Australian Christian Lobby responds (letter)by Jim Wallace AMNews Weekly
, December 6, 2008
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to Damian Wyld's article, "Assessing the Australian Christian Lobby
" (News Weekly
, November 22, 2008.)
ACL seeks to bring Christ's influence into public policy, and does so strenuously, while acknowledging that in a secular, democratic state we must accept the majority decision in the end.
This is not compromising, as the article implies, and certainly does not see ACL holding relationships with politicians above principle, as our record of often very public conflict with parties and individuals shows.
ACL's position on conceding Medicare funding for induced labour where there is a lethal foetal abnormality is the same as that of Senator Guy Barnett, other pro-life parliamentarians and also Dr David van Gend who, interestingly, escape Mr Wyld's criticism — perhaps rightly wishing to guard relationship with them.
The criticism of our Debate
magazine is puzzling. We believe in what I had always thought was the strong tradition of the NCC's founder, B.A. Santamaria, that we have to take on prevailing views, confident that they can be dismantled by well put Christian argument.Debate
unashamedly does that and seeks to ensure those juxtaposed positions are available in politicians' offices throughout Australia in time for upcoming parliamentary debates. As an example, Debate
articles by Dr Nitshcke (pro-euthanasia) and Dr van Gend (pro-life) assisted in convincing some Victorian politicians (not normally associated with pro-life views) to vote against the euthanasia bill there, which was defeated.
In the same way, Malcolm Turnbull's views on abortion and homosexual issues are well known, but we need to engage him if we are to have any chance of changing them. His invitation to the ACL National Conference was designed to give him an opportunity to state his positions and for us to respond to them, as the start of this process.
I suggest that if we only invite people who agree with us on everything, there will be very few people to engage and will result in less influence in the parliaments.
I am surprised that the appropriateness of a question on the environment being put to parties before the last election would be criticised in this day and age, and all the more with our Christian responsibility for stewardship.
It is disappointing that an article purporting to be an assessment of ACL would not have mentioned our lead roles in defining marriage in Commonwealth Law in 2004, blocking civil unions in the ACT, securing structural changes to the Office of Film and Literature and Classification and the blocking of the brothel legislation in Tasmania; and our successful advocacy with others for the Millennium Development Goals, against cloning and euthanasia in WA and Vic respectively, and for internet filtering and school chaplaincy, to name just a few.
More importantly, though, we aim to raise the profile of the Christian constituency so that its views will be heard and considered; and I think that, together with the work of the many other parts of the Christian community, like the NCC, this is happening.
I just pray that we will continue to acknowledge our different roles and perspectives as parts of that diverse community and trust in God that He will profit those solutions He chooses to, regardless of where in the body they originate.Jim Wallace AM,
Australian Christian Lobby,