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This book examines the origins of Australia’s constitutional religious freedom provision. It explores, on the one hand, the political activities and motives of religious leaders seeking to give the Australian Constitution a religious character and, on the other, the political activities and motives of a religious minority seeking to prevent the Australian Constitution having a religious character.
The book also interrogates the argument advanced at the Federal Convention in favour of section 116, dealing with separation of religion and government, and argues that until now scholars and courts have misunderstood that argument. The book casts new light to show how the origins of the provision lead to section 116 being conceptualised as a safeguard against religious intolerance on the part of the Commonwealth.
Written in an accessible style, the work has potential to influence the development of constitutional doctrine by the High Court through its challenge of historical assumptions on which the High Court’s current doctrine is based. Given the ongoing political debates concerning the interaction of discrimination law and religious freedom, the book will be of interest to academics and policy-makers working in the areas of law and religion, constitutional law and comparative law.