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Coalition religious values are increasingly unrepresentative of most Australians

The growing percentage of Australia’s population reporting no religion has been a trend for decades, and is accelerating with almost 7 million people (30%) describing themselves as having “no religion” in the 2016 census.

The figure is even higher amongst young people with 39% of people aged 18-34 reporting no religious affiliation.

Yet the Coalition is going in the other direction. In the last couple of days, we have been shown just how far.

Nationals MP George Christensen is set to be ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church in July.

It appears George has been religion shopping until he found the right fit for him.

He spent a few weeks in a Catholic seminary when he was 21 but quit. Then in 2014 he joined the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Now he’s become an Anglican, attaching himself to one of the few Anglican dioceses in Australia that does not ordain women priests, The Murray, in South Australia.

He won’t be moving to South Australia, but rather is expected to be attached to a parish in Mackay, in his home diocese of north Queensland, where he will assist with services and other activities.

“I am humbled to have my vocation to ordination in the church discerned,” George proclaimed. Though it hasn’t stopped him from reaffirming he will contest the next Federal election.

Mr Christensen has been studying theology through the Sydney College of Divinity and says he could be ordained a priest in the future, but only once he leaves parliament.

Then down in Victoria, at least five Mormons were elected as party officers at last week’s Liberal Party state conference, notably a doctor who blames ungodly love for HIV, as well as a prominent campaigner against the Safe Schools program.

They are part of a group of ultra-conservatives and religious activists who are centred around 28-year-old Liberal factional leader, Marcus Bastiaan, who has been accused of branch-stacking, actively recruiting Mormons and other ultra-conservatives to the Liberal Party. The Bastiaan faction’s push for power paid off when it won 13 of 19 seats on the powerful administrative committee last weekend.

In NSW it gets even more bizarre with the head of the Carlingford branch of the Liberal Party calling for Sharia style caning for crimes.

The notoriously hard-right Carlingford branch, under its colourful president George Popowski, will discuss a push to “straighten out the law and order system” by handing sentencing powers to a panel of 20 members of the public, with no more than 30 per cent from the legal fraternity.

He proposed 10 lashes for theft of a T-shirt, 1000 lashes for stealing a car (2000 if the vehicle is damaged), 5000 lashes for punching a police officer and 20,000 lashes for murder.

The floggings should be “delivered at 10 lashes per hour – every hour from 9am to 5pm, with one hour for lunch”, Mr Popowski wrote. The sentence would be doubled for second-time offenders.

It’s nice they get time off from the flogging for some lunch.

There is also a push on from “dozens of Liberal MPs” to renew, and significantly boost, the “absolutely essential” school chaplaincy program in this year’s budget. They want to increase the $250 million funding by 25% and make it a permanent, indexed commitment.

We shall see if ScoMo’s magic pudding extends that far when he “goes live” this evening. (It’s a little bit tragic when your Treasurer posts on Facebook “Today at 7:30pm ScoMo plans to go live.”)

The sooner we separate religion and state completely, the better. That will entail getting rid of a Coalition who is so far out of touch with mainstream Australian values that they have become an irrelevant anachronism who should have no place in the halls of power.


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  1. Ella miller

    Kaye, thank you as always The AIM Network is worth a read. Did we ever have a separation of Church and State? As far as the place of religion in society, with the RC into sex abuse who on Earth would have any faith in ANY religious order. Whether it is the Catholic Church or the Protestant, they should be made to pay tax.It appears the Anglican church must be desperate for converts if G. Christiensen and others are anything to go by. It appears to me that Social Justice is no longer an important part of some religious orders. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR CHURCH IN THE STATE !!! As far as the other group you mentioned I hope I NEVER hear ANY of them talk about Islam…they and the LNP have lost all credibility in the area of Social Justice just to mention one area of our existence.

  2. New England Cocky

    Yes, let us separate church and state starting with the education system.

    If a group of parents want to have an exclusive school then they should pay all the costs of that school. No government handouts, no vote buying permitted. Just the DOGS case applied to “bring the Budget back into surplus” by saving about $9 BILLION PER YEAR from government funding of a demonstrably third rate middle class elitist unnecessary system.

  3. Alpo

    Thanks, Kaye. It definitely looks like the religious Hard Conservatives are going to take control of the Liberal party once Turnbull, Morrison and the current mob are trashed at the coming Federal election.

    If the religious Hard Conservatives control the Liberals and presumably the Nationals as well, then we are up for a very long period of Labor Government and Progressive change in the law and, sooner than later, the Constitution as well (the Republic is probably first in line).

    Hard Conservatives will go down, screaming like beasts marching to the slaughter, but they will inevitably go down. I am not sure about the future of the Liberal party at this stage: Neoliberalism is on the way out and Hard Conservatism will only attract a minority of voters.

  4. Yvonne Robertson

    Coming from backgrounds of elitist privilege, as most or many of them do, they have the ‘old boy, school tie network’ going for them. They don’t really understand what it’s like to be battlers – Mums and Dads – around the kitchen table – that’s all rhetoric to make them seem human – like us.

    Their religious backgrounds enable them to take the most abhorrent views and actions and to twist them around to sound like they’re doing us a favour. Turnbull with his love for the unemployed wanting to subject them to drug tests for their own good. Abbott with his views on climate change – that it may be doing us a favour because less people die in the heat than the cold. Those who vote time and time again against raising the rate of Newstart and who want people to work until they’re 70 regardless of former occupation or current ability.

    Let us also not forget those who voted against or scurried out so as not to vote on the gay marriage issue. Worse than any of these of course is the justification for keeping people imprisoned on Manus and Nauru Islands in the midst of inhumane living conditions, denied proper medical treatment because they might gain access in the process to the Australian legal system and denied lives anywhere else just as a lesson to others who many seek to escape persecution.

    These fine upstanding men – in the main – I don’t see too many of the women beating their chests as God Botherers – turning up on the first day of parliament to the religious services and pretending to be pious when there seem to be very few limits on what they’d do or the lies they’d tell to stay in office another term.

    I had respect for Gillard, because amongst other things, that was one card she refused to play.

  5. diannaart

    Interesting about “Sharia style caning” – I am always perplexed at the bigotry against Muslims exhibited by many Christians, or even those simply more tolerant of Christianity than they are of other religions.

    Islam, Christianity and Judaism share the same beginnings from Abraham onwards, similar religious texts and almost indistinguishable attitudes towards women and while enshrining right of men to head the “traditional family”.

    Now those “liberal” Liberals are inviting those extreme religions – well, the ones which are loosely based around Christianity – because “freedom of religion” transcends freedom from dogma. How very open minded … just so long as they are not Muslim of course.


  6. Lawrence Winder @shanewombat)

    Ahhh well, I suppose returning to the lash fits in with the ruling rabble’s IPA policy of resurrecting the feudal system, too. It’s interesting that they are sailing in a direction counter to demographic trends as they lose all relevance and vainly strive for it.

  7. Kaye Lee

    My husband well remembers a Brother giving him, at age eleven, 18 cuts for not being able to give an example of a dangling participle. He still can’t give an example of a dangling participle but he learned what cruelty was dished about by these men of the cloth. Six years at a Catholic boarding school, he saw, and experienced, many horrific things. Yet so many of his friends signed their sons up at birth to go to the school. It is, of course, a much better environment nowadays but my husband will never forget or forgive.

  8. Kaye Lee

    And right on cue….

    In an interview with Fairfax,George Brandis said conservatives were engaged in a hostile takeover of the Liberal party, and the new high commissioner made a direct observation on Abbott’s leadership.

    “Abbott’s leadership was probably the only time that the Liberal party in government pursued a set of policies so ideologically right wing,” Brandis said, noting Abbott’s reluctance to embrace multiculturalism was “out of sync” with modern Australian values, as was his opposition to same-sex marriage.

    ….he used his parting speech from federal parliament to observe that “powerful elements of right-wing politics” had abandoned the liberal tradition in favour of “a belligerent, intolerant populism which shows no respect for either the rights of individual citizens or the traditional institutions which protect them”.

    The party is battling bruising factional warfare between moderates and conservatives behind the scenes in several states, including New South Wales and Victoria.

    In Victoria, the conservative faction secured 13 of 19 seats on the party’s powerful administrative committee in late April, and has been recruiting from church groups.

    With internal tensions running high, the Herald Sun obtained a recording of Victorian conservative and assistant minister to the treasurer, Michael Sukkar, saying “socialists” had infiltrated the Liberal party.

    “The last bastion, the last vestige of conservatism, which is the Liberal party, is the last institution that they’re trying to get their way into,” Sukkar reportedly said. “And, like termites, they’ll get in and they’ll eat us from the inside out unless we do something”.

    Sukkar is another nutter that we must get rid of.

  9. Zathras

    The last time we had a theocracy was called “The Dark Ages” for a reason. Society has enough problems without the handbrake of irrationality and delusion slowing us down from addressing and solving them.

    Rather than arguing about the minutae of Religious Freedom we should be discussing the right to freedom FROM religion. They have a group in the USA dedicated to that specific purpose. (FFRF – a “non-profit/non-prophet organisation”).

  10. Kaye Lee

    I should have included the motion from the Menzies-Warrandyte Young Liberal branch, which is linked to Kevin Andrews, calling for state legislation allowing health practitioners “to offer counselling out of same sex attraction or gender transitioning to patients who request it”.

    Because, even though we now let them get married, they are still deviates.

    The Liberal Party are going to face a big choice after they lose the next election….go with the hard right or expose and purge them.

  11. Matters Not


    The Liberal Party are going to face a big choice after they lose the next election

    Perhaps – and on a number of levels. Losing the next election, while possible, probable and justifiable, is not a certainty. Dutton is already out and about beating the refugee (invasion) drum. His ability to manufacture a scare of monumental proportions should not be underestimated. It’s his raison d’être. On the ABC this morning, he was in full flight and if the ABC was in commercial (cost recovery) mode, his bill for the free political advertising would be massive.

    Then there’s an assumption of how Labor will behave following a win. The historical evidence suggests that Labor will move to capture more of the middle ground. After all, that’s where elections are won or lost. Thus Shorten et al will in all probability move right rather than left. If so then where will the members of the Liberal Party go? Seems to me that most Australians at in no mood to follow the Trump experiment.

    But as always, the future is unknown.

    I urge readers (again) to peruse this article.

  12. Miriam English

    I wonder how many lashes the LNP religious extremists recommend for government ministers fiddling their books and falsely padding their allowances.

    If they’re going to emulate sharia law, I’d suggest they opt for the standard punishments for theft, ranging from public lashing to publicly stoning to death, amputation of hands and crucifixion. It would be interesting to see how their fellow criminals would feel about that. Note that it would be worth scrutinising the finances of the most vocal first.

    Just as the loudest denouncers of gays are the most likely to be gay, I expect the loudest advocates of wicked, medieval punishments for crimes are the most likely to be crooked.

  13. Kronomex

    I was looking at the photo at the top of the article and thought that about the only physical work he’s ever done is having sore hands after a hard days Playstation 2 session of Grand Theft Auto.

  14. Kaye Lee

    George does love a dress-up

  15. Miriam English

    He probably left the seminary because the Catholics are big on self-denial, which I don’t think sits well with George. He is too self-indulgent and prefers to deny others. The Anglicans are much less strict, which would let him play pretend much more comfortably.

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