The reversal of the ban ensures that bibles and other religious texts can now be gifted to new citizens of Australia.
05 April 2011
Ban on bibles at Australian citizenship ceremonies overturned
Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen yesterday overturned a ban on the issuing of bibles as gifts at Australian citizenship ceremonies.
The ban was implemented some years ago, and made headlines last October after the Australia immigration department ordered Clarence Council in Tasmania to join Hobart City Council and others in Tasmania to stop proffering bibles which were supplied by the Bible Society of Australia.
Tasmanian senator Guy Barnett claimed the ban came about following changes made to the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code in 2008, which specifically banned gifting holy books. Others point out that it was previous Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Gary Hardgrave, under previous Prime Minister John Howard’s leadership, who overhauled to same Code in 2003, ensuring that “political and religious material” was not to be distributed at citizenship ceremonies.
Mr. Barnett said he had written to Mr. Bowen in October 2010 when Clarence Council was forced to hand 72 bibles back to the Bible Society in compliance with the amended Code. He wrote again in January 2011 to request the ban is overturned. Mr. Barnett said he received no reply to his letters and escalated the matter with a letter to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard last month.
Mr. Bowen’s reversal of the ban ensures that religious texts can be given to new citizens of Australia, if they choose to accept this.