Australia’s atrophied religious right vs faithless Baptist PM [Addendum]
Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard is a “non-practicing Baptist [atheist]” who lives without benefit of matrimony with her male companion.
Australians, it seems, are even less attentive to the blandishments of their religious right than voters in this country have become to the overstated suasions of the likes of Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land. As Joel Gibson wrote recently for the Sydney Morning Herald:
We’re a weird mob when it comes to God and politics. Two-thirds of us tick a religious box in the census but research for the Herald by Nielsen last year found three-in-four don’t care whether our leaders believe in God. There are as many of us who abhor it in politics as there are who crave it, and both are small minorities.
Macquarie University academic, Marion Maddox, whose book For God and Country details the religious dynamics in Australian politics, says “Australians are suspicious of anyone who sounds too religious.” She has also said she expects the religious beliefs of politicians to fade from public discourse.
Aussie Labor Party member Gilliard isn’t like to be the final test of that, but this far she has been a boon to her party. She and her allies ousted failing Labor PM Kevin Rudd and the Herald Sun reports:
Ms. Gillard has turned around Labor’s fortunes, even in Western Australia where support had slumped to 28 per cent thanks to the mining tax. A poll in The West Australian yesterday showed support had jumped to 36 per cent in the wake of her promotion.
She’s expected to call for an election soon to establish her own governing mandate.
Don’t expect an American-style debate over the church she doesn’t attend. Indeed, that uproar Down Under isn’t happening already.
“CAAH [Community Action Against Homophobia was less hopeful] Sydney believes that Julia Gillard won the leadership with the support of the anti-gay right within the Labor Party and she will be beholden to their agenda,” [Ben] Cooper said. “We hope she will be supportive of issues such as same-sex marriage but we are not optimistic that this will occur any time soon.”
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