Defiling the house of the Lord

There are very good arguments for the doctrine of the separation of church and state. It is one of numerous checks and balances that keep our democratic system in good working order. Which is why I am becoming very irritated by the propensity of our Prime Minister to abuse the hospitality of various places of worship across the nation.

Kevin Rudd has made an art form of the weekly church doorstop for media comment just about every Sunday he’s actually in the country. Clutching a bible or some facsimile of a holy book, he appears outside a usually imposing edifice at the conclusion of the service, often with wife Therese in tow. It is then that he proceeds to deliver his own sermon to the hapless media hacks who have drawn the short straw on the Sabbath.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with offering media comment outside a church. If a major development has arisen within a tight timeframe which demands Prime Ministerial comment, then making oneself available for questioning is fine. But our PM has become the Mary Magdalene of media manipulation. His Sunday morning church appearances are now an almost standard part of his weekly media routine. Frankly, it betrays a lack of grace.

For a start, it is an abuse of power to so brazenly exploit houses of worship for political propaganda. The PM is not simply making himself available to media scrutiny, he is projecting an image – a party political image, make no mistake – deliberately designed to appeal to those with sympatico religious convictions. It smacks of hubris and it is likely to be seen by many Australians in that light. The PM should bear in mind that 24% of voters have no religious convictions or affiliations.

Attacking an Opposition Leader for wearing ‘budgie-smugglers’ in such circumstances emphatically demonstrates that it is the emperor himself who has no clothes. The mistake Rudd really makes by this concerted ploy is to alienate the Australian sense of fair-play. Most will say or do nothing about it – until that quiet time in the electoral confessional when they get to pass their own judgment. That’s when the PM may be given penance that proves most unpalatable.