Imagine the outcry by the inner city limousine Left and the free-trade, almond latte drinkers if the Victorian Labor government decided to ban the welcome to country greeting at the start of each parliamentary sitting.
Even the suggestion that politicians no longer acknowledge Victoria’s first inhabitants would cause a tidal wave of complaint reinforced by the left-leaning commentariat at the ABC and the Age. Acknowledging Aboriginal history, culture and spirituality for many is the new religion.
But when it comes to the Andrews government’s intention to abolish the century-old practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer all are silent. Such is the dominance of soulless, secular ideology that Christianity is seen as obsolete and irrelevant. Ignored is that Christianity is central to Australia’s history and evolution as a nation. Concepts like the inherent dignity of each person, a commitment to the common good and seeking good instead of evil are all derived from the New Testament.
As argued by Larry Siedentop in The Origins of Western Liberalism, Christ’s teachings revolutionised Western societies by introducing the belief that what the American Declaration describes as the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ is God-given.
All are equal before the eyes of God and while Christianity has not always lived up to the ideal the duty of each person is to respect others and to try and live a life characterised by humility, truthfulness and compassion.
The admonition from the Bible ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ best illustrates the Christian commitment to treating all with kindness, justice and respect.
Christianity is especially central to the political and legal institutions we have inherited from England. Our Westminster parliamentary system where the monarch no longer rules, each citizen has the right to vote and to live a life free of unjustified government intervention is underpinned by Christianity.
Informing Magna Carta is the Christian belief that as the monarch is answerable to the laws of God he or she must abide by what is right and just. When summarising the impact of the New Testament on the beginnings of the Westminster system the legal academic John C. H. Wu writes: ‘If the king does justice he is a minister of God; if he does injustice, he becomes an agent of the devil. He is above his people, but he is under God and under the Law, for it is the Law that makes him King’.
Our legal system where all have the right to a fair trial and are innocent until proven guilty also draws heavily on the New Testament. As argued by the Perth-based legal academic and Speccie contributor Augusto Zimmermann, the author of Christian Foundations of the Common Law: ‘When considered alongside the development of colonial laws, the adoption of the English common-law tradition and American system of federation, it is evident that the foundations of the Australian nation, and its laws, have discernible Christian-philosophical roots.’
No amount of debate about the rights and wrongs of Australia Day celebrating the arrival of the First Fleet will ever change the fact that British common law and the Bible arrived at the same time as the first convicts, thus guaranteeing legal protection for all. Even though Australia is increasingly multi-cultural and multi-faith the reality is that we are a Western liberal democracy where Christianity is the dominant religion and our way of life is deeply imbued with Christian beliefs and morality. And it’s not just our political and legal institutions. Christian schools, hospitals, aged-care facilities and social welfare and community organisations are either Christian-inspired or managed. Research puts the figure at approximately 40 per cent and without Christianity’s ongoing contribution there is no doubt that state, territory and commonwealth governments would be unable to cope and communities would suffer and our way of life deteriorate. Catholic and other Christian schools, for example, enrol approximately 34 per cent of students across Australia thus saving state and commonwealth governments billions each and every year as students in such schools are not fully funded by the state.
Much of our music, literature and art is also heavily influenced by Christianity and can only be fully understood and appreciated in the context of the story of Christ. Examples include Handel’s Messiah, C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, the novels of Tim Winton and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. As argued by T. S. Eliot, ‘It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe have – until recently – been rooted. It is against a background of Christianity that all our thought has significance.’ Eliot also points out that a culture without religion is one bereft of any sense of the spiritual and the transcendent; where materialism and nihilism will reign supreme. It is also important to recognise that the move to scrap the Lord’s Prayer is part of a larger cultural-Left, secular attack on Christianity by various governments.
Last year the Victorian government removed religious education from the formal school curriculum while forcing schools to implement radical gender and sexuality programs.
The Australian Capital Territory some years ago removed the Lord’s Prayer from its parliament and the policy of the Greens is also to banish such a ritual at the commonwealth level. The policies of Labor and the Greens involve restricting religious freedom by denying the right currently exercised by faith-based schools to decide what they teach and how their schools are managed and organised. If Bill Shorten becomes our next prime minister then expect an even more secular, Marxist-inspired attack on religious freedom and the right each citizen has to express and live by their beliefs.
There are even those secular critics who argue there is no place for religion in public debate or public policy; especially with issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and so-called mercy killing.
It’s ironic that at the same time the cultural-Left celebrates and lauds Aboriginal culture, history and spirituality it is doing all in its power to destroy the Christian faith and to deny the existence of what is an essential and critical part of Australia’s mainstream culture.
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