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Only in AustraliaThe History, Politics, and Economics of Australian Exceptionalism$
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William Coleman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198753254

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198753254.001.0001

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Utilitarianism contra Sectarianism

Utilitarianism contra Sectarianism

The Official and the Unauthorized Civic Religion of Australia

(p.62) 4 Utilitarianism contra Sectarianism
Only in Australia

Greg Melleuish

Stephen A. Chavura

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that one of the great myths of Australian political, social, and cultural development is that it is an almost uniquely secular country which has always been guided by secularism. The chapter maintains that religion has actually played an important role in Australia, and that the history of Australia makes perfect sense in the context of a culture which proclaimed itself as proudly British, and hence Protestant, and yet contained a large Irish Catholic minority which made a lie of those pretensions. For a century this context fostered sectarianism by sanctioning the belief that a non-denominational school system could be a sufficient vehicle for education, and that specifically religious schools should be excluded from state support. Since the First World War one of the key factors of Australian history has been the decline of the position and pretension of Protestantism, which has also spelt the decline of Britishness.

Keywords:   Irish Catholic, Protestantism, religion, secularism, schools

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