edit/update:

on reflection, I think the language of “silencing” here could be improved. Perhaps “excluding from decision making” is closer to what I’m trying to communicate.

for part 1 (The Rejection of Democracy) see here.

Our second response to the desire to silence religious voices in public and legislative debate is built upon part 1 where I argued that to silence any voice was intrinsically a rejection of our democratic system.

But I want to go further. To seek to silence religious opinions is to want to put a gag on a viewpoint that, to one extent or another, is something that large segments of our population identify with.

Back in 2011, in the run-up to the Australian census, I wrote about a campaign by atheists to get people to put “no religion” down in their census answers. When the actual results came out the top line figures showed us that over 60% of the population declared an affinity with the Christian religion. The “no religion” figure had risen from 18.7% to 22.3% since the 2006 census.

Now I trust none of us are naïve enough to argue that this means that Australia is 60% Christian since the majority of those identifying as such are making a nominal or cultural identification. In every place that I have ministered the actual attendance at Anglican church services is far below those identifying as “Anglican” in the census. So we don’t want to claim more here than is actually being stated and that’s the argument I put forward when appearing on the Project on this issue just after Christmas 2013. This doesn’t mean that we should have a theocracy, but it does mean we should be open to theology (“words about God”).

Nevertheless there is still a majority segment of our population who identify as “Christian” and even more who choose other religious descriptors of themselves. It stands to reason, therefore, that any truly representative discussion, let alone government, ought to take this into account. Quite why this self-perception remains and whether it is a good thing is something I’ll tackle in the next post.

Vox populi, vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God)? Well not quite. But when the people are given a voice the majority choose to identify with some concept of God. To seek to silence talk of God is thus an unrepresentative move. The people have spoken in the census, so why not let more words on the same subject be heard amongst the people?

Comments

comments

2 comments on “Christianity in Public Debate? 2 – vox populi, vox Dei?

  1. The Anglican Church seem to be cheer leaders in the decline of Christianity in Australia. Look at their behavior over the sex abuse scandal. Deny, threat no honesty. Anglicare which is nothing to do with the Anglican church according to the Bishop of Grafton's assistant yet the website says it is…. this organization gets $88,000 to foster an "intensive" child for a year, they pay a foster carer $36,500 for this the foster carer has to look after the child all day all night every day, home school, drive any where they are told to, pay for everything, medicines, clothes toys pocket money food phone pocket money and a lot of etc. Anglicare get to keep the other $51,500 it seems to go straight to heaven, where is heaven? Must be a mountain of tax payers money there, the state funds thousands of kids in care. I was brought up in the then called Church of England, today I want nothing to do with these parasites, I trusted them and they let me down badly, all they are interested in is making money.

  2. hi Keith, thanks so much for coming and commenting about this difficult subject. It's obviously clear that some really bad mistakes have been made in the past but it's also true that the Anglican church is now working hard (at least here in Sydney) to take responsibility for those matters.
    If you've not already, can I encourage you to take any matters that you're concerned about to the police and also (if you feel up to it) to the Professional Standards Unit of your Anglican diocese (you can contact me via my website if you like to get more details).
    We're certainly not perfect, but the Anglican Church of today is in some ways very different to the Anglican church of previous decades and there's a great desire to do right in this painful area.

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