IMG_5881I have just finished reading Senator Cory Bernardi’s book, The Conservative Revolution, which was published before Christmas.

It certainly didn’t live up to the hysteria that accompanied some media outlets discovery of it last week.

Tirade, lacking genuine Christianity and offensive were just some of the descriptors.

Most of the firestorm centred on his comments about abortion and family structure.

Some interviewers were trying to discredit his claim that between 80,000 to 100,000 abortions are conducted each year in Australia.

One interviewer claimed the figure was much lower at 50,000 a year with the implication that Bernardi was sloppy with his facts. De-legitimising Bernardi was the aim, not engaging the substance of his arguments.

Either way, the loss of human life each year on such a scale is tragic, not to mention the harm abortion does to many women.

The sad thing is that there is little awareness of the facts about abortion as many in the media assume it to be a settled issue.

It seems unknown that a Senate Inquiry in 2008 recommended proper data collection be conducted in all states, not just South Australia where the only reliable figures are collected. This recommendation has not been acted on by either side of politics.

Our political and media people don’t really want to discuss abortion and when it is raised, people like Bernardi are given a rough time.

His assertion that abortion is used as ‘an abhorrent form of birth control for some women’ drew criticism from many including Fairfax columnist Melinda Tankard Reist.

There is validity to her critique because we must also discuss why it is especially an easy birth control measure for men. Men have far more to answer for in abortion than women, starting with the pornification of our culture and the attitudes to women this breeds.

Those of us who believe in socially conservative values do need to be careful about labelling single mothers, something Bernardi was also taken to task over.

This doesn’t mean there should not be a discussion about family structure for risk of offending single parents and those with blended families. Bernardi marshals the well-known (but frequently ignored) social science evidence which says children do best when raised by their biological mother and father.

He is right to advocate that this be considered in formulating social policy, something completely lacking in our present political discourse as embodied in our shallow debate about same-sex marriage.

While bad life choices and partner desertion cause single motherhood, those who become pregnant and keep their babies in today’s abortion culture should be commended for their life-affirming choice.

And while it is right to debate the killing of the unborn, those of us who are pro-life need to be more focussed on supporting women with unplanned pregnancy.

Bernardi rightly fingers Peter Singer, a co-founder of the Australian Greens, for his advocacy not only of killing the unborn but the born. Singer claims newborns are not sentient therefore this is ok.

The Conservative Revolution of course covers much more than abortion and marriage, providing thoughts on the flag, economics and the importance of the Christian worldview to underpinning a free society.

I’ve not studied enough political theory to say whether or not conservatism (even Bernardi admits there are different definitions) is where all Christians should find a political home.

Christians of good will can and do disagree on the appropriate role and limits of government. The Conservative Revolution makes a case for small government with a compassionate and largely non-government civil society.

There will always be a need for a social welfare safety net and there will always be arguments about how far that should extend.

Big Christian charities such as World Vision and Mission Australia perform much good work on behalf of the government with public funding but the book does not go into detail to define what conservatism says the limits of government funding of charity should be.

Bernardi argues rightly that Australia, as an extension of western civilisation, has Christian roots and that these have been vital to getting us where we are today.

The Conservative Revolution is a plea to Australians to shake off their apathy and resist the attempts to dismantle what is good about our society.

He is right to call people to push-back on what he identifies as a green-left agenda and to not leave a vacuum by silence.

The church should be at the forefront of affirming and defending human life and the importance of marriage to civil society.

In two television interviews I saw last week, Bernardi graciously and competently defended the dignity of human life and the importance of marriage and family.

His taking the flack should embolden the rest of us to speak up.

That is the revolution we need.