The Big Debate
Christians gathered in churches across Australia to watch John Howard and Kevin Rudd speak about their personal faith values.
In what was believed to be an Australian first, the leaders of the two major political parties agreed to speak directly to over 80 000 Christians via a live webcast. This event was widely covered by mainstream media and raised interesting questions about the role of Christianity in Australian politics.
Apart from being an interesting discussion, the address was neither contentious nor surprising.
John Howard explained how values expressed in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Talents, such as the intrinsic worth of individuals and the requirement to display good stewardship were values that he held to in politics. Similarly, Kevin Rudd described how his faith in Christ provided him with a compass point for life and shaped his values.
Each leader explained why their policies would appeal to Christian voters on a range of issues such as poverty, education, taxation, work choices, internet pornography, foreign aid, and unemployment. However, neither leader significantly engaged at a personal level to demonstrate how a relationship with Jesus directed their policy decisions.
It was interesting to note that the rise of Christianity within the public sphere was lamented by some within Parliament as an erosion of the separation of Church and State. This appeared to be a minority view, as the media seems to increasingly accept the right of Christians to contribute to public life but still maintain an institutional separation from the State.
Both Rudd and Howard stated that they were Christians and viewed the Christian vote as important enough to address us with a live webcast. The outcomes of the address are positive indicators for our ability as Christians to be salt and light to our community, no matter who wins the next election.
David Haynes was part of the group at BayWest, Sandy Bay.
For a copy of the address and questions go to www.acl.org.au