Whenever contentious issues like Same-Sex Marriage and Sharia Law raise their (to some ugly) heads, we in Australia are hurriedly reminded that this is a Christian Nation. Forget the Aboriginals and the myriad of cultures that now make up this nation we are told, the white people who “discovered” and settled our country prayed to Jesus and no one else. When they weren’t raping and pillaging the “New World” that is. However, accepting this as true and in any way relevant, one must ask why our “Christian roots” only seem to make an appearance when it comes to perpetuating or stopping the vicissitude of certain cultural institutions and norms, how the current incarnation of Christianity in our public discourse at all represents Christ or his teachings, and especially where the emphasis on love and compassion has gone.

As far as I am aware, Christ did not deign it necessary to even broach the subjects of homosexuality, drug use, the proper regulation of marriage, or many other current issues that prominent Australian Christian leaders now concern themselves with. Either he did not put as much stock in them as they do, or his henchmen didn’t bother to write it down when he did mention them. However, as I am sure everyone is aware, and Christians (in other settings) never tire of reminding us, he was a thoroughly smashing guy when it came to showing love and compassion, especially emphasizing those amongst us that need it most. Bizarrely, Jesus never even mentions forcing unbelievers to follow Biblical morals through legislative fiat. Instead, Christ emphasized showing love, not only as a way to convert sinners to the correct path (Jesus wanted us non-believers to convert when we see what a rollicking good time all the Christians are having loving one another and showing compassion to the less fortunate), but also to show love and compassion just for the sake of it. It is possible to argue that showing love and compassion is the entire point of Christianity. The “Golden Rule” encapsulates all that is Christ, and, we should all be thinking of it whenever we think of Christ or Christianity. Well, I must wonder, where is it now?

Where is the Christian compassion when it comes to Australia’s Asylum Seeker debate? Why aren’t the devout Christian members of parliament showing compassion by making the case that the few thousand boat people are not the issue, but that we should open our borders to all and sundry precisely because we are a “Christian Nation” and that is what Christ would have wanted? Why aren’t Gloria Jeans showing love by donating their $30,000 to lobby for better treatment of Asylum Seekers in detention, or, better yet, giving it directly to Asylum Seekers who are struggling both in and out of detention? Why aren’t the Australian Christian Lobby showing compassion by fighting for the Federal Government to spend more money to ensure Asylum Seekers currently being processed are kept in humane conditions, and the refugees who have been processed are educated and housed at a level comparable to the rest of us? Why haven’t the Australian Churches organized and started picketing the Government to show more leniency to Asylum Seekers? Or, closer to home, why doesn’t Queensland Premier Campbell Newman show both compassion and love by spending more time working on the National Disability Insurance Scheme than concentrating on reducing Civil Unions legislation to a “Relationships Register”, or weakening Surrogacy Laws (which, by the way, also impacts heterosexuals)? In short, why are all the prominent and influential Christians more interested in hatred and selfishness than following the teachings of the man they profess to follow? Why are we only a “Christian Nation” and why do so-called “Christian Values” only pop up in policy discussions when there is a need to legitimize bigotry? Why are they absent when people genuinely have need of our compassion and love?

When Parliament reconvenes in a few weeks and the two members bills on Same-Sex Marriage are brought forward this whole “Christian Nation” and “Christian Values” spiel will once again kick into high gear. Many of the members who vote against the motions will be doing so because of their belief systems, and because they believe this is a “Christian Nation”. The very least we can do is question what kind of Christian or “Christian Nation” expends more effort on exclusionary policies than love or compassion. The very least we can do is question why the prominent Christian leaders of a “Christian Nation” spend more time on issues Jesus never mentions than with the two guiding philosophies for which he is so remembered. When our leaders can answer these questions, when our nation stops putting so much effort into forcing Stone Age morals onto unbelievers, when our nation starts showing more interest in the health and welfare of those who need it most, when our nation starts showing some genuine love and compassion; then, maybe, we can call ourselves a Christian Nation.

Originally posted @ Sakalabujan Magazine