At Social Policy Connections, we take as our main objective “to help bring the social involvements of the churches into contemporary policy debates, and shape a just society”. In Australia at this time of a declining influence of a Christian worldview in favour of an aggressively secular one, such an objective may seem a bit “quaint” or even simply “misguided”. Does the voice of the churches, tainted as it has become by the church’s moral and governance failings highlighted by the Royal Commission, still have a valid place in Australian life?
Some people take the notion of the separation of church and State most literally, and argue there should be no place for the church view in the polity of the State. They argue that Church moral teaching should be solely for the “private” formation of the individual.
The articles and presentations we publish on the various SPC media platforms argue to the contrary. Benedict XVI succinctly represents the position:
A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply. (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, #28.)
The Christian emphasis on the communitarian notion of the ‘common good’ stands in obvious distinction to the liberal, secular emphasis on the ‘individual’. Even in her famous 1987 interview that “there’s no such thing as society”, Margaret Thatcher acknowledged there were individual men and women and families through whom the State must operate. It is our aim at SPC to inform and advocate, so that these individual men and women and families can become promoters of a just society, and together prevail on their representatives to enact policies and legislation looking to the demands of the ‘common good’.
In this April newsletter, we bring you articles asking some of the key questions which should be asked by the community and its elected representatives. Peace in and between communities and countries is an essential precondition to a fully just world, and requires a strong moral underpinning committed to the common good.
Paul Rule comments on a critical new look at the Just War theory, with a new emphasis on non-violence and a primary pursuit of peace. Caesar D’Mello argues for active non-violence as a means to sustainable peace.
We are at a time when we see the Australian public – and the government – looking to give less than ever to the needy in other parts of the world. The aid sector fears the next budget will see further cuts in overseas aid, as the budgeting calculus embraces cuts in company tax rates. Public commitment to overseas aid NGOs is in decline, after adjusting for inflation.
Libby Rogerson comments on two recent summits addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Speakers at the summits acknowledged that Australians know little of the SDGs, and insisted that, while the goals are achievable, this will require a process for engaging the general public, increased collaboration and funding.
The treatment of asylum seekers and refugees has received regular criticism in SPC publications. Recent government announcements on reduced support payments are an unwelcome development.
Spencer Zifcak identifies a range of government policies applied globally which have created the unfolding international tragedy. Alarmingly, he concludes that there is not one adverse policy or action that is not being used by the Australian Government.
Daniel Ghezelbash argues against Europe adopting Australian and US policies for managing the refugee and asylum seeker situation. To do so, he argues, would inflict a mortal wound on the universal principle of asylum.
Rob Stewart looks at the current push for reduction in corporate tax rates, concluding that linking private sector wage increases to public sector funding cuts is bad policy and bad politics.
The writers cited above are not necessarily Christian, or explicitly reliant on Christian thought. But, collectively, they raise key justice issues of which the public should be aware, and express conclusions that fit within the Christian worldview of a just society in which the common good is served by good policy and informed by fruitful dialogue between civil and Christian thinking.