In respect of section 116 of the Australian Constitution is there now or ever been a definition for the word "Religion"? if so, what is that definition?
Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900: Original Public Record Copy (1900).
Parliament House Art Collection, Art Services Parliament House
This image shows the front page of the original public record copy of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. There is a a red ribbon tied in a bow on the left hand side of the document. The paper looks faded from age.
Permission for publication must be sought from Parliament House Art Collection. Contact DPS Art Services, phone: 02 62775034 or 02 62775123
Thank you for this very interesting question.
Section 116 of the Australian Constitution allows for freedom of religion in Australia by preventing the Australian Parliament from making laws which prevent the establishment or practice of religion in Australia. This prompts your question of how ‘religion’ is to be defined.
There is no complete legal definition of ‘religion’. The Constitution itself does not go into any detail of what a ‘religion’ is. There has also never been a law passed by the Australian Parliament or a ruling made by the High Court of Australia which absolutely defines religion. In fact, when ruling on the subject judges have been careful not to establish a standard legal definition of 'religion'. As Justice John Latham wrote in his ruling on the case of Adelaide Company of Jehovah’s Witnesses Inc. v Commonwealth in 1943:
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to devise a definition of religion which would satisfy the adherents of all the many and various religions which exist, or have existed, in the world.