Messages of Hope

“Sovereignty is a spiritual notion”: An unexplored frontier in the freedom of religion debate.

Published / by Greg Elsdon

The following opinion piece by Rev Dr Mark Brett was posted on the ABC Religion and Ethics web page on Thursday 30 May, 2019.

The current debate about freedom of religion in Australia has been overly narrow in its scope. Various anxieties are circulating about the ways in which the state extends its jurisdiction over religious institutions, or even deny the participation of religious agencies in public spaces. But there are more fundamental questions at stake, and these go to the very foundations of political authority.

In his 2018 Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration, Noel Pearson returned once again to the idea that:

“sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or “mother nature” and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.”

For the full text of Mark Brett’s opinion piece go to:

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/sovereignty-is-a-spiritual-notion-the-freedom-of-religion-debate/11163062

[Mark Brett is Professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Divinity, Melbourne, and author of Political Trauma and Healing: Biblical Ethics for a Postcolonial World and Locations of God: Political Theology in the Hebrew Bible.]