The Canberra Declaration
A Call to Christian Conscience
23 July 2010
Declaration website to sign the document or to obtain more detailed
information about it. [Administrator]
The Preamble to the Australian Constitution
contains the words, "Humbly relying on the blessing
of Almighty God". As Australian citizens we continue
to declare that we too put our trust in Almighty
For centuries, to speak of Western civilisation
was to speak of Christian civilisation. The two were
in many ways synonymous. The values that we have
cherished and sought to strengthen are in large
measure founded on the Judeo-Christian belief
system. The many freedoms, advantages,
opportunities, values and liberties which
characterise the West owe much to the growth of
Christianity with its inherent belief in the dignity
of the human person as created in the image of God
and the code of behaviour that flows from this
The Canberra Declaration follows on from the
2009 Manhattan Declaration and the
Westminster Declaration. It declares that when
Christian values are respected and allowed freedom
of expression, not just confined to so-called sacred
spaces but in the public arena as well, society is
richer and healthier.
We wish to emphasise three areas that demand
particular attention in our contemporary Australian
society, namely religious freedom, marriage and the
family, and the sanctity of human life. Were we to
undermine any one of these values, the social fabric
of our nation would be seriously weakened, to our
personal and collective detriment.
Religious freedom includes freedom of conscience
and freedom of speech. The importance of these
freedoms is shown in countries where they are
threatened or absent. Police states and totalitarian
nations inevitably begin with the curtailment of
basic liberties, including religious freedom and the
right to speak one's mind and conscience. This
includes the right to change one's religious
We affirm the basic necessity of freedom of
conscience, having the liberty to speak publicly
about one's faith and beliefs, and having the right
to practise the religion of one's choice. If these
freedoms are removed - even in the name of supposed
benefits - the prized values of democracy and
liberty are seriously undermined.
In Australia today these freedoms are being
restricted by laws which, although appearing
positive on first reading, have the potential to
lead to unintended and unacceptable consequences.
These laws include anti-discrimination legislation,
hate crime laws and legislation on religious and
sexual vilification - each of which may be
interpreted in a way that effectively works as a
barrier to religious freedom and freedom of speech.
Thus the signers of this declaration affirm the
fundamental right of Australians to religious
freedom and freedom of speech, and we oppose
legislation which denies such freedoms. We likewise
oppose laws subjugating our nation to foreign powers
and instrumentalities which restrict these freedoms.
Marriage and Family
Another vital package of values and social
benefits is the long-standing institution of the
natural family resulting from marriage between a man
and a woman - as affirmed by the definition of
marriage in the Marriage Act: "â€¦the union of a man
and a woman to the exclusion of all others,
voluntarily entered into for life".
No other social institution has done so much good
for people and for nations, yet marriage is being
undermined, to the detriment of children,
individuals, and society itself.
Lifelong marriage between a man and a woman
guarantees children their biological birthright to a
mother and a father and has a proven track record of
providing them with protection, education, welfare,
support and nurture. No other arrangement has
improved upon the benefits of marriage.
In the face of competing alternatives and moves
to redefine marriage, we affirm the importance and
social utility of marriage between a man and a woman
and the families formed thereby.
The third important set of values revolves around
the sanctity of human life which is being undermined
in much of the Western world, through abortion,
euthanasia, and some of the new reproductive
We believe that all human life, being made in the
image of God, has intrinsic and equal value from
conception to life's natural end.
The very heart of a humane and civilised society
is based on the way it treats its most vulnerable
and innocent members including the unborn and the
disabled. We therefore insist on the right of all
persons, including those who are vulnerable or
dependent, to protection from conception to natural
death. We will support, protect, and be advocates
for such people, since to do anything less is to
weaken our humanity and despise our personhood.
We will not comply with any directive that
compels us to participate in or facilitate abortion,
embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide,
euthanasia, or any other act that involves the
intentional taking of innocent human life.
Religious freedom, marriage and family, and the
sacredness of human life have provided the
foundations enabling Western democratic societies to
flourish. We erode these foundations at our peril.
The faith which is at the heart of many of the
values and strengths underpinning the Australian
nation now compels us to speak up in their defence.
For the future of this nation, and for our
children's future, we call upon all like-minded
citizens to support and sign this declaration.