An article in "The Age" newspaper today reveals that, despite funding The Parliament of the World's Religions Convention to the tune of $2.5million, the Rudd and Brumby government have refused to provide one-tenth of that amount to help the Global Atheist Convention promote their event.

This appears to be a case of blatant discrimination against non-theists by these governments.

If you are as outraged as I am, may I suggest that you write a letter to the editor of The Age. Letters can be submitted online here.

You might also consider sending an email to John Brumby here.. By all means be firm, but please be polite!

If you have any contacts within the Labor Party, please let them know that we will circulate this decision as widely as possible and that it will cost the party votes.

If you have a blog or website, please let people know about this.

Hopefully, the state and federal governments will see sense and overturn this blatantly discriminatory decision.

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My letter to The Age reads as follows:

"As one of four million plus non-religious Australians, I'm outraged to hear that Labor governments are putting $2.5m of taxpayers' money into a religious event, but have refused funding for Melbourne’s Global Atheist Convention.

You only have to Google to see how news of this event is spreading internationally. Isn’t that what the funding is for: to promote tourism to Australia and Victoria?

I will be travelling to the Convention in March. Does the Brumby government value my tourist dollars less than those of a theist? If so, I will be careful to restrict my spending while I am in Victoria for the Convention and I won’t be in any hurry to return to a state where non-theists are obviously not wanted. I also won’t be in any hurry to vote Labor again."
The problem is, Stephen, the government seems to have shunted the AFA application between three departments, so it's unclear as to what criteria has been used. As I understand it, they were told they met the criteria and should receive funding once ticket sales reached 1000. Soon after they advised that this had happened they were told that funding was refused because the event had already been 'secured'. As Nicholls says, how do you sell 1000 tickets if you haven't confirmed a venue? It doesn't look good for the government.
I think if the Parliament of the World's Religions had been refused $4.5 million in funding then we certainly wouldn't have anything to argue about.
Kristy, has David Nicholls been given a reason for the refusal of support? Depending upon what this might be surely a case could be taken to whatever the Australian Federal equivalent of the Human Rights Commissioner is? (Presuming they have such.)

Personally, I think it's also well past time that religious organisations' tax-exempt status was removed, as an archaic pandering to the supposed authority of the church. I fail to see why I, as a non-believer, should have my tax dollars used to prop up superstitious beliefs.
Hi Malcolm. As far as I know (and I'm not on the Convention Committee, so I may well be wrong) no formal explanation has been received from the government. The AFA has sought legal advice and taken a case to the anti-discrimination commission (tribunal?) in the past, but I don't know whether there are plans to take the same action in this case.

Regarding tax, I think we all agree on that. Max Wallace will be speaking on this at the Convention. If you have not already done so, I suggest you read Max's book, The Purple Economy.




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