Religion and Politics

Writing in The Mercury’s TasWeekend recently (Nov 14), columnist Charles Wooley commented, “That’s the principle of the separation of church and state. To be less highfalutin, I think that just as we try to keep politics out of sport, our politicians should try to keep religion out of politics. It’s annoying to the large numbers who don’t share their particular faith and, besides, it only makes politicians look stupid.”

Religious Candles and Cross
“This is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion”

Wooley’s view no doubt reflects what many Tasmanians think, although how many it is hard to say. It is hardly an original suggestion and rather clichéd, yet in today’s society, it is somewhat naïve.
Despite what some might believe, the Australian constitution does not preclude religion in politics. What it does stipulate is that “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion” and “The Commonwealth shall not make any law … for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion”. The aim is to ensure no one denomination or religion becomes the official national church, and no person, no matter what their religious belief, will be barred from participating because of their religion. This is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
The argument that religion has no place in politics stands on a fallacy and an assumption secularism is somehow “value neutral”, while religion remains “value charged”.  Read More >>>

Facing the Challenge

I’ve recently returned from leading a study tour of the Middle East with a focus on Israel and the areas where Jesus lived and ministered. It certainly was a special, and challenging, time for everyone as we connected with the land and the people of the Bible.

At the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem with yours truly leading the discussion
At the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem with yours truly leading the discussion

Staying in hotels run by the local kibbutz provided insights into the lives of modern orthodox Jews. One evening meal had beef on the menu which meant that only soy milk was available for tea and coffee (consuming mixtures of cow’s milk and beef are prohibited according to Levitical law, Ex. 23:19, 34:26; Deut. 14:21).
Then there was the Shabbat (Sabbath) elevator which . . .
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