When did the Christian religion first influence American and Australian politics? Let’s start in the present. Faith got its back up when the now-disgraced Christian President Trump signed an executive order separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Religious organisations of varying denominations spoke out against what they considered a barbaric practice. The Trump administration pursued a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy as a deterrent for immigrants by prosecuting adults who illegally crossed into the country, resulting in systematic family separation. Five hundred and forty-five children’s parents still cannot be found, and it is estimated that about two-thirds had been deported without their kids. So religion does speak its mind when it is confronted with things it considers evil or against God’s laws.
It is easy to prove the historical involvement of religion in politics concerning particular issues. But which presidents or prime ministers have defended the separation of church and state most ardently? Both in Australia and the U.S., our constitutions both explicitly outline the separation of church and state.
John F Kennedy was in danger of being overlooked for the 1960 Presidency because he was a Catholic:
“Protestants questioned whether Kennedy’s Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as President independent of the Church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a sceptical audience of Protestant clergy.”
He made his now-famous speech about the separation of church and state. But there are also many examples of religion seeking a place in government. They all form part of the Christian or religious right that has its origins in Christian political factions that are strongly socially conservative. Mostly they are United States Christian conservatives who seek to influence politics and public policy with their own particular interpretation of the teachings of Christ. (Note: An opposing view might be that Jesus was the world’s first socialist.)
The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a countries wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.
In Australia, the Christian right was unheard of until recent times when conservative Evangelical Christians took control of both church doctrine (the gospel of wealth) and political Liberal ideology moved to the far right (a reluctance for change). With an Evangelical Prime Minister who has similar religious and political philosophies as former U.S. president Donald Trump, Australia began to shift in both language and style under the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott.
The Christian right has influenced politics since the 1940s but has been particularly powerful since the 1970s.
Do you shape the truth for the sake of a good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is always a pain in truth, but there is no harm in it.
Although Christian rights are most commonly associated with politics in the United States, similar Christian conservative groups can be found in other Christian-majority nations’ political cultures. It promotes its teachings on social issues such as:
“school prayer, intelligent design, embryonic stem cell research, homosexuality, temperance, euthanasia, contraception, Christian nationalism, Sunday Sabbatarianism, sex education, abortion, and pornography.”
The right-wing Evangelical churches promote these issues in and outside the church. Most members adhere to these teachings, but those raised in a modern pluralist society feel conflicted between church and state.
The problem for the Australian Christian is this question: Is it a good thing to be associated with a political party who only has the interest of those who ‘have’ at the centre of its ideology or should it re-examine Biblical teaching in light of a rapidly changing society and technological change and reach out to the ‘have nots’?
Scott Morrison started his church life in the Uniting Church and was greatly influenced by the Reverend Ray Green. Brian Houston of the evangelical mega-church Hillsong (Assembly of God) and Leigh Coleman left a lasting impression on him. All three got a mention in Morrison’s inaugural speech to the Australian parliament.
Houston was criticised by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for failing to report sexual abuse by his father. In other words, he broke a law of the state. Mind you; he wasn’t alone in his sin.
Morrison’s flippantly opportunistic approach to programs run by the Government like Robodebt, Sports Rorts, and Aged Care homes suggest corruption on a grand level.
His “dear friend” and fundraiser Leigh Coleman somehow raised $43 million from the Morrison government for programs to help Indigenous folk, but somehow most of it seemed to go in salaries.
Leigh Coleman, formerly of Hillsong, has allegations of fraud and bribery against him. (Note: Allegations, not charges.)
The $43 million in contracts from the Defence Department to a company he is linked to (in so much as he founded and managed it) “while being a registered charity was set up to address Indigenous unemployment and disadvantage.”
That’s $43 million of our money, and it reeks of suspicion. And this man is a friend of the Prime Minister, and just as importantly, a friend of Pastor Houston.
A bit sus, cynical, or wouldn’t pass the pub test are few expressions Australians would use to describe these transactions. So much so that it has the whiff of corruption about it. These are the sorts of things that can happen when religion gets to close to government.
Even more suss when one looks closer at this recent piece from The Guardian, and you see that the org upon which such legion of government largesse is bestowed, ServeGate Australia, has all the hallmarks of a front, a tax dodge, a money-laundering operation
In part 2: How the merger progressed to make a threesome with the industrialists and their wealth.
My thought for the day
Science has made in my lifetime, the most staggering achievements and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society. The only areas that I can think of where Science is questioned are in the religious fever of climate change, conservative politics and unconventional religious belief.
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