Vics trade "religious fundamentalism" accusations

Former Victorian Labor premier John Cain has warned against a political resurgence of religious "fundamentalism" following the election of Catholic DLP parliamentarian, Peter Kavanagh, who responded by accusing the former leader of inflaming prejudices.

The Age reports that Mr Cain, whose father John Cain Snr's state government was destroyed by the 1950s Labor split that led to the formation of the Catholic-based DLP, said it was vital to avoid sectarianism and protect a secular society.

"Fundamentalist religious beliefs are growing in strength and seeking to further their ends by influencing political parties," he told The Age.

"The principal parties have to be aware that this is emerging and that they should resist any attempt, from within or without, to achieve political influence through religious pressures."

Mr Cain was responding to the inaugural parliamentary speech of Peter Kavanagh, who recently became the first DLP member of State Parliament since the 1950s.

In his speech Mr Kavanagh criticised Mr Cain over the latter's reference to DLP members as "sectarian serpents" and suggested Mr Cain Snr's bitterness against the DLP was fuelled by "deep-seated religious prejudices".

Asked by the Age for a response, Mr Cain said that "the social conscience of DLP members to which Mr Kavanagh refers is not the issue.

"The people he lauds cast aside their role as members of a Labor government in implementing the reforms he cites. They did this in pursuit of what they saw as a higher cause when the (BA) Santamaria and (Catholic archbishop Daniel) Mannix forces sought to have the Catholic Church dominate the Labor Party by stacking its membership with their supporters."

However, Mr Kavanagh said he believed in the separation of church and state although "this does not mean that only the state has rights."

"The essence of fairness is mutuality, and this doctrine implies both rights and restrictions on both churches and state," he said.

"The DLP is, proudly, influenced by Judeo-Christian values. The term 'religious fundamentalist', used by Mr Cain to inflame prejudices, is not, however, applicable to the DLP."

Cain warns on DLP comeback (The Age, 1/2/07)
New voice rings out from deep well of Labor history (The Age, 1/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
John Cain (Wikipedia)
Peter Kavanagh Blog

Vic ex-premier claims Santamaria promoted "dark sectarianism" (CathNews, 31/1/07)
Imagine politics without Christians: Abbott tells critics (CathNews, 30/1/07)
Abbott claims DLP heritage for Liberal Party (CathNews, 29/1/07)
Echoes of Labor Split in Vic election shock (CathNews, 13/12/06)

16 Feb 2007