Responding to Secular Politics

The LAST thing Australia, and its Christian residents, needs:

“Martyn Iles, the ACL’s (Australian Christian Lobby’s) new managing director… wants to transform it into a US-style conservative activist group”

Full Article


We now have a week before our Federal election and Scott Morrison our Pentecostal Prime Minister seems to be running a one man team, with the majority of his ministry in hiding (apart from several who deserted his sinking ship by retiring from politics). All he can offer is billions of $$$ tax cuts, more than $80 billion going to the wealthy, but he has given no plan for how he will pay for those cuts.

Of course, he will be the political darling of the Australian Christian community, in particular the Hillsong types (he belongs to a Hillsong-like church in south east Sydney)

I have been following discussion about the election campaign in the media, and one regular comment I frequently see relates to the incongruity of Morrison’s (alleged) lying with his professed Christianity.
While anti-Christian rhetoric can be expected in a secular society, Morrison’s example is drawing increasing expressions of (non-rabid) distaste from less hostile commenters.
Are the accusations of lying valid? Let me say that I find him less than straight forward with the truth.

Politicians and politics can offer no long-term answers to a country or the world – but unfortunately our response to them can affect the image of Christianity (and the gospel) they see.

While both major sides of Australian politics are far from perfect, running up to this election I find it blatantly clear that one side is far more interested in (and currently capable of) effective, stable government, and the other (Morrison’s party)  is a total mess with no policies, beyond giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy.
Their only other offering is a scare campaign: that says things will only get worse under the other lot.

Scott Morrison seems to have forgotten Jesus’ words about being unable to serve two masters, that we can’t serve both God and money. His emphasis is always primarily on “the economy” and not on the people affected by “the economy”. Basically, his message is that if he takes care of the economy, the economy will take care of the people. As if the economy is a benevolent cognisant entity needing to be placated.
Especially ignored are those who have not benefitted from the prosperity allegedly being enjoyed by the nation due to the claimed current strong “economy”. It is clear that IF the strong economy exists (and is to be continued) it bypasses most, although not the already prosperous.

The group mentioned in the article linked at the top of the page are focused on issues of moral behaviour but they avoid a significant moral, political  failing – of not addressing the poverty experienced by an increasing number, while others receive and hoard more than they can ever use.

In my view, secular politics is not a tool that Christians can manipulate in an attempt to legislate morality. It often (inevitably) takes immoral directions, reflecting the secular, increasingly immoral society that it represents.
But it is something that has the potential to be used to make sure no one needs to be homeless or go hungry through no fault of their own.

While a perfect outcome is “pie in the sky” – Jesus said the poor will always be with us – I think from a Christian point of view, steps to aid the poor are more in line with Jesus than steps to further enrich the wealthy in the hope that they will share that wealth.

A commonly used quote to criticise welfare is “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” – but the use of that phrase is rarely turned the other way to recognise its valid application to the idle rich who prosper from the work of others.

So what approach can Christians take while acknowledging the limits of secular democracy?
Make choices that reflect the character of Jesus within the secular society we temporarily inhabit.
Look at the kind of people Jesus ministered among and treat them as HE would treat them.
If political options can realistically help us along that path, we should make the most of them.

5 thoughts on “Responding to Secular Politics

  1. A moral stance that a significant number of people take in my country (the U.S.) is to be against contraception. I can understand this, personally, but I think it unreasonable and problematic as a law or as a portion of life that can be controlled or made a hardship for you by others (for instance, your boss)… as is the case here. It might be a little different if we at least didn’t act like everything is ridiculously scarce — except when it comes to perks and tax benefits for rich people — but moral impositions tend to go too far and not involve thinking everything through.

    And, I agree, that reflects badly on those who act like they’ve got it all figured out. As does being dishonest or misleading, of course. And then there is the inevitability of conspicuous people who want to make decisions for other individuals not living up to the standards themselves.

    I find it sad that opposition to the option of leaving sex off of a birth certificate is one of their big deals in your country. It’s not even necessarily morals-related. It is likely head-in-the-sand-related. I hope my country realizes the option makes sense.

    I saw it reported, yesterday, here, that a number of states are trying to outlaw abortion, now, since they think their legislations will be upheld by the recently-tipped (and stolen) Supreme Court. In at least one state, this includes long prison sentences for women (while many pro-life activists have long said they are not in favor of punishing women*). A complicating subject is what happens with a miscarriage (which then becomes a potential crime scene even in the simplest of cases). One talking point of a man voting in a legislature to pass such a law was that an ectopic pregnancy can be removed from the fallopian tube and placed in a uterus. That’s NOT a real possibility.

    * This is in regard to any woman who was pregnant, not women doctors/practioners.

    “Do you let your kids believe in a fake Santa or do they know who Jesus is?”

    I didn’t teach my children to believe in “Santa” but also didn’t try to upset everyone else’s family. Additionally, our context was Messianic, so Christmas wasn’t the end-all-be-all of existence. It was Christians and Messianic people who, for years, decades, pointed out (in settings of faith) that Christmas was a made up holiday and not obligatory. Then, all of a sudden, it became a political issue blasted all over the place, that secular society supposedly had started a “war on Christmas” and that it was to destroy our culture. So disingenuous, and unproductive.

    In my country — the one Martyn Iles wants Australia to be like — as far as I know, conservatives didn’t start out blaming people for things that went badly… unrelated people. So, for instance, the Wichita church (cult actually) that blamed everything from weather patterns to war losses on abortion being legal wasn’t an early manifestation. Blaming gay Americans (for the plain fact of being gay) for planes crashing into the Twin Towers would’ve been unthinkable. But we’ve had to deal with this along with the repeated shocking stories of followed people not living up to the theory (and being surprisingly bad at living a decent life, not to mention an exemplary one). They (we/conservatives) also didn’t start out with the relatively recent excuse that we aren’t electing a national preacher when we vote for President — which rhetoric, stunningly, meant people were going to begin rationalizing voting for a horrible “Christian” person to pump up and maybe deliver desired policies or stances. Not electing a preacher in chief could have, as previously, meant we were making a practical decision for a competent administrator. But, no. Rather, we had to go through this whole decades-long rigamarole to end up in a worse place (or at least no better than where we started).

  3. When you say his “ministry” is in hiding, I take it you mean something like what we call a cabinet (rather than a cohort of religious leaders that had been hanging out with him from his more churchy days). It’s interesting that you (your country) uses that terminology. It might help in attitude overall amongst the populace. It’s also interesting that the officials of that ministry are in hiding. Is it because they have a sense of shame in his not doing much for the people? (Which is remarkable if said officials are able to see that, and discern that it matters.) Or is it because they themselves don’t know how to offer anything in their positions? Both? Are they more sort of like him? Or more sort of experienced government individuals who don’t feel comfortable around him? Or…

  4. Yes, the ministry is also a cabinet.
    Each government has it’s collection of ministers (minister of health, minister of defence etc) making up a cabinet.

    A problem the current (hopefully outgoing) government has is that several of its sitting ministers have retired prior to the election (not willing to face a loss and go into opposition?) While others are facing very strong challenges in their own electorates and may not be in parliament after the election. Others have proven to be inept (Environment Minister for example, who no one has seen for months despite Climate Change being one of the nation’s major concerns). If the current government is voted back in, they will have very little competent experience to draw upon in rebuilding the ministry/cabinet.

    Approaching the end of the campaign, the incumbent prime minister has made his campaign a one-man-show, all about him, and he’s running as if its a US style presidential campaign rather than an actual Australian election.

    In past years it would have been clear that the Labor party (current opposition) would win by a landslide, but the way of politics in the world today that expectation can’t be taken for granted. All around the world politics has gone mad, possibly setting the stage for the fulfillment of biblical end time prophecy.

  5. I find it sad that opposition to the option of leaving sex off of a birth certificate is one of their big deals in your country. It’s not even necessarily morals-related. It is likely head-in-the-sand-related.

    That is the kind of trivial nonsense driving some of the “chrisitan” political agenda here. And yet they ignore more significant issues such as significantly profiting the rich minority at the expense of the less well off majority; in tax cuts for the wealthy, paid for by cutting serves and welfare.

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