Federal Election 2019: Meet the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

Summary

Website: https://www.cdp.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frednilecdp/
Slogans:
A voice for Family, A Voice for Values
Themes: Christian values of the fundamentalist variety.  Pro-life, anti LGTBQIA+.  Not terrible on the environment, and OK on disability stuff.  Weirdly into capitalism.
Electorate:
Upper House: ACT (UG), NSW, VIC
Lower House: Most NSW electorates
Preferences: I can’t find preferences for Victoria, but in NSW, the CDP favours the Coalition, the Shooters Fishers and Farmers, One Nation, Australian Conservatives, and Rise Up Australia.  So yeah, the far right and the conservative Christian parties, but on the bright side, they seem to have avoided the ones that are only there for the racism and have no other policies.  Yay?
Previous reviews

Policies & Commentary

The Christian Democratic Party wants us to know that they are ‘founded by caring Australians and based on Christian values and ethics.’

A voice for Family, A Voice for Values.
We exist to glorify God in government. We stand for God, Familes, Justice & Decency.
Founded and based on Judeo-Christian values and ethics, the aim of CDP members is to promote and advance a Christian Commonwealth to improve the common good by endorsing responsible, long-term goals, not short-term gain.
We are an advocacy group for Familes, Churches and Community. And we’d love you to join us.

Oh, boy.

Let me start by saying that I’m a Christian.  I believe that God loves us so much that God chose to be born as a human and live a human life, with all the pain that entailed, in an act of love and solidarity, to make it easier for us to understand and love God in return.  And I promise that I’m not about to go all evangelical on you, but I want to state this up front, because I suspect that this is going to be one of my more rage-filled posts, and I want to make it clear that my problem with the CDP is not that they are Christians.  It’s that… they are the sort of Christians who probably wouldn’t recognise me as a fellow Christian.

On their page for the 2019 election, they have a letter telling us all about their candidates (not all of whom appear on the ballot, so something clearly didn’t quite go right there), and which contains one or two statements that I find illuminating:

Please pray for Silvanas’ election to the Australian Senate, so she can be a positive witness for Jesus Christ for pro-family, pro-child, pro-life, pro-marriage policies.

We need to pray and work for Scott Morrison, because of his Christian Family Policies.
The ALP led by Bill Shorten will lead Australia into a financial and moral collapse.

I think we can be pretty clear that pro-family, pro-child, pro-life and pro-marriage is going to mean anti-LGBTQIA, anti-divorce, and anti-abortion, among other things. None of this is surprising to anyone who has paid any attention to Fred Nile, ever.

But I think that second set of statements is even more interesting, because it casts the coming election as a battle between good and evil.  This isn’t just about one party being slightly preferable to another – this is the difference between Good Christian Government and Moral Collapse.

(It’s also a trifle logically inconsistent, because if they want to pray and work for Scott Morrison, maybe they shouldn’t be running a political party that is in competition with his?  I mean, they even have a candidate running in Morrison’s election of Cook, and while I think we can guess where those preferences will go, it’s hardly supportive of his Christian Family Policies to run against him…).

The CDP has a page called ‘Why vote for the CDP’, which quotes Edmund Burke’s statement that ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’, and then they remind us that ‘We are the only Christian values party sitting within an Australian parliament.’

I was going to quibble with that, but I suppose that the DLP and Family First are both out as of recent elections, and Rise Up Australia and the Australian Christians never made it in in the first place.  Also:

As our principles are based upon Christian values, our policies will always be consistent with your values and needs. Especially in this political climate, it is refreshing for a values-based political party to be thriving.

Now, this is interesting, because it assumes that all Christians agree on their values and principles, which is manifestly untrue, unless you define only the people who agree with your values as Christian.

Looking at their About page, we have a lot more about Australia as a Christian Nation and the importance of preserving our Judeo-Christian heritage, which I wish they wouldn’t.  They also have a statement of belief which is decidedly fundamentalist in nature.  The Holy Bible is the ‘inspired, inerrant, written Word of God and the final authority above man’s laws and government’.

This is honestly concerning in a political party.  (I mean, it’s also concerning on a theological level, because the Bible is composed of books which were written by people with very different ideas about God and theology and who were in many cases writing books to rebut each other) (which in turn leads to the question of which bits of the Bible take priority over which other bits when deciding how they relate to law and government…)  You really can’t use a collection of sacred writings written for a very different society as a foundation for a modern government and have it work.  While it’s true that people have, by and large, been the same for as long as history has recorded them, a lot of other things have changed.  It’s dangerous to pretend that any scientific findings that contradict what is in the Bible are therefore not real, and I’m not sure that any of us really want to go back to a world where slavery was a simple fact of life and women were largely chattel.

But I think what they are saying is that if the law of the land says that abortion is legal and their understanding of the Bible says that it is not (spoiler: the Bible doesn’t actually mention abortion, unless you count the bit about making a woman drink ‘bitter water’ that will empty her womb if her husband thinks she has been unfaithful, which is not exactly an anti-abortion text.  I mean, you can certainly make a case against abortion based on Christian principles, but if you are claiming Biblical literalism as your standard, you don’t actually have much to go on here.), they should be able to obstruct with impunity, because God’s law trumps the law of the state.

The CDP goes on to tell us that God has ordained three institutions – the family, the church and the government ‘each with their own special responsibilities, duties and authority’. Thus, marriage is between a man and a woman and is for life; parents have the right to raise and educate their children ‘according to the dictates of their conscience’, and sex is only for (heterosexual) marriage.  Life begins at conception, and both abortion and euthanasia are ‘the shedding of innocent blood’.

They are a bit weird and American about government, and are very into freedom and no taxation without representation.  Also:

We believe that the Biblical principles concerning economics should be consistently upheld and respected by civil government, including honest weights and measures and avoidance of currency debasement. We further uphold the principle of responsible free enterprise, meaning maximum freedom to develop one’s talents matched with responsibility before God in dealing with our fellow man.

I… really feel as though they have missed some important points here.  Like, most of the New Testament, for example. (Putting the ‘Judeo’ back into ‘Judeo-Christian’?) (Or rather, putting a very narrow, inaccurate, Christian conception of how Judaism works back into Judeo-Christian.  Gah.)

They have a page where they list fourteen principles, many of which are covered above.  They are secretly worried about Sharia law (‘Australian laws must be based on the Judeo-Christian ethic and not on any other religious laws.’), and get unexpectedly excitable about respecting the Flag ‘and the values in our heritage, culture and ideals of equality, democracy, merit and justice’.

Is that the same sort of merit that leads to almost no women in Parliament?  I am so suspicious of this lot that it’s hard to be objective, but I do worry when I see that sort of set of words together that it’s code for ‘and none of this affirmative action rubbish’.

On the positive side, they want to ‘advance the cause of social justice for all: the under-privileged, the unemployed, the handicapped, the elderly, the displaced,’ and they want a high standard of education and medical care for all Australians, regardless of where they live.  They want to promote a healthy lifestyle ‘free from any abuse, drugs or harm’, and they ‘favour a totally integrated environment for sustainability’, which is unintelligible, but later on it becomes clear that they environment has crossed their mind in a positive sense.

They want Australian ownership of Australian things, and they want decentralisation to create more sustainable jobs. And they want:

To promote World peace and understanding where all can live in peace and harmony and make Australia a shining example.

Can’t argue with that one.

The CDP’s policies are mostly fairly short, and I will try to group them logically.

Under Law and Order, they are big on a ‘moral social code’ but also favour a rehabilitative model of the penal system.  They also have ‘a fundamental position of ‘One law for all’, which I have a feeling may be worry about Creeping Sharia again.

On Education, they want to get back to the basics, and they are very big on parental rights as a foundation of the educational system.  They support Religious Education and Scripture as mainstream options at school (indeed, they consider it ‘a basic right for children to explore the faith of their family’ – I wonder if this includes all faiths?).  And they want removal of safe schools and ‘gender ideologies’.

The CDP believes in ‘traditional marriage’, and feel that it needs protection.  They are worried about the changes to the Marriage Act, but they carefully avoid saying what these changes are, which I find deeply odd.  (Are they worried that some young person might read this and get ideas?)

The CDP also likes tourism, but they don’t like gambling, and want to restrict and tax it.  They also have a whole policy about accurate labelling. Which I am all for!  I do wonder if this is also about making sure they know what is Halal, but they are doing a fine job of avoiding saying anything direct about Islam.

The CDP also want a better public transport system, but they are pretty non-specific about this.  They do, however, make a point of saying that all infrastructure needs to be built for the long term and made accessible to the elderly and those with disability, so they get points for that.  They are strangely ambivalent on social security:

The responsibility of a civilized society is to care for the vulnerable, marginalised, elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged. In Australia this has been managed through policy of a safety net which needs to be sustainable and fair and available for those who genuinely need it. 

So… do they think the current safety net meets these criteria?  Or not?  Is there anything they would change?  I feel like this is a preamble, not a policy.

On the economy, the CDP feels that it is important that people can ‘get a meaningful and sufficiently remunerated job that allows a balance between work and non-work times’, and that the best way to do this is to make Australia a healthy environment for businesses.  This seems like a variant on trickle-down economics, and I’m not at all sure it works.  They are, however, very into local industry and local jobs.  But it’s important to have a strong economy!  I think they are a little confused?

In amongst what I have to say are a remarkably bland set of policies so far, we get the following startling statement:

We also want workplace regulation to support the Anti-Slavery Act introduced by the CDP.

Yes, OK, I’m awake now.  So I went looking, and the CDP did indeed introduce a Modern Slavery Bill in the NSW parliament, designed to stop human trafficking.  Interestingly, it passed with the support of Labor and the Greens, but not with the support of the Liberal government, who wanted to amend it.

Wow.

In less startling news, the CDP is concerned about housing affordability, and wants more government housing.  They also want to make healthcare available, accessible and affordable.  They want a sensibly-funded defence force (that’s a stupidly vague statement by me – essentially, they want us to have a defence force that is effective, but they aren’t particularly gung-ho about making it enormous).

The CDP is a bit worried about immigration, which they think burdens our health system, housing, employment, and social security.  And they are worried about new Australians fitting in.  Oh, CDP.  Did you learn nothing from all those passages about the ‘stranger in your land’?  I note that refugees are not mentioned at all.  This is an interesting absence, because if you only think about immigrants who are coming here because they just feel like immigrating, there’s no real issue with saying ‘well, we have to look after our own people first’.  But it’s a bit more complicated when people are fleeing oppression or the threat of murder.

(It’s also a notable absence because just about every Christian denomination I’m aware of is getting really loud about refugees at present.  I’m quite surprised that a loudly Christian party is so silent on the subject.  It really stands out, and not in a good way.)

Finally, on the environment, the CDP seems to be torn in different directions:

Human survival globally is dependent upon the natural world. We are called to be stewards of the environment, ensuring the right balance is struck between the good and sustainable use of the earth. This means we support sustainable use of the envrioment, proper conservation and to ensure biodiversity. Our living world is the environment in which we live and we must live with the consequences of how we manage it. Economic paradigm of maximising exploitation of the natural resources must be balanced with a caretaking and sustainability paradigm.

I mean, why do we need an economic paradigm of maximising exploitation of natural resources, though?  There is no absolute requirement for this. Also, climate change is strangely missing from this statement.  It’s a really odd policy statement, because it sounds like they actually do care about the environment and want to do the right thing, only they are worried it won’t fit in with their economic principles, which they have said elsewhere come from God.

And that’s it!

Overall… the CDP is less enraging than I had anticipated, though it certainly doesn’t inspire me.  They do seem to be one of the few parties that has thought for more than five minutes about disability, and it’s nice to see a Christian party taking thought for the environment.  And the anti-slavery stuff is undeniably worth doing.

But they seem oddly wedded to a pretty strongly capitalist economic model, which I really don’t think is as Biblical as they think it is (I mean, I also don’t particularly like it, but that’s separate.  But the Bible really is not into capitalism, however you slice it), and they are, predictably, a bit awful about LGBTQIA+ people (they are funny about sex generally, actually).  There also seems to be a bit of subliminal concern about Muslims (Judeo-Christian is often used as a way of saying ‘not Muslim’ without actually saying ‘not Muslim’), which is unsurprising, but depressing.

Look, they don’t seem to be into guns, and they have one or two nice ideas.  There are several parties that will definitely score lower than the CDP.  But they can expect to find themselves solidly in the bottom quarter or so of my ballot.  LGBTQIA+ rights are non-negotiable to me, and they are way too pro-life for my liking.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

Well now, look what I found on Twitter when I was trying to find just the right song for the CDP?

 

Who knew that Fred Nile was a fan of Eurovision?  I was very tempted, I must admit, but one *is* supposed to resist temptation.  Besides, the CDP surely deserves something with more Christian themes, don’t you think?

 

 

4 thoughts on “Federal Election 2019: Meet the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

  1. Hey sister! From the sound of it, we share similar stances on how to be a follower of the way in the 21st century west. So many people waving Jesus like a flag that certifies everything about them. I’ve learned to look at their ‘fruit’ – the social/environmental impacts of their policies and practices. Also fighting to teach the difference between a personal conviction and the requirements of a secular society.
    You might enjoy https://peteenns.com/
    I do!

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