No government funds, please: we're Christians

Christianity in Australia ought to be distinguished by a certain vulnerability, because it relies on the health and charity of local communities of disciples and not the largesse of the state, writes the ABC's Scott Stephens.

"There is no surer way of bringing the simmering debate about the role of religion in Australia to a full boil than by invoking the money and tax concessions given by government to fund certain religious activities.

"In no time, what already tends to be a fairly uncivil argument devolves into bitter invective against the supposedly theocratic designs of the churches from one side, and dismissive assertions of a kind of historically legitimate Christian "exceptionalism" from the other."

Stephens believes that both extremes in this debate are wrong: the "secularists" because they assume that once religion is removed from public-political life, and consigned to interiority, and the Christian "exceptionalists" because they think that God's providential care of the world can be mediated through political coercion.

"I would argue that the very assumption - on the part of said Christian 'exceptionalists' - of a kind of 'entitlement' to government funds, and to a place of relative privilege in Australian law and society, and to access to the corridors of power actively undermines the credibility of Christianity in Australia and effectively neuters its ability to bear faithful witness to Jesus Christ."

FULL BLOG
No government funds, please: we're Christians! (ABC Religion and Ethics)


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