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

Burqa ban ignores the real face of terrorism
Peter Kurti
22 February 2017 | Daily Telegraph

Islam is “the most feminist religion”, according to Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied. She then sought advice on Facebook from extreme anti-women Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahir. No wonder Jacqui Lambie’s populist…

We want freedom of speech. And we want it now
Peter Kurti
03 February 2017 | Daily Telegraph

Pollies and elite media are finally getting the message: when it comes down to the views of ordinary Aussies, freedom of speech matters — and we don’t want to be…

A hard line on hem lines
Peter Kurti
18 January 2017 | Daily Telegraph

  Totalitarian tyrants of tolerance have taken up the cudgels once again, determined to beat their version of ‘common sense’ into the heads of any who disagree with them. Their…

To have and to hold: the rise of bigamy in Australia
Peter Kurti
13 January 2017 | Daily Telegraph

Advocates of bigamy — who argue that anybody should be able to have more than one spouse — have just had a legal leg-up from the courts in a decision…

Thank God for Christian charity this Christmas
Peter Kurti
23 December 2016 | Daily Telegraph

Christmas has come under fire from the guardians of political correctness who want every vestige of religion banished from our parks, streets and schools. Out with the carols; out with…