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Striking a balance in Christian lobbying

Here’s something my Melbourne colleague Gordon Preece wrote earlier this month, which I think deserves a wider hearing:

Recently I went to an Australian Christian Lobby night in the Victorian parliament house where the leaders of the two main parties (with Bronwyn Pike filling in for John Brumby) addressed church leaders and responded to questions. It was a useful night well chaired by my friend Rob Ward of ACL. However, I did comment to ACL representatives that I was disappointed at the relatively narrow, personal moral range of the questions. I was told by two different people that that is what the church denominational representatives wanted to ask.

Rob Ward did quote me on the importance of housing for the homeless and mental illness issues, but let me illustrate the problem of narrowness. Each leader was asked would they be rejecting a supervised heroin injecting facility for Melbourne. Both leaders rejected it. I don’t want to engage that issue itself but ask whether surely the much more significant drug issue is that of alcohol, particularly youth alcohol abuse and their targeting by the alcohol industry, an industry that has been hand in hand with some leading Christian businesspeople. Recent scientific studies and articles from the Lancet in the UK argue that alcohol is far and away the most dangerous drug across nine categories ‘from death to damage to mental functioning and loss of relationships’ (see Guardian Weekly 5.11.10, p. 15 and Sunday Age, 7.11.10, opinion). We need to be well balanced and not narrowly morally selective in the issues we count as important.

(extract from Engage email, Ethos Centre, Nov 2010)

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Rod Benson

Theologian, researcher, teacher, writer, foodie, husband, dad. Works at Moore Theological College.

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