This country is constitutionally secular. Not atheist, but secular. S116 of the Constitution reads thus:
“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.”
So that settles that. Or does it? As the country becomes less religious, the Parliament becomes more so. Why is this? One would expect that the Parliament would reflect our declining interest in religion.
There have always been outliers, those who brought their religious beliefs to the Parliamentary table. But they seemed to be a little extreme for most of us, slightly unbalanced when it came to matters such as abortion, or de-criminalising homosexuality. Vince Gair and Brian Harradine spring to mind, men of principle, but quaint and embarrassing. They were lone wolves, not a part of a dangerous pack.
Fast forward to today. Where did all these right wingers come from? Why are people voting for them? Who allowed Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews to be elected? What is it about Kevin Rudd, and Scott Morrison, and Tony Abbott? All out and proud, about believing in God. But the downside – it appears that the more religious a person is, the crueller he or she is. Sort of like their vengeful God.
Twenty two years ago Kevin Andrews actually caused a Dying with Dignity Act to be repealed, after it became law. Scott Morrison took the treatment of refugees to previously unexplored depths. Kevin Rudd retreated from
“the great moral challenge of our generation”, and Tony Abbott provided George Pell, a convicted paedophile, with a character reference, after his conviction.
It is not their fault. I have always thought that those who profess strong religious beliefs, are more to be pitied than despised, because they seem to be searching for something, for some quality that they do not possess, a patch of still water in storm tossed seas. Notwithstanding that most of those named have risen to positions of great power and eminence, they are like lost children. Perhaps they need to study Matthew 16.26 again,
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”