Is there a separation of church and state? Those who advocate for Christians getting involved in politics means they don’t believe in a separation. Yet, strangely, some such lobbyists and organisers say they do believe in the separation of church and state.
Political organiser Dave Pellowe claims that the separation “is only rightly understood as a synonym for religious liberty, not Christian political suppression.” What he is doing is using the wrong terminology, “the separation” to describe the free marketplace, free concourse and neutrality view of the Australian Constitution.
The Australian Constitution is open to religion, religion in politics, politics in religion, just not to making specific laws about establishing a religion, imposing religion, prohibiting religion or religious tests. All of that does not prohibit or disallow religion, nor does it stop any steps to endorse and support a religion, as long as it does not strictly violate 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.
It is disturbing that in his quest to promote religion in politics, Dave Pellowe turns to the most unlikely source, the social agitator and dubious activist, Martin Luther King Jnr, who could hardly be a good representative for the Christian Right.
Pellowe agrees with King, quoting him favourably, “The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the State, but rather the conscience of the State. It must be the guide and the critic of the State, and never its tool.”
In the USA there is a strong doctrinal and philosophical doctrine against the dominion of any specific brand of Christianity in the political system. The fact that the Church is demoted from being an authority or having mastery is to pander to the French Infidel approach. That’s the view of the Left too.
Why would Australian Christian lobbyists/activists who are pushing ostensibly for a Right-leaning view draw upon or allow the poison of a Left-leaning ideology?
We must take a much stronger view. One where a more authoritarian Christianity thrives under the liberty of the state. We need to turn back to our direct roots, rather than to the USA, as a starting point.
In Bobrick’s book on the Cromwellian era Puritans, Wide as the Waters Be, he wrote that, “the Church had been looked upon primarily as an instrument for securing, by moral and religious influences, the social and political ends of the State. Under the Commonwealth, the State, in its turn, was regarded primarily as an instrument for securing through its social and political influences the moral and religious ends of the Church. The aim of the Puritan had been to set up a visible kingdom of God upon earth. In the Puritan theory, Englishmen were ‘the Lord’s people’; a people dedicated to Him by a solemn Covenant, and whose end as a nation was to carry out His will. For such an end it was needful that rulers as well as people should be ‘godly men’. Godliness became necessarily the chief qualification for public employment.”
In the Elizabethan, Stuart, Jacobite and British Empire view, the Church was a partner with the state. As with the Eastern Roman Empire, the Church and the Empire were inextricably linked.
In the Puritan view, it was the common faith, which was partner with the state. The common faith manifested as a particular brand of Christianity with tolerance or openness toward a wider practice of various Protestant beliefs.
In the Australian Constitution the Protestant toleration view has moved far to total religious toleration. That no doubt could include Wiccans, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and so forth.
If a particular brand of Christianity is truly right and truly empowered of God, then it will prevail. That’s what the Australian Constitution allows. It allows that every member of society and government can all be part of the same religion. As long as no laws are being made specifically to enforce or bar, it could be so.
In order to defeat Infidelity’s leavening of society (and the Left’s long march through the institutions), then Christians have to understand the national implications of its message. No more should Christians fear fake labels put on them like “dominionism”, “Trumpism”, “triumphalism”, “Christian nationalism”, “theocracy”, “fundamentalism” and so forth.
It is estimated that only 10% of the British population were Cromwellians, yet they ruled the day in the 1650s. There is a broad minority which today has “values” in Australia, including Hindus, Catholics, Mormons and Protestant groups. Of that minority, there are a minority of Christian activist types, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, who are trying to take political participation to the next level. Good on them for wanting to participate in democratic processes, of course, but in the big picture such movements are generally weak, talking about “separation”, quoting Martin Luther King Jnr., upholding Bonhoeffer and being obsessed over single social issues.
Let Christians and Christianity get itself right before it does anything too much in the democratic free market of politics. Current Christians are really so chaotic and largely in an identity crisis that to take them as they are and have them make a real change through political activity is undesirable. The Christianity that has the right and the power to become THE Christianity in Australia is not yet openly manifest. Until such a Christianity is birthed, any major reforms through Christians having constructive influence in politics is going to be negligible. People may mean well and do good, but the capacity of rising bad examples is just as real.
A theological revolution around Christ’s enemies being made his footstool is required. Until adherents know how to press into the kingdom and believe in establishing a national church with particular beliefs, then the current blunderbuss of religious conservatism will suffice as a broad front of influence.
Until the coming bishops and the superior Christians are at hand, there is still the need for the ongoing preparations for this day of visitation. As it is, the current system itself would be incapable of producing the King Arthur-like “last” Christians. The answer therefore does not depend upon slick Christian political websites, the talent pool of well funded mega-churches or the online and travelling fame circuit. It is much more that out of the desert the prophets come.
“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.” (Psalm 45:3).