Freedom of religion and the separation of church and state are two fundamental pillars of Australian culture and society. But as soon as Mr Abbott, or Mr Rudd, or the Rev Fred Nile, make any link between politics and faith, angry mobs write venomous articles and letters to the editor, denouncing them. And it only gets worse during elections.
On Tuesday, a coalition of religious organisations in the United States issued an interfaith statement of principles on religion in political campaigns that I think is worth considering.
It states that a candidate’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof, should never be used by voters, nor suggested by political candidates, as a test for public office or a summary of their qualifications; politicians should conduct their campaigns without appeals for support based on religion; and they should avoid deliberately encouraging division along religious lines.
A politician’s faith should definitely inform their thinking on policy, and the decisions they take, but it should not be used as a weapon to divide and conquer.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 26 Feb 2012.
Theologian, researcher, teacher, writer, foodie, husband, dad. Works at Moore Theological College.