yesterday's paper which, yet again, argued that religion should be divorced from politics. This morning's paper - predictably - had letters in support of that view - and opposing it. Most of what was said was also - predictable. (And no, I did not bother to write a letter.)
The "ethics" system of this country (if we have one) is supposed to be free of direct religious influence. Our current Prime Minister claims to be an atheist. The Leader of the Opposition is a church-going Catholic. The Prime Minister - and others - have naturally claimed the Leader of the Opposition will do whatever his church tells him to do. That is of course nonsense - just as it is equally nonsense for the Prime Minister to claim that her values system has not been influenced by Christian values. The issue of religion is being used as a tool to try and denigrate the Leader of the Opposition - despite the fact that the government also has a number of equally devout Catholics in its ranks. (That is neatly ignored by the government and the media.)
And religious leaders - of all persuasions - do of course try to influence government just as they try to influence their flocks and followers. It is simply not possible to say that religion - or perhaps religious belief or lack of it - has no influence on politics.
Australia is not alone in that. Some of the world's worst conflicts have their roots in differences of religious belief. It is never a happy situation.
I have no doubt it is a topic which will always be debated. Unless we are all going to believe exactly the same thing and behave in exactly the same way then there will be debate.
I recently gave a child Lois Lowry's book, "The Giver". He was puzzled by it. The idea of living in such a tightly controlled society was something he had problems comprehending. His paternal great-grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Holland. He is not Jewish because his mother is not Jewish. His father has not attended a synagogue since he was a young boy. He claims to have no beliefs. Yet he wanted me to give his son the book and talk to him about it. He wants his son "to think about these things". They have discussed it as well.
And, like the Whirlwind, the boy finally came back to me with the words, "It's all about treating other people right isn't it? It's about loving people."
Oh yes, there is that commandment about "love one another" isn't there? Is it such a bad thing to base our life and politics on? I feel tempted to write a letter to the paper.