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

religion and public life « Previous | |Next »
January 3, 2007

In a liberal democratic society religion and morality have been privatised to ensure social stablity and political unity in a pluralistic world of competing conceptions of the good. So we have the principles of toleration and the state being neutral between individual moral and religious beliefs. On Rawls' account, this allows reasonable people with differing ethical, moral and religious beliefs to accept the constraints of public reason.

This form of liberalism is under attack from conservatives who want to reintroduce religion into politics, to ensure that there is one on form of religion (Christianity) to another, and for the state to intervene to ensure a Christian approach to ethical issues. What is sought here is a bigger role for religion in public life.

A recent example is Tony Abbott, the federal Minister for Health, awarding a $15.5 million contract for a pro-life Catholic church (ie., Centracare its welfare agency) but not a secular pro-choice family planning agency, such as Family Planning Australia. There is commentary over at Larvatus Prodeo and Blogocracy

What we have here is a deliberate attempt at polarization decade that pit “the religious right against the secularist left, and acts to ensure that conflict becomes ever sharper. What we have now is a fundamental disagreement over the place of religion in politics. Polarization undermines the the basic principles shared by all the parties to discussion, irrespective of cultural and other differences. In the absence of such a common ground in Australia's divided political culture, politics becomes just a kind of war.

That is the conservative agenda adopted from the Rovian Republicans in the US. The constraints of public reason are rejected as it is held that God requires us to live in a particular way.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:38 PM | | Comments (10)


To start with, I think we here in Australia have a muddied conception, even a contrite view, of what 'conservatism' is.

To first acknowledge conservatism as a predominantly US type construct, may serve to clarify the notion in the current era.

Australia, in my view, is a mix of this conservative stuff, some liberal stuff and some egalitarian stuff. To say then that we are 'conservative' or that there are conservatives within, is perhaps a misnomer.

Having settled that herein, thus allows progress to the next stage of the above topic, religion in public.

Our Indonesian neighbours are about 98% Non-sectarian; our Asian influx decries our Christian mix, saying our politics is Christianised and unsavoury. Our Leftist assuagers would have it that the Asian perspective is correct, because they have the numbers. However, the paradox of logic and hypocrisy is self evident in their batty, mammalian assault dropping in on religion.

Australia remains secular, whilst Indonesia for example, has religion enshrined in their constitution.

So tying the Leftist mantra of connecting religion with Australian politics, is really only instigating a politico-religious falsehood.

All the worlds problems can be solved by Bumper Stickers.
Recently spotted;
"If you don't beleive in Abortion" Don't have one.


I'm not sure that I'm

tying the Leftist mantra of connecting religion with Australian politics, is really only instigating a politico-religious falsehood
as you put it.

What I'm arguing is that Tony Abbott is challenging the view that Australia is a secular liberal society. Abbott is an example of an Australian conservative.

It must have been a religious car on the highway to heaven. Alas, it still has to go past the crossroads where the devil hangs out.

Yes, You may be needing a Cunning Disguise!
Perhaps a Nuns habit with a Hitler Moustache.....Don't laugh....he may see the funny side and let you pass.

I'm not sure that will fool Cardinal Pell and the Opus Dei crowd who hang out at the crossroads.

Pell's going to Hell isn't he?

a new bumper sticker could be "Guns God Glory".It would express the chauvinistic, ocker, parochical nationalism increasingly embraced by the religious Right in the name of patriotism.

"In God we Trust"

Yes I suppose it is common for countries going into battle to have a little Worship off to the corner just to make sure Gods on the Right side.

Hang on....don't they pray before Parliament opens too......hmmm best we all keep low.

God is on everybody's side. Only he is called different names.

yeah saying the prayer used to turn my stomach when I worked in federal Parliament---I felt that the Christian prayer undermined the separation of church and state.