Politics and Religion, Again

There has been a lot of discussion about religion and politics in the media during the past several days. Much of the material centres on the new Federal opposition leader. Because he is a conscientious Catholic, and a conservative to boot, a spate of articles – many of them bordering on paranoia – have appeared.

As usual, our secular left is foaming at the mouth, warning about a theocracy about to be unleashed on Australia. One gets the impression from reading some of these anti-religious crusaders that if we don’t act quickly and decisively, soon all Australians will be forced to attend regular church services and all copies of The God Delusion will be burned.

Of course the blatant hypocrisy and double standards here is simply mind-boggling. We have had for several years now a Prime Minister who constantly and proudly displays his religiosity. He conspicuously trumpeted his faith in order to woo Christian voters before the last federal election, and he is quite happy to offer photo ops outside of church each Sunday.

In many ways he has been far more vocal and outspoken about his faith than previous PMs, certainly more so than John Howard. Yet while Howard – and now Abbott – are regularly being bashed for daring to in any way bring their faith to the political arena, Rudd has been allowed to get away with it for years now. How come?

Quite simple really. Rudd is a lefty, and secular leftists do not mind the public expression of religion beliefs, as long as it matches their own viewpoint. It is conservative Christianity that the secular left most detests. Thus Howard and Abbott are enemies of the state, and about to unleash a holy war on Australia. But Rudd offers no such worry.

A good illustration of how Ruddian religion is fully compatible with the secular left was nicely illustrated this past week. It involved a press release put out by Labor Senator Kate Lundy saying: “ABBOTT MUST RULE OUT INCLUDING BIBLE STUDIES IN NATIONAL CURRICULUM”. It refers to a suggestion by Mr Abbott that Australian school children should be aware of significant books such as the Bible.

I wrote that story up here: billmuehlenberg.com/2009/12/20/the-bible-a-book-without-peer/

In the Weekend Australian Angela Shanahan had a column on this, in which she pointed out that this press release “was issued from the Prime Minister’s office”. If so, we have hypocrisy big time going on here: Rudd is free to trumpet his faith, but he does not want Abbott to have the same privilege.

And as Shanahan points out, there is duplicity aplenty here: “The manoeuvre fell in a hilarious heap when, in a later interview, Lundy’s frustrated verbal mangling inadvertently accused her boss of doing what she wanted to accuse the Opposition Leader of doing. ‘What I think is important here is that we challenge Mr Rudd on his propensity to want to inflict his personal religious views, very strongly held, on the rest of the Australian population.’ No one doubts the Freudian nature of this stuff-up.”

Rudd it seems is free to push his religious views on the rest of society, but Abbott is not. Another clear example of this blatant set of double standards by the secular left is on show in today’s Australian. Arch-libertarian and secularist Ross Fitzgerald today whines about “Whatever happened to secular democracy?”

In his piece he whips up a storm of hysteria over Abbott and his supposed attempt to Christianise Australia. In his article he manages to attack just about every Christian individual and organisation that has dared to take seriously the public expression of Christianity. Thus he attacks Fred Nile, Gordon Moyes, Salt Shakers, Danny Nalliah, the ACL, Jim Wallace, and George Pell. Have I left anyone out?

He is convinced that a religious takeover of Australia is just around the corner. Yet Mr Fitzgerald, who is a regular supporter and promoter of the smut industry, tells us our salvation is coming from the newly formed Australian Sex Party. He says, “Wallace needs to take a cold shower. That there is now an Australian political party prepared to challenge the pious claptrap that dominates most of the other parties is refreshing.”

But in truth it seems that it is Fitzgerald who is the one desperately in need of a cold shower. His bigoted attack on religion in the public arena only tells us about his prejudices and narrow-mindedness. The fact is, everyone is religious; everyone has a worldview which they want promoted in the public square. Fitzgerald is of course publicly pushing his worldview, secular humanism, but does not want others to have the same freedom.

But that is what a democracy is all about: allowing people you disagree with to be able to have free expression in public. And he thinks he has clinched his argument by appealing to a poll which says 32 per cent of NSW voters think there is too much religion in politics. Sorry, but that means a whopping 68 per cent do not think there is too much.

Given that a similar percentage of Australians claim to be Christian, why should the majority of Australian citizens be excluded from the public expression of their views, simply because Fitzgerald does not like them? Perhaps he would prefer to live in a country where messy things such as democracy and freedom are not allowed to interfere with his anti-religious bigotry.

This is just another case of the secular left going ballistic whenever their turf is challenged. They have for such a long time now had a stranglehold on the public arena, that whenever the smallest expression of religious conviction is heard in the public square, they go bonkers.

They believe that religious people – especially Bible-believing Christians – should be seen, and not heard. And if the secularists really had their way, these believers wouldn’t be seen either. They cry much about freedom, democracy and tolerance, but they are among the most intolerant whenever a Christian dares to open his mouth in public.

Until Australia becomes a secular dictatorship, on the order of the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, religious expression in the public arena will continue to occur. If the secularists don’t like it – tough. That is what living in a free country is all about.

www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/whatever-happened-to-secular-democracy/story-e6frg6zo-1225813998714
www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/mad-monk-may-have-the-people-on-his-side/story-e6frg6zo-1225813625218

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27 Replies to “Politics and Religion, Again”

  1. Sounds like Mr Fitzgerald has written another same as, same as “intolerant of intolerance” self-contradictory article.

    If I had enough inside knowledge of the football codes, I could probably translate it directly into a polemic of anti-AFL sporting paranoia.

    John Angelico

  2. If atheist/secular types claim that Christian ethics don’t have any place in the public sphere then they lay claim to saying that such morality is exclusive to Christianity and cannot be held by those who don’t hold those beliefs. Yet when any claim to morality is made by Christians (particularly in theist/atheist debates) atheist/secular folk say that Christians don’t have a ‘mortgage’ on the truth or morality. So what is it? Are all moral truths universal and endowed in every human being or is morality/truth exclusivist particularly in regard to Christianity. It seems to me that the answer fluctuates (as you said Bill) depending on whether the secular left finds itself in agreement (climate change, “social justice”) or disagreement (abortion, gay marriage) and uses religious fear-mongering, marginalisation and ‘wedging’ to stifle legitimate debate regarding policy issues when they’ve in disagreement with conservative Christians. I really fear that if believers don’t confront this bigotry we will one day be legally excluded from the public sphere – we would do well to better develop the defence of our faith in public life before it’s too late.

    Francis Kesina, Canberra

  3. The Left hurt genuine Labor people by their double standards and their media elite supporters.

    Both conservative Christianity and left/liberal Christianity obscure from view genuine Christianity in which authentic and civil and fair-minded people can be found on either side of politics. Sadly the loud, the brash and the biased have the stage and the amplifiers I think.

    Michael Webb

  4. The problem is the leftist media. May their circulations and ratings fall and fall until they are consigned to irrelevancy.
    Tasman Walker

  5. Thanks Tasman

    That appears to be happening with the leftist MSM for various reasons, including the rise of the alternative media.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. The same hypocrisy and double standards goes on in the US too. In recent years it has been the Democrats that have played the faith card in order to push their politics;

    Most telling, however, was the how and when. Bush’s biggest year was 2001, when he mentioned Christ in seven statements, typically relating to September 11 memorial services. In 2002, Bush cited Christ five times. Most interesting, in all of 2003, the Presidential Documents display only two statements in which Bush mentioned Christ: Easter and Christmas messages. This downward trend continued, suggesting that the hostile press reaction to Bush’s mentions of Christ pressured him into silence.

    Such pressure, naturally, was never placed on Bush’s Democratic predecessor. President Bill Clinton’s biggest year for Christ remarks was 1996—the year of his re-election campaign—when he spoke of Christ in nine separate statements. For a single year, Bush never outdid Clinton in references to Christ.

    Generally, Clinton’s biggest years for references to Christ were election years: nine statements in 1996, seven in 1998, six in 2000, and five in 1994. In total, Clinton mentioned Christ 27 times in the four election years, compared to only 14 times in the four non-election years. He mentioned Christ twice as much in election years.

    Also, the way in which Clinton employed these references would have scandalized the press if Bush had used them. Clinton openly said that his personal “ministry” as president was “to do the work of God here on Earth” (Temple Hills, Maryland, August 14, 1994); declared that “God’s work must be our own” (Newark, New Jersey, October 20, 1996); cited the teachings of Christ in support of federal legislation (July 26, 2000); said that his attempted impeachment was “in God’s hands” (December 18, 1998); and constantly exhorted congregations to vote for him or Al Gore or other Democrats (Alfred Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, October 29, 2000, and the Kelly Temple Church of God in Christ in Harlem, October 31, 2000, to cite just two examples).

    Never heard this before? Of course, you haven’t. It was never reported. It was left to researchers to dig it out years after the fact.

    I could go on and on with examples. Vice President Al Gore sounded like a Baptist preacher on the 2000 campaign trail, and Hillary Clinton obliterated any propriety with her breathtaking statements in dozens of New York City churches during her 2000 Senate campaign.

    http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=35208

    And notice too, the left doesn’t scream about the fact that Obama invokes Jesus more than Bush:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23510.html

    Damien Spillane

  7. Australia beware. Even as I type the British government is pushing through the last loose ends of the Equality Bill that has been its raison d’ etre for the last twelve years. These sub clauses are to sweep any last vestiges of Religion from Britain, all in the name of equality. I suggest you bone up on this, for it is headed your way.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/georgepitcher/6855636/Equality-legislation-means-our-very-right-to-believe-is-under-fire.html

    David Skinner, UK

  8. Hi Bill,

    Is it really surprising that the secular left (and the left in general actually) carry on like this ? I don’t think it is because they have a “Strangle hold” on power, but because they know in a fair fight their arguments and reasoning turn out to be so much vacuous fluff with only a tenuous basis in reality.

    They fear a level playing field because they know on a level playing field they will get creamed. You can always tell when someone lacks the courage of their convictions and doesn’t trust their arguments to stand up to criticism. They are the ones seeking to slant the playing field to their advantage and avoid a fair fight.

    Sadly Christians have been guilty of this in the past, but less so today I think. Other groups seem to be the ones who fear criticism and open debate today instead.

    Jason Rennie

  9. It was only minutes after Joseph Ratzinger the head of the Roman Catholic Church was violently attacked on Christmas Eve by a woman that leftist blogs lit up with joy over the assault. They were rejoicing over the attack that left one old bishop with a broken hip bone. One wrote “This incident with the Pope has brought lots of Christmas cheer.”
    http://newsmax.com/InsideCover/pope-attack-bloggers-/2009/12/27/id/344707?s=al&promo_code=9448-1
    Des Morris

  10. The hypocrisy of these anti God zealots is blinding. Move over Big Brother.!!!!!!!!!!!! Damien Spillane’s research is mind boggling. Thank you for your hard work Damien. Good on you Bill – a voice for common sense which is becoming increasingly uncommon.
    Warwick Marsh

  11. Thanks guys

    While we are at it, this was just sent to me. Quite appropriate really.

    If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

    If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan’s holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches; would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

    If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent “Austrian language,” would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

    If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to “Cinco de Cuatro” in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

    If George W. Bush had mis-spelled the word “advice” would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potatoes as proof of what a dunce he is?

    If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he’s a hypocrite?

    If George W. Bush’s administration had Okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?

    If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans , would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

    If George W. Bush had created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?

    If George W. Bush had referred to the 58 states that make up these United States, would you have thought him “geographically challenged”?

    So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can’t think of anything? Don’t worry. He’s done all this in 10 months — so you’ll have three years and two months to come up with an answer.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  12. I know an ALP-voting atheist who used to froth at the mouth over John Howard’s cabinet being largely Christian. He is quiet about Krudd’s Christianity.
    John Snowden

  13. There’s this as well. http://www.sondrak.com/index.php/weblog/mom_always_said_dont_play_ball_in_the_house/

    The rate this list is growing is alarming. It is not comprehensive either – there’s little about his Christian gaffes or his true colours on sexual perversions. And they are nothing like the ‘Bush-said-what?’-chortle stories from even just a year ago. Some of these Obama mistakes are extremely serious. He really is a very poor leader. The diminishment of the USA by the end of his 4 years simply cannot be good for the world. But that’s what you get for voting for style over substance (not that McCain was that great, but just about any clown would’ve been better than Chairman Zero.)

    Mark Rabich

  14. Bill – I also read Ross Fitzgerald’s article and for balance sake I think we should note his following criticism of the ALP as well:

    “Not only have we now got a devout believer as Prime Minister…….The secular Nathan Rees’s elevation to the premiership in NSW afforded a glimmer of hope that the state’s politics would not be dominated by conservative Christian ethics. But those hopes were dashed by the recent ascendancy of another devout Catholic to the top job in NSW. Sporting a strange mix of American accent and fashion chic, Kristina Keneally boasts a BA in political science and religion and a masters degree in feminist theology from Ohio. She met her Young Labor husband at Catholic World Youth Day in Poland in 1991, which says much about her leanings.”

    Stephen White

  15. Dear Bill, To think that anyone could be so mean spirited to begrudge the youth of the world a top venue in Australia in which to give them a much needed message of hope! Many of today’s youth are mired in hopelessness and despair made manifest in drunken and drugged behaviour because our secular society has given them nothing else to believe in except the hedonistic, sex obsessed culture so beloved by secular humanists, trendy lefties and atheists. They ought to be ashamed of themselves but their hatred and anger spawned by Satan blinds them to the truth. Our love for our young should tell us that they only deserve the best and the inspiration of John Paul 11 who established World Youth Days was obviously the work of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the fact that more Christians are prepared to offer themselves to politics is also a good sign that the battle between good and evil is being won. A Happy New Year to everyone.
    Patricia Halligan

  16. Bill, in discussions of righteousness by faith vs righteousness by works, the inevitable conclusion is that the only effective outcome is brought by faith which works.

    Mr Rudd’s faith is evidently display-only. As faith, it does not work. Surprise (not), secularists are happy with this situation.

    Now, taking a step back to have a look at politics & religion, he was evidently happy (eager) to hand religious control of Australia to the UN at Copehagen (which seems to be in an off-again on-again state). UN-selected religion would almost certainly amount to the cult started by Emperor Constantine in about 300AD.

    Leon Brooks

  17. Mark R, if it wasn’t so serious, it would be utterly laughable!

    Quote:
    “Despite all the compromises, it has finally been possible to ensure something so fundamental, as the right of every American not to be financially shipwrecked when their health fails them.”

    A manufactured ‘right’ proposed as a fundamental by ‘bleeding-heart’ sentimentalists, who would meanwhile dismantle ‘trivial’ rights like say freedom of expression and dissent, or the right to know the truth rather than a manufactured, biased view of life, or the right to exercise some personal responsibility and be accountable for the consequences.

    In the short piece quoted, there are a number of internal contradictions, which make me wonder if these writers are deliberately setting out to prove Schaeffer right about the absurdity of a world-view without absolutes.

    Can’t help but shake my head.

    John Angelico

  18. I had a quick read of the ridiculous editorial from Denmark suggesting that B Hussein Obama was greater than Jesus. I suggest one of two things (1) the editorial writer is in need of intensive prayer or (2) He should have someone on standbye to remind him to take his medication. I agree with Bill that it is the conservative Christian who is targeted. We’ve had in the past Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, John Howard, George Bush, Dan Quayle, Tony Abbott, Ronald Reagan, Fred Nile, Sarah Palin, the list could continue. The common thread with these people is that they are or were (when alive) pro-life.
    Rudd has resumed funding abortion support for overseas orgazinations and Obama’s main claim to fame is that when he was in the Lesislative Assembly in Chicago, he voted six times for an amendment that babies from failed abortions, should not be saved by any medical team.Jesus went at least one step forward in the opposite direction and even raised people from the dead. Now B. Hussein Obama, if you’re so magnificent, try beating that one.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  19. To Stephen White I answer that if Kevin Rudd were so devout, he woudn’t have voted for the RU 486 pill. Nor would he insist on cameras being at the ready, to catch the master emerging from church on Sunday. As for Premier Keneally, if you have no knowlege of the Catholic faith, would you kindly spare me the comment that she is a devout Catholic. She is what we, in the Church describe as a cafeteria Catholic. She cannot claim to be a devout Catholic if she is in favour of same-sex “marriage”, women priests, or what she describes as “safe” abortions. I know of no abortion which was safe for the most important and most effected person involved in the gory procedure – THE BABY.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  20. Bill, after thinking through your statement about disagreement for a while, I find that I couldn’t agree more. (-:

    As soon as we reject any real variety in information (the opinions or conclusions of others), we stop learning. When we cannot learn, we cannot progress, we cannot change.

    It seems heavily ironic that people whose world-view is based entirely on (accidentally-selected random) change ask for a completely static, thought-free political environment.

    Leon Brooks

  21. The question always is why are these secularists so terrified of Christians? Is it because it shows them up for what they really are or does Christinity eat into thier guts so anguishingly? They are pathetic in thier efforts to promote their beliefs.
    Pat Abrams

  22. Thanks for a good article Bill,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly when it comes to the double-standards of the secularit left. Athough I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a politial conservative (sorry to dissapoint ;), I too am disturbed by the hypocrisy that those on the left side of the political divide often demonstrate. Of course, if we take account of events in, say, the US, it may at times seem as if Christians are entering the public sphere in rather militant or authoritarian manner, but I do not think that is always true or something that one has to worry about here. In any case, I do not want to see any Christian – even those with whom I sincerely disagree – being conformed to a largely leftist, secularist agenda simmply for the sake of social and political relevance. As you rightly point out, one of the hallmarks of a robust and healthy democracy is the ability for contrasting views to be aired and debated in an open and civil manner, regardless of the ultimate metaphysical roots of those views.

    Incidentally, Ross Fitzgerald seems to have undermined his own position when he appears to equate a secularist society with the complete merginalisation of religion. Sorry Ross, but that is not true secularism at all – merely the stirrings of anti-religious authoritarianism. Strange that a libertarian would hold such a view.

    As a last point, we need to do more to encourage Christians of whatever political stripe to enter into the maelstrom of public debate. For too long, Christianity has been marked by pietstic, privatised faith that has no impact on the surrounding culture or community. With Christ firmly at the centre, we need to move out of our Christian ghettos and live out our lives publicly as Christ’s disciples. We must not forget that the very climax of God’s salvific plan – the death and resurrection of Jesus – pitted his own Kingdom against that of the Roman Empire. It was a political act – and a very public one too. That being so, we must do no less.

    Scott Buchanan

  23. It’s notable that the religious Left seem to have political positions practically identical to Australian Labour or the US Democrats. Conversely, theological conservatives do not automatically fall right behind the Coalition or Republicans, and will speak out against misuse of Scripture on both sides. See for example Politicizing Scripture: Should Christians welcome a ‘conservative Bible translation’? by Lita Cosner.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  24. Hi Bill
    Thank you for putting this important subject for discussion.
    I personally agree with you, let us not forget there are always people’s personality of double standard the society, the perfect example from the Holy Bible is Judas who betrayed Jesus (Mathew 26:14). None of the Disciples of Jesus knew the double standard of Judas until the last moment of his betrayal act. Therefore I would not be surprised if many of our politicians are having double standard in order to satisfy their interest. I believe as the Christian we always have to be aware of such behaviour in people’s life. in my opinion as Christian leaders may what we should do is to teach people the no changing moral values, if raise a society of Christian who can say no matter what these are my standard of believes I cannot change in order to suite any ones standard of believe or practices.
    The other area I will be careful to do is not to judge any one for their own opinion because there are always people of different ideas in the society we live. What we should as individual or as church leaders re-introduce the good moral law of God, so that our generation would get the sense of the important of the commandment of Jesus. I would say if we really teach our kids, the wonderful commandment of Jesus we will have put foundation for the Christian values for now and future. The more we encourage the people we lead to get invloved in most public debates the better awareness they would have in the society.

    Emmanuel Akako

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