The Unholy Babble

It makes a change from hearing about the carbon tax, but it seems like religion is everywhere in politics and the media these days. Whether it's religious education classes in public schools, same sex marriage, or marking "no religion" on the census, religion is exerting an influence on the public debate far out of proportion to the level of devotion seen in the populace. Our atheist Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is vehemently against gay marriage, which means she is either pandering to the Christian lobby, or she finds the whole thing, you know, a bit icky - I'm not sure which is more distasteful. Meanwhile, Fred Nile - elected to the NSW Upper House in 2007 with a vote of 4.4%, in our strange electoral system - threatened the NSW government that unless they banned ethics classes in schools (public schools!) in favour of religious education, he would withdraw support for their IR reforms. With the Australian census coming up, atheists have been campaigning to have people tick no religion on the census. It doesn't seem to make much sense to call yourself an Anglican say, just because your mother was, if you haven't opened a bible or set foot in a church in years. What it does do is allow the likes of Abbott and Akerman to claim Australia is a majority Christian nation. Seems an odd thing to say. Whilst religious belief is hard to quantify, less than 50% of Australian funerals are now held in churches. If you can't be bothered getting to church even when you're dead - you can lie down and everything! - it would seem your faith isn't that strong.

Why do we accept our politicians believing things which are demonstrably untrue? Abbott, Gillard et al make ridiculous claims about asylum seekers, climate change, what is tasteful humour, and they are eventually, hopefully, called out on it. But we accept a politician's right to believe religious nonsense. Not only believe it, but to let it inform their policies and decisions. Even in the case of atheist Gillard, she allows the religious views of others to sway her attitudes to such things as same-sex marriage which are otherwise only the business of the couple who wish to get married. If this is really a secular country, we shouldn't allow things to be run this way.

What I'm proposing is that people of religious faith should not be allowed to hold political office unless they undertake that their religious views will never affect their political decisions. It's one thing for people to believe that the world was literally created in seven days, but should that be an influence on our national discourse? This isn't restricting freedom of religion - people unable to divorce their personal religious beliefs from their political stance are free to live their lives as private citizens. But those who strongly believe in a deity that informs their views - well, that's very sweet but I don't want them running the country.

Comments

  1. (Comedic exaggeration used in this post).

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  2. Is that true about funerals? Please be true, please have a source...

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  3. I don't have a link, but I've read the stat more than once. As a funeral ad reader for many years (I'm odd) it certainly rings true.

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