Journal of the australian naval


R.C Hammond Religion in the RAN Sir



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R.C Hammond

Religion in the RAN Sir,

Sub-Lieutenant Frame's article In Spirit and In Truth (Vol 12, No 1 of the Journal) reminded me of discussions about religious observance in the RAN when I was an instructor officer at RANC in 1969/70. As I recall the situation then, the midshipmen were required to attend Divine Service on Sundays and officers were expected to go, if not every Sunday, at least several times a month. (Catholic officers and midshipmen were of course required to be present at Mass.) This would have been a good example of the institutionalised nominalism and tokenism to which Tom Frame objects.

I remember discussing the question of enforced church attendance with that distinguished lawyer, the late Professor Daniel O'Connell, Commander RANR, on one of his visits to the College. I suggested that any compulsion to attend a religious service was surely a breach of section 116 of the Australian constitution, particularly the prohibition '... no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust under the Commonwealth.' My point was that even the interviewing of an officer by a superior regarding the tumor's attendance or non-attendance at church (with the implication that the matter could gel a mention in the confidential report and thus affect confirmation in rank, promotion, etc) was in effect requiring' a religious test. Dan O'Connell, a great lover of naval tradition, rather liked the idea of everyone going to church in a

naval college, but thought I might have had a point about the clash with the constitution.

Was I correct? Perhaps a legal member of the ANI would care to comment on the relationship between the constitution and religious observance in the Navy.




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