Sectarianism in Australia

Essay by TigbyHigh School, 11th gradeB+, May 2014

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Religion Essay

Explain the significance of sectarianism in Australia.

Sectarianism has influenced how we as a society interact with each other. In Australia's recent socio-religious past there has been a dark time in which society was almost split in two. This split was due to sectarianism, it stemmed from an intense and deep seeded rivalry between those who identified themselves as belonging to the Protestant religion and those who identified themselves with the Roman Catholic church. Broadly speaking sectarianism refers to the hostility between different churches, which then manifests itself in wider society. Steven Blyth, in his historical overview of sectarianism, refer to is as a phenomenon of how those differences (religious beliefs) form the underlying basis of social intolerance, antagonism and hostility in the wider society. Sectarianism influenced areas of society such as employment, education and politics. However without sectarianism today the equal, multicultural society we live in today would not exist, thus being a very significant religious event in Australian history.

Australian sectarianism was derived from the legacy of the 16th century events. In other words, Australian sectarianism is historically rooted in the divisive events between England and Ireland. Sectarianism reaches back to the very beginning of the Australian colony. Catholics saw themselves as a separate group in Australian society. In the next half century sectarianism was at its worst, however now it is near to non-existent.

Politics was greatly affected by sectarianism. With the turn of the century and the advent of WW1 political sectarianism intensified. This was due to the question of loyalty to the war. Protestant denominations, represented by the liberal party, heavily supported Australia's involvement in the First World War. However the question of Catholic loyalty was revised with the campaign against conscription by the involvement of Catholic Archbishop Mannix. Sectarianism had a...