Religious Discourse in the Public Domain: Religion is an important cultural, social and political phenomenon. While there appears to be a noticeable decline in formal religious affiliation levels in the Australian census, religious references abound in society. The major public holidays in our calendar mark significant celebrations within the Christian calendar, such as Easter and Christmas. Christian rituals and principles have also been absorbed into popular culture and public discourse. Celebrations of religious significance for Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus are visible in public spaces. The religious dimension of life can be expressed in a variety of ways. Schools are one of the first places where children have daily contact with a range of religions and world views.

The arts are an integral part of human experience. They enable people to express ideas, beliefs and feelings and to experience the world in ways they have not done before. The arts have played a central rather than a peripheral role in the development of civilisations. They form part of a complex structure of beliefs and rituals, and moral and social codes. The arts provide us with ways of looking at ourselves and of imagining our future. The visual arts often communicate more strongly than language, and frequently aim to make statements of a didactic or morally instructive kind.

Christianity and the Arts Linking Christian faith and theology with the arts is not something new. Christians have enjoyed a rich history of using the arts as a way of teaching and of bearing witness to the Christian faith. During the Middle Ages, the arts were specifically employed for their teaching or didactic functions and incorporated into daily Christian practice, instead of being isolated as a separate sphere of human activity. Artistic activity was highly valued because it expressed religious ideas through concrete forms like stained glass, stone, chants, hymns, paintings and plays. Cathedrals were the centre of community life where visual and aural images expressed people's understanding of God, good and evil, life and death. The creative arts, religion, and life were intimately related. However, as the arts became less prominent in the religious and secular rituals of the late Middle Ages, they lost their aura and began to accumulate an “aesthetic discourse and to acquire the status of an institution” (Jusdamis, 1991, p. 90).