Terry Lane does not like the fact that religion will influence people, and he wants religious MPs to ‘fess up. The Sunday Age columnist and resident atheist said in his latest article that it is a bad thing to have all these nasty Christians running around Parliament, letting their religious beliefs influence the way they vote on issues.
He therefore wants them to have to declare their hand first: “Just as we demand that would-be politicians disclose all their pecuniary interests that may have a bearing on how they vote, we should also require candidates to disclose those beliefs and affiliations that will influence their decisions” (“When religion and politics intersect,” Sunday Age, March 18, 2007).
He wants them, in other words, to effectively confess their sins. You have heard it before: “Yes, I am an alcoholic.” Or, “Yes, I am a sex addict.” And now, if Mr Lane gets his way, “Yes, I am a Christian.” The public must know if such horrible people are taking their places in the corridors of power, insists Mr Lane.
Of course he knows he is on shaky ground here, so he tries the old guilt by association trick. He says, what about the Muslims? If we are concerned about them, why not the Christians?: “Let’s pretend for a moment that it is the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issuing the fatwa commanding all Muslim politicians to feel bound to introduce and support sharia law? Would not this ring alarm bells? Might it not even become an issue in an election campaign in which a Muslim candidate is standing? Why should we be sanguine about Catholic politicians getting their instructions from Rome, when we would be uneasy about Muslim politicians getting theirs from Qom?”
Since Mr Lane obviously does not have the answer for this one, let me help him out. There is a large degree of freedom of conscience in the Christian religion, whereas it does not exist in Islam. Also, I am not aware of the Vatican ordering groups of Christians to go around blowing up unbelievers, or of the Pope issuing fatwas.
Yet Mr Lane continues to act as if any politician who happens to be a Catholic is under direct orders from the Pope himself. He says that on issues like abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, “we can count on the likes of Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews to be obedient to papal edicts on these matters”.
Never mind that there are plenty of Catholic MPs who often defy the Pope on these very issues. And never mind that there may happen to be plenty of good scientific, medical and social reasons to oppose such practices. There are in fact secular MPs who are against embryonic stem cell research, for example.
Mr Lane simply assumes that any believer in Parliament will have checked in his brains and free-will, and will simply be a Papal automaton. This despite the fact that not all believing MPs are even Catholic. There are many Protestant politicians as well.
All of this demonstrates not any conceptual clarity on Mr Lane’s part, but just plain sectarian animosity. And as always, it smacks of hypocrisy as well. Duplicity and double-standards are the order of the day for our secular jihadists. Consider just one implication of his thesis.
If MPs must go through a belief test, does that mean atheists will also be required to declare their hand? Should secular humanists and members of the various anti-God groups also be forced to out themselves in Parliament? Or is Mr Lane suggesting that their worldview will have no influence on what they say or do?
This simply smacks of religious bigotry to me. Indeed, it all sounds vaguely familiar. Seventy years ago a certain group of people had to wear a yellow Star of David for identification purposes. It was easier to deal with those ‘terrible’ Jews with such clear identification.
It seems secularists and God-haters of all ages have a terrible dislike of religious folk, and will find any excuse to marginalise and demonise them. Yellow stars used by the Nazis last century, religious belief litmus tests used by the secularists of today.
Maybe we should just round up those pesky Christians and stick them in camps. That would make the atheists of the world breathe a lot easier. But it would also mean columnists and theophobes like Terry Lane would have a lot less to write about.