Dr David Stoneman is an Adjunct Associate of the University of New England, Armidale, Australia.
Richard Bourke: For the Honour of God and the Good of Man
Article first published online: 6 DEC 2013
© 2013 The Author. Journal of Religious History © 2013 Religious History Association
Journal of Religious History
How to Cite
Stoneman, D. (2013), Richard Bourke: For the Honour of God and the Good of Man. Journal of Religious History. doi: 10.1111/1467-9809.12079
- Article first published online: 6 DEC 2013
The Church Act (1836) was arguably the most significant ecclesiastical legislation in Australia's history, as it profoundly impacted on the nation's social and political development in its formative years. The Act was instigated by Governor Richard Bourke and was welcomed by the people as establishing “religious equality on a just and firm basis.” However, historically it is often categorised as being part of Bourke's liberal reform agenda where the legislation's attributes of religious toleration have been magnified and its function to expand Christianity minimised. The fact that Bourke was a devout Christian is something that none of his biographers have disputed, but this belief is rarely portrayed as fundamental to his motives. This article explores the nature of Bourke's Christianity and discusses how that influenced his public policy in relation to religion and education. It reveals a complex man who had sincere orthodox Anglican faith, but recognised the part played by other denominations in the Christian mission. This examination will demonstrate the difficulty in differentiating between secular and spiritual motives and intentions in this period.