Christian leaders seek end to political spin
Putting a spin on things, rather than speaking the truth, has become the norm, according to a group of Australian Christian leaders who last week issued a statement on what it means to believe in and follow Jesus Christ in Australia today.
Ekklesia reports that the leaders are concerned about the growth of violence, fear and deception in political life.
The Canberra-based initiative was led by Rev James Barr, Senior Minister of the Canberra Baptist Church. The Catholic Church was represented by Canberra-Goulburn Diocese auxiliary Bishop Pat Power.
Reflecting on the culture of Australian public life in a way that resonates with other Western contexts, the Christian leaders, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, conclude: "[We] have good reason to be concerned about the lack of public accountability on the part of those exercising political and bureaucratic power."
The ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence program of the National Council of Churches in Australia and the work of the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand were commended as positive examples of Christian engagement in peacemaking.
Throughout Jesus' life, his witness to the God of compassion and justice brought him into conflict with the religious establishment and the ruling powers, the group points out.
They add: "[W]e do not accept that claims of national or ethnic identity, let alone concerns for 'national security', supersede our loyalty to God. Nor do they override our responsibility to make the moral vision of Jesus real in our world."
The statement's authors say that their "confession" is offered to the Australian church and others of good will for study and debate as they shape a response to the challenges of violence and pervasive fear.
"Jesus summoned those who follow him to work towards building communities of human wholeness, characterised by truth-telling, peacemaking and respect for the dignity of all, even perceived enemies," says the document.
In Reformed and other Christian circles the word "confession" denotes a concern to develop a concerted expression of Christian faith in response to major challenges.
In the lead up the last Federal election, a group of former diplomats including notable Catholics like Mr John Menadue also called for more honesty in political life.
The 2004 statement says "it is wrong and dangerous for our elected representatives to mislead the Australian people" over issues such as the Iraq war and foreign affairs.
Gospel should challenge violence and fear, say Australian Christian (Ekklesia 6/5/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Text: Calling for Christian non-conformity (Ekklesia 5/5/06)
Decade to Overcome Violence (Natinal Council of Churches in Australia)
Church leaders offer confession in response to 'violence and pervasive fear' (Insights 3/5/06)
9 May 2006