We are told over and over again that Christianity has shaped our history and our values. Retired high court judge and chair of the Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption, Dyson Heydon, had this to say on the matter:
“The public voices of modern elites are not humble. They conceive themselves to have entitlements and rights, not blessings. And they do not feel any gratitude to Almighty God for their entitlements and rights.
Now the modern elites – the tyrants of tolerance – in seeking to marginalise or silence Christianity are not only rejecting the cultural tradition of Christianity.
Not only are they rejecting a large part of the entire life and history of the nation – because Christianity is so integrated with the national life and history that to annihilate it is to destroy that national life, which can live only in memory.
They are also rejecting that fundamental part of the Christian tradition which is the source of the modern world and of their own favoured position within it.”
Pardon me? Did this arbiter of the law just say that Christianity confers privilege? Is he asking me to thank God for the workplace entitlements and social advances won by unions and collective action? Is he saying that if I choose not to be a Christian I am destroying our national life?
When Scott Morrison gave his first speech in parliament, he opined that “Australia is not a secular country” quoting a US Senator who said “the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion.”
Okay, but does that mean religion should play a role in our politics?
In an interview in 2013, Pope Francis expressed his firm opinion that it should not.
“I say that politics is the most important of the civil activities and has its own field of action, which is not that of religion. Political institutions are secular by definition and operate in independent spheres.”
The Catholic hierarchy has been knocked sideways by the emergence of Pope Francis and his eschewal of their fixation on homosexuality, contraception and abortion.
We have been told by ignorant bigots and politicians who wish to exploit fear for political gain that we are under threat from Islamism but it is actually Christianism that is far more prevalent and detrimental to Australian society.
Christianism means particular doctrines of Christianity made into a political system for the pursuit of worldly power, to be distinguished from Christianity.
In 2003, blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote “I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.”
Pentacostal leaders, who believe the ascension of Scott Morrison to the top job was divinely inspired, are mobilising to make sure he stays there.
Adam F Thompson from Voice of Fire Ministries said last month, “I really see that the body of Christ is going to have influence in the arena of – the political arena of this nation. [But] if the prime minister right now doesn’t get elected in this next election there’s going to be darkness coming.”
Thompson exhorted the congregation that, if they truly wanted a Pentecostal revival and reformation in Australia, they must mobilise now.
Adrian Beale from Everrest Ministries said “Lord, we pray that the whole of the body of Christ in Australia would grasp the value of what you’ve done, Lord, and get behind our new leader … and that the next election would be won so that godly principles would be put into place, rather than the enemy having his way.”
Warwick Marsh from the Australian Christian Values Institute claimed three days of prayer and fasting had been answered with two miracles – the voting down of the euthanasia in the territories proposal and the rise of Morrison to PM.
“It would seem that this is a direct answer to our prayers, as we prayed against the erosion of our Christian freedoms under the forthcoming Ruddock report.”
No doubt the recent rain will be seen as another miracle in response to Scott’s prayer, though those who were devastated by fierce hailstorms may wish he would tackle climate change instead.
So emboldened are the Christianists that they feel they can dictate to government about the supposed fallacy of global warming.
In October 2010, the Senate’s Environment and Communications Legislation Committee agreed to table a letter from Cardinal Pell which quoted heavily from Ian Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth to claim there were “good reasons for doubting that carbon dioxide causes warmer temperatures”.
In Victoria, 28-year-old Marcus Bastiaan, who has flooded the Victorian Liberal Party with Christian and Mormon recruits, was reportedly planning to seek the party presidency when Michael Kroger steps down next year but announced last month that, due to family illness, he and his wife “have decided to step aside from our key roles in the Liberal Party for the time being”.
According to the Age, “Mr Bastiaan’s faction is confident it holds the numbers to anoint a replacement at the coming assembly meeting.”
While successive governments have endorsed placing religious chaplains in our public schools, Pope Francis condemns proselytism.
“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us.”
Australia is still secular, but it has a form of secularism where religion is allowed in the public sphere. As long as religion remains one voice among many and one option among many Australia will remain a secular country.
But should the Christianists continue the expansion of their political power, human rights in Australia will come under serious threat.