Religion at the Ballot Box
Almost two out of three Australians identified themselves as Christians at the last census, which seems to create a large voting block and a problem for an avowedly atheist prime ministerial candidate.
Yesterday ABC’s Radio National Breakfast featured an interview with Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), who cited 19% of the population attending church once a month as having “a lot more commonalities than difference” when it comes to their religious values.
Earlier in the week Wallace appeared on ABC’s Lateline with some clear statements on the conditions for their support. Wallace said “We remain concerned that the traditional definition of marriage be maintained. And while both parties have given their commitment to that, we need to know that in the case of Labor that that will continue to stand beyond the national Labor conference, or the next national Labor conference.”
Wallace also voiced concerns about the Greens as a party “supporting euthanasia, supporting abortion, against prayers in parliament, against ISP filtering”. The Greens ‘balance of power’ status in the Senate is the envy of all minor parties, so Christian groups eye their position enviously particularly rising powers like Family First.
ACL launched a website, Australia Votes, yesterday as a handy reference for faith-based voters. The site posed questions to all the parties including Family First and the Australian Sex Party.
Along with some “no change to the existing laws” fudging by major parties, there are insights into opening Parliament with the Lord’s Prayer (“The Coalition remains firmly committed to the opening of Parliament exclusively each day with the Lord’s Prayer”) , abortion (“The Australian Labor Party supports conscience votes on issues before the federal parliament which relate to abortion”) and even cloning (Australian Sex Party: “Supports stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research, and maintains it is a vital medical issue, not a religious issue.”)
While Wallace admits in both interviews that voting on religion in contemporary Australia is limited, the lobby group claims to represent many voters based on census stats. Another group who fared well in the 2001 census were those identifying their religion as Jedi with more than 70,000 Australians claiming they followed a faith based in Star Wars. And yet no political parties currently courting the “lightsabre vote”.