"... but in its proper place. ."Religion, Enlightenment, and Australia's Secular Heritage: the Case of Robert Lowe in Colonial NSW 1842-1850

Stephen Chavura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Over the last few decades historians have been rediscovering Australia's religious heritage, often in response to entrenched narratives depicting Australia's social, intellectual, and political history as a triumph of secular enlightenment over vestiges of Old World partnerships of religion, state, and society. That Australia has a rich secular heritage is indisputable, but to draw a sharp distinction between the "secular" and the "religious" is anachronistic and misguided, and any attempt to tell the story of Australia's secular heritage must acknowledge that the "secular" often found its justification flowing from more general religious premises grounded in enlightenment ideals such as rational religion, rational piety, and general Christianity. Indeed, when liberal democracy was emerging in the colonies the "secular" had to be justified in terms acceptable to the public square and these terms were broadly religious. Robert Lowe is an apt case study for divining the nature of the secular in colonial Australia, for his thought and political activity show the subtle and complex way that ideals such as "enlightenment," "religion," and "secular" entered into dialogue rather than warfare with one another and contributed to social institutions judged suitable for a fledgling pluralist nation.

LanguageEnglish
Pages356–376
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Religious History
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

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Heritage
Colonies
Enlightenment
Religion
Ideal
Warfare
Vestiges
Social History
Piety
Political History
Thought
Religious Heritage
Social Institutions
Public Square
Liberal Democracy
Christianity
Historian
Pluralist
Intellectual History
Justification

Cite this

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"... but in its proper place. ."Religion, Enlightenment, and Australia's Secular Heritage : the Case of Robert Lowe in Colonial NSW 1842-1850. / Chavura, Stephen.

In: Journal of Religious History, Vol. 38, No. 3, 09.2014, p. 356–376.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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