Religion and Culture in Asia Pacific: Violence or healing?
Vista Publications, $13.95 pb, 242 pp
The huge changes that have occurred in Australia in the space of a century were reflected in the recent centenary of Federation celebrations in Melbourne. They were evident, for example, in the repeated acknowledgment of Aboriginal Australians and in the selection of a young female Asian-Australian to speak on behalf of the future.
The most significant absentee from the Melbourne ceremony was not a royal personage or the jingoism of a century ago. What was missing was any invocation of the Deity to open or close the ceremony. Indeed, any mention of God at all. Not only was there no Anglican prelate to lead us in prayer, there was no prayer at all to thank God for the manifest blessings that Australia had enjoyed in the course of the century. Even at the opening of the new Federal Parliament in Canberra by the Queen, prayers were said by leaders of Australia’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions. But that was 1986. By 2001, that feature of public occasions had disappeared. No prayers or hymns. Welcome to secular Australia, where one of the fastest growing census groups is ‘no religion’.