Atheists denied by government

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Atheists accuse the Brumby government of “ideological bigotry” for refusing to fund the association’s international conference in Melbourne, while giving $2 million to a religious conference. The Parliament of the World’s Religions which starts on December 3 at the new Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre also secured $2 million from the Federal Government and $500,000 from the Melbourne City Council. Voula Papas from The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA), talking to Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE), says the Foundation approached all three levels of government for a total of $270,000 for its conference, to be held at the same venue early next year, but has received no funding. Government spokesman Luke Enright was reported in The Age as saying: “The decision not to fund this event has nothing to do with religious ideology – the convention just doesn’t meet the criteria required to receive government funding”. Criteria include that the event has at least 1000 delegates and has not already been booked for Melbourne. Ms Papas refuted the government’s claim: “We are expecting over 2,000 attendees at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, “and we are only asking for $150.000 from the Victorian Government.” She emphasised: “If the refusal was not ideological, then what were the grounds for the denial of assistance other than the weak justification the government has offered.” “We are bringing millions of dollars into Victoria, enhancing the reputation of the state and promoting the use of reason,” Ms Papas said. “I think the world needs us more than the divisiveness of religion” she added. The event “an extremely expensive exercise” pointed out Ms Papas which will include thinkers such as best selling author and humanist thinker, Richard Dawkins, Australian philosopher Peter Singer, author Taslima Nasrin, science commentator Robyn Williams and radio broadcaster Phillip Adams among a host of international academics and intellectuals. Ms Papas highlighted that all people and associations should have access to funding, saying “people of all faiths and no faith should be outraged by this kind of discrimination.” “If we wish to be real here, the churches of all varieties are amongst the richest institutions on the planet. Atheist organisations do not receive any of the financial breaks that religions take for granted.”last_img