Abbott defends churchgoing politicians

CLICK HEREFederal Health Minister Tony Abbott has told ABC TV's Insiders program that politicians who go to church on Sundays should not be branded extremists.

Mr Abbott was responding to criticism of so-called "right-wing extremists" in the Liberal Party who allegedly played a part in last week's downfall of NSW Liberal Leader John Brogden, specifically David Clarke, who is a Catholic and member of Opus Dei.

"David, I think is a very good bloke. I think that he's done some necessary and important work in the party organisation. I don't see what's extreme about David. He goes to church on Sunday - what's extreme about that?

Mr Abbott said that Clarke's opposition to lowering of the age of consent for homosexuals, and abortion, is "hardly extreme", and "there would be lots of people inside the Labor Party who share those sorts of views".

He suggested there is a significant number of moderate or even left-wing politicians who also attend Church services.

"[Labor Foreign Affairs spokesperson] Kevin Rudd goes to church on Sunday, as I understand things, does that make him an extremist?"

Abbott admits to insensitive Brogden comments (ABC TV Insiders 4/9/05)

Abbott denies he's 'programmed' by bishops (CathNews 11/8/05)
Abbott "at ease" with faith in politics (CathNews 20/7/05)
Abbott says "humane thinking" motivates his anti-abortion stance (CathNews 30/5/05)
Jesuit defends Abbott impartiality (CathNews 4/3/05)
Abbott backs new anti-abortion lobby (CathNews 1/2/05)
Liberals say Abbott will pay for commitment to faith before politics (CathNews 8/11/04)

Abbott apologises for Brogden jokes (Townsville Bulletin/Australian Associated Press 4/9/05)
Lid lifts on mysterious Clarke (Sydney Morning Herald 5/9/05)
How Brogden fell into a Machiavellian plot (The Australian 3/9/05)
D.D. McNicholl: Right's kingmaker denies dirty tricks (The Australian 5/9/05)

5 Sep 2005