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Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Are you trying to co-opt Jesus for the ALP?

I found this post holding an excerpt of an interview with Kevin Rudd on Lateline. I heard Rudd speak about this same issue on the Religion report last week. More comments to follow after his words:

TONY JONES: ...You write about Jesus' revulsion at the hypocrisy of the religious and political elites of his time. You seem to be suggesting that if Jesus were alive today, he would feel the same revulsion about Australia?
Kevin Rudd: holy man

KEVIN RUDD: What I am saying is that from a social gospel tradition, or a Christian socialist tradition, what you see in the gospel is a strong emphasis on the impoverished, the poor, the dispossessed, the outcast, the oppressed. What we've sought to do, in that tradition of Christianity and politics, is to say that one of the functions of Christians in politics is to speak on their behalf; to speak for those who do not have a voice. Therefore when you look, for example, at global poverty today, who speaks for them? Who speaks for those who are currently suffering all sorts of human rights oppression around the world? Who speaks for the planet itself, which is currently subject to this enormous challenge called global climate change. That's where the contemporary challenge lies with this tradition of social justice, which you see alive in Bonhoeffer's teachings 60 years ago.

TONY JONES: Are you trying to co-opt Jesus for the ALP?

KEVIN RUDD: No, this a fight back on our part, Tony. For the last decade Mr Howard, Mr Costello, Mr Downer, Mr Abbott, at various occasions, have whacked various Christian leaders for daring to come out and say that they'd disagreed with various social policies, or economic policies, of the Howard Government. When, for example, we had church leaders come out and attack the Government's extreme industrial relations laws, Mr Costello laid into them, saying they had no qualifications to do so because they weren't economists. Mr Downer has done the same when leading churchmen have come out and attacked the Government's policies on the war in Iraq. I've got to say, when I heard Mr Howard say in Parliament the other day that there was no such thing as Catholic social teaching on industrial relations, I nearly choked. There is an entire Papal encyclical on the question of industrial relations explicitly in defence of the rights of trade unions. So what I am doing is simply rolling this back in the other direction and saying, "Enough is enough. There is an entirely different tradition of Christianity and politics," which we would call Christian Social Democracy, which needs to be heard, and that's why I'm speaking out.

Kevin Rudd recently spoke at the Bonhoeffer for today conference here in Melbourne. His speech also appeared as an article in the current Monthly magazine.
Now contrary to what might be popular belief I am not a die hard Labor voter. Having said that, the more I hear Kevin Rudd speak the more I respect the man.

He has been speaking coherently and logically on the need for both a seperation of church and state (secular democracy) and the need for politicians with a Christian conscience to stand up for what they believe in within public debate in Australia.
He has also been calling for people to stop thinking that Christian = Liberal/National Party.

I think that his comments have been a breath of fresh air into the political debate in Australia.

At the last Federal Election the rise of the Family First party led to numerous seats being handed to the Liberal party through preferencing. I have heard numerous Christians comment that they vote for that person because they are a Christian, failing to realise that Christians sit on all sides of the political debate in Australia.

I think that as individual Christians we can become too locked into a specific political party, be it the Labor, Liberal, National, Green, Democrat or Family First party, and see that as the ultimate fulfilment of 'Christian' politics.

We need to take a step back and realise that there are passionate Christians on all side of the debate.

Perhaps God is bigger than one political party?

Good blog! I know we dont agree on politics all the time but I see exactly where your coming from with the whole God being bigger than just one party. Im still working out who to vote for next time round... I pray that whoever wins will actually listen to Christians especially on the social justice stuff...
It is hard to know.
Some parties have better policies on some issues but have negative policies on other issues.

Personally that is why I like the idea of a balance of power held by a smaller party, it means that policies have to be well thought out and well debated before they become legislation.

Currently in the Federal Parliament we are seeing Bills with 120 pages worth of information being handed to the opposition parties the day before they are going to be passed through the Senate. Where are the checks and balances?
good blog.

I have always voted one party in lower house, and another party in upper house.
That way we have a chance to keep the b... honest, as someone once said.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely!!!
2 Comments Donna:

1) Gee your up late

2) thanks for commenting
You're right, Christians are active in all political parties.

But voting for Christians is not necessarily good or desirable. There are so many flavours of Christianity, and such a varied mix of commitment to faith-based decision making, I don't see how Christianity makes any politician better than another. And I write this as a Christian politician.
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