An Ungodly Deal: Courting Religious Voters Cheaply
It may be something in the air during the Easter period (or a coincidence…?) but in the past two weeks, one in two politicians is suddenly religious. At least, that’s how they want to appear.
Labor and Liberal candidates are attending church services, meeting priests and speaking with fervent voters they will be counting on to get elected in just over a month.
But are these politicians really religious? The most likely answer is “no”.
When I see a politician come to church for mass after years of absence, I know we must be getting closer to an election. As a Catholic, it infuriates me because they don’t come to mass for the right reasons – they attend to present themselves as part of the Christian community.
For those who understand how politicians work, it’s easy to see through the facade. For others who are not so politically savvy, they may consider these political posers as genuine participants in the church service. The point here is honesty. As a writer, it’s my job to break this case down to show why the “faith” of the political class cannot be trusted.
How does this affect those who are not religious?
Well, it’s not necessarily about the religion itself, but about the principle of the matter. While politicians can pose as religious to sway Christian voters, they can don other ideological costumes to fit the electoral group they need – firefighters, police, teachers, retailers, factory workers, warriors climate, athletes, musicians or any other demographic. They will do whatever it takes to tip them in their direction, even if it means pretending.
The implication is more serious for religious voters. This is a significant demographic group, given that the majority of Australians identify as religious, with Christianity being the dominant religion. In the 2016 census, Christians made up 52% of the population – enough to tip the scales. It makes sense that candidates seeking a place in parliament would try to appeal to Christian voters.
Labor learned this the hard way in the 2019 election, when it suffered significant swings against it in the seats it held that were dominated by religious voters. Then shadow treasurer Chris Bowen – who famously uttered the phrase ‘if you don’t like our policies, don’t vote for us’ – found himself on the wrong end of a 5.47% swing in the seat. of McMahon’s Western Sydney, a seat saturated with religious Australians.
A shift was signaled in the 2019 election. While Labor fared well in Sydney’s north and eastern suburbs, it struggled in its blue-collar core in the west and south -western Sydney, and in typical blue-collar seats in Queensland. One of the biggest swings against Labor occurred in the electorate of Blair in southeast Queensland, where Shayne Neumann found himself down 6.9%.
Western Sydney is home to many devout religious communities, including Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Muslims. The same goes for Queensland with 15 of the top 25 seats that are active in religion are in the Sunshine State. This explains the many marginal seats Labor failed to win in 2019, which is ultimately why they lost the unmissable election.
After Labor’s surprise defeat in 2019, it was suggested that the Party needed to revise its attitude towards religious faith. Labor found itself at odds with the religious voters who had hurt it by forcing it back into opposition for another three years. His policies ran counter to the values and beliefs of the very people they needed to rally to win at the polls and gain power.
So what did Labor do? Nothing. For the better part of three years, they stood idly by and continued to advance the same policies and ideas that were not supported by believers. They supported lockdowns and their state counterparts imposed restrictions, to the detriment of worshipers who wished to attend religious services. They never came to the aid of religious Australians.
Then, with the election announced for May 21, they changed their tune.
First there was former Labor Prime Minister and Senator Kristina Keneally, who decided to leave the Senate and try to secure a place in the House of Representatives. She was parachuted into the generally safe Labor seat of Fowler in Sydney’s south-west. As mentioned earlier, there are many devoutly religious people in Western and South Western Sydney, which Keneally is probably aware of.
With that in mind, Kristina attended Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Cabramatta. Images emerged of her kneeling in the pews with her hands clasped in prayer, receiving Holy Communion and standing on the steps outside the church to meet worshippers. It came just a few years after she said she had lost faith in the Catholic Church and that “Catholicism has done Australia more harm than Islam.” She also openly supports abortion, which is against the faith.
On Easter Sunday, Anthony Albanese attended mass at St Monica’s Cathedral in Cairns where he was pictured meeting Bishop James Foley. Yet, not so long ago, he was attending Mardi Gras. On the same day in NSW, Michelle Rowland went to mass at St Bernadette’s Lalor Park, where she requested a photo with the priest which she posted on her Facebook page, which also displayed images of her attending the service Good Friday at Mary Immaculate Quakers Hill. in which she did the same.
All of these instances stink of public relations stunts. None of these politicians go to church regularly. They only go when it suits them politically. They are opportunists. At the risk of sounding critical, I’m going to make a blunt assessment – in my opinion, none of them are Christians.
Their policies do not align with Christianity. They support abortion and euthanasia and voted against religious freedom. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see them supporting biological men in women’s sports, even though it seems they’ve figured out it’s best to keep quiet about it.
That’s not to say Labor is alone in this, but they are the most egregious offenders when it comes to this kind of political expediency. Scott Morrison’s faith is also questionable, given that he tends to flaunt it and has taken pictures of himself attending church services, even inviting the media to attend. The Liberal Party failed to end the terms, which continue to this day for scripture teachers in public schools. Although the Prime Minister may be more sincere in his personal faith, regularly attending services, he does not live out his religious values in his actions. On the contrary, he comes across as a hypocrite rather than an opportunist.
Politicians need to understand that religious voters will not support them just because they show up to church during campaign week. We can see through you. You are as transparent as the miserable ghosts that haunt your evenings. We know how you operate. We know you don’t adhere to the faith.
Our faith is not a platform you can use to get what you want. It is a sacred thing. It’s not something you can just use for show. You must live this faith in your own life and in the actions you take. If you think you can just come to Mass and immediately be one of us, you are completely mistaken. Religious Australians will punish you at the ballot box for the errors of your ways.
And it will be much worse than last time.
Joel Agius is a freelance writer. If you would like to read more of his work, you can do so at JJ’s outlook or discover his new podcast Agius hour.
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