It is very interesting to read, especially in the light of criticisms of Tony Blair and the Church in relation to his reception into the Catholic Church (finally) just before Christmas (for interesting comment on that, see here and–even more interestingly–here).
Here are some snippets from Roskam’s article:
Tony Blair was right when a few weeks ago, on the eve of his conversion to Catholicism, he said that any British politician who talked about religion ran the risk of being regarded as a “nutter”. He drew a comparison with the United States where politicians were not afraid to discuss their faith…
In this country, a politician speaking about religion also faces the risk of something worse than being thought a nutter. It’s just as possible that anyone who admits that their religion influences the way they vote in parliament will be accused of being a dangerous theocrat intent on introducing the moral majority into Australia.
The evidence that a politician who talks about religion faces such a threat is widespread. It is obvious in the treatment of Tony Abbott, tagged by the Canberra press gallery as the “mad monk”, to the way the ABC has labelled Catholic social groups, such as Opus Dei, as semi-secret organisations.
There are a number of contradictions in the way that religion and politics is treated in Australia. The first is the inability of much of the media to appreciate that a secular viewpoint carries as many moral assumptions as does one determined on religious grounds…
It is impossible for anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, not to approach policy questions without some moral framework. Morality simply cannot be taken out of politics…
Separation of church and state does not mean, and was never intended to mean, that anyone with religious convictions was disqualified from participating in politics.
…So far Kevin Rudd has defied Tony Blair’s pronouncement. The new [Australian] Prime Minister has proved to be no less religious than his predecessor — if anything, Rudd has been more willing to talk about religion than was Howard, most notably in his description of himself as a Christian socialist.
Having made much of his Christianity during 2007, it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, religion has on the Prime Minister’s policies during 2008.
Yes, it will be interesting. I believe that Rudd is more (or possibly less) than simply religious–he is possibly the first really theologically articulate prime minister Australia has ever had. Check this out, if you want proof.