by the Rev Rex A E Hunt
Historians and theologians are quite direct with their assessments of Australian colonial religion.
Scottish born theologian, James Denny (1856-1917), stated Australia was
“the most godless place under heaven”. (Quoted in Breward 1988)
In 1788 when the First Fleet arrived in New South Wales from England,
Governor Arthur Phillip not only established a penal colony,
a goal for the 736 convicts—548 males, 188 females—and to a certain extent
the marines and officers who accompanied them,
he also won the land for ‘protestant’ Christianity.(Breward 1988:2)
His orders included the charge that he
“enforce a due observance of religion and good order among the inhabitants of the new settlement, and that you take steps for the due celebration of publick [sic] worship as circumstances will permit.” (Woolmington, quoted in Thompson 1994: 1)
Likewise the oath of allegiance at the foundation of the colony included
“a rejection of the doctrine of transubstantiation, presumably to ensure that no taint of Romanism entered even a prison colony.” (Breward 1988:2)
Exiled from home and family perhaps forever,
both marines and convicts found their new land ‘alien’…
The full text can be read here.