Media Release: Sunday, 28 January, 2007

Christians could not but have been encouraged that Kevin Rudd’s accession to Opposition Leader had coincided with his call for greater involvement of the churches in politics. The genuineness of his personal faith and its depth are beyond dispute.

“However if Rudd initiated the debate, Abbott has redefined it and importantly the balance of concern and influence that Christians must bring to the determination of public policy,” said Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby.

“Kevin Rudd has not only stated that the “start point for Christianity is a theology of social justice”, but strongly implied it is the end point, by relegating the Gospel’s moral teaching to a matter of “individual conscience”, that somehow is less relevant to public standards or morality.”

This approach has historically been a point of frustration for many Christians within the Labor Party, which it sees as avoiding declaring itself on life and other moral issues by giving them over to conscience votes for its members.

“The reality is that Christian concern is across the whole spectrum of moral and social justice issues. Some organisations will rightly by their particular charter, concentrate on one set of these issues, but that is not to suggest a “right” or “left” polarisation within the constituency,” said Wallace.

“In 2006 various sections of the Church, including the ACL, rightly challenged the Government on all or part of its IR and immigration policies and will hopefully continue to champion the disadvantaged in Australia and beyond. But equally it knows that the real start point for Christian salvation and belief is acceptance that we are sinners in a fallen world. A start point that provided the motivation for countless converts to go on to apply their faith to create a better world.”

“Mr Rudd’s first opportunity to confirm that Labor is in tune with the full range of Christian concern will be the ALP’s position on Mr Stanhope’s Civil Partnerships Bill due early in 2007,” said Mr Wallace. “The larger part of this constituency is hoping to see a common moral position between the major parties, certainly the PM has clearly shown his position.”

Contact: Jim Wallace