My Religion By Banjo Paterson

A Case For Deeds Not Creeds

This poem by Banjo Paterson offers an egalitarian perspective on religion that champions empathy and humanitarianism over dogma and empty ritual.

Adopting the voice of a skeptic, Paterson gently critiques hollow religious conventions like compulsory church attendance, paid clergy, and scripted services that lack authenticity. He implies true virtue lies in deeds not creeds.

The Old Bush Songs

by Banjo Patterson

He envisions an inclusive, decentralized faith defined by supporting fellow “toilers” and sharing resources with the poor. This grassroots doctrine based on compassion for humanity’s struggles resonates with his values.

While caricaturing aspects of organized religion, Paterson’s humanist themes have universal appeal in advocating moral responsibility and connection. He implies spiritual wisdom lives in people’s kindness, not institutions.

Ultimately, the poem insightfully elevates empathy as a unifying force that transcends denominations. Paterson offers an uplifting perspective on religion’s role in society – to cultivate understanding and charity through seeing humanity’s shared essence.


Let Romanists all at the Confessional kneel,
Let the Jew with disgust turn from it,
Let the mighty Crown Prelate in Church pander zeal,
Let the Mussulman worship Mahomet.

From all these I differ–truly wise is my plan,
With my doctrine, perhaps, you’ll agree,
To be upright and downright and act like a man,
That’s the religion for me.

I will go to no Church and to no house of Prayer
To see a white shirt on a preacher.
And in no Courthouse on a book will I swear
To injure a poor fellow-creature.

For parsons and preachers are all a mere joke,
Their hands must be greased by a fee;
But with the poor toiler to share your last “toke”*
That’s the religion for me.

[Footnote: “Toke” is a slang word for bread.]

Let Psalm-singing Churchmen and Lutheran sing,
They can’t deceive God with their blarney;
They might just as well dance the Highland Fling,
Or sing the fair fame of Kate Kearney.

But let man unto man like brethren act,
My doctrine this suits to a T,
The heart that can feel for the woes of another,
Oh, that’s the religion for me.

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