Before anyone gets offended by that title, let me explain.  Religion and Faith is a topic that will always get people riled up, angry, mostly offended in same way shape or form.  It is a difficult one to discuss, particularly on Twitter where 140 characters does not really give you the opportunity to explain yourself very well, resulting often in unintended offence to someone.  Years ago, if you were religious you defined yourself by the religion you belonged to, ie Catholic, Church of England etc., nowadays everyone seems to be under this ‘Christian’ umbrella.  

Now that makes it difficult for the likes of myself, as I have quite a few friends & family that fit in this Christian group,  most are ‘truly’ (will explain use of that later) Christian, others are the tell everyone else how to live, gays are evil, burn Harry Potter books type Christians, the bigoted, my way or the highway type.  Now these, for the sake of clarity when discussing, we tend to call “God Squad” in our home.  As they are not quietly having a personal relationship with their God, instead, like Storm Troopers, they are out there in the world judging everyone, forcing the rest of the population to bend to their will and be 'their' definition of ‘Christian’. 

The masterminds behind the God Squad in this country are theAustralian Christian Lobby* and they had their conference this weekend.  A highlight for them, I am sure, was this address, which coming on the back of Mr Abbotts recent fawning, religious laden IPA address, which was horrifying enough...

“The Australian Christian Lobby aims to foster a more compassionate, just and moral society by seeking to have the positive public contributions of the Christian faith reflected in the political life of the nation’.”

To be fair to the ACL, unlike the IPA, they do not hide what they are wanting to achieve, they want to influence politics in this country, pretty much the only true part of the above statement for me personally, as the ‘compassionate’ seems decidedly lacking in their attitudes toward anyone who is non-christian or not part of their clan.  Anyhow, back to the big ACL shindig...

Address to the Australian Christian Lobby Conference, Brisbane, Saturday 04 May 2013 by Senator Eric Abetz, Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

If you have the time, I would suggest you read it in full, as the media keeps telling us, the Liberal National Coalition will be our new rulers come September - NOTE I personally would prefer that I and other Australians be given the courtesy (not to mention legal right) of actually VOTING, though it seems political commentators feel that is an optional extra in this country at the moment – so it does behove us to actually have a bit of an understanding of the people who will have power.  Mr Abbott being leader of the party I covered earlier.  Mr Abetz is leader of the Senate, and he very clearly has an agenda that is also very religious in nature judging by his speech.

The Speech... It was a doozy, basically unless you are a member of the God Squad, it offended every other segment of society in this country.  There was a charming reference to the ABC and Indigenous Community, though I will leave those alone as I am not au fait with Indigenous religious beliefs and their relationship with Christianity to the degree that would do them justice, leaving that to experts in that area.  Though I would like to note that the Christian relationship with Aboriginals in our past has not always been exemplorary and Michael Taylor explains that better in “Genocide Ordained”.  Due to the relationship of our Indiginous with Mission & Christian schools in many of their communities, I also wonder about the statistics and validity of them as quoted by Mr Abetz in his speech, again, will leave that to experts in this area to scrutinise.

What I can relate to is Mr Abetz assertion that "Christianity is the basis of our culture".  For the ‘majority’ of Australians throughout our history, that is actually true.  The fact that the Australian Bureau of Statistics did not even include  “No Religion” as a choice until 1971 sort of bears that one out.  My ‘problem’ with Mr Abetz assertion though, is who’s version of Christianity?  

It is important to note that only 61% of the population in 2011 said they were Christian.  I personally think this percentage is actually a lot lower.  I know that when we did the census, you always sort of assume it means what religion do you belong to, were raised in etc., At dinner last night in this household we had 6 of us, that all had ticked off either Catholic or Church of England on the last census.  Let’s face it, normally it is done while you are watching TV or the like and no-one pays a hell of a lot of attention to it.  In fact, discussing last night, those 6 ‘christian’ ticks should have been in the ‘No Religion’ column as we may have been raised in Christian religions, none of us actually ascribe to them, nor, in conversation would label ourselves as such.  How many other families around the country tick off the census the same?

Another important thing to note is that Christianity  is decreasing, as time goes by.  This could be a reason why the God Squad are coming out in force in recent years, trying to regain their power over our social & cultural mores?  I am not sure...  I do know they cost the tax-payer a hell of a lot of money in lost revenue, for those interested, "Rich men in the tax-free kingdom of God" is particularly illuminating in this respect.

One point in Mr Abetz speech I do feel I can speak with some authority on is the following statement:

That is why it is singularly unhelpful and intellectually bankrupt for certain commentators to claim that those of the Christian faith should leave their religion outside the doors of Parliament House.

I take great exception to this.  Not because I am a constitutional or political expert, (am most certainly not) but because I am a ‘voter’.  I and millions of other punters expect to be represented in Government.  The fact that a Party Political stance can over-ride the wishes of an electorate pisses me off enough, but if you toss a religious belief in decision making, well that makes US the voters, even further down the list of priorities for our elected representatives.  This is just wrong!

In this day & age of communications, it is pretty easy for any elected member of Government to know what his or her electorate feels on most issues.  If you are ‘employed’ by your electorate to represent them, that is your job.  As a boss once told me many years ago, when having to be involved in a particularly distasteful part of my job, “I was not employed to have a conscience; I was employed to do my job to the best of my ability”.  I may not have been too happy at the time, but the point was, he was right.  We all have personal opinions that are based in history, religion, or experience, the fact is, they are just that ‘personal’.  

Therefore, the likes of Mr Abetz who seems to be one of the uber storm troopers for the ACL God Squad, can believe in their agenda as much as he likes, that does not give him the right to insert those beliefs into his politics.  He is paid to represent the people of Tasmania, NOT the ACL.  IN FACT: Hobart had the highest proportion of people with no religion of any capital city (29.1%), just ahead of Canberra (28.9%).

Coincidently (I am being generous here) it is interesting to note that Mr Abbott was featured in the papers in regard to marriage equality "No revisiting gay marriage: Abbott" on the very same day that Mr Abetz is crowing in his speech “The Party Room only recently overwhelmingly accepted the traditional definition of marriage as did both the House of Representatives and the Senate. I trust they will continue to hold firm.”  I will let you ponder that ramifications of that co-incidence, which is very similar to the ‘Troppo Tony Northern Australia’ plan being so-called ‘leaked’ to media at the same time as Ms Rineharts book launch via the IPA on the same topic?  Or, you can call me suspicious ;-)

IF the ACL were in fact lobbying for “a more compassionate, just and moral society” as they state, in the true meaning of these words, I would not have a problem.  It would mean that like the "true Christians" I know, the ones that actually subscribe to the “God loves everyone & Do unto others as you would  have them do unto you...” beliefs that I was taught in 12 years of Catholic Schooling, we would not have the ridiculous ‘Turn Back The Boats’ mantra; we most definitely would not have the “Economy is more important than society” ethos that resonates from the Coalition at every opportunity; we would also NOT beexcluding LGBT members & others, from having exactly the same rights under law & respect in our society; we would not be thinking that giving more money to Private Schools to assist children who can afford to already be there at the expense of the poorer in our society; we would not be advocating for government help to pay for Nannies at the expense of the families struggling to pay Childcare they need to keep the job that keeps a roof over their head...  There are just too many examples to name of Coalition policy that are the opposite of the ‘Christian’ belief that I was raised with... 

Seems to me, Archbishop Desmond Tutu also seemed to subscribe to a different version of 'Christianity' than Mr Abbott, Mr Abetz, Mr Morrisson and many more of our MP's & Senators currently supposedly representing us & wearing their 'Religion' proudly on their chests? (thank you @deanhepburn for the inspirational graphic)

I firmly assert that Mr Abetz and every other politician in Government (regardless of political party affiliation) is wrong if they think their religious beliefs should be factored into their representation of us in Parliament.  If that belief was truly justice & compassion for ALL, not a problem, unfortunately the ‘God Squad’ style religion on display by Mr Abetz and others of his ilk, is the bigoted, believe what we believe or bugger off style of religion :( 

This election, I think it is actually time to stop focussing on the economy as a priority in decision making.  It is time to put an emphasis on people, voters of all shapes & shades, deciding on just what sort of Community and wider Society we want to live in now and into the future.  I don’t know about you, but I for one do not want the future of this country being shaped by the likes of the ACL God Squad!

Let me know what you think?
Noely @YaThinkN

* A very funny aside is that old domain for the ACL was left to lie dormant (not much forward thinking there) so snapped up for fun: “Cat ladies take over the Australian Christian Lobby”.

Louise sums up pretty well sums up my feeling (and many others) in regard to religion

Obviously I am not the only person who is unhappy about so-called Christians hijacking Christianity for ambition, this is a great piece showing how it is is happening in the US.  We DON'T want it to happen here as well:  Christianity: The Issue Republicans Really Don’t Get via @bettsie2u thank you for the heads up on this one Betty :)
**Graphic above "Blessed be the Hypocrites" brought my attention by @craigjack36 and I would love to attribute it to the smart cookie that it belongs to, unfortunately I have not been able to ascertain who that is, so apologies for not crediting :)

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