How might the so-called "Christian vote" play out come election day and do the personal beliefs of political leaders; Tony Abbott's Roman Catholicism and Julia Gillard's declared atheism, have any effect at the ballot box?
On last night’s Sunday Profile
program on ABC Local Radio, Monica Attard interviewed Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen about religion and politics. In the process she asked him a number of questions about the ACL and concerns we have raised about the Greens’ policy positions on a number of issues.“And it is a problem for the Green movement. Their main message could be very attractive to Christians - responsibility for the earth on which we live. That's Christian. But there may be elements of the Green social position which are unattractive to Christians,”
Archbishop Jensen commented during the interview.
to listen to the full interview or read a transcript.
Below is an extract of Archbishop Jensen’s responses on the topic of ACL:
“MONICA ATTARD: And is that why you support the Australian Christian Lobby?
PETER JENSEN: I'm glad of the existence of the Australian Christian Lobby. I think it does a good job. It focuses Christian concerns.
Thirty or 40 years ago it could be assumed that most people were broadly Christian and had some understanding of the Christian position. That has changed and so the need for the Australian Christian Lobby is the need to express the Christian position into an increasingly ignorant world.
MONICA ATTARD: Well the lobby are determined as well to stop the Greens from holding the balance of power. They say, and I'll quote from them, "We have seen them supporting euthanasia, supporting abortion, against prayers in Parliament, against ISP filtering. So on a great range of issues we find ourselves at variance with the Greens."
Do you think it's right for a Christian lobby to not merely make its views known but to so actively campaign?
PETER JENSEN: I think it's very helpful for them to raise those issues to the surface in order for Christians to make informed votes.
Now my guess is there'd be quite a number of Christians who would support the Greens because of the main issue of where the Greens are concerned and because of the capacity of their leadership.
On the other hand I think it is right too for the Australian Christian Lobby to raise to Christian consciousness some of the things which may if true go along with the Greens. On those sort of issue Christians tend to have pretty strong consciences.
And it is a problem for the Green movement. Their main message could be very attractive to Christians - responsibility for the earth on which we live. That's Christian. But there may be elements of the Green social position which are unattractive to Christians.
But the ballot box is still secret as far as I know and no amount of Australian Christian Lobby can force Christians to vote one way or another.
MONICA ATTARD: And you're not concerned having a Christian lobby participate in the political process so directly is kind of tearing down that whispering wall between religion and politics?
PETER JENSEN: We're pretty robust in this area. One of the ways in which we have got on with each other is for Christian leaders on the whole not to reveal voting preferences and certainly not to urge people to vote one way or the other.
I would hope never to do that. And I would hope nothing I would say would favour one side or the other. That's how we've got on and it's a good system.
It means that the unfair advantage that a church may have is not brought to bear on the voting system. And we recognise the worth of both major parties for example. That's worked over the years.
The difficulty is however that now that Christians, active Christians make a minority of the population, active Christians want to know more about what parties are saying. And the ACL operates as a group to bring to the surface what parties are actually saying and to create a sense of accountability by the parties to Christian people.
Could it go too far? Well not yet. But we need to keep an eye on it.”