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How do religious beliefs affect politicians’ decisions about women?

This post is written by @StopLyi58491572, a social media account that looks at the reporting of mainstream Australian media, particularly on stories relating to politics at both state and federal levels.

They are constantly dismayed at what they see by a member of #This Is Not Journalism, an online movement that holds media to journalistic standards.

Can we please talk about a significant issue currently affecting Australia? The Prime Minister is a member of a cult and its influence is pervading our society. No, this time I am not going to talk about Prosperity Theory and how evident it was during JobKeeper and the “snap-back” to the incredibly generous $44 per day, now that most businesses are on their feet and Gerry received a squillion dollar bonus. This is about women and why improving the lot of 51% of our population is diametrically opposed to the religious beliefs of Mr Morrison and a disproportionate number of his inner circle.

Firstly, let me be clear. I am an atheist but 100% respect the right of others under law to have faith. It is also imperative to note that Mr Morrison has stated he does not consider the Bible to be a “policy handbook”

Mr Morrison has often spoken about how important his faith is to him and his family. Who could forget his belief in miracles acceptance speech? Miracles are a central tenet of Pentecostal belief and his religion, in fact, is central to who he is. He has frequently spoken about how he prays for us, whether during the Covid pandemic (when he seemed to compare himself to Moses), the droughts or floods. There are also fairly regular calls for the blessings of God.

I suspect that most of us have a vague understanding of the core beliefs of Pentecostalism, as perhaps we do of fundamental Judaism or Islam (Pentecostals are not fundamentalist Christians BTW). Vague understandings can be dangerous as often they are tinged with bias both conscious and unconscious. Let’s look at a few of the actual beliefs and why I feel they matter in relation to the advancement of women in Australia.

Firstly, let’s consider the fact that, by nature, Pentecostal Christians are socially conservative. They tend to view issues like abortion, same sex attraction and single parenthood as something to be frowned upon at the very least as their belief is what was considered normal during the times of the New Testament should still apply today.

That anyone could believe we should have the same standards today as we had 2000 years ago is tough for me to accept but this obviously should be seen as a significant concern for the women of Australia if you’re viewing it through a prism that recognises that massive steps are not only required but are being demanded both here and around the world. It’s interesting to note that Mr Morrison himself abstained from the #SSM vote.

Next is Pietism, or the belief that someone’s personal relationship with God guides their life path. This is entirely at odds with strong legislation designed to promote women above where they find themselves today, often due to policies that amount to structural disadvantage. Matters such as abortion or addressing the significant problems around provision of greater childcare as well as methods of equalising superannuation opportunities (rather suggesting women withdraw theirs to escape domestic violence) could well be hamstrung by such strong, and many would consider archaic  beliefs.

It’s little surprise that, at least financially, women are proportionately worse off post-lockdown than men. Despite the rhetoric around job figures, close examination of the facts show that average earnings per participant in the workforce per hour have decreased and that many of the industries most affected are more likely to be staffed by females. The recent debate around and gutting of the proposed changes to IR law was also seen by many a demonstrably damaging to female workers over men.

Finally, Evangelical Christians adhere strictly to certain passages of the Bible including Ephesians 5:21-25, which calls for a woman to submit herself to her husband’s will “as she would to God”. Unfortunately, there are many cases where this has resulted in both sexual and physical violence within the household.

Again, I reference the LNP policy of women accessing their superannuation to escape domestic violence situations and the apparent lack of support for both social services for the many women caught up in such situations but also the lack of action in provisions for domestic violence leave in the workplace.

Interestingly, the Church seems to have a similar underrepresentation of women in the ranks of the hierarchy as does the LNP

In the 2016 Census, 1.1% of Australians identified as Pentecostal. There are now several in Cabinet meaning there is a massive over-representation of people whose belief system includes the above examples. If, like the Prime Minister, their religion defines who they are, these views are simply not in line with broader Australia. Neither are they about to progress equality and equity for women in this country.

You can have as many women in the Cabinet as you like and even a Prime Minister for Women but unless they passionately believe that we need to see real change, it’s simply not going to eventuate under the Morrison government.

There was a time, not so long ago, where mainstream journalists not only turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct in Canberra, in some cases they actually enabled it or were directly involved. This has partly contributed to the “Toxic Culture” we are now hearing about within the walls of power. Will their reticence to discuss religion also have an equally negative effect on the women of Australia?

I fear it may.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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17 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    The separation of church and state is now more imperative than ever. The most devout Catholics in the house in either chamber have never held such sway as the current cultists. I believe Pentacostalism is a cult, not a religion.
    In any event, we cannot have such a skewed view of the world running the country. Remember the scare campaigning of PHON about Sharia Law, what has been allowed at present is just the same.

    All MPs, any MP, can enjoy any religious belief they like, but keep it out of my politics.

  2. Peter Satchell

    If you’re wondering how our Prime Minister has got things so wrong when it comes to women’s issues and the recent sexual issues involving the Parliament, then perhaps it’s time to look a little bit closer at his self-declared religious beliefs & practices.

    Two things that identify some White Evangelical Groups are their model of militant masculinity, and an us-versus-them mentality.

    We’ve seen examples of how the influence of these groups plays out regularly now in Politics (both in Australia and the USA) as segments of our political parties are being filled with men and women who subscribe to this world view.

    Let’s be clear about this, it’s a “cultural” issue not a “theological” issue. The standard narrative of a lot of evangelical political activity in the last decade or so indicates that white evangelicals are afraid.

    They’re under siege, they’re threatened by demographic changes, the “Leftists” are out to get them. They believe they’ve been bullied by various people and are threatened by them. (minority groups, other religious groups, women’s groups, trade unions, atheists, communists, etc.)

    They feel that they are losing their place (of privilege) in the Community and even forfeiting their right to exist, which is why they’ve pivoted toward a more aggressive politics.

    Around 87% of white evangelical Christians surveyed in the USA, reported that they supported Donald Trump, yet it’s hard to imagine a more “ungodly” and misogynistic man as President.

    White Evangelicals wield a dramatically disproportionate share of political power in the USA. White evangelical Protestants may make up only 17 percent of the US population, according to a 2017 study by the Public Religion Research Institute, but the GOP is 35 percent evangelical (and 73 percent white Christian).

    It’s likely that the statistics are similar for Australia’s Liberal Party.

    As we’ve seen with Trumpism, the truth is irrelevant as long as the ideology is consistent, doubt is heretical and the vision of the world, however absurd, is absolute and unassailable. These ideologies are not rational, they simply fill emotional voids.

    Unfortunately, it’s often the case that where the USA leads, Australia follows. So perhaps what we’re seeing now is this playing out in Australia as political responses to the challenges of multiculturalism, immigration, refugees, and women’s rights.

    Just consider the recent Ruddock review into Religious Freedom – essentially it was a conciliatory political response to the Referendum on Marriage Equality, after some Religious groups felt threatened by the outcome.

    Sadly, we’ve recently seen one man after another who’s made a name for himself by promoting this “militant masculinity” become implicated, directly or indirectly, in sexual abuse scandals. (We’ve had a Prime Minister that had to introduce a ban on MPs having sex with their staff, because the problem was perceived as widespread.)

    It’s hard not to see connections between an ideology that embraces power, aggression and “toughness,” and reserves all power for men, with abuses of that power. Under this system, women and children are assigned subservient roles and told that subservience is obedience or godliness. There are many heartbreaking stories where women felt they had no recourse, and where faith communities covered for abusers, because they thought they were protecting the church’s witness.

    I think that the version of patriarchal power some conservative evangelicals have been promoting has left women and children especially vulnerable.

    In the power charged dog eat dog environment of politics it’s easy to see how this “toxic masculinity” gets a grip, and and the hierarchical system of patriarchy provides structure for abuse.

    I’m not against Christians being involved in politics (far from it in fact), however it’s a area of activity that comes with extreme risks, and requires a diligent determined faith, in order to avoid corruption of one’s values.

    It’s time for the evangelical Christian Community to re-evaluate its views on “masculinity” and to align them with what the Bible actually teaches us about masculinity as embodied in Jesus. It’s also time to cast off the shackles of fear, that adversely effect sound judgment.

    It’s also time for our Political system to embrace merit based selection and to drop the “Patriarchal” bias that too often rewards gender over ability.

  3. ajogrady

    Religion is the advertising agency for a unproven and non existent product.
    For some, religion is the cloak they wear to disguise their evil and corrupt behaviour.
    Religion is the curse that stalks the gullible, the weak and the vulnerable in other words the poor that in turn are manipulated by the wealthy for for their own ends. Blind faith is responsible for the elimination of reason and logic from those afflicted with the belief in false promises whilst living in a fools paradise. It is fallacious by definition and a curse not a cure for what are mankind’s failings.

  4. DrakeN

    Keitha, all religions are “cults” based on no facts for the existence of a deity.
    As to the ‘separation of Church and State’, we cannot do that while our ‘Head of State’ is also the Head of the Anglican Church.
    My consistent opinion is that no person of religious conviction should be eligible for public office of any kind, which I base on the fact that religions control the decisions of their ‘flocks’ by credo and that their acolytes and disciples are therefore unable to think independently and rationally.

  5. DrakeN

    @ ajogrady – that’s it in a nutshell – their histories are replete with evidence to that conclusion.

  6. Kathryn

    History has PROVEN that, generally, the more ultra-conservative and right-wing people are, the MORE rigidly regressive, intolerant, xenophobic, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and hypocritical they are! Generally, the sanctimonious male hypocrites that cheer on ruthlessly patriarchal, profit-obsessed cults like Hillsong – and other rabid Pentecostal bible-thumping religious CULTS – want women to CONFORM, to knuckle down under the dominance of hard-lined alpha males who become enamoured with an ideology that is often entrenched in testosterone-laden misogyny and the subjugation of women! With this in mind, is it any wonder that the Hillsong Cultist, Morrison, has a mere SIX women in his regime who, like the men, are so appallingly corrupt, self-serving and non-supportive of other women, it is a disgrace! When you have a female LNP member (the disgraced Linda Reynolds) calling a vulnerable victim of rape (Brittany Higgins) “a lyiing cow!” it gives a disturbing insight into the entrenched culture of misogynism that permeates every level of the LNP from top to bottom!

    The ALP are far perfect but, at least, 50% of their cabinet comprise of strong, well-educated, articulate and intelligent women! In addition, the ALP practise something that I believe should be WRITTEN in the Constitution of our Nation:

    RELIGION MUST BE BANNED FROM POLITICS! THERE IS NO ROOM FOR SANCTIMONIOUS RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY WITHIN POLITICS – POLITICS AND RELIGION IS A VERY, VERY BAD, UNHEALTH AND REGRESSIVE MIX !!!

    Morrison is an appalling, smirking misogynist who’s adherence to a disreputable, profit-obsessed, paedophile-protecting CULT like Hillsong fails to hide the malevolent, callous inhumanity and self-serving corruption that is so endemic throughout his repugnant cabinet! Therefore, it is essential Australians WAKE UP and remove this unconscionable regime as soon as possible – the worst government in living memory!

  7. Kathryn

    As an addition to my comment above, just want to point out that there is SO MUCH TRUTH in the following excerpt from a very true and enlightening quotation by Karl Marx:

    “””Religious is the sigh of the oppressed creature! It is the opium of the people.””” – Karl Marx

    In other words, desperate people cling on to religion as something to give them the illusion of comfort, something to hang onto when they fail to cope. WHEREAS dangerous, manipulative and corrupt people USE religion as a sanctimonious cover to hide their depravity.

  8. Sean

    Hi all,
    @Peter Satchell, well-formed and considered comment, however i have recently started to diverge from Meritocratic thinking, it’s a ruse that makes some of us feel good but is toxic to all involved ultimately. The real question here is around the French Turn that facilitated a tribe that ideologically represents only 1.1% of the electorate capturing our executive branch so comprehensively (as the author points out). Only when we really address this systemic issue will we have a chance at rectifying the damage wrought by these conservative white males on us all…. and the Planet.

  9. Andrew J. Smith

    Easy, libertarian economics, deep seated Calvinist Christianity and eugenics channeling Smith/Ricardo, Malthus and Darwin (elements of his work)/Galton as ‘science’, but based more on beliefs supporting the patriarchal status quo and competition, with women submissive.

    Important article and highlights how very conservative, even non mainstream, religion has infected both sides of (mostly) monocultural baby boomer/GenX political and media classes in Australia, underpinned by a hint of strategy e.g. increasing number of Mormons and/or evangelicals encouraged to become members of the Liberal Party in Melbourne and Sydney while generally memberships decline (and religious worship across society in more marked decline); not to forget bi-partisan prayer groups in our ‘secular’ parliament (imported from the US?).

    This has been happening in more puritan, pious and religious USA as central to GOP strategy from decades ago, that allows unpalatable Koch driven radical right libertarian socio-economic ideology (as promoted locally by IPA/CIS etc.) to become dominant by using a seemingly disparate coalition of voters united by their opposition to ‘liberals’, communism and diversity, energised to win elections (and discourage wrong types of voters).

    The main man was Paul ‘litter the world with right wing think tanks’ Weyrich, who founded Heritage Foundation (one of Abbott’s favourites), helped create the ‘Moral Majority’, hung out with old (Hungarian Nazis) i.e. Pasztor, then form a coalition round ‘freedom and liberty’, white Christian nationalism, evangelicals, pro-lifers, NRA guns, veterans, alt/far right and now conspiracy theorists.

    Accordingly, by following or channeling the supposed ‘science’ of Malthus on humanity, Smith on economics etc. one has to remember that their ideas were deeply embedded in and influenced by autocratic, patriarchal, conservative, fundamental and often misogynist Christianity.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Scott Morrison’s church, Horizon, is a member of the Australian Christian Churches group which, according to them, “consists of over 1,000 churches with over 375,000 constituents, making it the largest Pentecostal movement in Australia.”

    The nine members of the National Executive are all men.

    https://www.acc.org.au/about-us/

  11. paul walter

    It seems on April Fools day the mention let alone broadsheet coverage of the missing Vax roll out which therefore doesn’t exist occurs.

    I know it must be a funny Fools day joke to pretend it never happened.

    In this country as with many others, the injunction appears to be to lie, or disappear when people have got sick of your lying, or bear false witness as a certain politician appears to doing in relation to his late victim.

    I suppose it is appropriate that this is a Good Friday eve, where we remember what happens to people who voice a view that doesn’t coincide with that of the oligarchy of the day. Best to be silent, like Nine Fairfax has, over another massive LNP stuff up, the Coronavirus immunisation rollout and the bullshit that preceded it.

  12. wam

    Religion is by men for men and men prevent any questions being asked. The bible makes it clear with things like: Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. and “When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. The former gives the first reproduction of life to man and the second takes equality from women who cannot operate for 25% of the month. There are millions of australian children being indoctrinated with such bible beliefs and we are paying for it. The scummo mob believe all women must defer to men so his daughters, wife and widowed mother need permission to tell him how much of an idiot he is. The israel filau issue may allow someone to ask him the restrictions for entry into heaven??? I would go further and ask what ‘women must defer to men’ means and when boys become men? Whatever too many women believe the story of a man god making man 100% and women 75% thereby accepting that normal women are inferior to men. Religious idiots, like the rabbott, declare that there are exceptional women who have an equality like mirabella. Imagine her contributions over the next 13 years on the ‘fair work’ tribunal

  13. paul walter

    Re link, vapid, asinine, useless as tits on a ram.

    Enjoyed Andrew J Smith’s sketch. What’s the subtext?

    No self examination. NEVER think for yourself, just mindlessly obey, never question what one is told. Back to the Aristotelian Middle Ages we head, where nothing changes if nothing changes.

    Andrew emphasises the problem: NEVER question underlying assumptions, vegetability is next to Godliness.

  14. RomeoCharlie29

    I just feel sorry for those whose lives are so bereft of pleasure, meaning, fulfilment and happiness that they have to seek solace in religion, even if it involves happy clapping of the sort my beloved 3 y.o. G/daughter thinks is great fun.

  15. Jack sprat

    According to Tom Wolfe ” a sect incidentally is a religion without political power ” . Hillsong and horizon must therefor now be considered as bona fide religions .

  16. George Theodoridis

    I’m with Drake on this and add that the “religious” people have forfeited their right to enter politics. Even more, people have forfeited their right to have religious beliefs.
    They are as unfree to have religious beliefs in politics as are unfree those who believe that one sex is more valuable than another, one race is more worthy of praise than another, one form of sexual custom is more preferable than another, one book more valuable than another and that one book should be the only one read and all the others burned.

    All these people with their preference will have an effect in the way politics is done in a country, if they are given that power.
    Gillard would have never voted for the freedom of gays to marry because, she admitted, her mother was a conservative Christian.
    This is a PM admitting this preference for her mother’s religious tripe than to the needs of a society she was supposed to be a servant of. Stuff you mr gay guy, mummy says that god doesn’t loike it! It’s halal!

    But we all have preferences of one sort or another and we all therefore will affect the running of the country, if we were given the chance.
    Democracy -the majority rules- gives us no guarantee that personal preferences will be crushed by the greater number of voters and so the Parliament will enact sound policies. No one is that stupid to believe that, even by the most cursory look at
    the history of governance, even going back as far as Kleisthenes’ Democracy in Athens.

    All religions are nothing more than numinous pornography and all beliefs have the potential to affect everyone’s life, almost invariably badly. There’s no such thing as keeping one’s religion to one’s deepest sanctum and plea for “religious freedom” is only a euphemism for “let me do as I want.”

    Scomo’s Parliament is a Theocracy, which would be a legitimate thing if this was a theocratic country but it isn’t. The theocrats have the numbers at the moment and if the opposition had the strength of anti-theist conviction and the determination and endurance to pursue that conviction, these theocrats would be out by election time.
    Yet it would be a useless thing to send them out of the Parliament and into more churches and synagogues and mosques and temples, the fertile plains where this poisonous muck grows.

    Yes, I know that there are a great many other things that are wrong with this country; too numerous to enumerate, to steal Jack Hibbert’s phrase.

    Buggered if I know what to do about the savage capitalism we’re screwed by, for example.

    Thanks, Dr J.

  17. wam

    wow george thank you for your words on the atheist PM.
    I was on her side because I thought her objection was to marriage:
    ‘What about you get into a white dress to symbolise virginity and you get your father to walk you down an aisle and give you away to a man who is waiting at the end of the aisle,’ I would have looked with puzzlement like, ‘What on earth would I do that for”

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