Canberra Archbishop praises Rudd's Christian essay

The Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Mark Coleridge, who has spoken out on the role of Christianity in politics, has praised a new essay by Shadow Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd which called upon the churches to take a more active role in politics.

In an essay published in the October issue of The Monthly magazine, Mr Rudd invites churches to "fearlessly speak truth to the state", and especially in calling the Howard Government to account.

"I think it's a sign the Labor Party has realised the radical separation between religion and politics, church and state is unworkable and unrealistic," Archbishop Coleridge (pictured) said, according to The Australian.

"The church has to be deeply engaged in the public domain but not in a partisan way."

Raised as a Catholic but now describing himself as "a Christian of no fixed denominational abode", Mr Rudd advocates an "alternative vision for Australia's future" shaped by Christian values, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

"For too long in this country," he told the Herald yesterday, "there's been an assumption that if you have private faith your natural destination is one of the conservative parties."

In his essay, Mr Rudd expresses his admiration for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who resisted Hitler and who was hanged by the SS three weeks before the end of the war for complicity in the plot to assassinate Hitler.

Mr Rudd agrees with Bonhoeffer's precept that "obedience to God's will may be a religious experience but it is not an ethical one until it issues in actions that can be socially valued".

As Mr Rudd put it yesterday: "It's an uncompromising message ... that Christian ethics, unless applied to the concrete social challenges of the day, is meaningless.

"It's not OK to go to church on Sunday and be unconcerned about social justice on Monday."

Mr Rudd, who said he did not go to church yesterday but went twice the previous Sunday - "I had a double credit from last Sunday" - writes in his essay how this principle should be applied to Australian politics.

"I argue that a core, continuing principle shaping this engagement should be that Christianity, consistent with Bonhoeffer's critique in the '30s, must always take the side of the marginalised, the vulnerable and the oppressed."

Christians should get their say in politics: Rudd (The Australian 3/10/06)
Rudd seeks Church role in politics (Sydney Morning Herald, 2/10/066)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Kevin Rudd website
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Monthly

Imagine politics without Christians: Abbott tells critics (CathNews, 29/8/06)
Parliamentarians to debate Christian contribution (CathNews, 4/8/06)
Rudd says Church must influence politics (CathNews, 29/8/05)
Coleridge plans to "stir up some energy" in Canberra (CathNews, 27/6/06)

3 Oct 2006