Writing in the August/September edition of Alive Magazine, ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace challenges concepts that Christians are rather conservative.

Below is the first part of the article. To read the full article please go to pages 10-12 of the free digital Alive magazine by clicking here

CONSERVATIVE, WOWSERS, KILLJOYS, OUTDATED…these are just some of the words often used to put down Christians who seek to put forward their views and influence society.

Not too long ago Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young used two of these terms to try to disparage both Australia’s former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader for what she sees as their Christian viewpoint.

“Unfortunately we have both major parties led by conservative men who have outdated views, ideological views on this issue,” Ms Hanson-Young told ABC radio during yet another Greens’ push to get gay marriage legalised in Australia (thankfully a highly unsuccessful push).

It’s a good tactic of course – using labels to put down your opponents and to try to appear progressive and forward-thinking. With many other Christian organisations and church spokespeople, the Australian Christian Lobby is on the receiving end of this kind of tactic all the time.

But the ironic thing is that if you take a considered look at the role of Christians in history and as a countercultural force in society today, you will find that Christians are far from ‘conservative’ and are, in fact, the real ‘radicals’.

The Christian church itself began as a persecuted minority movement, many of whose leaders were unjustly imprisoned, tortured and executed for their faith – and for going against the will of the ‘establishment’.

As we look back through history, we see that it was Christianity that challenged the pagan nature of Rome and Greece over such practices as infanticide, abortion and gladiatorial sports, and gradually – sometimes spectacularly – brought about change.

It was Christian campaigners, motivated by their faith, who worked to institute public hospitals, public schooling, the Red Cross, and hospices for orphans and the poor – all radical changes when first introduced.

There are countless other examples of Christians who fought against accepted societal norms – the conservative position - to bring about far-reaching change which still impacts our lives today.

Take, for example, the great campaign against slavery in Britain which was based on the activism of socially aware Christians in the Clapham Sect working together with politicians, and is best remembered through the work of William Wilberforce.

This campaign developed into a wide reform program which included prison reform, educational provision, an end to repressive government of the colonies, animal welfare, and upholding the rights of Indigenous people in the British colonies.

Then there was the English statesman and devout Christian, Lord Shaftesbury, who attended Wilberforce’s funeral in 1833 and himself went on to become a great social reformer. As a Member of Parliament he was successful in changing working conditions in the factories that powered Britain’s Industrial Revolution and thereby alleviating injustices such as the employment of women and children in coal mines, and young boys as chimney sweeps.

Click here to read more (pages 10-12 of Alive magazine)