Your answer to this will depend on how you understand the question.
Some will say No because:
a) Only 5% regularly attend church services.
b) The majority of our society have dropped traditional Christian standards in their private lives and have become secular.
Others will say Yes because:
a) approximately 61.1% claimed to be Christian in the last census. These people on the whole still accepted Christian standards of morality even though they may not always live up to those standards.
b) Because our laws are based on the moral code of the Bible’s Ten Commandments (Ex.20:1-17). The Christian symbol of the cross is in our National Flag. And further, modern Parliamentary Democracy developed in a Christian national context and can be regarded as a fruit of Christianity.
c) The Australian Constitution identifies us as a Christian nation when it states in its Preamble: “Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established”. (emphasis ours). “Almighty God” referred to in this Preamble and whose blessing our nation sought at its establishment has always been understood to be the God of the Christian Bible.
d) From the beginning our Federal and State Parliaments start with Christian prayer: “Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of our State and Australia. Amen.” And the Lord’s Prayer taught by Jesus to His disciples is also prayed. Further, our First Federal Parliament opened on 9th May 1901 with Christian prayers led by the Governor-General and the singing of the hundredth Psalm.
e) The following statements by Founding Fathers indicate they believed they were establishing a Christian nation. Alfred Deakin (Prime Minister 1903-04) prayed “God preserve these people and grant its leaders unselfish fidelity and courage to face all trials for the sake of brotherhood. Thy blessing has rested upon us here yesterday and we pray that it may be the means of creating and posturing throughout all Australia a Christlike citizenship”. Sir Henry Parkes, the Father of Federation (1815-1896) said “As we are a British people – preeminently a Christian people as our laws, our whole jurisprudence, our Constitution are based upon and interwoven with our Christian belief, and as we are immensely in the majority, we have a fair claim to be spoke of at all times with respect and deference”. Further, Sir John Downer stated (1898) “This Commonwealth of Australia from its first stage will be a Christian Commonwealth”.
In view of the above statements (2 a-e), if we don’t know our national history, it may seem strange that in the Constitution our Christian Founding Fathers included the following statement (Section 116) which in effect separates Church and State.
“The Commonwealth of Australia shall not make any law establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.” (Section 116).
The wording of this statement must be understood in light of the historical context that existed at Federation. At the time only 1.4% of the population were of non-Christian religions. Obviously no-one at the time could envisage that seventy years later there would be a mass migration into Australia of Muslims and people of other non-Christian religions. In those days the various Christian denominations were all regarded as different religions. Muslims and those of non-Christian religions were so insignificant in number that they were not on the radar of the writers of our Constitution. Even 50 years back, to ask one’s religion, was to ask their Christian denominational affiliation, and one’s first name was their ‘Christian name’.
The writers of the Constitution intended Section 116 to rule out the establishment of a State church holding a privileged position similar to that held by the Church of England in the UK. Reference to “religion” in Section 116 referred to different Christian denominations, not non-Christian religions. This was never intended to divorce us from our Judeo/Christian moral, ethical and cultural roots, and our status as a Christian nation.
Consequently it is time secularists stopped quoting Section 116 of the Constitution as justification for trying to make this nation a completely secular nation. Christianity has given this country moral fibre, stability, peace and freedom which we have often taken for granted. There is nothing in our Constitution that prevents us from defending our Christian cultural heritage. It assumes this would always be defended. The Constitution simply puts all Christian denominations on a level playing field, but it does not in any way deny us the right to legislate in favour of the Christian religion. This is specially the case when Islam with its world rule political agenda arrives on the scene. Islam is the most intolerant political ideology in this world and is a security threat which should be taken seriously. To regard it as just another religion would be a grave mistake.
1) the relevance of all this is that our politicians, Government Ministers and departments, including the NSW Government Community Relations Unit, should be made aware of the true meaning of the term “Separation of church and state”.
2) tolerance and respect of others’ religious and political views should not be understood to mean that we should allow into our country an intolerant, totalitarian political ideology that has declared its intent to take over our country, and replace our laws with 7th century Arabian laws.
3) if we lose our Christian culture, we will lose our freedom. One has only to live in a non-Christian country to realise that all cultures are not equal. Multiculturalism does not work out in practice, especially when Islam is a party.
4) it is time all Australians valued our Judeo/Christian heritage and the many benefits it has given us, and started to defend it. If we don’t, our descendents will suffer the consequences.