Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Separation of Church and State, Yeah Right

Posted by Sam D on July 5, 2005

A very disturbing development in an already unsettling Australian political environment.
It is this, Peter Costello (Federal Treasurer), Alexander Downer (Minister for foreign Affairs), Helen Coonan ( Communications Minister), Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations Minister) and Bob Carr (NSW state Premier), all made appearances and speeches (Mr Costello and Mr Carr at least) at the annual Hillsong conference in Sydney this week. Hillsong is increasingly powerful here and these politicians willingness to publicly align themselves with such a group that is well know fo its conservative views does not bode well for the next few years where the federal government has control of the senate. (I might also add, on a more conspiratorial note, it was amazing how fast this story disappeared from the ABC frontpage this morning. )

Brian Houston, Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church, in delivering a paper to the Fabian Society has said: “I believe that Christians have as much right to be involved in the future direction of the country as any other sector of society. We must recognise the difference between churches such as Hillsong encouraging individual Christians to be involved in politics and the church itself being involved.”

I appreciate the former notion. Everyone has the right to be involved in politics, a notion lost on politicians when it suits them. But the difference between churches that encourage people to be involved in politics and the churches themselves being involved is a distiction that seems increasingly blurred, espesically considering the above visitors to the Hillsong conference. Church leaders have so much power over what their flock believe, and over how they could vote. How many left wing activist were giving speeches?

I cannot help but be worried by the increasing power of the ‘religious right’ here. This brand of conservatism, coupled with the now unfettered power of the federal government could spell trouble for those who value their freedom to think and act differently to the stereotypical middle class WASP family all it represents.

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11 Responses to “Separation of Church and State, Yeah Right”

  1. Tim said

    Huh! To me it seems you just got personally offended with the ordeal that the church is involved into politics and you hate the idea of Christianity being part of this society even though they have done so for centuries. Oh yes, but wait… hang on, I think you did say at the end though that the church seems to go along with the thinking of the stereotypical middle class Australia. WELL that is offensive…isn’t it!!

    Silly me. I always thought that the Salvation Army, majority of the drug rehabs and homeless shelters, World Vision, City Mission, Compassion and all other major charities helping the needy are backed by these Christian so called ‘middle class’ organisations, the same Christian organisations that promote acceptance and love in our society and promote the importance of family. Silly me indeed. How wrong I am.

    And how dare Christians and the church going people get involved in MY politics. 63% of the Australian population according to the ABS identify(http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/dc057c1016e548b4ca256c470025ff88/56c35cc256682bc0ca256dea00053a7a!OpenDocument)
    themselves as Christian. How brain washed are all these people!!!

    How dare this be so!!! We need to stop this, I agree.
    This is scary stuff. We need a modern Stalin-like dictator to clean this offence up…don’t we? Politics should only be left up to those who are members of the controlling trade unions, the communist party, the nazi party, the very young uni students, the atheist and the very narrow minded amateur philosophers who promote neo-Marxism. Well thanks to your blog I now am very informed of the ignorance and hypocrisy I once obtained. I am now being brainwashed into a new cult of intolerance, jealousy, hatred and condemnation to those who accept Christ and trying to be involved in our modern society.

    God bless… oh I am sorry, I forgot, the word ‘God’ is offensive and I have no freedom to share that. My fault and ignorance again got me stuck. Please forgive me.

  2. Oh look there is no need to be like that.

    You want me to say that I don’t approve of the work of the Salvation Army and the rest of those groups? Well don’t hold your breath.

    The problem is, as I sure you well know, that not all groups are so compassionate all the time.

    My problem was not with the church. It is that politicians pander to the will of the most conservative of their wishes, not because they Believe, but because they want your vote.

    I do think that your anger highlights part of what I fear. How much longer would I be able to state my views in public if you had your way?
    I would defend your right to your opinion and to be able to state it in public without fear of losing your job, or being branded any of one of the things that you have accused me of.
    Would you do the same for me?
    I would be disapointed, but not entirely surprised, if your answer was ‘no’.

    Christianity is part of society, and nothing I could say would change that. Nor would I want to, becasue it has been this involvement that led to where we are today.

    As for the 63%. How many of these people hold conflicting views? Someone could identify as Christian, but still approve of gay ordination, gay marriage, abortion, pre-marital sex and euthanasia.
    Does the Hillsong church have an official opinion on any of these matters?
    Do you beleive in freedom of choice, freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Or do you belive that there should be more people in power who would curtail the activities of all the gay, pro-choice, socialist activists before they completely ruin the country?

    The danger is that people will give away our freedom to dissent in order to win another term.

  3. Coming back for more? I thought not.

  4. Tim said

    Coming back for more? In acquittance with prophesy I am. 😉

    What irony and hypocrisy. Do you have a freedom to share your opinion? Of course you do. If you understood my sarcasm from my first comment you would have noticed that I stood for that. Does our modern Australian society allow others to share there opinion? Yes and no.

    You seem to fear the voice of Christians in our Australian politics. You fear there ideologies and you have a preconceived idea that this will take away your freedom of speech. This is ironic and just laughable.

    In the last 30 years or so, Christians in our society have had very little to say in politics because they simply are ridiculed. A growing attitude amongst the left-wing has resulted in the Christians from loosing there freedom to share an opinion and to be involved into modern politics. Why is this so?

    It has come to a point in recent years that Christians and church leaders have been facing not only social persecution for sharing there beliefs but the state has added laws to keep there mouths shut. For example, look at the Anti-Vilification laws of Victoria and the recent Danny Nalliah of the Fire Ministries case. Here we have someone from the Australian community simply preaching in a place of worship who ended up in court. Freedom of speech? I don’t think so!

    Your views are of the typical left wing notion that the religious right is violating one’s freedom and freedom of speech. This argument is the most ironic of them all. Christians are only fighting for there freedom of speech and that of many other people amongst our community.

    The left of the Australian society has for many years helped to restore the voices of many Australians and minorities, however, at the same time they have trampled on the voice of many other ordinary people to achieve this. Christians are amongst such people. The left have labelled them as dangerous, bigots, wealthy conservatives, racist, sexist and many more. All these labels do not fit and just shows how ignorant the socialist left are on the matter.

    The so called ‘religious right’ is just a movement of Christians fighting for there right to be involved once again into our main stream society. If this is a violation of your personal freedom, it would be born from yourself. Since the end of World War 2 we have seen many changes politically in our democracy. These changes have all being dominated some way or another with a voice from a particular movement. All these changes have helped to create the modern society we have now in the early 21st century. The religious right is just another movement adding to the cycle of changes. Do not fear it. Ride with these movements like a roller coaster and watch it go up and down. Good and bad comes out of each movement, depending on how you view it.

    As for politicians trying to get our votes…well of course. That is politics. Jump up and down and scream long enough someone will take notice. Often it is the pollies and the journalist who take notice first. And of course there is going to be division amongst Christians with there opinions, but that is also politics.

    As for your argument about my anger. I apologise if it comes across that way. I find this whole debate between the so called ‘religious right and the socialist left’ quite amusing. For many years the socialist/liberal left have been trying to create a tolerant society full of pro-choice and liberation for all people. All of a sudden there is a rise in Christianity, the word ‘God’ is mentioned and the socialist left start grabbing there heavy artillery, but fortunately they only shoot themselves in the feet. So much for pro-choice and tolerance!! Very amusing when you think about it.

  5. Well, at least you have a sense of humour.

  6. On reflection your coments about tolerance probably do have some value for me. I am not trying to be critical of Christians for being christian, despite how it might seem.

    I certainly concur that the left has a problem where it seems to be tolerant only towards those that agree with, or are no threat to them.

    The left is certainly not tolerant of all worldviews. How could they be? But I firmly believe that some forms of intolerance can be more prone to slipping into areas that are not acceptable in our society at this time.

    It is for this reason that the example of racial vilifcation is an interesting one. The problem here seems to be unfair application of the law. I am sure that there are worse things said about christians in certain places than the ‘Catch the Fire’ ministers said about Muslims. I am inclined to side with Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Amir Butler: that”the right of believers of one faith to passionately argue against or warn against the beliefs of another” is essential (SMH July 4, 2005). I for one would be very unhappy if it came about that I could not criticise people (you for example) due to the fact that there was religion involved.

    It is a difficult matter to settle. It is at the core of being religious, or indeed having an opinion about anything at all that there are beliefs of others that do not fit with our own. The question is: What should be done about that? The right to publically critique views that I don’t agree with is something I hold dear. My overriding concern that I expressed, albeit not very well, in the first place was that when the forum of this debate becomes the parliament, then actual curtailment of freedoms, rather than simply public criticism can occur. As someone who would like to be a profesional philosophy academic I have watched with some trepidation the developments in the U.S. where many see a ‘purge’ of more liberal academics from universities due to their religious and political views. I would be distressed and disapointed if that should happen here. Which it could, in theory at least.

    As you can apreciate, this is a frustrating discourse to be invloved in. I have probably been somewhat unfair in my responses toward you due to a negative picture of the so called ‘christian right’ that has developed during my years at university, where the debate has at been at times acommpianied by some very grubby tactics, on many sides.
    Very few have proved so reasonable as you appear to be.

    As for the left versus right debate, I think I understand your point. However if the left is trying to promote tolerance, how can they accomodate veiws that they percieve as being inherently intolerant? They can’t, which is why they seem the bigger hypocrites for their support of certain islamic leaders.

  7. “Here we have someone from the Australian community simply preaching in a place of worship who ended up in court.” I can’t believe I let that one go. Though I defend the right to express opinions publically, I think what they said counts as a little more than “simply preaching” For those who missed it, here is a sample (not easy to find) of what was allegedly said: “He suggested Muslim people will lie about their religion. He suggested that Muslims in Australia offer money to convert people to Islam. He suggested that ‘true’ Muslims, being those who understood and practice Islam, are terrorists.” Now this was sourced from a muslim site, I am aware that this is not really independant, but I will endevour to chase up a better transcipt next week.

    On top of this there is also this snippet from CTF’s submission to the VCAT :“What has happened in England could well happen in Australia. 20 years ago, there was [sic] some 20 mosques in the land. Today it is estimated that there are over 1000 mosques in England. Many mayors are Muslims. This has resulted in some churches being closed down and converted to mosques. They have also very cleverly infiltrated parliament and other influential places, including many churches (even in Australia). This is in order to stop the name of Jesus being mentioned, because Satan knows the name of Jesus is trouble for him and also to spy on what the western governments are doing. Will you let it happen in Australia? Or will you stand up now?”
    Read More

    Nice people. Full of christs love I’m sure.

  8. I might also add that apparently Danny Nalliah was a candidate for the Family First Party in the last election. Family first has well known connections with Hillsong.
    Connect the dots people.

  9. Tim said

    I take offence of such preaching of hatred from your blogs. I am considering legal action under the Anti-Vilification laws of Victoria. NO! I respect your opinion. 🙂

    You stand for the freedom to share an opinion, but what happens if someone finds your opinion offensive or even expressing hatred? When it comes to this point there is no such thing as freedom of speech. Freedom of speech just becomes a metaphor or a nice ideology that makes this world go ‘awwwwwww’.

    Hatred can be found in any form of literature if your mind is only set to perceive it as such.

    The sharing of an opinion that maybe against another’s belief or opinion can be cited as hatred. For example, your very first post can be easily cited as hatred, or a dislike towards Christians and the Hillsong church. Like wise, my follow up post could be seen as the same towards you or the radical movements in politics.

    Because of this reason, you can see how much it can get blown out of proportion. The quote taken from the Muslim site in regards to Danny Nalliah preaching is quiet offensive regardless who said it. But how do you know that this is not a misunderstood message of Danny Nalliah’s preaching? It is interesting that it was this quote that ended Danny Nalliah in court in the first place and it was this quote that the court recognised later as being circumstantial but still found Danny Nalliah as citing hatred. They reached this verdict because his preaching offended a certain minority.

    The CTF’s submission to Victorian EOC is quiet interesting. It can be easy to go through it with prejudice and just pull quotes out from here and there to prove a point that it is citing hatred, however, if you look it at another angle you see it quiet different. As it can be seen through this submission it is mostly speaking about the Islam religion and what it means in regards to Christianity. It mentions about the controversial issue of ‘jihad’. I find this interesting as many Christians in many third world countries, like Indonesia, are suffering due to the acts of ‘jihad’. Islamic extremists have been using there warped belief in jihad to carry out acts of genocide against Christians and other races and religions. Our western media have not publicised many of these issues even though it is well known by many that this is happening. It can be understood that anybody who is ignorant and narrow minded of these issues may just see this paper as citing hatred against Islam.

  10. Tim said

    Just to add to my last post, in regards to the Nalliah and Scot case, would it be any different if it was an athiest questioning God and the Bible then a Christian who questions Islam and the Quaran? If so why?

  11. In regard to your last question, no I don’t think it should be different. I don’t think that Nalliah and Scot should go to jail for saying what they did, any more that I think that you should for what you have said to me or myself for what I have said to you. They should however face public criticism and have to defend their views in rigorous public debate, the same as I would expect my views or yours, or some firebrand mullah’s to be. The different treatment that is given out is caused by the power plays at work here, not some mystical fundamental difference between the cases. It is interesting to note that there seems to be at least one case in the U.S. where students are suing academics for attacking their christian beliefs from an atheist standpoint. I don’t have much in the way of detail, but I promise to follow it up and post some links to articles early next week.

    While I do disagee with several things that you have said, I do agee on a number of fronts. Not nearly enough is being done to highlight what is actually going on around the world regarding acts perpertrated in the name of ‘jihad’. (I’m not biased, I’m a bit down on all religion).

    Furthermore I am of the opinion that if people are preaching /advocating views that condone or encourage certain activities (blowing things up, inciting hate for other religious groups etc), then that should be public knowledge. They should be able to say these things, and they should be publicised. Making it illegal to say certain things in public does not stop anyone from thinking them, it simply gives us a false sense of security and togetherness.

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