Let’s not deny our Christian roots
Kevin Donnelly writes, Civil Liberties Australia, in its submission to the Senate inquiry on freedom of religion, argues Australia is not a Christian country on the basis that “it is not correct in law and in fact is directly contradicted by the Constitution”.
Civil Liberties Australia, in its submission to the Senate inquiry on freedom of religion, argues Australia is not a Christian country on the basis that “it is not correct in law and in fact is directly contradicted by the Constitution”.
The reality proves otherwise: although Australia is a secular society, where there is a division between church and state, to deny the significance of Christianity is to deny the nation’s heritage and culture and to ignore what underpins our political and legal systems.
Rather than ignoring Christianity, the Constitution’s preamble includes the words: “Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” and parliaments around Australia begin with the Lord’s Prayer.
Perth lawyer Augusto Zimmermann says Australia’s political and legal systems owe much to Christianity.
He says: “It is evident the foundations of the Australian nation, and its laws, have discernible Christian-philosophical roots.”
Concepts such as free will, the sanctity of life and a commitment to the common good are very much influenced by the New Testament. The admonition “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, while not always adhered to, underpins civility, tolerance and respect for others.
While a commitment to natural justice and liberty owes much to the Enlightenment, as argued by Larry Siedentop in Inventing the Individual, equally influential is the Bible’s statement, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Christian charity and God’s commandment to serve others also helps explain why Christian-inspired or Christian-managed health, education, welfare and charitable groups and organisations are an essential part of Australia’s social fabric.
As TS Eliot contends in Notes Towards a Definition of Culture, to deny Christianity is also to deny much of the art, literature and music that Australia has inherited from Western civilisation.
Whether Bach’s Mass in B minor, Faure’s Requiem, or Handel’s Messiah, the reality is that music’s debt to Christianity is beyond doubt. Add Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and Botticelli’s Virgin and Child with Two Angels, and it’s clear our culture owes a great deal to Christianity.
If it is true that most country and rural towns in Australia have a war memorial then it is also true that each will also have a church or place of worship.
And it is also true that Christmas and Easter, while increasingly secular in nature, are still predominantly religious celebrations that are central to our way of life.
Even though the percentage of Australians identifying as Christian has declined through the years, there is no doubt that Christianity is still the major religion. Based on the 2011 census figures, about 61 per cent of Australians identified as Christians, with Muslims at 2.2 per cent, Buddhists 2.5 per cent and Hindus 1.3 per cent.
Given the threat of Islamic terrorism in 2015, David Cameron as prime minister described Britain as a Christian nation, saying: “Yes, we are a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths and none, but we are still a Christian country.” The same can be said for Australia.
At the same time cultural-left groups such as Civil Liberties Australia seek to deny the nation’s Christian heritage, they argue we must acknowledge indigenous cultural beliefs and history — but if the latter must be respected and recognised, so must the former.
Author:> Kevin Donnelly a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of The Culture of Freedom.
Why Australia’s Christian heritage matters
Charles Francis, News Weekly, March 1, 2008
also The Christian Foundations of the Common Law
The story of AMP 1849 – 2018
The AMP was a new form of self-help, and it is not surprising that its founders and early directors were commonly evangelical Christians. Its historian, Geoffrey Blainey, has said that its Australia-wide impact has been ‘matched only by the major religious denominations’, one of those throw away lines which recognises what has not been chronicled elsewhere, the strength of religious influence on Australian social history.
Sadly in 2018
The royal commission into banking misconduct has recommended AMP should face criminal prosecution for misleading the corporate regulator.
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