For a political party that preaches tolerance, the Greens never miss an opportunity to take a whack at Australia’s roughly 12 million Christians.
So it was this week, when the NSW Greens took aim at the humble Lord’s Prayer, with a motion to scrap it in the state upper house.
For those unfamiliar with the finer points of parliamentary procedure, the Christian Lord’s Prayer is traditionally recited at the beginning of every sitting day. It has been a parliamentary tradition for almost two centuries.
The Greens aren’t the first to take issue with this harmless little ritual — it’s long been a bug bear of the usual crop of militant atheists with nothing better to worry about.
Just months ago, Victoria’s virtue-signaller-in-chief Daniel Andrews left the door open to replacing the Lord’s Prayer with some kind of “multi-faith” moment that better reflects the state’s ‘diversity’.
One wonders how Andrews will find the time to actually govern, given the number of traditions that will need to be incorporated into this spiritual catch-all.
Fortunately for NSW, the Greens’ proposed replacement is more workable: A depressingly bland “meditation-style” ritual in which MPs will simply stand there and say nothing at all.
Let’s call this out for what it is: Empty pandering that is almost, dare I say, offensive.
There is something deeply condescending about the idea that non-Christians like myself are so emotionally fragile that any and all references to Christianity must be scrubbed out of public life, lest we feel “excluded”.
Ironically, this nonsense almost always seems to be peddled by people of white, Anglo-Saxon and presumably Christian backgrounds themselves.
No tradition is safe from this patronising mindset.
Every year, we see stories about how nativity plays, Christmas carols and even Santa are being blackballed by individual schools.
Meanwhile, “merry Christmas” has long been replaced by insipid platitudes like “seasons greetings”.
This de-Christianisation fad is being driven by more than cuddly notions of “diversity”.
There is also the tired idea that religion is antiquated, irrational and divisive, that it should be done away with in the interests of a more enlightened society.
But religion does much more good than harm, and we will all be poorer for its absence.
Think of all the civic institutions run by religious orders: schools, hospitals, aged care homes, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation programs and community centres.
Could all of these services be provided voluntarily without religious motivation? Theoretically yes. Would they? Probably not, at least not to the same extent.
Aside from its practical civic value, religion forms part of Australia’s cultural heritage.
It has influenced many of our institutions, values and fundamental freedoms.
Lessons such as “love thy neighbour” and “do unto others” are still valuable, even if we don’t subscribe to the particular religious tradition from which they came.
None of this takes away from the fact that we are an open, pluralistic and, yes, largely secular society.
We should be fiercely protective of our freedom to practise any religion we like, or no religion at all.
And we can be proud of the fact that we have welcomed people of all faiths, backgrounds and cultures to our shores.
But conversely, none of this means that we need to trash our heritage and chase religion from the public square. We can be a modern and open society without erasing the past.
There’s no need to throw the baby out with the holy water.