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Brisbane conference to prove religion is relevant in public debate, with support from former PM

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Religious debate: “The media and politicians want to push religion to the margins.”

FORMER Prime Minister Tony Abbott will be among key speakers at a Brisbane conference aimed at fortifying the relevance of faith in the public square.

Spirit in the City, hosted by the Queensland University of Technology chaplaincy, will draw speakers including Mr Abbott, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Mercy Sister Moira Debono and Christian educator Dr Ryan Messmore.

Mr Abbott will address the lack of public confidence in politics, while Archbishop Coleridge will reflect on the marriage debate, protection of the unborn, and challenges facing the Church.

Young Australians of the Year and Orange Sky Laundry founders Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett will also present at the conference.

QUT’s head of Service Science Discipline Professor Alistair Barros, a member of the organising committee, said the conference was an important step in sparking a conversation around faith to a growing secular world.

“The media and politicians want to push religion to the margins,” Dr Barros said.

Dr Barros said it was unfair to say religion was only private or personal opinion and had no place in public debate.

He said religion had made a strong contribution to the sciences with Catholic priests behind both the Big Bang Theory and modern genetics.

“It all begins with a conversation,” Dr Barros said.

Dr Barros said the conference committee were encouraged by Archbishop Coleridge to continue the event annually.

QUT chaplain Fr Bavin Clarke said the conference would inspire students and young Christians on the relevance of religious thought “for the big issues of our times”.

“Spirit in the City follows Brisbane’s tradition of putting together great faith-based conferences, seen through Faith on Tap, Thomas More Centre, Call to Holiness and Australian Family Association, which have rallied Christians and conservatives over the years,” he said.

Spirit in the City is an open conference with tickets starting from $25 for concession.

Evangelisation Brisbane are sponsoring the conference on October 8 at QUT Gardens Point.

Register for the conference at www.spiritinthecity.info.

By Emilie Ng

Catholic Church Insurance

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