Costello says left-wing clergy 'off right track'

Treasurer Peter Costello yesterday lashed out at the hypocritical treatment of churches in politics, saying conservative churches were seen as sinister while Left-wing clergy won nothing but praise.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that Mr Costello strongly defended the Hillsong Church from charges it was "a danger to democracy".

The Treasurer supported the mass-member Pentecostal worship in Sydney's outer suburbs against establishment churches.

He said Left-wing leaders within the Anglican and Uniting churches were given more credence on social issues than conservatives from organisations such as Hillsong.

"Everyone goes around and says, 'well we are worried about the influence of the Pentecostal churches'," Mr Costello said.

"You know, they might get involved in politics, but we will defend the right of Anglican Archbishops to engage in politics. And the difference is the general view in the media is a churchman is entitled to speak on a social issue as long as he has a Left-wing perspective."

One of Hillsong's favourite members, Mr Costello, who last week addressed a 20,000-strong Hillsong Church gathering in Sydney, said the media viewed a church leader with a conservative bent as a "danger to democracy".

"Hillsong can't be good because it is not supporting a Left-wing view, whereas an Anglican Archbishop, that is good. Uniting Church, even better,"he said.

The new leader of Australia's four-million strong Anglican Church, Phillip Aspinall, yesterday refused to be silenced on the Federal Government's proposed industrial relations reforms.

Dr Aspinall said he was concerned about the proposed exemption from unfair dismissal laws of smaller employers, suggesting it would lead to serious injustice in the workplace, and said he would man a picket line if he felt strongly enough about the issue.

"The key principle the church would want to defend is proper protection for the weakest and most vulnerable in our community," he said.

Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has also cautioned the Government against implementing the measures without wide consultation.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has demanded church leaders stay out of the debate.

But Mr Costello said church leaders should be allowed to speak out, but holding theological degrees did not make them experts.

Left-wing clergy 'off right track' (Daily Telegraph 12/7/05)
Pell voices wages concerns (CathNews 4/7/05)

Minister tells churches to stay out of IR fight (CathNews 11/7/05)

Aspinall refuses to be silenced on IR issue (ABC Radio AM 11/7/05)
Aspinall no IR expert: Costello (ABC Radio PM 11/7/05)
Church fears on Govt's industrial reform plans (Catholic Weekly 10/7/05)
Fading religion fanning fundamentalism, author finds (Sydney Morning Herald 12/7/05)
Social Doctrine could aid politicians, says Cardinal (The Universe 11/7/05)

12 Jul 2005