What do the 39% of Australians who ticked the non-religious box on census night think? Well first of all, we non-religious are not a gang. We don’t have meetings. We don’t even have a Facebook page. Although maybe some of them get together and just don’t tell me about it.
So I can only tell you what I believe. I cannot answer for the other 9,945,000 Australians who are not Catholic, Anglican, Unitarian, Baptist, Pentecostal, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Jain or Zoroastrian. (Apologies to any confessions omitted).
Saying I’m not religious doesn’t make much sense to me. I can equally well describe myself as non-reptile or non-mineral. I am not what I am not.
I am neither against religion nor for religion. What I don’t have, what religious people have, is faith. I don’t mind if you have faith. I am not anti-religious. And maybe some believers checked the non-religious box. They believe in a spiritual realm, an afterlife, reincarnation or a great Creator. They worship, pray, meditate, commune with the ineffable but shun religion in the sense of an institution. So not religious. It’s not me, but hey, you do, as the Instagrammers say.
But what do I believe in? Is it all dusty facts and figures like Dickens’ Gradgrind? Am I an angry rationalist atheist like Richard Dawkins? Am I a pleasure-seeking libertine, with shallow morals, using people for his own ends, indifferent to consequences? These are common assumptions about non-believers, but I am not the negative of those who have a belief.
Without faith, religion or spiritual practice, I believe in love, hope, truth and my fellow man. I am driven by wonder, joy, curiosity, knowledge, wisdom. I believe in equality. Opportunity for education, access to water, food, housing. I believe in human rights, the rule of law, the vote, reason and respect.
I don’t want to hurt anyone. Dignity is good. I don’t believe in guilt and shame. I don’t believe that some are bad and some are good. I think we are all capable of both.
Love yourself. Love your neighbour. Find compassion for yourself, your family, your friends, and perhaps the whole world. I will take the ideas of seers and priests.