A comparison between church and secular publications concerning opposition to the introduction of ‘no-fault divorce’ as part of the Family Law Act (1975)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Family Law Bill through the Senate. Its eventual passing into law came at the end of a protracted and heated debate that took place both inside and outside the Commonwealth Parliament. Four decades on from such significant social reform, the Australian public is again faced with proposals to amend the Marriage Act (1961). Then, just as today, the role of the media in establishing and shaping public perceptionswas immense. This paper seeks to examine the controversy surrounding the FLB as it played out on the pages of both church and secular publications. While there remain an inordinate number of publications that could have been examined, this response has limited its focus to just three: The Australian Church Record, Church Scene and The Sydney Morning Herald. This ensures that the issue is covered not only from evangelical perspective (ACR), but also from a more ‘moderate’ Anglican perspective (CS) as well as from the secular angle (SMH). A comparison of these publications and their differing coverage of the controversy will reveal important insights into Australia’s social and religious landscape during this period of significant change. Not only will we see first-hand the tremendous social shift that was gripping Australia’s increasingly secular society, but it will also bear witness to the difficulties experienced by the evangelical movement as it grappled to engage with these changes in an appropriate manner.