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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

religious politics in SA « Previous | |Next »
March 6, 2006

The mesaage of the campaign posters of Family First in the SA election is protect the home. The home needs defending and protecting through the instrument of politics. Protecting the home from whom is unclear. Could it be crime? Terrorists? Drugs? Sexuality? Consumerism? Gays? Inner city elites?

Does it matter for conservative evangelical Christians? They are sure of God's direction for the state election. Isn't it is to upheld the family unit of society based on biblical standards. Presumably, a Labor government with the Greens holding the balance of power in the legislative Council would decriminalise drug use, legalise same-sex marriages, provide sex changes on Medicare, and remove the Lord's Prayer from Parliament.

An indication of the threat is given by one Pastor Danny Nalliah from the Catch the Fire Ministries, turned up at the Morphett Vale Baptist Church in Adelaide's southern Bible belt last weekend with a “Prophetic Message for South Australia. The threat was from those who would pass laws which will take away their Judeo-Christian heritage and take South Australia backwards from what Christians had gained. So vote Liberal Party in the state election.

Here's a part of Pastor Danny Nalliah's sermon courtesy of last Friday's Crikey Daily:

"People of South Australia if you would cry unto Me in the time which is remaining from city to city, street to street across this land, I will change the wind which is blowing in this State and I will cause a fresh wind to blow through the State for I say unto you; for if My people will not pray and seek My face for this election which you are about to face South Australia, the rulers who are ruling you even right now if they be re-elected to rule you for another season in the next three to four years ahead of you, you shall lose 20 years of what you have gained and this generation which is in this place shall not see My glory fall upon this State.

For if you would cry unto Me day and night and get my servants across this State, not everyone, but whoever could, to get on their knees and repent on behalf of the sin which is in the church and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and I will forgive your sin and I will heal the land and in that healing I shall bring new rulers to lead this State and yet you might think there is such a short time and it is the impossible which will be made possible because of your prayers says the Lord.

... Now this is what I say: What the Lord is clearly stating right now is that if the current Labor Government continues to lead this State for another season and they win this election and lead this State for another season, you as a State will lose approximately 20 years of what you have gained. There will be laws which will be passed which will take away your Judeo-Christian heritage and you will fight for it to come back but it will be removed and it will be a long fight and this generation will not see the glory of God, however, if you would go into prayer and fasting and cause the State to get on its knees and cry unto the Lord, the Lord will then cause the Liberal Party to come in."
Last year Pastor Nalliah was judged to heve engaged in religious vilification of Muslims under Victoria's under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.That experience lead to the Pastor joining Family First.

The Pastor reckons that those who will roll back the Judiac-Christian heritage are Muslims because the real nature of Islam is to dominate other religions and other cultures. The Koran speaks of world domination. The Pastor says that:

Like a pressure cooker or bottle of soda water waiting to explode, the simmering racial war will reach its inevitable climax later, if not sooner. Strong police tactics have contained the situation for now; however, the bitterness and anger is pent up, ominously stored, waiting to flare up again.That's why we need a long-term solution.

The long terrm solution? Calling Australia home. Australia is the one Australia founded on the Judaic-Christian heritage. That is Peter Costello's position. The Pastor goes further when he links the Bible to a free and democratic society.
We have just sacrificed freedom of speech and democracy for Islamic Sharia law by stealth in the State Parliament in the State of Victoria. We have a choice, nation of Australia. We either can follow the Koran and follow Islamic Sharia law and be slaves in this nation, or follow the Bible and be a free and democratic society.

It's very black and white---but that's Christian fundamentalism, isn't it? It too desires a theocracy, but that desire remains repressed in a liberal society. What we can say is that Christian fundamentalism, despite its stand on free speech contra the political correctness of Victoria's racial vilification laws, is in opposition to liberalism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:48 PM | | Comments (19)
Comments

Comments

Scary sort of stuff really

Ahem. I noticed the posters too but they don't have candidates names or photos on them and I wondered if they were from last election (save money and all that; and 'protect your home' could be law and order which is a big ticket item here)

As to the prophecy: this is standard stuff in a Pentecostal church. I notice a bit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 in the prophecy which is standard Pentecostal revival stuff - google it up if you care. I reckon you could probably find a million and one sermon or service tapes (yes most of the big churches tape their services) with similar stuff being prophesized by Pentecostal ministers for er...as long as people have been taping pentecostal church services and sermons.

Morphett Vale Baptist is part of the SA Baptist Union I think...but has a reputation for being swing from the chandeliers "pentecostal" (they just describe themselves as charismatic").

Oh and Danny has a bit of personal interest in this of course with the Victorian villification laws (laws which I personally disagree with no matter what I think of Ps Danny himself; I think are really bad news).

Twenty years backwards? Have we been going forwards?


Islam and world domination. Actually it's a fundamental precept of Islam but Muslims interpret that in myriads of different ways.

Um I don't know if maintaining a Judeo-Christian heritage (whatever that means) is akin to advocating for theocracy.

Sharia by stealth? Yes sharia is a whole system of jurisprudence and basically not optional for a Muslim even if again it is variously implemented and interpreted by Islamic states. Yes there are some Muslims who do advocate implementation of sharia by political means (rather than violence etc) particularly in countries where Muslims are a minority. Read the news. Ruddock has commented on groups including "some Muslim elements" approaching him for lowering the age of marriage, we have last April when Muslim leaders asked McGauran for a sharia religious court in Australia (I am sure some are operating unofficially...maybe out W.A.), Aussie flag waving (now obligatory it seems) Muslim protests at the Danish embassy in Melbourne of several hundred standing in solidarity with those Muslims offended by the Mo cartoons, we have academics and lawyers advocating for the soft side of sharia...or the impression that it's nothing more than about your prayer life and personal ablution habits....there is a bit of deja vu about this...(read Europe, Canada, blah blah). Whether it is a quiet orchestrated campaign (it's not like Muslims haven't published strategies etc on how to do this that you can't read for yourself) or just coincidence I dunno - can't say the Muslim community in Oz is monolithic nor in agreement about lots of things either (hardly suprising given they come from different backgrounds and traditions within their own religion not to mention those who have been hear since dot)...but...whether Pentecostal or Muslim or even Scientologist and atheist, it is a pity that with religion being such an important element in our society, we don't have decent journalists who can report and comment on it knowledgeably. Even the ABC which at least does report regularly shows breathtaking ignorance and stupidity some times.

Oh by the way, I think you know we well enough to know that was not an endorsement of Family First or pentecostal-style Christianity. And at least you are covering this aspect of "politics".

Saint,
you write:

Um I don't know if maintaining a Judeo-Christian heritage (whatever that means) is akin to advocating for theocracy.

No Peter Costello is not doing that with all his references to the Bible underpinning Australia's secular laws.

But theocracy is the repressed desire of the evangelicals or fundamentalist Christianity. The language is not a liberal language of separation of church and state with religion as a private beliefs. The language is 'God wills this' and I'm giving voice to what the 'Lord clearly states right now'--vote Liberal in the SA election.

That is not the expression of personal religious belief. It is saying that the laws, morality and politics of Australia is to be aligned with God's commandments as voiced by the Pastor.

This undermining of the liberal fundamentals of the Australian polity--eg the separation of church and state---is continually fudged by the Christian Right. No no no we are not doing that --we only hate the values of profgressive social liberals.

It's a repressed desire because the strands of Australian conservativism does not have the sophisticated socially conservative intellectuals to articulate the desire in terms of political philosophy ---eg First Things.

Saint,
you write:

Islam and world domination. Actually it's a fundamental precept of Islam but Muslims interpret that in myriads of different ways.

How is that different from evangelicals going out to convert non Christians? Isn't conversion of the (heathen) world a fundamental precept of Christianity?

How is 'Islam's world domination' different from the domination ethos of militant Christianity aligned with military European power that conquers empires and peoples?

You do seem to have a tendency to criticize Islam for doing things that Christianity has done or does.

Saint,
you write:

Read the news. Ruddock has commented on groups including "some Muslim elements" approaching him for lowering the age of marriage, we have last April when Muslim leaders asked McGauran for a sharia religious court in Australia...we have academics and lawyers advocating for the soft side of sharia...or the impression that it's nothing more than about your prayer life and personal ablution habits....

You imply that these are wrong. I'm not sure what is wrong with them.

Exactly what is wrong with '"some Muslim elements" approaching the Attorney General for lowering the age of marriage?' Why can't they?

What is wrong with 'we have academics and lawyers advocating for the soft side of sharia..'Why can't they? We have groups in Australia advocating war and the death penality even thought they say they are pro-life.

You seem to imply that these pro-Islam people should be stopped from doing these things in a liberal society because it is the thin edge of the wedge---Sharia by stealth.Is that what you are saying?

It's never as black as white as it looks.


I'm a Greens candidate who identifies as a Christian, and I think Danny Nalliah and his mob are perhaps the greatest threat to modern Christianity - any religion seeing another religion as a threat is what sparks 'holy' wars that amount to nothing.


Family First announced today that it would preference Liberal in key marginal seats - big surprise. They have exactly the same agenda, except that the Liberals hide their conservative agenda behind an innocent veil of Christianity, whereas FF hide their Christianity behind a conservative agenda.


'Family values'?? Please.


There is no such thing as a theocracy, because the 'chosen people' always get it wrong. FF is no exception. Neither is Catch The Fire.


Former Federal Greens MP for Cunningham Michael Organ, also a Christian, said in 2004:

"The politics of fear, division and bigotry perpetrated by Family First are un-Christian, and totally out of step with the proper Christian emphasis on peace, love and compassion."

:

"The teachings of Jesus stress compassion, tolerance, concern for the poor,
non-violence and care for the earth," Mr Organ said.

"The right-wing religious parties' vilification of homosexuality, their tough line on law and order and their discriminatory attitude to Muslim-Australians do not exhibit this tolerance or compassion.

"The 'Christian parties' also supported the war on Iraq. And they followHoward's economic rationalist agenda, which entrenches poverty and puts pressure on families.


"The Greens' own philosophy is compatible with Christian philosophy, and the attacks on The Greens from Family First are unjustified and misleading.


"The Greens call on thoughtful Christians to consider whether Family First represent the real spirit of Christianity," Mr Organ said.

Gary-
Only hurried comments.

No Peter Costello is not doing that with all his references to the Bible underpinning Australia's secular laws.

*Are you saying Costello is advocating for theocracy? What do you mean by theocracy anyway? The Vatican? Costello would have moved very far from his Baptist roots if that is the case. I personally get suspicious of the term "theocracy" whoever uses it. And surely you jest.

*The only think I remember is some reference to the Decalogue at some speech he did at a Hillsong conference. After which everyone forgot him and got hyped up for their headline speaker, a TV preacher from America. Do have evidence he has been on a campaign? I'd be more peeved at Andrews and Abbott if I were you (Andrews having defended his IR legislation with reference to Catholic encyclical)

*Costello is a politician exploiting an opportunity to garner some votes and there was probably some mutual exploitation (a Hillsong member did stand for the Liberal party in the local seat and win it. We both discussed this during the last federal election). And surprise surprise, we suddenly find a whole range of politicians from both sides of the house trying to win the "Christian vote" and accepting invites to conferences and what nots. Don't tell me they don't also accept invites from Muslim, Buddhist and whatever other faith based groups there are out there. Maybe they have realised - even if for all the wrong reasons - but at long last, that people of faith matter and faith matters.

But theocracy is the repressed desire of the evangelicals or fundamentalist Christianity. The language is not a liberal language of separation of church and state with religion as a private beliefs. The language is 'God wills this' and I'm giving voice to what the 'Lord clearly states right now'--vote Liberal in the SA election.

* Every Christian will talk of God's will - whatever their tradition. But the test of who is a true Christian is not in what they say. "You shall know them by their fruits." And if the fruits are a national state ruled by mullahs and religious courts then they are not Christians thank you very much.

*I agree the language is bad in that it implies God favours one party or whatever (and was this during a worship service?)and I think we both blogged about this in the last federal election vis-a-vis Family First tactics and some church members themselves complained.

* But let's face it. Danny has a chip on his shoulder because of his case under the Victorian religious vilification laws. And he will now use it, to campaign against them whereever he can - and what better place then amongst those who have most to lose and where he already has a network. Is SA Labor is proposing similar laws? I don't know. But frankly much as I don't like his rhetoric, his theology or his methodology (and I would question his "prophecy" as all Christians are called to question such things), he has a bloody point. Those laws stink. And if you want to complain about his crusade now, I'm the wrong person. People like me opposed them for many reasons including this. We warned you.

*Turn on your TV early in the morning and note how many name-it-claim-it preachers say "right now". In fact if you went to just about any church in Adelaide you would find former members from big P or small p pentecostal churches and you can ask them. The minute you hear someone pray or prophesy and ask God do something "right now" you can almost guarantee that they are either pentecostal or have been raised in or had some expousre to a pentecostal Christian environment. They could be praying for your sick aunt to get better "right now". Honestly you can pick pentecostal speak from a hundred miles away. Then ask them how often things happen or prayers get answered (if at all), "right now". You give far too much import to such things.

That is not the expression of personal religious belief. It is saying that the laws, morality and politics of Australia is to be aligned with God's commandments as voiced by the Pastor.

*You are telling me there are certain expressions of personal religious belief which are acceptable and others are not? Remember you said that.

*Well there are personality cults in some churches, but given Danny is not the pastor of Morphett Vale Baptist I think you are safe there.

*Voting is more influenced by your family, friends and those whom you deal with regularly in your own (Christian) community. In other words people you interact with closely and regularly rather than by visiting preachers -and pentecostal christians have a whole well-trodden speaking circuit. I would be more concerned with a religious group that regularly and consistently pushed this message to the same group of people.

*Again, while not agreeing with Danny's rhetoric, theology or methodology, the fact is faith matters. The more people try to push it into the "personal" or "private" realm (what realm is that I wonder? when do people ever cease to be private and personal and also public and political?) or think there is no room for people of faith to comment on politics or public policy, the more Dannys and Family Firsts you will find. I think it is more than the likes of Danny who need to rethink their rhetoric, theology and methodology.

This undermining of the liberal fundamentals of the Australian polity--eg the separation of church and state---is continually fudged by the Christian Right. No no no we are not doing that --we only hate the values of profgressive social liberals.

*Perhaps you should define what you mean by separation of church and state. You don't seem for example to be as concerned about keeping state out of church. If you were, you would also oppose those religious villification laws which have pissed Danny off.

*While I probably share some of your concerns on the fudging on the other hand, on the other hand I openly admit that I disgaree with some of the values of progressive social liberals. It seems to me that it is progressive social liberals who kept pushing the boundaries until oh, you want to dicriminalise child porn? (whose bloody kids did those dickheads think would be in that stuff?)

And that it is such moves that have given impetus to such groups (like it did to Festival of Light which was instrumental in the child porn legislaton demise). And the rest is history.

Frankly some need to stop whinging and ask themselves if a society can function without any boundaries or without differentiation between good and bad, or OK and better. If they are willing to accept that some people want to say this far and no further. Why don't they have a right to have a say in the political sphere? It's not as if they are advocating for child sacrifice is it? Although by some social liberal's standards you might as well be allowed to copulate with your dog.

It's a repressed desire because the strands of Australian conservativism does not have the sophisticated socially conservative intellectuals to articulate the desire in terms of political philosophy ---eg First Things.

*I don't really buy into your term of "repressed desire" but I do agree that we don't have many (any?) sophisticated socially conservative intellectuals. I am not necessarily sure that is the answer either (yes I do keep an eye on First Things and similar publications - hoorah for the internet - but you know, we are not America, and I for one, don't want to be.)

How is that different from evangelicals going out to convert non Christians? Isn't conversion of the (heathen) world a fundamental precept of Christianity?

Yes. But big difference. No coercion: you are free to convert or apostasize (and spare me the selective history...Christianity conquered the Roman Empire in the first few hundred years without a sword being raised and has done so for the majority of its history. And still does in South America, Africa and Asia). You are free to try an convert me to your worldview. Compare Islam: Militant expansion and forced conversion through majority of its history. And once you convert, no apostasy. And if you remember the Aussie hostages just before the Taliban fell, even sharing your beliefs with a Muslim can cost you your life in some countries. Actually try just finding a Bible in the Malay language in Malaysia.

How is 'Islam's world domination' different from the domination ethos of militant Christianity aligned with military European power that conquers empires and peoples?
Are you talking 2006? Cos I don't see much of Christianity in Europe and last time I looked the church in the U.S. didn't have an army. Never has. What conquering are we talking about here? Decisions to go to war rest with the state not the church. Got a beef with war then take it out on politicians. If you are talking Iraq, well again, that was a state decision. Want to recall what the churches said? In any case even Iraqi POWs get hallal food and Korans and Mulsim chaplains not forced conversion on threat of having your head chopped off. So keep looking Gary, coz I can't find them.
You do seem to have a tendency to criticize Islam for doing things that Christianity has done or does.
I am not stupid enough to equate Christianity with Islam Gary.

"You seem to imply that these pro-Islam people should be stopped from doing these things in a liberal society because it is the thin edge of the wedge---Sharia by stealth.Is that what you are saying?"

Well I assume that you think it's right to arrange marriages for 12 year old girls. Or that husbands have to grant permission to their divorced wives to remarry. You think polygamy is fine. Hey why not sigheh marriages? And that we can't publish Mo cartoons. No problem in asking. The problem is some can't take no for an answer.

Frankly Zane I couldn't give a toss about Family First. Much the same as any political party really.

Oh and you and Mr Organ weren't trying to cash in on the Christian vote either were you by using "Christian" and "Jesus". I'm surprised that Gary doesn't think you are advocating for a theocracy or blurring church state lines. Jesus was a Greenie.

Christ have mercy on us all.

Saint,
I never said that Costello was into, or advocating theocracy---nor would I say that of Tony Abbott or Kevin Andrews.

What I did say about Costello's speeches was that he argued that the Bible and Christian religion underpinned Australia's secular laws--that they were a foundation. The implication is that God underpins the Constitution.

What I then argued was this is a form of conservatism as distinct from liberalism.

What I did argue was that conservative religious (evangelical) fundamentalism takes this conservatism much further along the pathway away from the separation of church and state towards theocracy--as it is commonly understood--
ie.,

'a form of government in which a religion or faith plays the dominant role. Properly speaking, it refers to a form of government in which the organs of the religious sphere replace or dominate the organs of the political sphere.'

Ther are forms of Catholicism that have theocratic tendencies--Opus Dei

We are talking about more than a personal return to religion' in a secularized liberal society.

Saint,
You write:

Well I assume that you think it's right to arrange marriages for 12 year old girls. Or that husbands have to grant permission to their divorced wives to remarry. You think polygamy is fine. Hey why not sigheh marriages? And that we can't publish Mo cartoons.

We do live in a liberal society where personal freedom is paramount and state interference should be kept to a minimum to ensure personal freedom. Where are the boundareies of that?

In a liberal society I would argue that though the liberal state in Australia permits freedom of religious belief, it does not allows completely unrestricted freedom of religious practice.

Why? Because national laws, when they reflect important or fundamental public interests, may prohibit certain acts which some citizens may claim represent the free exercise of their religious belief.

For example: the laws ought to, and do, prohibit practices such as bigamy, polygamy, sex with children, human sacrifice, or other criminal acts---even if religious citizens (Islamic or Christian) claim that these the practices are part of their religious belief system.

On the other hand federal courts ought to give close scrutiny to any state or local laws that impinge upon the bona fide exercise of religious practices. The courts should ensure that genuine and important religious rights are not impeded, and that questionable practices are limited only to the extent necessary.

In a utilitarian liberal society such as Australia the courts would demand that any laws restricting religious practices must demonstrate a fundamental or compelling" public interest, such as protecting citizens from bodily harm.

Saint
you write that:

..while not agreeing with Danny's rhetoric, theology or methodology, the fact is faith matters. The more people try to push it into the "personal" or "private" realm (what realm is that I wonder? when do people ever cease to be private and personal and also public and political?) or think there is no room for people of faith to comment on politics or public policy, the more Dannys and Family Firsts you will find.

The liberal wall between church and state does not mean that Danny's religious perspective and interests cannot inform his politics. That is just as legitimate as my environmentalism informing mine.

It's the evangelical God talk that is the problem in that it is Danny is the voice of the Lord and it is the Lord who says commands x, y and Z. It is not the Lord saying this---it is the Christian Right saying this.

The Lord says that marriage shall be this or that there should be no sex before marriage etc--that deploys the liberal state to overstep the boundaries around personal freedom. Hence the problem.

My judgement is that the Christian Right detests liberalism and so they are opposed to the constitutional foundations upon which the Australian state is built. That is the concern.

If you want to say that the Constitution expresses, and is underpinned by, God and Christianity, then lets have an open public debate about our Constitutional's foundations.

Zane,
it is good to see Christianity coming into support the Greens. We need more of that in SA in order to highlight the diversity of perspecitves within Christianity.

I disagree with you that there is no such thing as a theocracy ----it is a form of government in which a form of government in which a religion or faith plays the dominant role.

Theocracy doesn't exist in Australia, which remains a liberal society--- thanks to the help of the Greens in resisting the conservative rollback.

But some evangelical Christians, such as Catch the Fire Ministries and Pastor Danny Nalliah, do talk in theocratic terms. They do want a society in which a fundamentalist Christianity play a dominant role. What they are not willing to grant what Jurgen Habermas states:

"the complex life circumstances in modern pluralistic societies are normatively compatible only with a strict universalism in which the same respect is demanded for everybody — be they Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist, believers or nonbelievers."

They dump the univeralism as not all religions are to be treated the same.

Saint,
I'm not sure about Victoria's vilification laws --is it the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act? If so then the Act prohibits conduct "that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of" a class of people based on their religious beliefs.

The point of the legislation is to temper extreme modes of expression by prohibiting unreasonable, vilifying statements. That being so, it does not limit the available scope of debate, but it calls for reasonableness in engaging in the discourse.

From what I understand at present religious vilification laws exist in three Australian states – Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.

We have laws against racial hatred in Australia ie., it is unlawful to insult, humiliate, offend or intimidate another person or group in public on the basis of their race. They exist, despite the liberal commitment to free speech and acknowledge that such laws impinge on the expression of free speech.

So why not similarly for religious hatred, given that many Arab and Muslim women have experienced an increase in violence or offensive remarks since the September 11 attacks and the first Bali bombings.

So it is not just a case of religious censorship as Catch the Fire ministry claims---their pastors were judged to make the Islamic religion an object of fun with the Pastor's speech calculated to incite serious ridicule against a person or group.

I don't hear much of an argument for why you reckon such laws are wrong.You write:

Danny has a chip on his shoulder because of his case under the Victorian religious vilification laws.But frankly much as I don't like his rhetoric, his theology or his methodology ... he has a bloody point. Those laws stink. And if you want to complain about his crusade now, I'm the wrong person. People like me opposed them for many reasons including this. We warned you.

I'm not sure wha the danger or threat is.

I'm not complaining.I just have some questions:

Why do the laws stink? Are not religious vilification laws neutral in that they can be used against some Muslims for religious hate speech against Christians. Does that stink too?

Why are these laws different from the racial vilifications laws in the face of conduct that is intolerant, abusive and hateful?

Why is it ok to make other people laugh at or ridicule another person's faith?

Why do you think that this kind of conduct should not be illegal.

Yo imply that this is very bad law. Are your grounds the liberal one that holds the government shouldn't put itself in the role of referee over religious debate by determining which religious criticisms are "legitimate" and which are out of bounds?

There is a discussion here --you probably know signposts.

"For example: the laws ought to, and do, prohibit practices such as bigamy, polygamy, sex with children, human sacrifice, or other criminal acts---even if religious citizens (Islamic or Christian) claim that these the practices are part of their religious belief system."

Err, perhaps you could explain how the laws ought to and do prohibit polygamy but not homosexual marriage Gary? May your God help you in this Herculean moral task my dear liberal.

Observa,
Your first assumption is that polygamy and homosexual marriage are morally equivalent.That is questionable, given the emphasis on individual liberal freedoms in civil society and in the political domain in Australia.

Your second assumption is that all the laws of the state are based on Judaeo-Christian morality that often appeals to the Bible for authority. That is questionable because some laws are secular ones based on enabling individual freedom and limiting the role of the state.

Thirdly, I do not recall that the Australian constitution saying that the public law is based on the BIble, or that the foundation of law is Judaeo-Christian morality.

Costello's argument that public law of the constitutional state is underpinned by the BIble is an interpretation of the assumptions of the Constitution. He just asserts it --no argument is given as to why his is a reasonable interpretation or better than a secular interpretation.