The debate about when and how Christians should take part in politics is as old as politics itself. The issue is back in the spotlight, thanks to Tasmanian independent Mike Gaffney, who is planning to introduce a voluntary euthanasia bill to parliament in the coming weeks.
“All groups and individuals have a right to voice their opinion on any issue,” Gaffney told the National Secular Lobby. “However, no religious group should feel as though they should be able to influence policy making in Australia.” Martyn thought this organisation’s name may be a play on words from the Australian Christian Lobby.
Gaffney’s argument is based on the idea that Church and state should always remain separated. As we’ve revealed in previous conversations, that idea had its foundations in the Bible. But talking to Neil Johnson on Vision’s 20Twenty, Martyn Iles, from the Australian Christian Lobby, says Gaffney is misinterpreting the concept.
“The separation of Church and state is not the separation of religion and politics. The separation of Church and state just means that the Church isn’t the state, and the state isn’t the Church.”
“You don’t have the state going into churches and saying you should meet on a different day, you should do communion differently, or you should have Sunday school in this room, not that room. That’s the Church’s business.”
Similarly, Christians are never guaranteed seats in parliament. But Iles says that doesn’t mean Christians aren’t part of our democracy. “People of Faith are not excluded from having a voice in the public square. If that was so, then you’d have a two-class society. You’d have people of Faith who can’t be part of democracy. And then you’d have people who have no faith, who could be out there, voting and speaking into these issues, which is completely absurd.”
“Everybody brings their beliefs, their worldview, their presuppositions and their values to their politics. And so for Mike Gaffney to say that people of faith can’t influence public policy is very concerning. Because what he’s saying is go home, sit down, and stop voting.”
Iles says there’s an ever-growing divide between the goals of politicians and the truths in the Bible. “There’s a lot of people that have got into politics because they want to fundamentally change society. And if you want to fundamentally change society, you’re not going to be very happy about the things that Churches and Christian people say, because very often, the values we have are time-honored values. They’re values that these guys want to change.”
Proverbs 14:34 NKJV says that “righteousness exults a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”. Iles says all the current debates around controversial social change really come down to the question of righteousness.
“We as Christian people, we read the Scriptures, and we see what God says about what is good. And so we go into society, and we tell people, this is what’s good. And also, we can explain why it’s good, because the research and social science actually backs us up, and backs up Gods ways.”
Isaiah 5:20 NKJV says “woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Iles says this confusion is the inevitable result of a society which loses track of Biblical truth.
“And that is the way in which we can be the conscience of the nation, and we can call the nation back to righteousness. I think it’s very important that that voice continue in society, because without it, people won’t know what is right and what is wrong.”
Listen to the podcast of Martyn Iles’ conversation with Neil Johnson for more of his thoughts on potential euthanasia legislation in Tasmania, arrests for silent prayer in South Australia, and born-again rapper Kanye West’s potential Presidential campaign. And check out 20Twenty every Monday for updates on the political agenda from the Australian Christian Lobby.
Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.