Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sparse Christian response to election news, but it's early days...

Federal election 2013, Julia Gillard, Prime Minister, election, Christian, voter, reaction, Catholic, Anglican
Response from faith-based organisations and churches was relatively sparse in the hours after Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of a September 14 federal election.

Anglican analysis
Sydney Anglicans has a page devoted to the 'political year ahead' which pre-dates the announcement but provides some good analysis.

Among other things, it lists issues as:

  • The key issue will be the economy.
  • Voters will likewise expect more from Tony Abbott and his colleagues.
  • A proper debate on poverty and income support needed.
  • Expect big debates on law reform issues, starting with Commonwealth plans for national anti-discrimination laws. 
  • Praying for let’s a more civilized climate of public debate.
Catholic comment
Catholic Health Australia tweeted that the election will be '2.5 weeks after the CHA national conference. Might be some people keen to be added to our program :)'.

Scott Prasser, executive director of the Australian Catholic University's Public Policy Institute, said in the SMH that Ms Gillard's 'unprecedented' move would benefit the government because it could keep campaigning with government resources.

Prof Prasser it would also put pressure on Tony Abbott to release policies and change tenor of all debates until the election.

ACL action
As of midnight on announcement night, the Australian Christian Lobby had not publicly commented on the election announcement and is still focused on the March 9 West Australian election.

"In the lead up to the election, the ACL has organised a Make it Count event with the Premier and Opposition Leader of the major parties on Tuesday 26th February at Mount Pleasant Baptist Community College from 7.30 to 9pm" the ACL website says.

Jewish response
Despite the Prime Minister announcing the election for the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, was unconcerned saying the clash of dates on September 14 ''is not an issue''
Mr Wertheim told The Age that every federal election is held on a Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath - and he believes that Jewish people are well used to voting early either by pre polling or through the mail.

Handel's Messiah rates a mention
One blog has pointed out that among other things, September 14 is the date Handel completed the Messiah in 1741. If the Day of Atonement was not enough...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Election 2013 has religious overtones from beginning

From the day of its announcement, the 2013 Australian federal election has had religious overtones.

Choosing Yom Kippur - the Jewish Day of Atonement, this year starting on September 13 and concluding on the evening of September 14 - would be to Christians something like holding an election on Christmas Day.

And while most Australians of faiths other than Christianity are realistic about not having their special days featuring on the national calendar in the same way as Easter or Christmas, they might just expect to avoid competing with a national poll.

Still other Australians, of no or indifferent faith, will be asking what the fuss is about and are probably trying not to think about the election at all.

Finally, for the many for whom AFL is the religion of choice, they will feel vindicated that the Prime Minister has most carefully avoided their most holy of days.

Whether we like it or not, religion - or as we will more often describe it - faith is a fact of life and a reality of political life. And if you need a sign of its importance, then the intersection of election and holy day may be just for you.

We are reviving Australian Christian Voter for just that reason. There are many Australians who hope faith, especially the Christian faith, has a significant influence on the policies and outcome of the next election. There are many other Australians who hope, vehemently, that it doesn't and instead have their own special agenda. That is the nature of politics.

Australian Christian Voter is really for the average Australian, who may have an active or even dormant faith, or none at all, who seeks to be slightly better informed about what Christians and others are saying about policies, candidates and issues in the lead up to the election. And with good conscience cast a decent vote.

So with 226 days and about 21 hours until the September 14 election, lets keep open minds, ears and eyes as to how to cast our vote - and perhaps our noses might be useful for a whiff of pretense, or something stronger...

Reaction from Jewish politicians