Archive | April, 2021

How do religious beliefs affect politicians’ decisions about women?

1 Apr

This post is written by #ThisIsNotJournalism, a social media account that looks at the reporting of mainstream Australian media, particularly on stories relating to politics at both state and federal levels
They are constantly dismayed at what they see
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Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StopLyi58491572

Las Vegas Strip on a Saturday night.

Can we please talk about a significant issue currently affecting Australia? The Prime Minister is a member of a cult and its influence is pervading our society. No, this time I am not going to talk about Prosperity Theory and how evident it was during JobKeeper and the “snap-back” to the incredibly generous $44 per day, now that most businesses are on their feet and Gerry received a squillion dollar bonus. This is about women and why improving the lot of 51% of our population is diametrically opposed to the religious beliefs of Mr Morrison and a disproportionate number of his inner circle.

Firstly, let me be clear. I am an atheist but 100% respect the right of others under law to have faith. It is also imperative to note that Mr Morrison has stated he does not consider the Bible to be a “policy handbook” 

Mr Morrison has often spoken about how important his faith is to him and his family. Who could forget his belief in miracles acceptance speech? Miracles are a central tenet of Pentecostal belief and his religion, in fact, is central to who he is. He has frequently spoken about how he prays for us, whether during the Covid pandemic (when he seemed to compare himself to Moses), the droughts or floods. There are also fairly regular calls for the blessings of God.

I suspect that most of us have a vague understanding of the core beliefs of Pentecostalism, as perhaps we do of fundamental Judaism or Islam (Pentecostals are not fundamentalist Christians BTW). Vague understandings can be dangerous as often they are tinged with bias both conscious and unconscious. Let’s look at a few of the actual beliefs and why I feel they matter in relation to the advancement of women in Australia.

Firstly, let’s consider the fact that, by nature, Pentecostal Christians are socially conservative. They tend to view issues like abortion, same sex attraction and single parenthood as something to be frowned upon at the very least as their belief is what was considered normal during the times of the New Testament should still apply today.

That anyone could believe we should have the same standards today as we had 2000 years ago is tough for me to accept but this obviously should be seen as a significant concern for the women of Australia if you’re viewing it through a prism that recognises that massive steps are not only required but are being demanded both here and around the world. It’s interesting to note that Mr Morrison himself abstained from the #SSM vote.

Next is Pietism, or the belief that someone’s personal relationship with God guides their life path. This is entirely at odds with strong legislation designed to promote women above where they find themselves today, often due to policies that amount to structural disadvantage. Matters such as abortion or addressing the significant problems around provision of greater childcare as well as methods of equalising superannuation opportunities (rather suggesting women withdraw theirs to escape domestic violence) could well be hamstrung by such strong, and many would consider archaic  beliefs.

It’s little surprise that, at least financially, women are proportionately worse off post-lockdown than men. Despite the rhetoric around job figures, close examination of the facts show that average earnings per participant in the workforce per hour have decreased and that many of the industries most affected are more likely to be staffed by females. The recent debate around and gutting of the proposed changes to IR law was also seen by many a demonstrably damaging to female workers over men.

Finally, Evangelical Christians adhere strictly to certain passages of the Bible including Ephesians 5:21-25, which calls for a woman to submit herself to her husband’s will “as she would to God”. Unfortunately, there are many cases where this has resulted in both sexual and physical violence within the household.

Again, I reference the LNP policy of women accessing their superannuation to escape domestic violence situations and the apparent lack of support for both social services for the many women caught up in such situations but also the lack of action in provisions for domestic violence leave in the workplace. 

Interestingly, the Church seems to have a similar underrepresentation of women in the ranks of the hierarchy as does the LNP

In the 2016 Census, 1.1% of Australians identified as Pentecostal. There are now several in Cabinet meaning there is a massive over-representation of people whose belief system includes the above examples. If, like the Prime Minister, their religion defines who they are, these views are simply not in line with broader Australia. Neither are they about to progress equality and equity for women in this country.

You can have as many women in the Cabinet as you like and even a Prime Minister for women but unless they passionately believe that we need to see real change, it’s simply not going to eventuate under the Morrison government. 

There was a time, not so long ago, where mainstream journalists not only turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct in Canberra, in some cases they actually enabled it or were directly involved. This has partly contributed to the “Toxic Culture” we are now hearing about within the walls of power. Will their reticence to discuss religion also have an equally negative effect on the women of Australia? 

I fear it may

Photo credit Jane Bronotte.

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