From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 17 October
Theocracy: literally – a government of God; a country which is governed by religious leaders. A form known to many ancient peoples and intrinsic in Islam.
IT is a truism: All evangelicals are Christians; but not all Christians are evangelicals.
Are we in danger of becoming a theocracy? Is it drawing too long a bow to relate the calamitous Afghanistan evacuation to fundamentalist religiosity?
Australia is a secular, not a religious state; however, if you support the separation of church and state model, then it could be claimed that evangelicals are exerting a disproportionate influence on Australian life, our politics, and our culture. A case of the squeaky wheel getting the oil.
The high number of practicing Christians in Australian political parties is sometimes under-reported. Increasingly, they are becoming a more powerful lobby. Arguably, the large proportion of Christians in the main parties enables them to negotiate, using their religious values to advantage. There were concerns, the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, did, as Minister for Health, allow his religiosity to colour his determinations. His stance raised the ire of Australian women. Remember, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!”
When Federal parliament is in session, the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship meets fortnightly with about 60 members from all sides of politics in attendance. This is more than a quarter of total parliamentary members.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is a publicly committed evangelical who holds deeply conservative views. He attends/worships in a charismatic Christian church which claims to speak in tongues.
It could be argued, successfully, that evangelicalism and Talibanism run in tandem. Both groups believe, fervently, the Bible or the Koran to be the true word of their one god. For the most part, evangelists do not go around killing people; however, the beliefs they hold, and the positions they assume, can be fatal. Their influence is significant.
Recently, an anti-COVID vaccination protestor carried a banner which read: ‘I trust just Jesus not a needle’. It is to be hoped she does not contract the virus and is forced to choose between her trust in Jesus or the efficacy of science.
Evangelicals point to the dubious fulfilment of biblical prophecies and miracles as guaranteed proof of their argument. Blind faith notwithstanding, it is a logic which could not satisfy any reasonable scientific standard of scrutiny. There is no proof of ancient biblical miracles; indeed, the ancient scribes would consider many modern commonplace medical procedures as being miraculous. It would be a fair to contend that far more ‘miracles’ have been produced by modern science and medicine than were ever conceived in the Bible, or produced by any prayer meeting.
Mr Morrison declared on the night he won the last Federal election, “I have always believed in miracles. I am standing here with the three biggest miracles in my life [referring to his family], and tonight we have been delivered another one.”
More pragmatically, it was the support of Pauline Hanon’s One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party which delivered the Liberal Coalition victory, not a miracle of divine intervention. The miraculous connotation is unsettling, somewhat.
Baruch Spinoza, one of the most important philosophical thinkers of the 17th century, was the first to articulate the dangers posed by a theocracy. He contended, theocratic governments fail because their leaders are motivated by personal interpretations of scripture, rather than doing what is in the public interest.
For the Taliban, government and religion are the same. In Australia, they are separated; however, many in our government who would dispense with established convention in favour of religious text
As a form of government democracy is the best of a bad lot; nonetheless, we have to protect it, assiduously. There are those in the community who would, to advance their own fundamentalist ideologies, cause a systemic mischief. It is incumbent on each of us to guard the light on the hill.
The alternatives are even more ghastly!
Roland can be heard with Brett Macdonald each Monday, 10.45am on Radio 3BA and contacted via [email protected].