Victorian Senate Group AH: And another Christian Party

There are so many Christian parties on the ballot this year!  It’s insane.  I’m Christian myself and I’m turned off by this – we really do not need a lobby group, and we certainly don’t need five of them.  Actually, I really do think religion ought to stay out of politics, except as far as it informs the principles by which one governs.  (And since this *is* a Sunday, let me just add that I personally feel that if one is a politician who likes to parade his or her Christianity, it would be nice if one also paraded a commitment to assisting and empowering the disadvantaged, the poor, rather than worrying about people’s love lives.  The Bible isn’t actually all about sexual morality, and the New Testament barely touches on it at all.)

Have your eyes glazed over yet?  I’m sorry.  I’m a little frustrated by some of these parties, and I just caught sight of something on the Australian Christians‘ website that made my blood boil.  But we’ll get to that in a bit.  Also, I really, really hate their party name.  Setting aside that it is purely silly to claim that you are the Australian Christians when there are four other loudly Christian parties on the ballot, it implies that they speak for all Australian Christians.  Well, they sure as hell don’t speak for me.  Oops, I said hell.  That really was unintentional, but now I feel compelled to leave it there.

Ooh, hello, I just went and had a look to see who, if anyone, this group were affiliated with and discovered firstly that they seem to be linked to Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats (which explains a lot), and secondly that the Melbourne Anglican Archbishop and the General Secretary of the Victorian Council of churches have much the same objection to the name that I do:

“I am concerned about the possible effects to religious harmony in Victoria if a political group which does not represent the views of the majority of Christians in Australian were to be allowed to use the name ‘Australian Christians’, with an obvious implication that it did speak for all Christians,” says a letter written by Dr Freir to the Electoral Commissioner (as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald late last week).

General secretary of the Victorian Council of Churches, Theo Mackaay told ABC’s PM program last night, “By calling themselves ‘Australian Christians’ they could very easily give the impression during an election campaign that they are speaking for all adherents to the Christian faith.

“What I know of the party, they really do not represent the broad scope of Christianity.”

Sorry to go on and on about this, but a very reasonable criticism frequently levelled at progressive Christians is why don’t they speak out against the extremists.  It seems important, therefore, to point out occasions when they do.

Anyway, let’s look at who the Australian Christians (or some of them) are preferencing in the Senate.

Oh, and another disclaimer, I suppose.  I’m quite pro-choice.  This lot really aren’t.  And they make me very, very angry with some of their claims.

Like several of the other Christian parties, the Australian Christians (for a very narrow definition of both terms) have given a high preference to Senator Online (given their model for policy decisions, if you are good at mobilising to lobby the government, Senator Online is a pretty great deal.  And conservative Christians are very, very good at lobbying the government).  After that we alternate small right wing parties with the other Christian parties for a bit – Bank Reform, then the Australian Independents, the Climate Sceptics, then Family First and the DLP, Katter’s Australian Party and Rise Up Australia.  It’s then a short trip to One Nation, and a little further down the ballot, the Liberal Party and the Nationals.  The ALP comes in at 52-57, and those Godless heathens, the Stable Population Party, the Greens, and, of course, the Sex Party, are at the foot of the ballot.

Their website proudly proclaims that they are Promoting Christian Values and are “a party with a voice in the political conversation that can shape policy, promote and protect the values that create a better Australia for all, no matter what their faith or belief”.  They have three big squares marked Values, Believe and Hope, which take us to various interviews with their party leader.  They also have an About page, but I have become totally distracted by the fact that they have a prayer page, which is full of Daily Exhortations.  My personal favourite is this.  I’m quoting it in full, because their choice of bible quote is a remarkably unfriendly one, and what they take from it is kind of priceless.

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. (Ezra 4:1-5).

What a lesson this is to us about those who would strategically try and get us to compromise for their own purposes. It reminds me of the audacity of the Greens who called up one of our candidates to do a preference deal with them. Of course he refused as he should have! For, the Scriptures say, “…what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2Corinthians 6:15)

First, can I just say, I think that bit of scripture is a bit rough on the Israelites’ neighbours, who seem to be trying to help in good faith initially.  And secondly, I really thought I was being silly above with the bit about the Greens being Godless Heathens, but I’m pretty sure the Australian Christians just said that the Greens were infidels there.

I’m enjoying this site for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s move on to the About page, which may turn out to be less over the top.

Australians share common core values, which whilst not unique to Australia, are expressed in our own unique way. Drawing on colloquialisms, our values include such things as being ‘fair dinkum’, and the value of a ‘fair go for all’. Our society’s values are based on our Judeo-Christian heritage, which are ultimately outlined within the Bible.

Australian Christians recognise this. We are unapologetic about basing our policies, and core values upon this, our heritage.

I’m not convinced about this whole Judeo-Christian heritage business, but never mind.  The ore values listed are ‘Honesty and Integrity (being ‘fair dinkum’)’.  Do you feel patronised?  I feel patronised.  Apparently this is a party that will not cave to pressure of political correctness, because what we really need in this country is another political party that can’t compromise or work with anyone, and who thinks that political correctness is a valid insult.

The next core value is Hope, which of course involves making the right choices so that things improve in the future.  Respect is the next, and this means respect for government, judiciary, police, church and community leaders, and the value of human life from its beginning to end.  Can we guess when human life begins?  Oh, I think we can.

Then we have the value of Moral Law, Freedom (especially freedom of religion or belief and freedom of speech), Justice (which is ultimately derived from the Bible, and will you just STOP that) and Sacrifice:

WE BELIEVE that everyone in our society should be committed to some level of personal sacrifice in order to develop social cohesion and unity. Sacrifice helps us to grow and value others. It helps to build a more caring and compassionate community.

Hmm.  I wonder who is going to be doing the sacrificing?  I have to say, Family First and the Australian Independents were both fairly good on welfare issues, but when political parties talk about sacrifice, it’s usually not the rich they plan to throw under the bus…

The Australian Christians (or at least, these particular ones) have as their goal to become the new third party in Australian politics.

Let’s look at their policies.

The hallmark of our policies is a belief that our parliaments should do all it can to promote a strong economy and a vibrant society based on healthy families and thriving communities. So you will find in our policies a strong emphasis on social justice with responsibility.

There’s that responsibility bit again.  I’m beginning to think that responsibility is code for libertarian.  It’s definitely code for ‘we don’t like affirmative action’.

As families are the building block and foundation of our society, we believe all legislation presented to parliament should be subject to family impact statement in the same way any infrastructure project is subject to an environmental impact statement. The results should be made available to the public.

The Bible is our benchmark and gold standard giving us positive solutions to the problems that confront us in our homes and workplaces.

There are so many totally inappropriate responses to this that it’s hard to know where to start.  (Infertile?  Get your slave girl to sleep with your husband and have a baby on your behalf.  Problem solved!)

But, OK, I can think of some good Biblical solutions to current problems.  Let’s have a Jubilee year every 49th year, in which all debts are forgiven.  We must be due for one by now, and given the levels of household debt in this country, it might be a good thing.  Or maybe we need to raise taxes for the wealthy so that we can increase Newstart, the Single Parent Pension, the Disability Pension and the Aged Pension – after all, Jesus did tell the wealthy man to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor.  Progressive taxation is clearly the solution.

Sorry, this group have managed to seriously rile me.  I will try to stop being sarcastic long enough to look at their actual policies.

Actually, let’s start with economics, since that’s where I was a moment ago, and note that

Australian Christians affirms that the objective of a good economic policy is to enhance the welfare of the Australian people and families.

Good economic policy should reward entrepreneurs and businesses for the financial risks and the initiative they take.  At the same time, governments should use economic policy to protect the vulnerable and disadvantaged without creating a people’s welfare mentality.

This sounds a teeny bit libertarian to me, but there seems to be a lot of that about this year.

The Australian Christians  – or at least these particular ones – are absolutely against same sex marriage.  They are, however, in favour of women being able to stay home with children, and they want to support fatherhood and create mentoring programs for men and boys.  They also want mandatory mediation when restructuring family relationships after divorce.  I’m sure this would work brilliantly in domestic violence situations.  They are very big on children, and really want families to stay together with one male and one female parent in a family.  (This must be because men and women are *so very different* that they can obviously each function only in one role.) (Of course, I’m an unnatural woman anyway, what with being childless and the breadwinner of this household, so clearly my family is so disordered that I couldn’t possibly know what I’m talking about.)

The Australian Christians want it to be easier for parents to send their children to like-minded schools, and “strongly support religious schools in selecting students or staff that uphold the ethos of the school.”  I’m guessing this means no gay teachers.  Ideally no gay children, either.  They want more funding for private schools, and want a national curriculum – but not one that is ‘open to manipulation by social engineers’.  Actually, I agree with that, but I suspect my definition of social engineers is different from theirs…

On health, we have a mixed bag, really.  The Australian Christians support the NDIS and support carers.  They also feel that Australians should have access to essential health services, but that people should also take care of and maintain their own health, and support education campaigns to promote ‘healthy diets, lifestyles, and strong families’.

Why is strong families in there?  Is this a coded thing about gay = obviously will get AIDS and die?

They want the government to ‘care for the wellbeing of individuals who are suffering from addictions, and their families’.  They want to do this with a ‘zero tolerance approach and focus on abstinence rather than on how to use safely’

I’m sorry, but you just can’t have both those things at once. It doesn’t work.

The Australian Christians want to raise the legal drinking age to 21, and continue advertisements warning of the harmful effects of tobacco.  Wow, I actually agree with them on something.  Well, the tobacco part, anyway.

And they are absolutely anti-abortion.

Australian Christians affirm that all life is valuable. Extra effort is required by the community and our health professionals to defend the vulnerable and those without a voice. We believe strong laws are required to protect these Australians including babies still in the womb.

We support better funding and support for women with unplanned, and unwanted pregnancies, including those with medical and psychosocial co-morbidities, and we support abstinence programs that have been shown to work in reducing indiscriminate sexual behaviour.

OK, first, medical co-morbidities can actually be deadly.  In my circle of friends and acquaintances, I have known of at least six pregnancies get to the seriously life-threatening level, with two of those resulting in long hospitalisation where the life of the mother was really touch and go for a number of weeks, and there was permanent impairment afterwards.  The cousin of one friend of mine did actually die in childbirth a few years ago, in urban Australia.  Don’t underestimate the seriousness of some pregnancy complications. Sometimes, abortion really is a life-saving choice.

Secondly, abstinence programs have not been shown to work.  In fact, teen pregnancy rates and STD incidence increase under abstinence only education.  I don’t think the University of Georgia is lying about this.

The Australian Christians are also against euthanasia.  And against infanticide.

In the face of proposals that children with severe disabilities be either directly killed or denied life-saving medical treatment, Australian Christians observes that it should always be unlawful to kill any child by an act of commission or omission.

And this is where I can’t help but think that The Australian Christians are lying liars who lie.  Because nobody is proposing that we kill children with severe disabilities.  Peter Singer discussed the possibility in one of his books on bioethics, pointing out that euthanasing babies with genetic conditions that were incompatible with life might be more ethical than letting them die more painfully of these conditions, but while he may or may not be right in theory, it’s the sort of thing that nobody could really stomach in practice.  It is true that parents and doctors are not legally required to use ‘heroic’ interventions on infants who have a very severe impairment, but this is generally about quality of life for the infant in question.  I’m not convinced that this is an unethical choice.

At any rate, I do feel strongly that having a policy all about infanticide is designed as a scare tactic designed to make Good Christian Folk feel that abortion is just the thin end of the wedge and that the Pagan Pro-Choicers will be killing small children next.

And just in passing, they also have an article up on how “women were indeed receiving $5,000 payment for aborting their late-term healthy unborn babies”. 

“$5,000 Baby Bonus for aborted babies is being funded by the Federal Government and given to women (and their partners) who abort their healthy unborn baby at 20 weeks and over, even when they had no intention to have the child. These babies are signed off fraudulently by doctors as a ‘still born child’.”

Mr Grace also stated, “The first media release about the baby bonus payment being doled out to women who aborted their healthy babies was put out as far back as February this year, but no media outlet was prepared to pick up the story. Strangely enough, Today Tonight were interested in doing a story over 4 months ago but went cold when the female journalist had an altercation with one of the couples who received the $5,000 payment. 

I’m sorry, but this story stinks on so many levels.  Women are not deliberately getting pregnant and then waiting for 20 weeks so that they can get the baby bonus before aborting.  Having an abortion at 20 weeks means that something is pretty horribly wrong.  It’s not an easy procedure to have – you have to go through induced labour for abortions after 18 weeks – and you need the approval of two doctors to sign off on abortions which are this far along.  Generally, the reason for having an abortion at this stage in the pregnancy is that there was something bad on the 20-week scan, or because the mother has become very ill.  These abortions are generally pretty harrowing for all concerned – they are children who were very much wanted, and it’s all gone horrible wrong.

And yes, you do get the baby bonus at that point, because it’s fairly devastating to lose a child that far along in a pregnancy.  This is why you are sometimes also eligible for part of your maternity leave.

(Disclaimer: I studied genetic counselling.  It was a long time ago, so my facts may not be current, but I really do get angry at the way all these anti-abortion laws tend to pick on the people who are already suffering a truly horrible experience that is going to stay with them for years.  Find someone else to pick on, already.)

The other notable thing in that article is the altercation with one of the couples who had received such a payment.  I can just about envisage how that conversation went, and it’s not pretty.

I don’t like these people.  I don’t like the way they think and I don’t like the way they try to make their readers feel that abortion is all about people being selfish and greedy and lazy.

Let’s move on.

The Australian Christians are against human embryo research and cloning, and they aren’t too thrilled about IVF, though they don’t actually want to ban it, except of course for people who are unmarried or gay.

A number of the Australian Christians’ policies relate to the environment, which they believe is important because ‘the environment is God-given and sustains life’

Humans have an obligation to responsibly manage the environment and to mitigate, where feasible, environmental change and pollution.

Oh, thank heavens, a policy that doesn’t make me want to scream.

They want to reduce pollution, work on environmentally sustainable development, and protect biodiversity.  They also want to improve waste management, and move towards sustainable and balanced production and consumption, and they want to promote technologies which enhance sustainability. While their policy is called ‘Climate and Environment’, they don’t actually mention climate once.  Or energy, for that matter.  This is a hand-wavy sounds-nice policy that stays away from anything remotely controversial.  Water should be used responsibly, because God gave it to us.  OK then.

The Australian Christians want to improve public transport and bike paths, as well as work on alternative fuel sources.  Something else I agree with!  Things are looking up!

The Australian Christians are pro-censorship, and pro-small business, which is why we should reconsider Sunday trading and maybe get rid of it.  They are against prostitution, which they view as exploitative and which also “breaks all the normal occupational health and safety requirements”.  And this statement has just given me a whole new set of feelings about our OH&S regulations at work.  They would support safe exit strategies for those involved in prostitution and “the development of legislation based on the Nordic Model where those who use prostitutes are prosecuted, thus discouraging men from harassing women in the street.”  I’m cautiously in favour of this one, to be honest.  I do think it is punishing the correct side of the equation, at any rate.

The Australian Christians are a bit worried about all those Muslim refugees and think we need more persecuted Christian refugees.  They want to open a refugee processing facility jointly with Indonesia, in Indonesia, under the governance of the UNHCR.

On religious freedom they have this to say:

Australian Christians believes that as Australians we have much to be thankful for when considering our religious freedom and Christian heritage. Australian Christians believes that successive Federal, State and Local governments across Australia have a responsibility to uphold the Christian principles at the root of our national heritage as these Christian principals remain true and relevant also for today.

Australian Christians supports the retention of Christian prayers at the outset of each daily parliamentary session.

Australian Christians believes that governments have a duty to allow the Church to continue to preach the Gospel unhindered.

So basically, they think we should have an established religion.  Also, I’m a bit worried about preaching the Gospel ‘unhindered’.  What exactly does this mean and where do they want to preach it?

The Australian Christians support older people and rural people, and want them to have better access to services.  They want the government to support decentralisation and the creation of new enterprises in rural areas.

And that’s it.  Thank goodness for that.  I’m about ready for the CEC and their lizard people now.

4 thoughts on “Victorian Senate Group AH: And another Christian Party

  1. Great article. Just a thought about the misuse of the name “Australian Christians” and how they don’t represent the group they are named after: how do you think I feel about “The Liberals”?

    • A good point, though I think the Liberals at least started off trying to be liberal. This seems more like a deliberate attempt to speak for all Christians (much like the equally appalling Australian Christian Lobby, in fact).

      For that matter, I’m not sure that Labor entirely represents workers any more, though they are still closer to their name than the Libs are…

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