Parliamentarians to debate Christian contribution

More than a dozen federal MPs are this weekend hosting a forum at Parliament House in Canberra to highlight the Christian contribution to the nation's heritage.

The forum, which starts this Sunday, is organised by an ecumenical team chaired by Associate Professor Stuart Piggin, director of the Centre for the History of Christian Thought and Experience at Macquarie University.

A major aim of the conference is to challenge the accepted story "that Australian is a secular country, religion is a private matter and that it has no role in the public square or the market place," organisers say.

"According to this story, Christianity has lacked political significance in Australia, and any political influence it might have is not always welcome.

Thus, the forum "will be considered by some to be a counter-cultural event," the organising team believes.

The forum boasts an impressive line up of speakers including former Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, World Vision chief executive Tim Costello, Woolworths head Roger Corbett, and new Fair Pay Commissioner Ian Harper.

Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce (pictured) and journalist Geraldine Doogue are among the Catholics on the list.

Associate Professor Piggin told The Age that such an event was needed because of a "strong secular bias" in history teaching.

"Most of our historians have a Marxist or secular orientation, so in the 20th century the accounts of Australian history have left out the religious factor," he said.

Despite 68 per cent of Australians identifying themselves as Christian on census forms, Professor Piggin said Christians had not acted as if they were in the majority.

He insisted more Christian debate in public life would not blur the separation of church and state.

Christian forum puts faith in politics (The Age, 4/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Christian Heritage National Forum
Mixing Law, Religion and Politics, Professor Frank Brennan SJ AO

4 Aug 2006