Living in a Post Christendom Culture
Every now and again I receive outraged emails about some great affront to christians. The most recent one claims that all except 3 of the new Federal ministry "refused" to swear their oath of allegiance on the Bible, whereas all of the Opposition politicians swore on the Bible.
My first reaction was "so what?" If people think that swearing on a Bible is not going to help them be more honest then we should be applauding their integrity.
On the other hand the people who framed the email should be smacked for their lack of integrity. For many years, politicians have had the option of making an oath while holding the Bible or making an "affirmation" without a Bible. So it's hardly "refusing" to swear on the Bible when you are choosing the other option.
The whole question of swearing oaths is a bit of a theological minefield anyway- Christians should be the last people to swear on the Bible or anything else when Jesus explicitly told us to not do that sort of thing.
The big question that this raises in my mind is the continuing belief that christians have that our religious practices and beliefs should have a privileged position in what is essentially a secular society.
Every parliamentary day starts with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, just before the participants launch into their (often) ungodly character assassinations and ridicule of their opponents. It seems clear that going through the motions of saying a christian prayer does not make the politicians more christian.
With the vast majority of Australians being far from interested in christianity, it seems odd that our highest expressions of government and culture still cling to these traditions. On any weekend less than 10% of Aussies are involved in church, so why do we expect that our beliefs should be honoured in our government?
I'm not arguing that we should demand, or even assent to, an end to christian prayers or the presence of scripture in government and the legal system. What I am saying is that we should not get offended when people say "This s not where we are at."
Rather than getting affronted that Government ministers take an affirmation of office without the Bible, what we need to be doing is sharing the gospel with everybody at every level of society so that our society becomes genuinely christian and not just have the outward trappings of a formerly churchy culture.