Once in a while it behooves secular humanists like me to remember that not all Christians are unthinking fundamentalists joined at the hip to a kind of moral absolutism better suited to the Dark Ages than a modern civil society. And while such moderate Christians are not rare, it is uncommon to hear them publicly criticize the other kind. What’s almost unheard of (outside of fictional venues like the TV series West Wing) though, is for the criticism to come from a head of state… and during an election campaign, no less! Yet that’s what happened in Australia on September 2nd.
It was during the parliamentary election campaign while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was stumping for the Labor Party. He was appearing on the popular ABC TV program Q&A when Matt Prater, a Christian radio show host and pastor of the New Hope Church, asked him how he could keep “chopping and changing” his beliefs on gay marriage and why should Christians vote for him?
Rudd’s reply (which can be heard in the video on this page) became an instant sensation.
He said that his decision to support marriage equality came only after “many, many months and years” of reflection and made his choice with an “informed… and Christian conscience.” The prime minister said that he could no longer believe that homosexuality was a choice or an abnormality and that, once that was conceded, he could no longer accept that it was right to deny them the same opportunity for marriage that everyone else had. He then asked Pastor Prater to clarify his view and say whether or not he believed being gay was “abnormal.”
"I just believe in what the Bible says,” replied the good pastor, “and I'm just curious for you, Kevin, if you call yourself a Christian, why don't you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible?"
Rudd’s response was, "Well, mate, if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition."
The audience burst into loud applause.
Some Australian news venues called Rudd’s reply a “smackdown” or a “schooling” and Pastor Prater confessed his uneasiness over the audience response as he was leaving the studio to another news service.
“As we were walking out, I was thinking 'oh no' and that someone was going to be unhappy with me. And then a young girl came up to me (who works for the ABC) and said ‘Hi Pastor. Good on you for standing up for Jesus.’ And I thought she might have been an angel.”
Despite the positive audience response, few in the faith community seem to have changed their minds. LifeSiteNews, a faith-based media group, reported numerous positive responses to Pastor Pratt’s appearance and position from both ministers and lay people. And in the September 7th parliamentary election, Prime Minister Rudd’s Labor Party was swept from power after 6 years in office. Kevin Rudd remains prime minister but has stepped down as head of the party.
If you enjoy my articles, you can click on “subscribe” at the top of the page and you’ll receive notice when new ones are published.