While religious organisations, politicians and the media have spoken a lot about the need for ‘religious freedom’ over recent years, they have paid scant regard to the equal right to freedom from religion.
But now more and more elected representatives are taking a stand in objecting to parliaments and local government institutions requiring them to take part in religious worship as part of doing their job.
In early February 21 councillors in Victoria signed a joint letter to the state government calling for action on the issue – a sign of growing momentum for change.
We thank the 21 councillors from across Victoria who last week sent a joint letter to the state government asking for its help in removing prayer rituals from council meetings. Find out how you can support the ‘Victorian 21’ here: https://t.co/pwHuZ9gqn7#SpringSt #auspol pic.twitter.com/jooMrEsBmd
— Rationalist Society (@AusRationalist) February 8, 2023
We applaud the leadership shown by the ‘Victorian 21’ in standing up for the right to freedom from religion and calling for council meetings to become more inclusive and welcoming for everyone.
At this stage, at least 38 councils in Victoria maintain prayer rituals at the opening of their meetings.
Here is a copy of the joint letter sent by 21 Victorian councillors to the state govt opposing the practice of reciting prayers as part of council meetings. Our president Meredith Doig has welcomed the initiative. Read her statement here https://t.co/hwdID0l3rE#SpringSt #auspol pic.twitter.com/gTqoKhRZV0
— Rationalist Society (@AusRationalist) February 3, 2023
By taking a stand, the councillors have helped build momentum to reform the practices of the state parliament – where the Andrews government has promised to act on the matter in its new term in office.
If you live in Victoria, help us send a message to state and local governments that Victorians have a right to freedom from religion.
What you can do to help
- Write to Premier Dan Andrews and Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes and urge them to: a) listen to the concerns of the 21 councillors and effect change at the local government level; b) use their power to replace prayer rituals in the state parliament.
- If your local council meetings continue to start their meetings with exclusionary prayer rituals, write to your councillors and ask them to change the practice.
- Write to councillors who were among the ‘Victorian 21’ – especially if they represent your council – to thank them for taking a stand on the issue. You can find their contact details at the following links.