a public consultation held as part of a review of the census questions.

The website notes that, from 193 submissions by individuals and organisations, feedback included: “Concerns about potential bias in the question wording because it assumes a person is affiliated with a religion.”

In November, the coalition of community organisations behind the Census21 – Not Religious? campaign urged the ABS to fix the problems in the religion question as part of a submission to the review.

The campaign recommended, as its top priority, that the ABS re-word the current question – “What is the person’s religion?” – to remove the loaded bias that assumed each respondent had a religion.

The campaign said that, at a minimum, the ABS should reword the question and insert ‘if any’ at the end to make the question: “What religion does the person belong to, if any?” However, the preferred approach would be to use a two-part question: a) “Does the person have a religion?” b) “What is the person’s religion?”

In its response to the public consultation, the ABS said it would present proposed changes, including to the Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups (ASCRG) and the Religious Affiliation Standard (RAS), by mid-2023.

Michael Dove, spokesperson for the Census21 – Not Religious? campaign, said it was important for the ABS to listen to the concerns raised about the religion question to ensure more accurate data in future.

“The response to the consultation has sent a clear message to the Australian Bureau of Statistics that it should fix the religion question. The biased nature of the questions is obvious, and it is continuing to produce inaccurate data,” he said.

“In assuming that all respondents have a religion, the current question leads to a result that greatly overstates the religious affiliation of Australians. While almost 40 per cent of Australians told the 2021 Census they were not religious, we believe the real figure would be over 50 per cent already.

“As governments rely on the Census data to inform policy-making and the allocation of public funds, it’s time for the ABS to fix the fundamental problems with the religion question.”