Religion and Civil Society

The Centre for Independent Studies’ Religion and Civil Society program investigates the implications of a liberal understanding of freedom for religion in civil society.

We seek to analyse the extent and nature of religion as a form of social capital in the public sphere.

Anti-Semitism and religious hatred in Australia have been recent topics of research, along with broader questions as to the meaning and value of religion in Australia.

Featured Publication


The Battle of Ideas: can the beliefs that feed terrorism be changed?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Denis Dragovic, Tanveer Ahmed, Peter Kurti
19 September 2016 | OP149

Defeating violent Islamic extremism has been a high priority for all western countries, including Australia, since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. However, the threat we face doesn’t so much come from zealots flying planes into buildings as from young people barely out of childhood and…

The Democratic Deficit: How Minority Fundamentalism Threatens Liberty in Australia
Peter Kurti
12 July 2016 | Research Report 16

We are faced with a new kind of fundamentalism – call it ‘minority fundamentalism.’ It has all the features of religious fundamentalism, such as ideological fanaticism, intolerance of dissent, and a Manichaean certainty about truth and falsehood. The goal of the minority fundamentalists is to…

Hallowed Institutions: Religion and The Roots of Liberty and Prosperity
Peter Kurti
12 February 2016 | OP144

God appears to be resurgent in 21st century societies around the world. As our awareness of the claims made by religion becomes more acute, it is ever more important to understand those claims as well as the challenges and contributions religious belief has made, and…

Should a Baker be Forced to Bake Cakes for Same Sex Weddings: Democracy and the Rights and Limits of Religion and Conscience in Contemporary Australia
Anthony Fisher
06 November 2015 | OP143

How important are religious liberty and freedom of conscience is in modern statecraft and nation-building? Do they foster social cohesion and mutual respect, or are they sources of division and vilification in diverse societies? Long seen as bedrock foundations of the democratic-liberal state and the common…

Religion and the Roots of Liberal Democracy
Robert Woodberry
18 June 2015

The CIS is pleased to welcome Professor Robert D Woodberry who is visiting Australia from the National University of Singapore where he is Director of the university’s Project on Religion and Economic Change. Professor Woodberry will examine the relationship between religion and democracy in the…

Media & Commentary

Warriors of identity politics who profess to love diversity have been put on notice
Peter Kurti
22 March 2017 | Daily Telegraph

The warriors of identity politics who profess to love ‘diversity’ but instantly shout down and vilify those who dare to disagree with them have been put on notice. Malcolm Turnbull’s…

We can’t just ignore radical teens
Peter Kurti
10 March 2017 | Daily Telegraph

Punchbowl Boys High School Principal Chris Griffiths was stood down Pollies and bureaucrats often prefer to avoid talking about the hard topics. But there comes a point where behaviour they…

Israel’s enemies
Peter Kurti
03 March 2017 | The Spectator

Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to Australia, the first by an Israeli prime minister, has brought on to the streets the usual pro-Palestinian crowd of boycott-loving, democracy-hating, and terror-excusing fanatics. Expect…

Religious freedom is a tricky thing
Robert Forsyth
03 March 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

Two weeks have passed since the controversy over Hurstville Boy’s Campus of Georges River College agreeing to a protocol allowing Muslim students not to shake hands with women. A proper…

Join the queue for apology
Rebecca Weisser
27 February 2017 | The Australian

Australian Islamic Mission (AIM), the group funding the Bendigo Mosque, wants an apology from the ABC and Q&A.  Well, join the queue.  It may seem odd for AIM to sign…