Magazine article The Christian Century

In Australia, Debates Arise on Which Party Reflects Church Values

Magazine article The Christian Century

In Australia, Debates Arise on Which Party Reflects Church Values

Article excerpt

Australian opposition lawmaker Kevin Rudd has triggered a national debate by criticizing the growing influence of conservative Christian groups in Australian politics. But the nation's health minister argued that the government does not cater to a bloc of religious voters.

"God is not owned by any political party and never will be," said Labor Party legislator Rudd last month. Speaking on publicly broadcast ABC radio, Rudd criticized politicians who identify themselves as the only Christian candidate.

In a country in which Prime Minister John Howard and senior politicians from major political parties are, active Christians, Rudd's comments were the first public criticism of church roles in politics by a politician in years. Analysts noted that parallel disputes have roiled U.S. politics for decades.

Calling for "a different Christian voice" in politics, Rudd urged Christians who are passionate about social justice to join the debate. He said conservative evangelical and Pentecostal churches are wrong to treat faith as a purely private matter with no relevance to issues of poverty or injustice. …

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