The 2019 Federal election results were a disappointment. Fortunately on election night I was joined by good friends. Burdens shared are lightened.
While not particularly enthusiastic about a Labor government, I had felt that the departure of the Liberal National government would have increased the chance of more equitable, inclusive and fairer laws and policies for our country. It was not to be.
Closest to my heart were those subsisting on Newstart and the various allowances such as Youth Allowance and Austudy. With no change of government there seems little chance for improvement in the rates of payment.
For the last month I have been contemplating how I should devote my efforts in the next three years. When I was a young social worker, I was impressed by the aphorism of psychologist Kurt Lewin, “There is nothing so practical as good theory.” In my older age, I have adapted it to “There is nothing so practical as good theology”.
In this vein, the theologian Dorothy Soelle reminded me that affluent Christians do not have a right to get depressed about a lack of progress on righting injustice. While Jesus in the form of the poor continues to be exploited and unjustly treated, we as Christians have an obligation to speak out and to participate in their struggle.
Similarly James Cone reminded me that in the battle against racism, people of colour don’t have an escape hatch like white people do, to simply walk away from the problem. More positively however he also reminded me that in worship and liturgy we have an opportunity to step into the Kingdom of God that is both a foretaste of the democracy of grace to come and an encouragement to work ceaselessly for its actualisation in the world.
In response to the last Federal Election I have decided to redouble my efforts and become even more committed to the work of APCVA. At the last management committee of APCVA it was decided to give my work a title; it is Policy Advocate. This was done to enable my work advocating directly with the media, with politicians and with other organisations.
At the election we put together a good collection of issues that we as progressive Christians were concerned about. We will certainly take these issues forward over the next three years. In addition, it has become clearer that we will need to oppose more strongly the Australian Christian Lobby who are effectively creating the illusion with many politicians that they speak on behalf of all Christians. More dangerously, as highlighted in ACL’s recent support of Israel Folau’s destructive and hurtful comments, ACL projects an image of Christianity that is at odds with Christ’s central message of love and inclusivity. As Richard Rohr succinctly put it recently, “The point of the Christian life is not to distinguish oneself from the ungodly, but to stand in radical solidarity with everyone and everything” (The Universal Christ, 2019, p.33).
So friends do not be disheartened. In the next three years APCVA will be increasing its efforts to promote public awareness of the life giving, liberating, challenging and radically inclusive nature of progressive Christianity. We will be interacting with the media more. We will be talking to Parliamentarians more. We will be addressing a wide range of public issues as they arise. We hope many of you will actively join us on this journey.
Len Baglow, Policy Advocate and member of the Management Committee of APCVA