chapter  2
11 Pages

Arguing for a religious character to the Australian Constitution

ByLuke Beck

Alexander Gosman made an argument in a paper he presented at the 1887 conference celebrating the jubilee of Congregationalism in South Australia. In part, the paper discussed 'the relation of the State to religion and to the Churches', a distinction that was important for Gosman. Among the church leaders agitating that the Centennial International Exhibition be opened with a religious ceremony was the Scottish-born Victorian Congregationalist leader Gosman. One of the most symbolic issues in the church leaders' craving for public recognition was the question of Sunday observance laws. Concern about the lax enforcement of Sunday observance laws was one of the key drivers behind the establishment of the New South Wales Council of Churches. It was the New South Wales Council of Churches that was ultimately responsible for the successful campaign to have God recognised in the Constitution and which in turn prompted the successful campaign for a provision separating religion and government.