The High Court’s acquittal of Cardinal Pell reveals some interesting questions about justice and truth. If we truly care – about all people, whether victims or accused – then we will want our legal system, our leaders and our society to value truth above all else.Read more
The Australian Christian Lobby has urged a Queensland parliamentary committee not to abolish the partial defence of provocation as the law is not discriminatory and its removal would have negative consequences, particularly for women.Read more
I was reflecting on this afresh this week as I was preparing to speak to students on the topic of political engagement at ACL’s inaugural Gap Week.
It is a big discussion and I don’t intend to go into all the ins and outs of it here.
But a large part of the answer to this question jumped out at me while I was reading an article in the current edition of The Economist.
The article was a review of a new book entitled The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World by Greg Grandin, an American historian. It is about the brutal Atlantic slave trade.
Grandid explores the paradox of why slavery actually expanded after the Enlightenment’s “age of reason”. That is a topic for another day.
What fascinated me was that The Economist, a noted secular publication which in 2000 predicted the end of Christianity (it has since recanted), takes Grandin to task for barely mentioning “the brave battlers against the gruesome slave business” who were predominantly Christians.
“Prominent among them were William Wilberforce and other evangelical Christians. Along with their Quaker allies, they led the campaign that persuaded Britain’s Parliament to abolish the slave trade in 1807,” The Economist writes.
It also points out that as a result, the might of the Royal Navy was deployed to patrol the Atlantic in order to enforce Parliament’s decision. These patrols continued until World War I.
So what about political engagement by Christians today?
Can persuasive political argument be brought to bear in favour of human rights for the unborn, the idea that wherever possible a child should have her or his mother and father, that a wealthy country like Australia should not cut but increase its overseas aid, that we can have a generous humanitarian intake of refugees, that commercial considerations be set aside in order to reduce poker machine harm?
All of these are important political debates today. A Christian idea of justice is relevant to each.
If evangelical Christians could activate to change the economic and social mindsets of their day to bring down slavery, why can’t we seek to persuade public and political opinion in our day on issues that also seem intractable?
Just like today, political campaigning by Christians in the 18th and 19th century attracted often vicious ridicule. Wilberforce endured death threats and his friends risked their lives gathering evidence from the slave ports of England. They were scorned as “saints”.
There are some big political debates ahead in 2014 that would benefit from “brave battling” by people informed by a Christian idea of justice. This is a task for us all.
There is also an extended version of the interview here (goes for 8 minutes)
"Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18
Love, commitment, faithfulness, truth, compassion, justice, mercy and beauty are all values most of us would aspire to but living them out can be a challenge.
CVCNow has just released a new video on the story of a couple who’ve been married nearly 50 years entitled “What is Love?”
Bill and Glad’s commitment to one another is being tested as Glad suffers with Alzheimer's disease. Their promise to love one another 'in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad' is a true demonstration of what love is.
Watch the video above.
Australia was one of the 189 member states of the United Nations that had signed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 to halve world poverty by 2015.
At the last election both Labor and the Coalition had committed to boost foreign aid to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015-2016, yet both parties have backed down on its commitment. The government’s commitment stands at just 0.35 per cent of GNI - well short of what is needed to eradicate poverty and help developing nations implement poverty-reducing policies.
From the beginning ACL has lobbied for government to reach the target as outlined by the MDGs and endorsed Australia's willingness to be more generous to the poor. ACL committed itself to communicating parties' election promises to the Christian constituency, including the ALP's promise not to cut aid.
In the lead up to this year's federal election campaign, the Australian Christian Lobby will be asking major political parties to recommit to the MDG goals and specifically the 0.7 per cent of GNI. Micah Challenge has launched its own campaign to 'Finish the Race' - calling on Australian leaders to 'finish what we started' and do our fair share towards achieving the MDGs and halving global poverty by 2015.
Join with Micah Challenge, churches, and other Christian organisations in speaking out against poverty and injustice, and encourage our leaders to act in fulfilling our commitment to reducing world poverty.
Make a pledge today by visiting http://www.micahchallenge.org.au/pledge
NOW will run from October 29 to November 4, and will encourage Australians to focus on other people rather than themselves for seven days.
According to Global Care, dedicating one week a year to reminding people to care for others, is a “compassionate and humane answer to the violence, materialism and selfishness of our society.”
The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, Shadow Minister for Families, Housing and Human Services, launched NOW in a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra last Thursday, which was also attended by ACL’s Chief-of-Staff Lyle Shelton.
“Global Care’s motto is ‘mates helping mates’, and during this very special week, I want to encourage people everywhere to look beyond their own four walls, and just ‘be there’ for someone else – to be a ‘mate’ to them,” Mr Andrews said.