The federal election exposed the alleged power and influence of the Religious Right as a complete con. Far from having any impact on the outcome, their claim of being able to corral votes and decide seats was shown to be fraudulent.
In the wake of this revelation, will Kevin Rudd and his new Labor Government continue to pander to this lobby and their superstitions?
In recent years, the Religious Right has broadly formed into two wings. The first is the parliamentary wing, the “Family First Party” originally founded by the Assemblies of God and supported by many evangelical church groups.
The second wing has been the “Australian Christian Lobby”, a peak body which aims to speak for “Christian” voters and values and is headed by Canberra-based Jim Wallace AM.
Together, and with the help of some supportive MP’s and Senators, the Religious Right has been agitating for its agenda both outside and inside the parliament.
With the election of Family First Senator Steve Fielding in 2005 and the rising media prominence of the ACL, outgoing Prime Minister John Howard showed unprecedented patronage to this constituency, giving it extraordinary access.
Even former Treasurer Peter Costello felt the need to go and wave his hands in the air at the Hillsong megachurch in outer Sydney but looked uncomfortable and became evasive when a live TV interview with him from the venue turned to the question of the church’s advocacy of “Intelligent Design”.
Howard was just as cynical and interested only in the votes such groups might be able to deliver. In return, the Religious Right wanted his government to take a hard line on same-sex entitlements, lesbian parenting, abortion, stem cell research and above all else - gay marriage.
During the recent campaign both Howard and Rudd agreed to discuss faith and values with an Internet telecast organised by Hillsong, where the topic of gay marriage seemed to dominate the anxieties of the virtual audience.
Gay marriage is an obsession with the Religious Right and it has been their rallying cry for the past two federal elections. Gay marriage is the new communism; there’s one under every bed.
Indeed, the Religious Right were successful at getting both the Howard government and Labor Opposition to ban gay marriage in 2004. But this success propelled them to campaign for more of their agenda.
Along with banning gay marriage, the Howard government funded a high schools’ Chaplaincy program, moved to prohibit overseas adoption by same-sex couples and even flirted with the possibility of allowing “Intelligent Design” to be taught in public schools.
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