Australian politics is filled with men and women who have and actively practice their Christian beliefs. Whilst I do not fault the individuals nor the religions themselves, I do not condone many of these values guiding the society of Australia today. Before I go any further, I must point out my own bias here as a descendant of the Stolen Generations. Christian ideals at the core of this country have resulted in me being a survivor of acts of genocide, on more than one occasion. Please know I am not trying to upset nor create any hatred towards anyone, but I think it’s about time we have this talk with ourselves as a nation to define our society’s values.
Recently, I spotted an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (‘It’s our turn’: Inside the Christian Right conference plotting a political takeover) that left me alarmed for many reasons. Firstly, due to my family history with the values that meant my Old People were slaves in all but name; dispossessed of everything in their lives to make room for the colonies. Or they were simply slaughtered. Christianity enabled slavery for more than eighteen centuries, values that established the White Australia Policy many suggest still exist in the country today. Christianity enabled the racism shown not merely on a historical level, but likewise in the systematic version seen within all aspects of Australian society towards my people.
But my fear of these groups dives deeper than my own prejudices against the religion’s history. Over the decades the world has witnessed numerous accusations of sexual violence from within this highly private system; went denied for as many years. Australia is currently in the middle of a debate regarding women’s rights in the light of alleged sexual assaults revolving around Parliament House. Many of the politicians and staff who surround the people accused, and in fact the individuals themselves, are active participants in their churches.
Whilst Aussies debate a new level of respect and normalcy for women, the groups mentioned in the above article, advocate for the conservative factors of their religious values to once again guide the nations in a deeper manner. My fear is that Christianity will be used as another shield for the powerful men who have never ceded the control of said power to the women who stand alongside them. What I find more frightening is that they are openly encouraging these potential politicians not to reveal their true purposes until they have created enough political power around themselves. Personally, I feel that is misleading the individuals who would vote and elect them to Parliament, how are the wider public to know what they stand for? How will these potential politicians guarantee they are acting in the best interests of the people they serve and not those of the church? Secrecy has caused widespread backlash across Australia in the face of legislation such as Immigration, Indigenous Rights, the Indue Card for welfare recipients, and even the report in the Prime Minister’s Office regarding who knew about Brittany Higgins’ allegations. My amazement that the general public are not more wary of these groups advocating for secretive ways before they even run for office.
During the middle of a pandemic the leaders of Christianity are counselling against a vaccine. As someone who has members of my family who belong to what we call the ‘anti-vax community’ I do not want to undervalue their opinions; but advocating against vaccines that will save millions of lives worldwide is something that horrifies me.
Many religious groups around the world refuse breakthroughs the medical industry have made and individuals whose lives can be saved are left to die when treatments are denied upon beliefs of faith. Raising fears that value placed with Australia’s various scientific research networks will be considered less important to these groups.
Most alarming to me, the article speaks of a panel discussion where the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Martyn Iles, joked about a war with China as a distraction to concerns over climate change or gender identity. When asked if he was “advocating violence or revolution… today“, he replied, “Not yet, that’s down the line.” The use of such words by Mr. Iles worries me about his intentions. Speech like this reads to me as a threat of acts of violence they wish to see: anarchy as it could quite possibly turn out to be if left unchecked. Lawlessness of the same value right wing members of society have accused those standing alongside the Black Lives Matter movements of creating.
Whilst Australia is experiencing increasingly difficult relations with China, the last thing our international interests need, are individuals involved with Parliament House, making jokes about wars with China to distract us from our political complications. Not only would these issues re-arise after a war, but the devastation such conflict would create is not something anyone should take lightly; least of all with humour.
My apprehensiveness of disorder or lawlessness fall along similar lines to these right-wing groups. Except mine differ with regard to raising the rights of all people including individuals with black skin as equal to those Colonial Australia enjoy. Fears I harbour are with respect to the oppressive values that come along with Christianity. The denial of the position the LGBTQIA communities have fought to achieve. What I can only describe as a refusal of women’s rights, as seen by the lack of females in the heights of church’s ranks. Terrified at the possibility the systematic racism underpinning everything in the Lucky Country will deepen and widen the divide between Colonial and Indigenous Australia, in fact I fear this will occur for all the nationalities calling these shores home. Dread that I and other First Nations people like me, will be open to unfair criticism more pointedly racial discrimination as seen in our past, purely because we follow our own religious beliefs over those written in the bible.
Mr. Iles is quoted as talking about needing to get more Christians into politics as the belief of rewarding the good people and punishing the bad has gone by the wayside. But I ask how many more people do we need in politics pushing Christian beliefs before we acknowledge this has been part of the problem within our system? Since the first politicians in Australia who were mostly Christian, can we genuinely suggest any of these individuals behaved the way God intended? Were this true then a large percentage of our nation would not be currently living below the poverty line. Aussie citizens would all have access to fresh, nutritional foods and adequate housing with running power and water at all times regardless of what they can or cannot afford to pay. Preventable and treatable medical conditions such as Acute Rheumatic Fever or Trachoma would not exclusively be affecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at epidemic levels. One third of working Australian women would not have endured sexual assault in their workplace. Aged care residents would too not have experienced staggering amounts of these same crimes, combined with all the atrocities the most recent inquiry have revealed.
Australians seriously need to ask ourselves as a society if we truly desire more hard-right Christian politicians running our country and pushing the ‘conservative’ messages of their past.
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