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

Publications

The Tyranny of Tolerance. Threats to Religious Liberty in Australia
Peter Kurti
18 June 2017 | Connorcourt Publishing

It was a confident expectation for more than a century that religion — its beliefs, doctrines and institutions — would atrophy in the face of growing secularisation. But not only has traditional Christianity survived in liberal western societies; other faiths, most conspicuously Islam, have increasingly…

Terror in the Name of God: Confronting acts of religious violence in a liberal society
Peter Kurti
10 June 2017 | OP154

Acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion have been reported with great prominence in recent times. Scholars of religion continue to weigh whether people who kill or injure others are really doing so in the name of their God, as they claim; or…

Rediscovering Humility: Religious Freedom in a 21st Century Pluralist Society
Tim Wilson
05 December 2016 | OP151

Religious liberty is central to the Australian way of life. It is enshrined in the Australian Constitution. But it is not the only freedom that matters. There is a rising tension between accommodating differing freedoms in 21st century Australia. The changing face of Australia continues…

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…

Media & Commentary

Not losing our religion
Peter Kurti
30 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

Findings from the 2016 Census that 30 per cent of Australians report having no religious affiliation have led to renewed calls for an end to state funding for all faith-based…

Thought crimes
Robert Forsyth
23 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

Two recent overseas events must raise the alarm here in Australia as well. Tim Fallon quit as leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrats, citing the incompatibility of the position with…

How long for Australia?
Peter Kurti
16 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

Although free for so long from the scourge of political and religious terrorism, in the long term, Australia can hardly avoid a deadly Islamist attack such as occurred in London…

Take religion seriously to defeat fanatics
Peter Kurti
16 June 2017 | Daily Telegraph

How long before Aussies are faced with a deadly attack on the scale of Westminster or Manchester or Borough Markets? Apart from the Lindt cafe siege, we have so far…

We need to discuss Islam and terrorism
Peter Kurti
10 June 2017 | The Australian - Inquirer

Fears that Australians face an imminent deadly attack on the scale of the three recent attacks in England have prompted religious, community, and political leaders in many western countries to…