Anzac Day as a religious holiday?
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says enthusiasm for Anzac Day is growing, despite a government report recently suggesting that celebrating the centenary of Anzac Day in 2015 could provoke division in multicultural Australia. Ms Gillard says Anzac Day was “an important part of our national identity,” and she completely disagrees with all of the report’s conclusions.
There is no doubt that most Australians are keen to contemplate the Anzac legacy, and celebrate the Anzac spirit of skill, courage, self-sacrifice, teamwork and a fair go for all. Indeed, it has been suggested that Anzac Day is increasingly staking a claim to replace Easter as the major religious holiday in 21st century Australia.
As Anglican Chaplain Andrew Grills points out, “the danger of syncretising the Christian faith with the civic religion of Anzac Day is a very real one, perhaps especially so for military Christians who are daily immersed in the culture,” but ultimate meaning, and salvation, can only be found in the Easter story.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 22 Apr 2012.