CultureWatch

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

Ms Gillard Can’t Have It Both Ways on Religion

Jun 29, 2010

The new Prime Minister has made clear her lack of religious faith. In one sense that is OK: it is better than pretending to be religious in order to get more votes. Several articles in today’s press inform us that she doesn’t care about the religious vote anyway.

The Australian puts it this way: “Julia Gillard conceded today that she is not a ‘religious person’ and declared she would not ‘pretend’ to be for the sake of votes. The Prime Minister appeared caught by surprise this morning during a radio blitz to lift her profile when asked how she would court the Christian vote and whether she believed in God. ‘I’m not a religious person,’ Ms Gillard told ABC radio. ‘I was brought up in the Baptist Church but during my adult life I’ve, you know, found a different path. I’m of course a great respecter of religious beliefs, but they’re not my beliefs’.”

And a news com au report says this: “Julia Gillard says she has great respect for religion, even though she is a non-believer. The new Prime Minister, who has described herself as a non-practising Baptist, told ABC Radio today she was not worried about losing the Christian vote drawn by her predecessors Kevin Rudd and John Howard. Ms Gillard explained she was raised in the Baptist tradition – even winning prizes for remembering Bible verses – but as an adult she had formed different views. ‘I’m not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,’ she said.”

Some interesting remarks there. Consider the line that she sees herself as “a non-practising Baptist”. Leaving aside the denominational tag for a moment, let’s just slightly rephrase things: she describes herself as “a non-practising Christian”.

Now just how sensible is that? One might as well describe oneself as a non-practicing vegetarian: “I’m a vegetarian, but I love eating meat you know”. Or try this one on for size: “I’m a non-practising politician. I am a politician, but I don’t do anything political.”

Or, perhaps more accurately in this regard, “I’m a non-practicing thinker. I’m a thinker who happens not to think.” Sorry Julia, but there is no such thing as a non-practicing Christian. One either is a Christian who practices his or her faith, or one is not a Christian.

So despite her protests to the contrary, it still looks like Julia is seeking to woo the religious vote, by dragging up her Baptist past. And sadly of course plenty of gullible Christians will fall for this ruse. “Well, at least she’s being honest” they might chirp.

An unashamed paedophile who extols his lifestyle is also being honest; does that make his activities commendable then? What Julia has told us is that she has renounced her Christian faith. She is an apostate in other words. Now in the free West, and in the Christian religion, one is free to do that very thing.

She need not fear the death sentence for her apostasy, as she would if she were once a Muslim who has now deserted the faith to embrace secular humanism. She would be under the sentence of death if she dared to do this in the Muslim world.

But she still does have one to fear: the Lord she has spurned in order to wed the spirit of the age. She will one day stand before Christ and have to give an account of her rejection of him. And at that point she won’t have any cheap excuses and trite rationalisations, such as, “I’ve, you know, found a different path”.

That just won’t cut it when she meets the one who created her and died to redeem her. Nor will this foolish remark cut it: “I’m of course a great respecter of religious beliefs”. She certainly is not a respecter of Christian beliefs – she has fully rejected them. Just how is that showing respect?

One might as well say, ‘I fully respect the law’, after just having robbed two banks, stolen three cars, and run 20 red lights. To respect Jesus and his teachings means to acknowledge their truthfulness and to bow to them – not turn your nose up at them.

Jesus of course made it quite clear that to reject him was to reject the Father:

Luke 11:23 He who is not with me is against me
Luke 12:8-9 I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 12:44-45 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.
John 15:23 He who hates me hates my Father as well.
1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

To reject Christ and his provision for salvation is not to show respect; it is to show the highest disrespect. It is the clenched fist of the atheist waved defiantly in the face of God, shouting “I will never bow my knee to you. I am my own master”.

God of course has created us all with free will, and we all have the choice as to whether we accept Christ and his work of forgiveness on our behalf, or whether we reject him. God will not coerce any of us, and we alone determine our eternal destiny.

As C.S. Lewis put it, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.” All of us must make that decision. It sounds like Ms Gillard already has. Of course it is not too late. She may yet turn around. We all can pray to that end.

But she, like every other rebel who still marches with clenched fist, is in a precarious position indeed. It is clear that she has renounced family life so that she can pursue her career – perhaps her god – in politics. And she has renounced her past involvement with Christ and Christianity as well.

Jesus made a very sober warning about such individuals: “For what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Please keep our Prime Minister in your prayers.

www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/julia-gillard-respects-religious-beliefs-but-will-not-pretend-to-have-faith-for-votes/story-e6frgczf-1225885581225
www.news.com.au/features/federal-election/gillard-has-great-respect-for-religion/story-e6frfllr-1225885569440#ixzz0sDL8PEUj

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34 Responses to Ms Gillard Can’t Have It Both Ways on Religion

  • I had wondered how this issue would play out, so I’m glad you reported on it and highlighted what’s really going on.
    As I semi-expected she’s staying “non-religious” to avoid friendly fire from atheistic humanists and suchlike, while throwing up the “I respect and understand religious people” smokescreen in order not to look too bad to Christian voters. A friendly appearance, perhaps, but certainly no friend of God.
    Dominic Snowdon

  • From http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/julia-gillard-wont-bow-to-christian-vote/story-e6freuy9-1225885813222
    “Her stance is in stark contrast to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a committed Catholic, and Mr Rudd, who was raised as a Catholic but is now a devout Anglican along with his wife, Therese Rein.”

    Given that Gillard’s stance is to openly admit to apostasy, how is that a stark contrast to openly being Catholic or Anglican? Methinks that article is misinterpreting the situation.

    Dominic Snowdon

  • Good article Bill. One reason why people give up the faith is because they think it is not true. Another is that it is inconvenient. Peer pressure, especially at university, coupled with the secular philosophy that oozes through everything, is a huge influence. The Christian vote should go, not to the polly who says they are a Christian, but to the one who behaves in line with Christian principles.
    Tasman Walker

  • I’ll be praying for her.
    Ross McPhee

  • It is quite ludicrous for a leader of this great nation to reject God and His word. Just today I started looking into Col Stringer’s research on the beginnings of Australia, and there is no divorcing God from our heritage without being painfully revisionist.

    Consider these words alone from Alfred Deakin, our second prime minister (he was actually PM three times) and co-author of our Constitution:
    “…Guide my judgement so that I may discern the path in which I can be of the best service to my kind and fulfil Thy Will… I wish to choose the best – not from my own point of view nor even that of my family, …God bless my country and my race and all that live and grant that I may trust Thy Will and live so as to serve their best needs to my best ability.”

    Such words are not an anomaly, Deakin kept a diary which contained almost 400 prayers relating to major decisions in his public life. He prayed for hours during the time when the Constitution was being written.

    Henry Parkes, known as the father of Federation – spoke of himself as a vessel of Almighty God and in 1885 said this:
    “…we are pre-eminently a Christian people – as our laws, our whole system of jurisprudence, our Constitution…. are based upon and interwoven with our Christian belief….”

    At Federation, Dr William Maloney, a member of the Federal Parliament said: “Every honourable member is a Christian or a professing Christian…”

    Never mind this list (by no means exhaustive) of well-known Australian historical figures, all Christians –

    Captain Charles Sturt
    Samuel Marsden
    Edward John Eyre
    John McDouall Stuart
    Governor Lachlan Macquarie
    Sir Thomas Brisbane
    Caroline Chisholm
    John Flynn
    Douglas Mawson
    Frederick Leichhardt
    Abel Tasman
    William Dampier
    Matthew Flinders
    and then, possibly the most famous of all, Captain James Cook.

    I’ve been to Cooktown in Far North Queensland, where the stricken ship Endeavour limped into the river for repairs after they were badly holed (they came very close to being shipwrecked) on the reef. I’ve seen the anchor that they had to abandon, that was recovered a few decades ago. I’ve been up the hill Cook climbed after they landed. Of this whole episode, Cook wrote:
    “It pleased God at the very juncture to send us a light air of wind, which, with the help of our boats, carried us about half a cable’s length from the present danger.”

    Cook did not allow profanity on the ship, held a service every Sunday for the crew where he read from the Bible he carried, and rejected the sexual favours of native women (unlike most of the rest of the men) stating that he could not do it knowing that he would have to look into the eyes of his wife again. Keep in mind how long he was away – one time for 35 months! What a man we have in our Australian history!

    Never mind also that in the early 17th Century it was a Christian, Pedro Fernández de Quirós, who gave the continent its name – “La Australia del Espiritu Santo” – literally “Southland of the Holy Spirit”. The full quote of when he named the land is incredibly inspiring – on the Day of Pentecost 14 May 1606 – but I’ll leave it for people to follow the second link below, this post is already too long…

    Gillard snubs her nose at the very ground she is standing on and takes her freedoms for granted when they were in fact hard-won by people very conscious of their reliance on God. She probably needs to be removed from office as soon as possible. She does not have a clue what this nation could be or where it came from. We can only decline further with someone like this in charge. Or she becomes a Christian – possible given her upbringing. May God send her a Damascus road experience!

    And may Christians wake up to the possibilities that come with leaders who acknowledge God publicly and love Him sacrificially with their lives. May all Australians wake up.

    http://www.colstringer.com/store/books/discovering-australia.html?expandable=0
    http://www.cai.org/bible-studies/australia’s-christian-heritage

    Mark Rabich

  • Good Bill,
    I already have & will pray….
    Robert Phillips

  • Dominic wrote:

    As I semi-expected she’s staying “non-religious” to avoid friendly fire from atheistic humanists and suchlike…

    The other day I came across this from our old atheist “friend”, Catherine Deveny:

    I’m actually more thrilled she’s an atheist than a woman (when asked if she was an atheist she replied ‘no comment’ and has called herself a ‘non practicing Baptist’ which is clearly code for don’t ask don’t tell.)

    Philip Rayment

  • Thanks Bill, some good comment – particularly regarding your insight into ‘respect’.

    Not trying to raise an ill-placed argument here, but can I take it from this quote: “God of course has created us all with free will, and we all have the choice as to whether we accept Christ and his work of forgiveness on our behalf, or whether we reject him. God will not coerce any of us, and we alone determine our eternal destiny” that you basically hold an Arminian position? I would be interested to know.

    Bless you,
    Isaac Overton, ACT

  • Hi Bill

    Another insightful commentary. Julia, of course may well have never been a Christian at all. Church attendance is not the criteria for being reconciled to God but the fact that she knows and understands the standard that Christians adhere to and has blatantly rubbed them in the face of God’s people [and more seriously God] means as you say, she has shown no respect for religion; except of course her religion of God defying, intellectually unsupportable atheistic fundamentalism. She does need our prayers as do all those in leadership of this great nation.

    Glenn Christopherson

  • absolutely fantastic Mark Rabich

    I’m embarrassed to say i didn’t know any of what you have bought to light. And i call myself an Australian.

    Well Done Mark.

    Daniel Kempton

  • Thanks Isaac

    Actually, at the risk of sounding cute, I try to hold to the biblical position. When dealing with such issues – especially when I lecture on them – I try to give the Calvinist passages their full weight, and the Arminian passages their full weight. We need to let the text speak for itself, instead of letting our theological positions force Scripture into our mould. Having said that, for what it is worth, I am actually closer to the Reformed view in many respects. But a short comment like this – and even a short article – is hardly the place to elaborate on such complex and deep debates.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Bill, Only you can analyse adequately Julia Gillard’s two faced comments she made yesterday about God and religion. Thank you also to Mark for his magnificent contribution which details our Christian heritage and leaders.

    Julia Gillard won’t be so arrogant about the non existence of God when she is on her death bed. It is easy to be so sure when you are riding on the crest of the wave and are young, fit and healthy. She won’t have time to give much thought to what Catholics call the four last things Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell but it is a different story when a soul is brought low and the wealth, power and glory they have achieved in life pales into insignificance beside that awesome and dreadful reality. I can only hope and pray that she wakes up before it is too late because it is impossible to be that sure that there is no God.

    Patricia Halligan

  • At least she is not in support of gay marriage;

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/gillard-against-gay-marriage-20100630-zkcj.html

    But she could just be as big a smoke and mirrors PM like her predecessor. Some even believe that her supposed turn to the right on education was just a show piece to prove she isn’t as big of a socialist as people suspect.

    Damien Spillane

  • Thanks Damien

    But we all need to be discerning here. Other pro-family and pro-faith folk have been mentioning this as well, as if it is a bit of good news. I just posted this on another site:

    Please don’t be fooled by Julia saying she supports traditional marriage. Powerful forces in Labor are demanding SSM, but will not push it before this election to convince a gullible electorate that Julia and Labor are somehow centrist. If elected, the push for SSM will be right back on the Labor agenda. See here for example: http://www.rainbowlabor.org/pages/node/2

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I am concerned about Julia’s involvement in Emily’s List. As well as same-sex marriage, I am also concerned about what she may do regarding the murder of children in the womb (called abortion which dehumanises this vile act) and the murder of the elderly (called euthanasia as if it was somehow humane to murder the elderly).

    Btw one should note that Emily’s List is determined to fully decriminalise abortion.

    Matt Vinay

  • Bill

    Yes I suspect you’re right. Julia desperately needs to move to the right (or look that way) to win the next election.

    Damien Spillane

  • Another thing. I don’t think it is at all healthy that she is not married with children. Her life seems to revolve around politics which is extremely dangerous given how prone the left is to treat politics as a religion.
    Damien Spillane

  • For Matt Vinay,

    Yes, it is Gillard’s support of Emily’s List that is an indicator of her principles. In the US, support has even been withdrawn from candidates that baulked at partial birth abortion. Gillard belongs to an organization that advocates shoving holes in the back of baby’s heads just centimetres from being fully born.

    But of course, she’s got a better personality than Rudd, that’s what matters, after all… (sarcasm mode off…)

    Mark Rabich

  • The Church does appear to want to identify or be alarmed that today we have an Australian leader who is a fornicator.

    I wonder how many other church going “Baptists” can relate to her comments yet still sit in the pews each Sunday? Miss Gillard said she did not “feel” which means her experience with the professing church was not real for her, fake another words (no conversion)?

    Perhaps Miss Gillards comments are a divine wake up call to the Baptist Church?

    Michael Whennen

  • We need to pray for our Prime Minister and in our prayers include that her and her partner get married. We also need to pray that she through her experience as Prime Minister receives revelation knowledge that she did not receive with her Baptist upbringing.
    Michael Whennen

  • Hi

    Re: the “non-practicing Christian” phrase: This hardly seems like political points-seeking, as it is a pretty common phrase that I believe comes back to being baptised, where we are told we are now part of God’s church and family for this life and the next. So if she does not attend Church or pray doesn’t that make her non-practicing, but still a Christian as she has been baptised? As far as I know she hasn’t undertaken any baptism-reversal ceremony.

    Perhaps a better phrase can be coined for this, but as a Christian I don’t have a problem with people describing themselves as such. In fact, if they do, to me it seems they are leaving the door open to re-embracing God. Perhaps these people have had a bad experience with one parish or pastor and just need some guidence and love to be shown the light again, not scorn from from the rest of us.

    David Reinbach

  • Thanks David

    But you seem to assume that infant baptism somehow makes one a Christian, and that this will suffice for life. I of course do not accept such a view. If it were the case, then anyone, including a Hitler or Stalin or Dawkins, if they were baptised as babies, can still claim to be Christian.

    As to your last line – that is one possibility. Another is that they have wiped their hands altogether of Christianity and rejected God because they don’t want him in their lives. People do this all the time. The Bible does not seem to offer as many excuses for people’s sin and rejection of God as we tend to do. I have written about this elsewhere, eg., https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/04/04/a-review-of-unchristian-by-david-kinnaman/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Excellent analysis Bill.
    while the “first female PM” achievement is to be lauded, I am worried about the other aspects of this role model (for our girls), how she got there, and her explicit and hidden agenda. Also, appeasement of the Greens will be a strategy to counter the weaker Christian support. more bad news. Having said that, God uses even Pharaoh for His purposes. have been and will continue to pray for our leaders and the nation.
    Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov 14:34).
    Henry Lim

  • Thanks for the clear analysis Bill. Am praying and will continue for Julia Gillard and all who govern our states and nation. At present I do not see anyone whom I can trust to guide Australia in accordance with God’s Will as revealed in scripture.
    Anna Cook

  • Thank You Bill, you have clearly highlighted the anomalies faced by Julia Gillard now that she has made her public profession of none faith. It will be interesting to listen to her wording when she like Kevin Rudd had to, make comment on the fallen solders that take up arms to defend our national interest. Kevin honestly said we will remember their families in our thoughts and prayers.
    Julia won’t be saying such things I presume.
    Wilhelmus Heggers

  • The bible says that every leadership in any countries of the world are appointed of God and should be respected.
    But in the some word of God shows through history how God deals with the leaders that rejected Him.
    God said to Saul the first King of Israel, “because you did not obey me, I have rejected you.
    I know Julia Gillard is wise enough to know that in her position as a leader of this great country, she is alone, because the God that she think has not played any part in reaching that position, has rejected her. And as Bill stated in his article, there is a chance for her to turn around and give glory to God. If not, Good luck Julia!!!
    Albert Kamau

  • Yes Albert it is true by the Word of God,He appoints and anoints leaders. I am beginning to think He has appointed an atheist to wake up Christians out of their lethargy. 2 Chronicals 7:14 says, If my people that are called by my name would Humble themselves and PRAY, turn from their wicked ways,seek my face I will hear from Heaven forgive their sins and HEAL their land. So many people that hate religion are writing they are so pleased they have an atheist leading us. If only they knew what they were talking about. Read all of Mathew 23 and see what Jesus [God] thinks of man made religion. There is a vast difference between that and a committed Christian. The religious people of the day nailed Jesus to the cross and did everything in their power to kill the truth. FAITH,LOVE AND BELIEVING in the Creator of the world is simple, just call on the name of JESUS who is only a breath away. So many people leave it too late and die a lonely death. There is an opposite to everything good bad, day night, black white and thousands of others. There is HEAVEN and hell and I pray you and Julia Gillard chose JESUS the CHRIST before it is too late!!!
    Mary Rhonda Gillam

  • I am interested in how quickly the people in this forum have decided that Ms Gillard is :

    a. a fornicator. Do you watch through her bedroom curtains? I thought the idea of christianity was to leave judging to God

    b. unnatural in some way in her family life: I take it this means not having children? Given the trail of broken and dented marriages asssociated with politics, perhaps one contemplating a political life would be more honest in NOT marrying and having children – again, not up to me to judge others

    c. purposely not having children – how do we know that she is actually able to have children? She may have had some sadness in her medical history which is one of our business.

    d. unable to truthfully convey through words that the nation’s thoughts and prayers are with bereaved persons without necessarily doing any praying herself. She would know that some people do pay, and as our national leader is quite right to use the same words as someone who does pray, since she is speaking for the nation.

    I ask you sincerely to consider what benefit your remarks convey to the christian community in Australia. And,a word of warning .. if you are going to use Alfred Deakin as an exemplar for current politicians to follow I’d advise more research on his life, in particular his spiritual path.

    Ephraim Kelly

  • Thanks Ephraim

    a. So they live together but in separate bedrooms? ROFL.
    b. Not sure how exceptions make the rule here.
    c. She herself has told us this: she has rejected family life in order to pursue her career in politics.
    d. It is called hypocrisy.

    Finally, you tell us often how wrong it is to be judgmental, while your comment is big on judging me and others who disagree with you. Interesting.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Ephraim,

    In regards to Deakin, I don’t currently have the book I used above as a reference, but I believe what your referring to is a period in his life where he wandered away from strong Christian belief. From what I recall reading, he came back. So what’s your point? How does that invalidate the overall point that Australia is what it is (at least, conceptually or in heritage) mainly due to principles and teachings of Christianity?

    Mark Rabich

  • Miss Gillard was a member of Socialist Forum. I believe that it was set up by former members of the Australian Communist Party when it was disbanded.

    I further understood that she is in fact an Atheist. In Isaiah I believe it says “I will take all your leaders from you.” Or words to that effect. This was to Israel when they went away from God.

    As I look at the world today I ask “Where is there a real leader?” I can’t think of one statesman on the world stage at present. Perhaps God is (has) taken our leaders.

    I had a lot of time for John Howard. He was not perfect but he was genuine. What he was in public is what he was in private. Unlike our last leader.

    Today we are consumed by our desire for amusement, and we know little of real worth. Our children receive a worse education with each generation, and our ability to communicate is falling away quickly. Just listen to people speak! We are a degenerate generation and we have as a race lost our way.

    God help us, please.

    Brian Wheatley

  • Its true Mary, most of us Christians are playing religious and churchy games, but Jesus always have a remnant, people that are sensitive to the Word of God and are looking for the big picture. People who are concern and asking what is the mind of God in all this? And if you are one of the persons committed to this cause, “The Remnant” What are we supposed to do that is accordance with the Word of God when situation like this arise? Is there a word for us preceding from God’s own mouth that we can get hold of and turn around the prevailing circumstances?
    Let me point out that from the beginning of God’s creation there has always been one person who stood up and said enough. Noah did, Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Mary not to mention Paul who was courageous enough to pick-up the Word of God and went to gentiles, The word was there already preceded from God’s mouth that nations will be blessed though Abraham, but nobody did anything until Paul came along.
    My point is let us stand up for God, because He has spoken for this generation as He did for them. Lets get hold the Word according to His knowledge and start changing situation around that are affecting our lives as Christians.
    Albert Kamau

  • Bill, good stuff and keep up the good work. However I, like David Reinbach, disagree with the panning of the ‘non practicing christian ‘ phrase. Being baptised then she should be spiritually sealed with an indelible mark 2 Cor 1 21-22. Certainly I do not think that it is a good thing, however a similar theme is expressed with the phrase “once a Catholic, always a Catholic”. It does not mean that they will be good a Catholic. In matters of faith it is interesting to see that you can be so black and white on this matter. ‘Non practicing baptist’ is not something to describe what she does, but what she did. She did get baptised and nothing can remove that seal from her. Leaving that aside she could be more honest and say what she does.
    Lawrie Mcnamara

  • Thanks Lawrie

    But water baptism of course is mentioned nowhere in 2 Cor 1. Indeed, the concept is nowhere found in the entire book. So your have no biblical basis at all to make such claims.

    The Bible nowhere teaches that if one is simply baptised as an infant one has assurance of eternal life. It is putting our faith in the work of Christ, and walking in obedience to him that counts. And there are many dozens of passages that speak to this.

    But thanks for writing in.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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