In recent times, generic Christian political speakers have been discussing issues around the influence of Marxism in society and how Christians should be more politically engaged and involved in politics.
In the 1840s, the only politics was Catholics versus Protestants. Proto-Victoria’s fledgling political democracy was the battleground around fundamentally religious issues. How far things have fallen!
Margaret Keech runs an organisation promoting Christians being involved in politics. But she says Christian Left or Christian Right doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter?! Her own partner in her “ministry”, Dave Pellowe, has called fake conservative moderates “Marxists”. There is not much room for the “Left” according to Dave Pellowe.
City on a Hill, an Anglican Church sub-movement which began its Geelong operation in a pub recently promoted a series of political lectures. They took a mixed look at issues like illegal immigration. One of their own leaders was famously fired from a football club for his involvement with City on a Hill, with that leader saying he disagreed with his own church on fundamental issues. This lack of clarity or conviction on standing with the Christian Right is concerning.
Dave Pellowe tries to explain that he believes in the separation of church and state. He’s not the only Christian political activist to claim to believe that. Today that separation is said to mean (by secularists) no spirituality and no religion in politics. That’s the French meaning. But historically in the USA it meant that no single denomination, as in a state church, like the Anglican Church, should be part of the political apparatus.
Pellowe has an Australian-specific definition, because he uses that term to mean something entirely different than how it has been used. He uses it to mean he supports what the Australian Constitution says about religion. However, it is actually misleading to use such terminology to describe an Australian meaning, when the other secular and traditional US meanings are known.
If a Christian in Australia is saying they believe in the separation, it seems to be cover for them to appear to agree with the secularists, or at least to believe what the American Baptists and American founding father’s believed, viz., that no single religion should have total political control.
In fact, we should reject those meanings altogether, and say we reject the separation of church and state.
Pellowe is really meaning that he supports these words from the Australian Constitution, known as Section 116, The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
The first notion, of not establishing any religion, is the American doctrine (as opposed to the French secularist doctrine of anti-religion). The second notion, of imposing, seems close to the French view, but is a historical secularist view, which essentially is based upon religious neutrality. The third, on prohibiting, makes that clear. The final corollary that no religious test be required was designed to undo the limitation against Catholics, which was a long time practised method, by certain oaths (not believing in the central Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation), having hindered Catholics from public office.
The Australian traditionally-based religious neutral-secularist approach is one for allowing open grounds to both truth and error.
Dave Pellowe is wrong to use the terminology of separation of church and state because the Australian Constitution allows all, any or no religion, and therefore religion is not separate to the state.
Therefore to espouse a “separation” is to firmly place Christianity as not having its rightful place in Australia. But the constitution does not affirm a separation at all!
What is scramble-brained about those who claim to support separation while promoting religion in politics and talking about politics in church is that there is no separation at all. They should get this word “separation” out of the way, since it is not right, and not mentioned in the Constitution at all in any way in Section 116.
These Christian political lobbyists have a choice. Either they really are promoting Christianity, or they are promoting compromise.
Surely, the real and underlying motives of such Christians in politics is all about making politics Christian? Being honest would go a long way. Who of them will say, “I want Australia to be a Christian nation. Christian from the top to the bottom,” or similar?
If we treated the Australian Constitution as a providential document, and said that the words of 116 ought not be altered, then what does it mean?
First that the Commonwealth does not have to make a law, yet it may be that all the people in political office were in one brand of Christianity, and that the authority of such was placed in bishops, not in laws of some parliament. Second, that outside of Commonwealth laws, the executive power (e.g. the Governor General or the Sovereign) could establish without Parliamentary laws a particular brand of Christianity. Third, that any or all states could establish and make laws, meaning that the State Parliaments with State Governors could establish a particular brand of Christianity.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psalm 33:12