With the Coalition proving a willing audience as the Australian Christian Lobby once again starts flexing its political muscles, we asked readers if they were worried about its influence on our politicians. The answers came thick and fast.
Stephen Kimber writes: One can hardly be anything other than worried about the increasing influence of politically conservative and divisive religious lobbyist groups on our federal government, particularly one with an avowedly Pentecostal PM. Church and state should be separate, as I recall, not seeking to reinforce known narrow discriminations on a multicultural and multifaceted populace. You do not protect your people by protecting religious bigotry.
Gloria Delahunty writes: I agree with everything ACL and Martyn Illes is doing. We need more religious freedom and less indoctrination of our children into LGBTIQ agenda. The confusion and sexualisation of our preschool children is a disgrace to our society. I pray for our nation and our politicians to have their eyes opened to the damage they are causing to our innocent young children, which should not even be thinking about the things they are being fed.
Bill Buke writes: Yes I am very worried about the extremist group ACL. It wants to turn back time not only against women but educated thinking. It is just as bad as the QAnon group.
Greg Crome writes: The best values of Western civilisation flow from the Christian gospel, the Judeo/Christian ethic. Why would that ever be a threat? … Why do people want to expunge our society of Christian influence? … Christians aren’t going away, and will not be silenced …
Tim Reynolds writes: Everybody is entitled to their beliefs but it should be private and never used as a tool to coerce others or be introduced into politics … We have diverse religious beliefs in Australia, including those who have no religious leanings. So what right does the ACL have to preach to and attempt to enforce its very biased beliefs on those of other or no religious beliefs?
Lindy Pienaar writes: [Am I] worried about the influence the ACL has on our politicians? Absolutely not. It is time that all voices get a fair opportunity to voice values, norms, science, history and place it in the “pool of knowledge” for discussion. This generation has radically changed due to big tech and censorship and the propaganda we are spoon-fed … The culture we live in is empty and utterly self-centred, it is a void … So bring it on, ACL!
Dr Meredith Doig (president of the Rationalist Society of Australia) writes: All Australians ought to be worried about the aggressive push for religious privilege being conducted by the ACL — which is a lobby (so how come it gets charity status?) but is certainly not Christian. At least not according to the vast majority of Christians in this country. The Rationalist Society has just published a major report called “Religiosity in Australia”, which shows that the level of support for religion in Australia has been grossly misrepresented and the views of religious leaders are largely out of touch with those of the Australians they claim to represent … Legislators and governments would be wise to keep clearly in mind these revealed facts about Australians’ real attitudes rather than listening only to the country’s most outspoken religious conservatives. Failure to do so would not only be an affront to democratic principles but will increasingly lead to electoral backlash.
Graeme and Val Wicks write: We are far more concerned about the influence approximately 2% of the population (LGBTIQ) has over politicians!
Lesley Knapp writes: I am deeply concerned about the influence of the ACL on our politicians. I am watching the last season of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and understand that the horrific subjugation of women and the religious ideology that enables it that she writes about is not fantasy, but has happened somewhere in the world at some point. The story resonates too loudly and we need to be alert and afraid.
Robert Henderson writes: The ACL certainly does not speak for me, an 80-year-old lifetime follower of Jesus’ teachings. For me, Jesus was a revolutionary thinker who sided with and reached out to the most marginalised people and was predominantly focused on breaking down barriers between all people and proclaiming a gospel of universal love and justice and equity. His outspoken opposition to the powerful religious authorities of the time … led to his own death. Any similarity that the ACL has to Jesus’ actual teachings is exceedingly difficult to detect.
Jo Lewis writes: Perhaps there should be an all-religions and nonbelievers lobby developed, aimed at excluding nobody and calling for equality, and ensuring fairness in all situations and legislation. I think we are heading in the right direction and would hate to see any development that excludes people for religious reasons and causes racial and ethnic and sectarian separation that can develop into hatred and violence.
Steph Mitchell writes: I for one am glad that the ACL is helping to spread the message to our politicians that there are people who still hold to traditional values, even some who wouldn’t even consider themselves Christian but are influenced by many of Christianity’s basic beliefs … At the last federal election, it was the quiet Australians who don’t like the way much of society is heading who voted for Scott Morrison and helped pull off the “miracle” result. Much prayer was offered for such a result and will be again for the election next year.
Liz Thornton writes: I am appalled at the prospect of further push into government from so-called Christians. People are welcome to worship any god they like but when the beliefs held by people like our prime minister enter into law making it becomes a danger matching other countries that we would declare autocratic. The fact that some Christians already in government have no morals or ethical standards is clear warning that voters need to be conscious and not sleepwalk into electing more slack decisions guided by the ACL.
John Amadio writes: The ACL represents only a small segment of the whole Christian community let alone the wider one and holds a very narrow, quite intolerant focus. Christianity and other religious beliefs are far from discriminated against within society … The ACL agenda is clearly to gain influence and power within Parliament and the government to prosecute a narrow agenda that provides disproportionate power to a group that would seek to undo many of the human rights we enjoy.
Ben O’Brien writes: No I am not concerned at all. Australia was built on Christian influence and belief in the sanctity of human life … Christian values are actually helpful for society to function. Why? Because God knows what he’s talking about.
Richard Staples writes: Australian politicians should think hard about the consequences of Australia having anything other than a secular constitution and government. Indonesia has a population of some 270 million, of which about 90% embrace Islam. Nevertheless the Indonesian constitution and government is secular … In general, diversity of faith is not just tolerated but respected. Even Christmas Day is celebrated as a national holiday. Any moves away from secularism in Australia would not go unnoticed in Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere. It would give ammunition to religious zealots everywhere.
Sue Holdsworth writes: The ACL appears to have a disproportionate influence not only on our government but also among conservative Australian Christians. The ACL is not a church leader, although some Christians are all too willing to look to it for leadership on social issues. Many Christians (myself included) are uncomfortable with its very name, which implies it represents all Christians. Many of us are disappointed with its obsession over Israel Folau and its stance on moral issues, including same-sex marriage and transgenders. I want Aussies to know the ACL does not represent all Christians.
Stanley Burgess writes: I feel that I must register my disappointment at the cynical tone of your story on the ACL. What is wrong with more Australians taking an active part in our democracy? We are generally an apathetic lot so a little passion is very welcome, surely. That ungodly mob GetUp is an organised activist lobby at the other end of the political spectrum. It belongs to the church of woke within whose doctrine there is no redemption. So onward Christian soldiers indeed, and God bless them and you.
Jeff Canning writes: Arse clown loopies. That’s what ACL stands for.
Fiona Colin writes: We have seen in the disUnited States how effectively the religious right mobilised the forces not only of “mainstream” religion but of all its tributaries. I’m thinking anti-sciencers in general, but the list includes climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers, and even Pentecostalists. What worries me is that not only are we not progressing to a more enlightened civil society but we are going back to a time of great division, superstition, irrationality and suspicion — to Salem.
Simon Barnett writes: All the information supplied regarding the lobbying of the government by ACL staff seems routine, and exactly as one would expect. Big business, small business, farming groups, trade unions, aid agencies, and lobbyists from the LGBTIQ groups you mention are all surely lobbying politicians in exactly the same way? This appears to be an example of our democratic process working as it should … Regarding Folau being supported by ACL — again, there was an implication that there was something wrong in this. In the opinion of many, including myself, it is disgraceful that any man in Australia should lose his job for simply expressing a different opinion from that of his employer. The argument that someone’s feelings could be hurt by him doing so is ridiculous on every level, and should be called out by Crikey and other news groups for the baseless, whining, and manipulative bullying tactic that it is … It should not be necessary to compel everyone to express the same opinion, and it will be a much poorer society should we do so.
Colin Bright writes: The ACL continues its oppression of LGBTIQ people, just as religious groups and leaders have for many centuries … Theism is the No. 1 conspiracy theory, and people with such delusions should not be eligible to be elected to government in my humble opinion.