We should question Christian organisations concerned only with bioethical or moral issues related to life, death and sexuality, without reference to equality, inclusion and a meaningful existence, writes Moira Byrne Garton.
- The Good Oil
Many people are familiar with the role of religion in American politics and the apparent polarities therein. Traditionally, the Democratic Party’s social liberal policies were favoured by religious minorities, with many Catholics identifying with the party. John F Kennedy, the first and only Catholic President of the United States, was a Democrat.
The Republican Party’s genesis was in anti-slavery action, but it is now considered conservative. It garners the support of many Christian churches, particularly those on the so-called ‘Christian Right’ who espouse conservative positions on a variety of issues, including abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and euthanasia.
Yet the Catholic Church in America has not ‘hitched its cart’ to the Republican Party as have many other Christian churches sharing the Catholic Church’s concern on these life issues. Much of the explanation for this lies in the contradictions inherent in the Christian Right and its party of choice, in which universal health care is opposed and capital punishment supported. Policy to address poverty is neglected, whereas policy to carry guns is espoused.
In Australia, the issue of religion and politics is not nearly so fraught or partisan as it is in America. However, a number of religious political organisations appear to mirror the concerns of churches associated with the Christian Right in the United States. It is unfortunate that some purporting to represent a Christian position restrict their commentary to policy issues at the beginning of life and end of life, with little regard for those in between.
Fortunately, the majority of churches in Australia are more discerning. The Catholic Bishops in Australia articulate policy positions coherent with the ‘consistent ethic of life’, even if they do not explicitly reference this ethic. This is evident in their comments on palliative care, asylum seekers, employment conditions, and more.
There are aspects of the Government’s policy which support the consistent ethic of life. Continued work to establish the National Disability Insurance Scheme is reassuring, as are some of their workforce participation initiatives such as for long-term unemployment.
We do not experience the same polarisation of views evident in the American political system. Yet we should be aware of contradictions. We should question the Government when it takes the case of Japanese whaling to the international court, and does not uphold international laws in relation to asylum seekers and children.
FULL STORY Religion, politics and 'the consistent ethic of life' (The Good Oil)