CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Faith, Leadership and Politics

Aug 9, 2007

In Canberra several hundred Christian leaders had the opportunity to hear and interact with the leaders of the two main political parties. Both Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd were allowed to address the audience with a thirty minute address, followed by four or five questions each.

The event was a first in Australia, with both leaders professing a Christian faith, and the event telecast to well over 700 churches around Australia. Perhaps as many as 100,000 people throughout the nation took part in the live event.

With Christians still making up a majority of Australians, and many becoming more politically aware and active, both parties have been keen to target the Christian vote.

This event was meant to showcase the faith of the leaders, and provide them with a chance to explain how their government would address concerns of the Christian community. Jim Wallace and his team from the Australian Christian Lobby are to be praised for all the hard work in making this event possible.

Assessment

So how does one evaluate the just-held forum? The short answer is that the two leaders both gave fairly safe, fairly predictable and fairly standard presentations. The talks, and the answers to the approved questions, revealed very little new information. Anyone following the two men over the years would not have really gleaned anything new here.

John Howard did announce a policy on protecting families from Internet dangers, but this had been hinted at previously. He did say a national ISP-level filtering scheme would be introduced, but on an opt-in level.

While any moves to protect children and families from Internet porn and other nasties are welcome, this could have been given a stronger direction, as in an opt-out plan. That is, it should apply to all, except for those who want to opt out of the filtering system.

Surprisingly, Mr Rudd said nothing about porn or the Net, even though in the past Labor had suggested an opt-out ISP-level filtering arrangement. Many believers are concerned about these sorts of issues, yet the Opposition Leader said nothing about them during the night.

Also, the talks and answers were all fairly safe and constrained. Nothing really controversial or risky was mentioned. This was in part because leaders in election mode tend to be quite careful, and partly because questioners were hand-picked by the organisers. Thus no unpredictable questions were allowed. And fair enough. But the result was some fairly standard political speeches and answers to questions.

In the speeches, familiar territory was traversed. One would have liked to ask more pointed and probing questions about these addresses. For example, Kevin Rudd expressed concern about the humanitarian crisis in Iraq today. One would have liked to ask him if he had been equally concerned about some very real humanitarian crises in Iraq under Saddam, or whether this was just a case of selective outrage.

And John Howard could have been quizzed on doing more about pro-life concerns. Indeed, the A word was totally absent from the evening discussions. Abortion and other hot potato items were mostly absent at this forum.

There were only two fairly tough and important questions, both addressed to Mr Rudd. One was on same-sex marriage and parenting issues, and the other was on Labor plans for religious vilification legislation. Unfortunately Mr Rudd skirted around the issue of marriage and relationships, and refused to answer whether a Rudd Labor Government would introduce religious vilification laws.

The inability or unwillingness of the Opposition Leader to clearly answer these two questions was perhaps the most telling moment of the night. The rest of the questions and responses were fairly formulaic and non-controversial.

A third thing to say about the talks and the answers was that perhaps 80 to 90 per cent of them could have been delivered anywhere. They were fairly generic political speeches and answers, with very little specifically Christian content about them.

When the two men were given the chance to elaborate a bit more about their faith and their understanding of Christianity, neither one really added anything to what they had already said in their opening addresses. Indeed, they tended to simply repeat what they had said there.

So if the evening was meant to give us more insight into the faith and beliefs of the two leaders, we learned nothing new, and nothing of substance.

A last element worth mentioning about their presentations was the fact that there was not a huge amount that distinguished them, in terms of policies and core values. For example, both spoke about the importance of families, and the need to look after the poor and vulnerable.

Both could emphasise choice: Howard spoke of choice in day care, while Rudd spoke of choice in education. Both spoke of climate change and the need for action, and both spoke of raising the percentage of spending on foreign aid.

While there were certainly differences of emphasis, these were differences we had all heard numerous times before. Thus it is a moot point whether at the conclusion of the event, believers would have been any wiser as to how they might vote.

Chances are they will still follow their basic concerns, whatever they may be. Thus those who think the economy is important may think Howard has done a fairly good job thus far, and stick with him.

If believers feel that current industrial relations legislation is unfair, they will want to go with Rudd. So voting patterns and intentions may not have been changed very much tonight.

All in all, it was a good exercise to bring believers and the two leaders together. But whether there was anything new or noteworthy or significant or specifically Christian that emerged from the two men is debatable.

The politicians played it safe, the organisers played it safe, and the questioners, with two exceptions, played it safe. Such control and restraint may have been necessary for an event such as this. But the result was that very little new knowledge was gained as to the faith of these two leaders, or how believers should vote at the next Federal election.

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51 Responses to Faith, Leadership and Politics

  • Thanks Bill. It’s a real help to get this summary. I didn’t get a chance to see it last night and I am sure that if I did my vote would not have changed. I am satisfied with the job Howard is doing and I feel that a Howard Government is more Christian-friendly than a Rudd Government would be.

    I find it quite disturbing that Rudd did not give a clear decisive answer to the two tough questions addressed to him. It only heightens my suspicion that a Rudd government would make some bad choices.

    We should all pray that God will move so that the leaders he wants in Federal Parliament are elected. We should pray particularly for those with Christian values, that if elected they will have the courage to stand up for what is right.

    Matthew Mulvaney

  • I used to be a big Rudd fan, but then he came out and voted FOR the RU486 legislation. I simply can’t get my head around a supposedly committed Christian voting for the availability of an abortion drug. As such, I have reservations about Rudd’s integrity. Of course, Peter Costello is in the same boat (professed Christian but supporter of RU486), so Christians on both sides of politics can evidently disappoint.
    Tim Baker

  • I think John Howard would appreciate a cricketing analogy. In the ‘bad old days’ of stonewalling a batsman’s concern was to be ‘not out at stumps’. Safety first! Keep an end up! Hold the side together! These were the watchwords. Whether you had made any runs along the line was a matter of supreme irrelevance.

    Likewise, the two leaders were like two old time batsmen: play safe; don’t do anything foolish; pad up to the hostile ball; maintain your place; whatever, be ‘not out at stumps’. So they didn’t say anything out of line; no gaffes; nothing which the media could run with.

    But no runs on the board either!
    I think you get my meaning.

    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Agree with your comments Bill.

    Howard’s speech contained more substance though. Rudd gave no reason why Christians should vote for him as opposed to Howard. Rudd has no policies. He says he will set targets for climate change, but how is he going to achieve them and at what cost? He and many others will be dead in 2050! And his solution to real problems like water and housing etc. is to hold a summit or commission a report. In other words, just have talk-fests!

    And Rudd was less than honest when it came to the question about a Bill of Rights. The implementation of a statutory Bill of Rights is core ALP policy and has been for a number of years. Make no mistake – if Rudd/ALP is elected we will get a statutory Bill of Rights and will become slaves to the whims of the unelected juduciary.

    Andrew Kulikovsky

  • Mr Rudd may need to put his slickness on the line to give us definite responses to pro-family and pro-life questions. Failure to do so may swing many voters away.

    If there is no clear answer on religious vilification laws – especially after Victoria’s failed experiment – Mr Rudd should not expect wary Christians voters to show him any favour at the ballot box.

    Luke Beattie

  • Matthew, you missed little. I found it disturbing that Mr Howard was lack lustre and if it had been a debating society I think Rudd would have won hands down. He won on enthusiasm. However as you say Bill, little new knowledge was gained which was disappointing. It had seemed as though it would be an important night, but apart from a chance to meet a few Christians from the host church and to pray with them, little was gained.
    Katherine Fishley, Wantirna

  • Thanks Luke

    Yes, it seems if Mr Rudd cannot even give us a simple yes or no on religious vilification laws – the primary purpose of which, at least in Victoria, seems to be to silence Christians who seek to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ – then one really has to question his Christian credentials and credibility, at least in this important area.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I agree with your assessment here Bill. We didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know, and the questions, with the exception of the two you mention, were pretty tame.

    Unfortunately both men offered the usual platitudes to appease the credulous climate change believers. Rudd even repeated his absurd claim that climate change was the “great moral issue of our time”. A claim that looks all the more nonsensical in light of the fact that abortion did not even get a mention all night.

    Notably, when expressing his support for same-sex relationship registers, Rudd drew comfort for this position by mentioning that some of the churches also support it. A position even endorsed by the ACL itself.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Well, it certainly sounds like “nothing new under the sun” again. However, I think we have a little more material to assess how each leader would respond to the unknowns of a future Parliament. That is, we have a small glimpse of their character and way of thinking.

    Putting this summary into context with previous reports of their religious stances, I am inclined to the view that Mr Howard in his thinking is slightly more consistent with his faith, than Mr Rudd.

    My conclusion therefore is that I would prefer Mr Howard (but maybe not Mr Costello) over Mr Rudd if a terrorist bomb was found on the Harbour Bridge, and again, Mr Howard more than Mr Rudd if the question is over abortion, religious vilification, or a push for another Republic referendum.

    John Angelico

  • The recent program did nothing to alleviate fears in regards this federal election.
    I suppose I am looking for leaders who are “up front’ with what they believe instead of trying to please everybody.
    One thing that bothers me is that people state that they are Christians but their actions do not reflect this, they excuse lack of stance to personal interpretation.
    I do not wish to sound biased but I would ask Mr Rudd the following questions
    (1) If you are voted in as leader what guarantees do I have that you will serve a full term and not be voted out of leadership by your party, (as was Mr Crean and Mr Beazley) and one your front benchers appointed to the role?
    (2) On your recent trip to America you saw Mr Murdoch who is a media mogul. I do not know what arrangements you made with him in regards to media here in Australia. You are asking me to accept that what you discussed with him is in my best interest, so can you elaborate on it?
    (3) You say that the Trade Unions have no effect on Government policy, but in the event of a leadership change what guarantees do you give that this will not change?
    (4) Your party continually points to Mr Howard’s age as being a disadvantage, but as you state that you are a Christian you would be aware that a person did not become a judge until they had reached the age of 50. Are you saying that the theory generated by higher education is of greater value than experience gained over the years?
    Please, I do not want to turn this into a debate on politics, but I am concerned that Labor Party politics in fact are in line with Christian beliefs, and if what I believe is wrong then I must change.
    Jim Sturla

  • Thanks for this assessment, Bill.

    I thought the event was a great success, especially in raising the awareness of the Christian constituency among politicians.

    I think Howard was far more willing to stand behind his Christian principles than Rudd, and I think that Howard has demonstrated his commitment by his actions, not just words. For example, he has stuck his neck out by taking a counter cultural stand on such issues, such as his schools policy and rejecting civil unions.

    I did not like Rudd’s statement that he (the Labor Party) will introduce civil registers–that is just one more click in the ratchet of the homosexual agenda. I can’t see him standing against anything that the Left wing wants to push.

    I liked Howard’s statement about addressing world poverty, that the real uplift in a country comes from good governance and open access to trade, and that aid has a minimal effect. And the underpinning of good government depends on the culture of a nation, which stresses the importance of Christian mission, which is a Church responsibility, not a government one.

    Tas Walker

  • Bill, contrary to Katherine’s view, where I watched there was disappointment that Rudd’s performance lacked the ‘zip’ of Howard’s. Rudd’s answer on Marriage didn’t sound prominising.

    Hopefully Rudd’s minders will be able to halt his ‘snake like’ habit of flicking his tongue out every few words as he licks his lips.

    As you said it was pretty much a non-event but congratulations to those who worked to establish the debate, which may be more adventurous in the future.

    Pat Healy

  • Thanks for your article Bill. Not anything we didn’t know before? We had heard John Howard before, basing his Christian approach to political issues through his allegiance with the Jesus of the Gospels … it was insightful to hear that he placed particular value for his ideas upon ‘the Parable of the Good Samaritan’ for informing his government’s approach to social welfare, and ‘the Parable of the Talents’ for informing their approach to economics and the redistribution of wealth in society.

    What was lacking though, and this will be seen I believe to be an historic opportunity missed, neither leader really grasped the nettle of how the gospel writers and New Testament Letter Writers’ ideas about the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are critical in informing the formulation of their policies. Kevin Rudd’s reference to his future government wanting to address the deep needs of the Christian Refugees fleeing Iraq for Syria and Jordan was a refreshing excursion that must draw from these ideas.
    Bernard Tibbs, Wollongong NSW

  • Thanks Bernard

    Yet some Christian leaders there are saying that the worst thing for Christians in Iraq would be for the Coalition forces to pull out, something which Rudd wants to take place.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    I think the evening was worthwhile and ACL are to be congratulated in pulling it together. Certainly it required tremendous organisational skills and effort.

    As far as the presentations were concerned, I think it was good that both leaders were in effect forced to give account of themselves to the Christian community.

    Whilst neither of them speak the in the language of evangelicals I did think Mr Howard did a somewhat better job of relating his policies to his Christian convictions.

    I thought Rudd sounded too measured, too low key and he didn’t do two well on the Bill of rights/religious vilification issue.

    I agree, the questions could have been tougher.

    BTW, Federal Labor do have a policy position on religious vilification and the major difference in their proposal from the Victorian legislation is no civil provisions, ie only criminal provisions which of course raises the stakes much higher for those who allege religious vilification, Mr Rudd clearly felt embarrassed about coming clean on this policy in front of a Christian audience.

    David Palmer, Melbourne

  • Yes, what different kinds of ‘a Christian West’ are being promoted by John Howard and Kevin Rudd?

    The Labour Party must be cautioned about capitulating to the voices of the left-wingers and Islamists who wish to undermine the moral authority of the Western allies, even while we encourage Labour to encourage a strong Christian voice to inform how to balance ‘might with right’, and to be able to critique alternative worldview perspectives on Iraq’s future, not the least that of Islam.

    We need to know from the Conservatives what their position is with respect to the Christian Refugees from the North of Iraq.

    And from both parties, should we for example be allocating more positions in our migration program to these Christian Refugees, even at the expense substantially of the Islamic quota, as another party advocated at the NSW Elections.

    One other thing reassuring from John Howard was to hear his balanced view reversing the scandal of the multiculturalists who want to ‘disenfranchise the Christian majority’ from the political process while ‘franchising the minority views’. He rightly expounded the democratic principle of making sure that all voices had a way of being heard and having its influence moderated by the elected representatives!

    Does Kevin Rudd have a similar view?

    Bernard Tibbs

  • Bill,

    I don’t think there’s any such thing as “the Christian vote”. The situation we have in Australia is right-wing conservatives lining up with Howard, and the rest (the bulk) of Christianity making a choice between two viable alternatives. This follows a pattern we have seen in America, except that evangelicals here are a much smaller influence.

    I think it’s quite disingenuous to suggest that because a majority of Australians are nominally Christian there is some kind of Christian bloc. Christians can’t even agree on “moral” issues like abortion and homosexuality, let alone the great issues that will confront governments in the future. The economy, interest rates, the environment, energy, infrastructure, ageing of the population, immigration, taxation, education and federalism are just some of the political issues, and I defy anyone to identify a “Christian vote” in any of these issues.

    I’m also surprised that you think Internet-filtering should be opt-in. Pornography is just one element of content that might be filtered, and surely it’s up to parents to install and configure filters that suit the ages of their children. Why would anyone want to let ISPs decide what material should be censored for everybody? That’s the sort of thing that happens in totalitarian states like China, and it should have no place in a free democracy like Australia.

    Marge Williams, Vic

  • Thanks Marge

    I have nowhere spoken of a monolithic Christian bloc, thus I am not being disingenuous. I have simply suggested that Christians make up a majority of the electorate. They of course will hold to a wide variety of political and policy positions.

    As to Internet porn, you can defend the indefensible all you like, but most Australian would be glad to see ISP-level restriction of some of the horrific sleaze that is online.

    To want to protect children and families from dehumanising rubbish has nothing to do with being totalitarian. If your idea of democracy is that we all wallow in a cesspool of smut, then your concerns are obviously quite different from that of many.

    And I think this filtering should be opt-out, not opt-in. Those who want this trash should have to put in a bit of effort to get it. It’s a pity that you seem to have so little regard for the common good here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I listened to the forum with great interest and like others, had heard most of it before. The most glaring statement for me was that of Mr Rudd – saying that climate change is the great moral issue of our time. Surely not!
    Dawn McGregor

  • Actually, internet filtering should be neither opt-out nor opt-in – it should be compulsory. Do we have an opt-out clause on the issue of a prohibition on printed pornography containing adult-child sex? If Christians can’t agree on whether abortion is wrong or not, it is only because of an appalling ignorance and blindness on the part of those who see nothing wrong with it. When it comes to politics and government, liberal Christianity differs in no practical way from secular/evolutionary humanism.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • It is disappointing that both want more foreign aid. While this would please the Evangellyfish Left, like the self-appointed “Evangelical Alliance”, the notion is economically bankrupt. But it sure makes the Left feel good, even though the results are not, but the left care more about intentions and feelings than consequences and incentives.

    In practice, this means taxing our poor people to pay rich despots in poor countries. Foreign “aid” pays for their guns and palaces, while the despots have an incentive to keep their people poor so the aid keeps flowing. But even in the best circumstances, where the aid reaches people, it can kill the local food production businesses who just can’t compete with the free food from abroad. See also The Failures and Fallacies of Foreign Aid.

    Estonia turned itself from a former Soviet basketcase to a thriving economy, and one reason is that they refused foreign ‘aid’ and loans from the World Bank and the IMF, because they would perpetuate dependency. Instead they encouraged foreign investment and trade. And they instituted the vital private ownership of property, deregulated the economy, switched from a “progressive” tax to a flat tax, and abolished subsidies and tariffs. Mart Laar, Estonian Prime Minister 1992 to 1994 and 1999 to 2002, explains more in The Estonian Economic Miracle.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Apart from looking at Kevin Rudd, I think voters should also look at the background of his team members. What do they stand for?
    Samantha Lee

  • Quite right Samantha.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Wondering why we are focusing on only the two major parties as viable options?

    Although we can’t expect a party like Family First to hold government, I do believe just a few senators may give them substantial power in relation to law making and the direction of the country.

    Shouldn’t the possibility of Family First holding balance of power in the Australian senate be enough reason to vote for them? I would put my trust in them above Liberal or Labor.

    Scott Haas

  • And I would add to Jonathan’s comments above that if there is aid to be given then it should be given directly and voluntarily by the individual rather than by the state taking from the taxpayer and giving it on their behalf. When the state provides the welfare, it reduces the motivation of the individual who then thinks to himself that since the state has usurped that responsibility he need do nothing himself.

    In a news report the lefty priest Tim Costello was predictably not satisfied with Howard’s commitment to increase aid, claiming Howard had “fudged” the figures.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Bill,

    I’m not opposed to filtering Internet content. I just think that letting ISPs do it is the wrong way, and demanding that they filter everyone’s content by default is most certainly totalitarian. Filtering at the PC is clearly the best approach because it enables parents to control what is suitable for their children. This could include information about drugs, violence, gambling, and other dangers besides pornography.

    Take chat rooms as another example. I think younger children should be totally shielded from these except under supervision, but you can hardly put the same restrictions on older teens or adults.

    ISP filtering is a very blunt instrument, because you have no idea what is being blocked and the threshold would have to be set for the lowest common denominator, whatever that might be. And who would decide?

    I honestly don’t think you’ve thought through the implications of a blanket filter.

    Marge Williams, Vic

  • Sorry Bill but I have to agree with Marge on the internet porn filtering.

    I don’t think filters should be put in at the ISP level. That would be a huge mistake because these filters can and will ultimately be used to filter useful information as well. The filters I have experience with contain settings to filter out “offensive speech” and the like. Sounds good, but they are general and unintelligent. They filter out, by default, information relating to homosexuality and abortion and in some cases, Islam and Christianity.

    I’ll say it again: pushing for ISP filters would be incredibly foolish!!! We would have no control at all. Best to install home filters which allow you complete control.

    Andrew Kulikovsky

  • It appears to me that when it comes to political beliefs, Christians in any church can be divided into 3 groups:
    1. those who vote for ALP (40-45%)
    2. those who vote for Coalition (40-45%)
    3. those who vote for Christian parties CDP/FFP (10-20%)

    You may ask how can Christians vote a party like the ALP who supports the gay agenda and who’s general policy framework is hostile to Christianity?

    Christians choose which party to vote for based on one of the following criteria:
    1. the party that has traditionally represented their interests
    2. the party they believe best represents the Christian position.

    Therefore, you will find Christian blue-collar workers who vote ALP because they believe the ALP represents them even though the ALP hasn’t really represented them for about 40 years and in fact, really despises them. Indeed, they would deny them the vote if they could! Likewise, lots of Christian businessmen will vote Coalition.

    However, the ALP social justice framework appeals to many (ignorant) Christians who studied under the Marxist uni lecturers that have dominated since the 70s. Good examples of such Christians are Brian Edgar and Tom Slater from the Evangelical Alliance and Rev Tim Costello (and the woman from Worldvision who asked Howard the question about increasing foreign aid to 0.7% in accordance with the wishes of the criminals and thugs at the UN). These self-appointed Christian leaders are no that different to those of Christ’s time, and Christ’s response would also be the same: “You are in error because you do not know the scriptures nor the power of God.”

    CDP anf FFP have done a good job I believe but I am inclined not to vote for them because, although they carry the flag on moral issues, their economics generally suck. They are far too socialist. This work-life balance thing pushed by the FFP for example. 50+ years ago people worked far harder and much longer than people do now, and their was far less family breakdown.

    The Nationals too, to a lesser extent, are agrarian socialists and protectionists.

    I’ll be voting Liberal because I think their policies (moral and economic) are more in line with Biblical teaching. My paper on Biblical economics explains why:
    http://hermeneutics.kulikovskyonline.net/hermeneutics/BiblicalEconomics.pdf

    Don’t get me wrong, the Libs also have some bad policies (eg. foreign aid increases and carbon trading) and some unimpressive MPs (eg. Warren Entsch) but Christians will find it much easier to live under them than KRudd’s ALP.

    Andrew Kulikovsky

  • Bill, thanks for this summary of Thursday night’s event. I wasn’t able to get to it much to my disappointment. Your commentators also add a lot in the way of detail and analysis.
    This is what stuns me:
    Rudd says that climate change response is the biggest ‘moral’ issue? This is quite simply shocking since not all scientists agree that humans affect climate change significantly. The carbon emissions of humans contribute less than 1 percent to the atmospheric composition and to think that we can change one iota of this planet’s climactic behaviour is debatable in the very least. If this is Rudd’s biggest moral focus, something is clearly wrong. I could name dozens of moral outrages going on which affect Australians directly and indirectly right now, even apart from the obvious mentioned here (same sex marriage and abortion).
    It’s not surprising in the least that abortion wasn’t mentioned even by John Howard as the media are always around like carrion-feeders waiting to jump on the slightest digression from the PC boundaries. But as Bill says, anyone who has been following these two men should know in which general direction they head on these issues. Why else is Rudd the media darling and Howard their punching bag?
    There is a tactic of the left to divide and conquer the Christian vote into Christian Right and Christian Left; into mainstream and fundamentalists, into a plethora of little side-issues rather than the core issues which we must all be fighting for.
    It’s time for Christians to ‘have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches’ and to read between the lines of these two people. This is crucial and we mustn’t allow ourselves to go along with these divisions any more. Those who hate us would love to see us distracted by silly things such as bickering over controversial and debatable side issues like climate change when we are teetering at the edge of the abyss.
    Rudd has made it clear by his two key omissions, especially on the ‘vilification’ legislations exactly how the political ‘climate change’ will affect Christians. Make no mistake. The next election is no small thing.
    Dee Graf

  • P.S. As Luke pointed out, Rudd’s avoidance of the ‘vilification’ question is clearly an admission of guilt. David Palmer, thanks for the clear outlining of Federal Labor’s position on this. It’s truly alarming. This is one of the big global changes occurring in Europe and beginning to be seen in the U.S. One pastor in Germany has been jailed twice for comments in which he compares the current abortion horrors with the holocaust, and there have been changes in European law which allow for the silencing of any voice which disagrees with PC thought on homosexuality, abortion and even immigration problems. Church leaders in Britain now are facing fines for not hiring homosexuals and a church adoption agency has closed down rather than submit to a government initiative which forces them to take on same sex parents.
    This vilification issue is the tip of a huge iceberg of repression which is coming across the planet. John Howard is, in many ways, the (Dutch) boy with his finger in the dyke (holding back the flood).
    Dee Graf

  • Thanks Scott
    Yes the smaller parties, and independents, are of course important in all this.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Marge and Andrew
    I feel an article coming on! Stay tuned.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I agree with your accurate assessment, Dee Graff. Probably the only way we can vote is the primary vote going to the Coalition with preferences going to either Family First or the Christian Democratic Party. Giving our primary votes to FF or CDP means less primary votes going to the Coalition. They need all the primary votes they can get. The FF and CDP definitely will not be receiving enough primary votes to form a government anyway.
    Samantha Lee

  • I agree with most of what Andrew said re the problems with ISP level filtering, but I still say a limited type of filtering based upon blocking access to pornographic websites can and should be implemented at the ISP level. Obviously someone is going to have to monitor and compile a list of websites to ensure that legitimate sites are not blocked by unintelligent type filters. To argue that this is too hard and it should all be left up to individuals efforts at PC level, is the same argument that says to those of us who would like to see standards raised on TV to “just switch off the TV if you don’t like it”. The fact is many parents simply would not have the PC skills necessary to set up effective filtering software that would provide a safe environment for children using the web. In many cases the children are more expert than their parents so could simply bypass any PC based filter anyway.

    I also agree with Andrew’s comments re economic policy, but take umbrage at him putting CDP and FFP in the same basket. FFP economic policy can certainly be described as socialistic and therefore quite unbiblical, but the CDP is certainly not in this same category, and I can speak with some authority since I am a CDP member and candidate. Also Andrew refers to FFP and CDP as both being “Christian parties”, but FFP become quite annoyed and even hostile when the MSM refer to them as a Christian party. Where possible I generally follow this voting order – first preference CDP, second preference FFP, and third preference Lib/Nat. Given our preferential voting system, in effect such a vote usually ends up with the Lib/Nats anyway.

    I agree with Dee that Howard is much like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke. With the Lib/Nat coalition in power we are still on a downhill slide morally, but the rate of decline is much slower that it is when Labor are in power.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Samantha Lee like many others misunderstands our preferential voting system. A second or third preference vote is not a lesser vote than a first preference vote.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Thanks Ewan. I have been voting for almost 30 years and have the voting system explained to me many, many times, but never seem to be able to grasp the WHOLE procedure. Thank God for the How to Vote cards! I am sure my earlier comments are understood.
    Samantha Lee

  • ISP filtering can be a nuisance. One girl I know attends a Christian university in the US, and she has had trouble downloading pro-life articles because they filter out the A word.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Unfortunately, the CDP under Gordon Moyes is jumping on the global warming alarmism bandwagon. And even Fred Nile has sometimes made socialist-like noises about petrol “price gouging“, an economically vacuous term that’s great for demagogery. However, he has very sensibly spoken against the absurd fine on employing people known as the “payroll tax”.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Thanks Jonathan
    But we are talking about blocking out hardcore porn sites here, not PC topics like abortion.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I agree with Ewan’s comments re. internet filtering. It is ridiculous to suggest that all sites and information – containing illegal content, including child pornography – should be readily available to all, and simply left up to the individual to filter. They may not have the desire or knowledge to do this.

    Primary ISP’s should be required and assisted to filter out illegal content – according to Australian law. This is not totalitarianism to control the population.

    In combination with filtering out illegal content at Primary ISP level, Howard’s newly introduced policy for providing filtering software to households would better enable families and individuals to prevent access to unwanted content (not necessarily illegal but e.g. adult pornography, offensive language, etc).

    Currently anyone, including children, can stumble upon shocking and illegal content at their PC. This is putting a loaded gun in their hands in terms of the damage it does to them and the effect on a healthy society.

    Philip Ratcliff

  • I understand Samantha. Actually it was not until I was a scrutineer and saw the actual vote counting process in operation that I fully appreciated how preferential voting works. The process is difficult to explain especially where there is more than one member of parliament elected from each region such as in most upper houses. I think preferential voting is a much fairer system than the first past the post system.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • There is quite a range of opinion within the CDP on the AGW issue, but from my own observations I think the skeptics are in the majority. In the FFP it appears the alarmists are in the majority since that party has had a pro Kyoto policy since before the last federal election.

    On the issue of economic policy Jonathan would be right in what he says but I think there is still a wide difference between CDP and FFP in this area.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Rudd stated in his address that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning. I knew this was a lie straight away because Rudd and the ALP were willing to support the invasion provided the UN Security Council gave them the go ahead.

    It now appears also that Rudd in fact sent a letter to Howard supporting the invasion and offering policy suggestions!
    http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22228212-952,00.html

    What a hypocrite Rudd is!

    Andrew Kulikovsky

  • Ewan is right. The stupidly named First Past the Post (stupid because there is no “post” as such. Well, a silly name is appropriate for a silly system) or more properly “plurality voting” has serious anomalies. The worst is that a popular position can attract a lot of candidates, which split the vote for this position, resulting in a candidate for a less popular position being elected.

    Our preferential voting system minimizes the effect of such “spoilers”, and usually results in the most preferred candidate being elected. Most Americans to whom I’ve explained preferential voting agree that it is much better, and even the traditionalists can’t come up with a rational reason to prefer plurality voting.

    The usual excuse is “too hard for the voters”, but really, all a voter needs to do is be able to count to 10! And there is nothing difficult in deciding “I like D better than B” etc. Let the officials worry about what it all means.

    Those serious about voting for the Christian CDP or quasi-Christian FFP should mark them 1. If you put them behind the Coalition, it’s unlikely they will be counted (hard to imagine that a CDP or FFP voter would want Labor since it’s likely to bring the fascist and divisive anti-vilification leglislation). But if you put the Coalition next, then it is likely to count, so it won’t be a wasted vote. And it will help the candidate recover his deposit.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Dear Bill and Fellow Posters
    My earlier post stated that Howard and Rudd missed an historic opportunity! But are we not ourselves in the process of squandering a similar historic opportunity, by focussing principally in this Webblog on issues such as ‘climate change’ or ‘internet porn’, ‘same sex marriage’ or ‘parenting issues’, ‘religious vilification’ or ‘humanitarian crisis in Iraq’, rather than first making unequivocally clear affirmations on ‘into whom’ our ‘Christian’ faith is posited?

    Bill, near the end of your article I believe you were nailing to the mast what concerns me here: ‘… whether there was anything new or noteworthy or significant or specifically Christian that emerged from the two men is debatable.’

    ‘Specifically Christian’!? Is this true of Rudd’s ‘personal faith’? Why is it PC for him to say words like these only, but not to posit that ‘personal faith’ unequivocally as being ‘into the person and character of Christ’, for example as revealed by John, in Jesus’ claims such as, ‘I Am the Bread of Life …’, ‘I Am the Good Shepherd …’, ‘I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life …’, in the way Jesus enjoined Nicodemus to do?

    And what about Howard’s PC in positing his faith as a politician in the principles of Jesus’ Parables of ‘the Good Samaritan’ and ‘the Talents’? Even Gandhi or Shirley Maclaine, Mohammed or Marx, Dawkins or Rorty (died June 8, 2007) could do that! Does that make them or any of us ‘specifically Christian’?

    By wrong focusses such as these, are we not as Judaeo-Christians allowing, by default, Howard and Rudd to leave wide open the door for Old-New Agers, Islamists, Communists, Humanists and Postmodernists to further undermine and destroy the clear Judaeo-Christian Biblical base of our Australian Constitution and way of life?

    With respect, such worldviews are parasitic on the Judaeo-Christian worldview and fundamentally destructive of it. None of them could have arisen unless God’s Word in the Bible had been declared from of old, and our societies built upon them. But now, they, by building their positions on a denial of the Bible Truths of ‘Who Jesus Is’ are engaged in the age-long Cosmic Struggle of overthrowing that Word and all that is built upon Him.

    Why should they and we muffle our identity as Judaeo-Christians in PC terms such as Howard and Rudd have used, before scurrying away, discomfited and paralysed to ‘boldly’ declare how we are going to change the world? Should we not first ‘boldly’ position ourselves ‘into Christ’, before then ‘humbly’ formulating our policies for cooperating with Him in bringing salvation into all the areas of life under his Sovereign Lordship?

    John and Kevin, ‘quit you like men; be strong!’ (1 Cor. 16:13). Only then will you find that you have a majority of the electorate ‘truly’ following you.

    And in the democratic political process, is not our Triune God the quintessential Rightist, Centrist and Leftist, allowing us to debate and discover the political balance between ourselves … as we keep looking to Him?

    I was emboldened to raise this broad perspective today from the insight of Adolphe Monod (1802-1856) in my daily prayer notes:
    ‘LOOKING UNTO JESUS and not at our creeds, no matter how evangelical they may be. The faith (that) saves, which sanctifies, and (that) comforts, is not giving assent to the doctrine of salvation; it is being united to the person of the Saviour. “It is not enough,” said Adolphe Monod, “to know about Jesus Christ, it is necessary to have Jesus Christ.” To this one may add that no one truly knows Him, if he does not first possess Him. According to the profound saying of the beloved disciple, it is in the Life there is Light, and it is in Jesus there is Life (John 1:4).’

    What blessings would come from our parliaments if their leaders and our representatives, gave the priority for their electioneering and legislative programs to ‘Who Jesus Is’, and debating how his Person and Character addresses the current needs of our National and International Life, corporately and individually, and only then applying these insights to the policies that need to be promoted and supported at the ballot box?!

    Bernard Tibbs, Wollongong NSW.

  • Also there is the issue of public funding where political parties are paid by the tax payer for every primary vote received once the minimum threshold of 4% primary vote is attained. By giving a Christian minor party your first preference vote, you are denying the major parties the benefit of this rort.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Thanks Bernard
    I speak briefly to this issue in my follow-up article, “More Public God-Loathing”.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Very interesting comments. After forty years of trying to persuade Christians to judge by the teachjing of Christ, I find that the majority don’t understand what Christ really taught, and thus don’t make deciasions which are in the best interests of our society. I fear that too many Christian leaders teach religion and not enough truth.
    Tom Wise

  • An old Russian joke from the Soviet era:

    – What happens if you introduce communism into the Sahara?
    – For he first 50 years – nothing. Then you’ll have a shortage of sand.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Tom Wise has a point. And it’s exacerbated by WWJD, if this is not backed up by what He actually said and did!
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Bill, re your suggestion that the Australian government ought to filter-out the internet in or order to protect children from porn. Maybe we can apply this idea to abortion laws; at present doctors are free to opt-out from carrying out abortions, but those days may well be numbered; my neighbour who is a doctor tells me she has no choice but to proscribe contraceptive pills etc for girls who are under the legal age of having sex.

    It has to be emphasised, I believe, to Marge that liberal, “democratic” laws are no longer liberal with regard to respecting freedom of conscience. Again this is a case of words retaining the old packaging but the goods within being of a totally different brand. Britain has seen the deletion of individual conscience and in its place the government has become the sole arbiter of morality. There is no filter-out clause for the Christian, with regard to conscience, only filter – in. WE ARE BEING COERCED TO ACT IMMORALY.

    This has already been rehearsed with Catholic adoption agencies having to shut down in America and the UK. Here is the story of a Christian magistrate being forced to resign for the same reason: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/26/ncare26.xml

    Very soon one Christian, voluntary organisation after another, along with those who receive charitable tax exemptions, will be forced to shut down because they will not conform to secular humanism.

    Marge, this is the face of Britain. Is this the freedom you really want ? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/14/nstones114.xml

    David Skinner, UK

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