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Separation of Church and State

By John Hargreaves 6 August 2014 29

church-politics-stock

The emergence of the enlightened catch up of the Liberal Party (and hopefully their Coalition Party colleagues, the Nationals) to allow MPs a conscience vote on same sex marriage is very welcome.

When I heard about this about-face, I ruminated on the old question about the separation of Church and State. I think it is really a myth; an old wives tale; but for some, an aspiration.

The idea is that things political are the purview of the parliament and things religious are the purview of the church (read organised religion). A good idea in the theory and not happenin’ in reality.

We think we are so sophisticated in our Australian politics that there actually is a separation between the two. The proponents of the existence of such a state quote the differences between our political system and that of the Middle Eastern States, Malaysia, Indonesia. Note these are all Muslim countries. They quote the movement to install Sharia law as the rule of law in some of these countries.

Yeah, well what about the “In God We Trust” bit in US politics, what about the pervasive religious right in US politics at all levels? But the Americans are right, of course cos they are Christians. Tell that to the US Jews, the US Buddhists and the US Muslims.

And what about the UK, and by extension Australia? Our joint Head of State is also the paramount decision maker in the (Christian) Church of England. How does that work?

We are seeing the melding of church and state in the current Abbott Cabinet. The religious right are imposing their views into the political machinery of Australia. Stories abound about the Catholicism of most senior members of the federal Cabinet. I need not go into them all again.

But be not surprised. It happened before when the feds took away our sovereignty in negating our laws on same sex marriage and when the Andrews Bill struck out the Northern Territory laws permitting medically supervised voluntary euthanasia.
We all thought that when Archbishop Mannix and Bob Santamaria died, the strength of religious interference in politics may have waned. (BTW… who remembers the Santamaria’s Epilogue series on TV, and the work of the National Civic Council in suppressing those commies?)

I see a re-emergence of the coming together of church and state in a closer relationship which is scary.

What’s Your opinion?


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John Hargreaves Ex MLA 10:44 am 08 Aug 14

justin heywood said :

Pork Hunt said :

It really sh1ts me when politicians seek to deny others things like abortion/euthanasia/gay marriage because of their own beliefs.
They we’re elected to represent their constituents and in any case, if they don’t like abortion/euthanasia/ gay marriage, they don’t have to partake…

Of course politicians of all stripes follow their own beliefs, religious or not.

Some of their ‘constituents’ no doubt believe that polygamy is fine. Others believe it’s OK to force their young children into arranged marriages. Some no doubt believe that other races are inferior to theirs, and are therefore less deserving of compassion. Should politicians refrain from ‘denying’ them?

Politicians don’t allow their constituents to ‘partake’ in any of these things because their own beliefs/moral code tells them that these things are wrong. Not necessarily anything to do with religion.

I’m absolutely in favour of allowing euthanasia, but I’m not holding my breath (could have phrased that better!) But it appears that society has not moved far enough along in the debate to overcome the moral argument. But just because I think it’s morally acceptable doesn’t mean that anyone who opposes euthanasia is denying me my rights.

It’s a democracy, the worst form of government apart from all the others.

Who’d a thunk it! I agree with Mr Heywood’s last point absolutely!

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 10:42 am 08 Aug 14

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

watto23 said :

Affirmative Action Man said :

Mr Hargraves you will no doubt have noted that your comments are usually met with a touch of cynicism.

You seem to have forgotten that Kim Beazley led the charge against the NT’s euthanasia laws.

You seem to have also forgotten that bible basher Rudd & Julia Gillard both had a chance to rescind the chaplaincy program but piked it.

Both sides are guilty of mixing their religious beliefs with politics. The coalition though being conservative in nature tends to be the one guilty of mixing religion with politics more often.
Its not always the case, there are catholics who are gay and atheists who are redneck conservatives.

I don’t recall mixing religious beliefs with politics being a crime so why do you use the word “guilty”?
And you can’t help yourself in accusing the coalition as being more guilty than the other (unamed) side can you.

You are reading way too much into what I wrote. I’m not a Labor/Greens voter which is what you are trying to imply. I’m very much a moderate voter basing my votes on whoever is best IMO. I was just as unhappy with Labor over the past decades as I was with the coalition, but its is the truth, with the coalition generally being the more socially conservative of the two parties. Its not a rule, but its true.

And yes they are guilty basing decisions because a certain religion wants them to as Australia is secular country. The word guilty is not just for criminal offences. Secularism is in the constitution and the main reason we are meant to have a secular society and government is actually to provide religious freedom. So many religious organisations actually abuse the freedom they are granted by the constitution.

Please forgive me because I agree with your post. But secular means non spiritual. common enough error. Good post though.

justin heywood 9:46 pm 07 Aug 14

Pork Hunt said :

It really sh1ts me when politicians seek to deny others things like abortion/euthanasia/gay marriage because of their own beliefs.
They we’re elected to represent their constituents and in any case, if they don’t like abortion/euthanasia/ gay marriage, they don’t have to partake…

Of course politicians of all stripes follow their own beliefs, religious or not.

Some of their ‘constituents’ no doubt believe that polygamy is fine. Others believe it’s OK to force their young children into arranged marriages. Some no doubt believe that other races are inferior to theirs, and are therefore less deserving of compassion. Should politicians refrain from ‘denying’ them?

Politicians don’t allow their constituents to ‘partake’ in any of these things because their own beliefs/moral code tells them that these things are wrong. Not necessarily anything to do with religion.

I’m absolutely in favour of allowing euthanasia, but I’m not holding my breath (could have phrased that better!) But it appears that society has not moved far enough along in the debate to overcome the moral argument. But just because I think it’s morally acceptable doesn’t mean that anyone who opposes euthanasia is denying me my rights.

It’s a democracy, the worst form of government apart from all the others.

watto23 9:45 pm 07 Aug 14

dungfungus said :

watto23 said :

Affirmative Action Man said :

Mr Hargraves you will no doubt have noted that your comments are usually met with a touch of cynicism.

You seem to have forgotten that Kim Beazley led the charge against the NT’s euthanasia laws.

You seem to have also forgotten that bible basher Rudd & Julia Gillard both had a chance to rescind the chaplaincy program but piked it.

Both sides are guilty of mixing their religious beliefs with politics. The coalition though being conservative in nature tends to be the one guilty of mixing religion with politics more often.
Its not always the case, there are catholics who are gay and atheists who are redneck conservatives.

I don’t recall mixing religious beliefs with politics being a crime so why do you use the word “guilty”?
And you can’t help yourself in accusing the coalition as being more guilty than the other (unamed) side can you.

You are reading way too much into what I wrote. I’m not a Labor/Greens voter which is what you are trying to imply. I’m very much a moderate voter basing my votes on whoever is best IMO. I was just as unhappy with Labor over the past decades as I was with the coalition, but its is the truth, with the coalition generally being the more socially conservative of the two parties. Its not a rule, but its true.

And yes they are guilty basing decisions because a certain religion wants them to as Australia is secular country. The word guilty is not just for criminal offences. Secularism is in the constitution and the main reason we are meant to have a secular society and government is actually to provide religious freedom. So many religious organisations actually abuse the freedom they are granted by the constitution.

Pork Hunt 8:43 pm 07 Aug 14

It really sh1ts me when politicians seek to deny others things like abortion/euthanasia/gay marriage because of their own beliefs.
They we’re elected to represent their constituents and in any case, if they don’t like abortion/euthanasia/ gay marriage, they don’t have to partake…

Queen_of_the_Bun 8:16 pm 07 Aug 14

Affirmative Action Man said :

Mr Hargraves you will no doubt have noted that your comments are usually met with a touch of cynicism.

You seem to have forgotten that Kim Beazley led the charge against the NT’s euthanasia laws.

You seem to have also forgotten that bible basher Rudd & Julia Gillard both had a chance to rescind the chaplaincy program but piked it.

Actually, they changed it so that schools had the choice of a secular counsellor. http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/new-choice-for-school-chaplaincy-program-20110907-1jxur.html
Abbott has rescinded that change.

justin heywood 7:48 pm 07 Aug 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

Politics is the art/science of secular service to citizens in a democracy. Theocracies are the place for the marriage of church (read religion) and state. Not for me though.

We don’t live in a theocracy John, and you came up with little evidence of the ‘melding of church and state’ in your OP. Seems to me that little has changed since your lot were in power up on the hill, but I don’t recall you posting about it then.

Your post is full of stuff that has little to do with Australia, and you use phrases like ‘stories abound’ of the Catholicism of senior members and of a cabinet ‘reek[ing] of religious fervour’. Typical conspiracy theory stuff.

Either your imagination is running away with you and you’ve seen the Da Vinci code once too often, or you’re just beating the old Labor drum with a bit of tabloid-style scaremongering. Either way, it’s unbecoming. You had a long and colourful life as a politician. But it seems to me that you’ve not been able to let go of the juvenile ‘Labor good/Liberal evil’ mindset of the greenest undergrad.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 5:36 pm 07 Aug 14

justin heywood said :

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

….Stories abound about the Catholicism of most senior members of the federal Cabinet.

……

What? They’re Catholic? You don’t say? I’m pretty sure that there are Catholics in all the parties John. And I’m also sure that most members are influenced by their beliefs.

Stories abound about you too John, but if your own beliefs influenced decisions that you made, then that’s as it should be.

I see a re-emergence of the coming together of church and state in a closer relationship which is scary

Well I see a political environment emerging where barefaced bigotry is OK, as long as you have the correct enemy. Ask yourself:
If Abbott was a Muslim, would you be making this post?
If Abbott was a Labor member, would you be making this post?

I don’t think you would.

Wrong again. I would. I believe that there is no place for the imposition of particular religious beliefs in politics. Religion should be a matter between an individual and the deity they believe in. I have spoken about my thoughts on this within the Labor family and now do so outside the family.

I think people are wary of the imposition of Sharia law over citizens and quite rightly. They would also be right in worrying if the tenets of any single religion or group of religions (such as Christianity) were imposed on them.

Politics is the art/science of secular service to citizens in a democracy. Theocracies are the place for the marriage of church (read religion) and state. Not for me though.

HenryBG 4:58 pm 07 Aug 14

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

HenryBG said :

justsomeaussie said :

Jesus never charged anyone for his teachings so why is the government giving money to churches?

“go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me”

Sounds like he was charging to me…just cutting out the middleman (the ATO).

It is easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle than to enter the kingdom of heaven. Joe Hockey take note.

Do the wealthy Labor politicians (Keating, Hawke, Rudd) have special dispensation to ignore what Joe Hockey has to take note of then?

I think it’s pretty clear that the three ALP figures you mention will have a far easier time of passing the entrance exam than will any of the senior figures in the current lot.

Abbott & Hunt (followed by others) have said that the Alcoa shuts its plant as a result of the Carbon tax.
As we all know, the Carbon Tax resulted in a net benefit to Alcoa, and the company itself pointed out the Carbon Tax had no effect on their decision.
This is but one example of the level of honesty of Tony Abbott and co. It’s dishonest, and it is immoral. St Peter will be providing them with the smallest needles on offer.

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