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Pluralism And Diversity In Australia Essay

1103 words - 4 pages

Since European settlement, the Australian religious landscape has evolved radically from being dominated by traditional Christian denominations to a rise in alternative beliefs. The abolition of the White Australia Policy, secularisation and modernisation have all assisted immigration in reshaping Australia's faith. This essay will seek to examine key factors over the last 60years, which have influenced the religious plane of Australia.Throughout its short history, the cultures and religions within Australia have shifted vastly from the original denominations. In the early years of settlement, Australia was primarily comprised of Anglo Saxon and Celtic settlers. These people brought with them the British tradition of Protestantism and Irish Catholic faith. For many years, these religions would dominate the Australian population. The arrival of Chinese Buddhist and Muslim camel traders enforced an expansion of sectarianism, a rise in alternative belief systems. Some argue Australian religion was always ordained to avert from the traditional Christian denominations as the "son's of the enlightenment" settled it, during a time when philosophy and science began to rival the conviction of common religions. In the modern day, Australia contains worshipers from religions stemming originally from all areas of the world, however, '68% of the population still follow Christian faiths.' ('Religious Affiliation' 2001, Available: http://www.omi.wa.gov.au/).Before World War II, Australian society was dominated by the traditions of Christian religion, predominantly that of the Catholic and Anglican denominations. The White Australia Policy was a series of federal decisions to block people from coming to Australia who did not measure up to a series of standards, the most important of which that they be English or European speaking. 'The root of this policy is found on the goldfields during the 1850s. Resentment toward Chinese miners by their Caucasian counterparts led to violence and later the kanaka workers from the Pacific islands, brought in to work Queensland cane fields were opposed by workers who felt their job security threatened.' (Ryan, M. and Goldburg, P. 2001.) This was cemented by fear from factory workers, that migrants might work for lower waged and a lower standard of living. 'The goal of the White Australia Policy was summarised by an early Federation Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, "Unity of race is an absolute to the unity of Australia."' (Ryan, M. and Goldburg, P. 2001.) The Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 was the first official bill to restrict non-European migrants and those who were considered insane, diseased, disabled or criminal. Its main accomplishment was the 50 word Dictation test where the potential migrant was forced to write a dictation and sign it in the presence of an officer, in a European language selected by the officer, stopped immigration from anywhere but Europe as Asian and African migrants were targeted. Despite its...

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