Why is the Australian Government funding Paganism?

As the Australian population moves further and further away from Christianity, it’s moving closer and closer to paganism. According to The Conversation:

Nature religions, commonly described as Paganism (or neo-Paganism), are growing in Australia. In the last Census, 33,148 people claimed affiliation with a nature religion: including Animism, Druidism, and the many traditions of Wicca, the most practised Pagan pathway.

Thirty years earlier, just 4,353 Australians put down Paganism as their religion. Affiliation with Christianity has decreased over that 30-year period.

Australian laws against practising witchcraft have only been repealed as recently as this century in some states and territories. In the Northern Territory, it was just 10 years ago: 2013. The laws were repealed in 2005 in Victoria, 2000 in Queensland and 1991 in South Australia. New South Wales was the first state to repeal them, in 1969.

The British Witchcraft Act of 1735, which Australia’s laws stemmed from, was repealed in 1951; the last conviction of a witch was in 1944. There’s never been a recorded conviction for witchcraft in Australia. But many Pagans remain cautious about practising their faith openly, due to perceptions of believers as Satan worshippers. So, Australia’s Pagan population may be much higher than the figures show: declaring a religion on the Census is optional.

For over ten years now, the anti-Christian arts festival in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, Dark Mofo, has been the epicentre of Australian paganism. It is now in its tenth year. Its website reminds visitors: “This year we triumphantly celebrate a decade of Dark Mofo. There will be art, feasting, a masquerade ball, motorbikes, raving, a giant teddy and ample nudity.”

Dark Mofo is publicly and privately funded to the tune of over A$100 million dollars. Just last year, the Tasmanian State Government gave $7.5 million to the festival, with the Australian Federal Government and Hobart City Council chipping in a further $1,000,000 and $500,000 respectively.


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Contrary to the comments of the Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds, it seems difficult to discern whether Winter Fest really has changed the city of Hobart for the better. There are garish neon-red crosses scattered throughout the city. A billboard at the airport read: “Welcome to Hell”. There are “family friendly” pagan celebrations in the Huon Valley:

Last year some of the crosses were inverted, just in case visitors to Tasmania were in any doubt as to the festival’s subversive goal. Understandably, many Christians objected to the publicly offensive display. Christopher Brohier, the Tasmanian director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) told the ABC:

The ACL calls on all Tasmanians to take a stand against Dark Mofo and their blatant agenda to bring hell to earth and for the Tasmanian government to act swiftly to reverse the growing reputation of Tasmania as the Australian state that welcomes evil.

Surprisingly, not all Christians understand the malevolence of Dark Mofo. For example, Mikey Lynch, the director of the University of Tasmania Fellowship of Christians, told the ABC: “Hanging a cross upside down is like a Grade 12 art installation, so just chill out.”

Now I can understand why a ministry colleague in the same city as myself might want to call for calm. We live in a day and age of almost perpetual outrage, and the impact of social media only adds fuel to the fire. What’s more, organisations like this thrive on being shocking and provocative and so becoming upset simply gives them even more publicity. The presence of an inverted cross might seem provocative but inconsequential.

But Dark Mofo is not just unchristian or post-Christian. It revels in being pagan, even demonic. It promotes a visceral hatred of Christianity. Over the years it has included a ritualistic nude swim, the slaughter of a bull in a “bloody sacrificial ritual”, and a bevy of pornographic performances. This year it has promoted gay porn involving the figure of Christ.

This is not simply bad art but dark art.

I’d like to warn visitors of the real and present danger they are in. For while Dark Mofo generates $50 million from tourists who flock to Tasmania to see avant-garde performances, it is spiritually corrosive. Its underlying message is not just that the worship of God is superannuated, and that worship of Satan is the way forward.

Actually, this is an incredibly old-fashioned belief. For most of history, societies were pagan. Do we really want to revert to the dark, despairing world of the Norse gods? Or the fatalism of ancient Greece and Rome? Or the infant sacrifices of the Carthaginians? Christianity rescued Europe from the brutal savagery of paganism. The thought of returning there ought to terrify all of us.   


Mark Powell is the Minister at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, in Hobart, Tasmania. 

Image credits: Winter Feast at Dark Mofo  

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  • Malcolm Lyons
    followed this page 2023-06-26 15:38:56 +1000
  • mrscracker
    It’s reassuring to see Presbyterians concerned about this sort of thing.