We are saddened by the news that Gary Bouma died at his home in Melbourne last Thursday morning, 19 August, in the company of his wife, Patricia. He was 79. After falling and breaking his leg in February, when he was otherwise fit and well, Gary experienced a number of debilitating medical conditions and, in the midst of all that, the death of his beloved son.
Gary was a long-time participant in international sociology and a leader in the sociology of religion in Australia. His massive academic legacy includes over 30 books and 360 articles—with many still forthcoming. His most recent book, authored by Andrew Singleton, Anna Halafoff, Mary Lou Rasmussen and Gary, on Freedoms, Faiths and Futures: Teenage Australians on Religion, Sexuality and Diversity, arising from an ARC Discovery Project, was published in April this year. As well as landmark works on the sociology of Australian religion, including Australian Soul, he reshaped Australian understanding of religion in numerous areas including interreligious understanding, human rights, religion and youth, education and public policy. His work reached far beyond the academy, with notable policy work including the Human Rights Commission’s 2011 inquiry into Freedom of Religion and Belief in 21st Century Australia; chairing the Board of Directors for The Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2009; and numerous interventions in public debate in areas such as religious diversity, gender and sexuality, Islamophobia and the place of religion in schools.
Gary came to Australia in 1979, joining Monash University, where he remained for the next 42 years, becoming Emeritus Professor in 2008, after serving in numerous roles including Professor of Sociology, DVC Research, and Head of School. In 2005, he was appointed UNESCO Chair in Inter-Cultural and Inter-Religious Relations. He led the Australian node of the University of Ottawa-based Religion and Diversity Project, and was a leading figure in other distinguished national and international research collaborations. In 2013, he was awarded AM for services to Sociology, to interreligious relations and to the Anglican Church of Australia.
He was also an ordained minister in the Anglican church and at the time of his death was Honorary Assistant Priest at St Johns, East Malvern.
Gary’s funeral will be on Thursday, 26 August at 11:00 am AEST (that is 9:00 pm Wednesday, 25 August US EST) and will be live-streamed. The State of Victoria’s COVID regulations currently restrict the number of people attending funerals to ten, plus those required for the conduct of the funeral. The link to the funeral is https://www.selwynallenfunerals.com.au/upcoming-services . Scroll down to find Gary.