Faith in the Silent Majority

I often wonder how there can be such a divide between the views and beliefs of mainstream Australians and the vocal minority.

The polarisation is absolutely clear when looking at general voting patterns, the ‘issues’ and public commentary. It is also made evident by the advocacy of parliamentary members who seek to represent their constituents’ interests. Those members with an inner city electorate seem more likely to pursue issues like gay marriage, an Australian republic and punishing environmental policies than the representatives of outer suburbs. The rest of Australia knows that, at best, these are marginal issues. Yet they (and subject matter like them) seem to dominate public discussion.

In the federal parliament we already have multiple gay marriage bills and an ongoing assault on common sense by the green agenda. Unfortunately, in this age of political correctness, to challenge the purported orthodoxy is to risk a visceral response. At a state level, there are ongoing attempts to introduce euthanasia legislation and other radical social policy agendas – hardly the discussion held around most kitchen tables.

Ask the average Australian and you will find they are more likely to be concerned about the family budget, their mortgage and work than re-engineering societal norms. They will tend to be environmentally conscious but don’t subscribe to the extreme green policies put forward to supposedly solve environmental issues.

The divergence from what most Australians consider important and the fringe agenda has been attributed to many different influences. Some suggest that the relative ease of city living with shorter commutes, an abundance of social choices and a higher wealth index allows residents the time to contemplate a broader array of matters. A more pointed explanation put to me was “the self-appointed elite opinion makers mostly live in the city and are rich enough to be socialists and vote Green.”

It does appear that most of the Greens political support comes from this demographic which partially explains the nature of their policy agenda; an agenda which appears more at home on the ABC and in the Fairfax press than in more popular mediums.

In a recent newspaper column, Bernard Salt provided another possible explanation for the divergence between the views of the inner-city and the outer metro areas. Writing about the latest Census results on religion, he concluded “…the fact remains that outer metropolitan Australia is a devout community.”

This is a very important point.

The belief that there is a greater being than oneself is a very important part of building a sense of identity and community. It fosters cooperation, care and compassion. It also helps to ensure that universal ethics, common to many religious observances, continue to be at the very foundation of our lives and customs.

Whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, Mormon, Hindu or Buddhist, faith is an important part of life for mainstream Australia.

Faith sustains individuals in times of need and often encourages acts of selflessness in the quest to aid others. It also puts into perspective what is truly important and what is just ‘noise’ in our cluttered lives.

Unbridled by faith’s focus, one is left to indulge in all manner of pursuits without broader consideration of the welfare of society. Now this may seem incongruous given that the political left typically champion higher welfare and bigger government ‘taking care of people’. But they are unable or refuse to see the unsustainability of their policy goals.

Put simply, governments cannot continue to borrow indefinitely. Welfare can only be sustained if it is first taken from one taxpayer to pay another. Higher taxes reduce incentives to work and invest, leading to a greater demand for welfare. And so the cycle of decline continues until you end up broke and in complete disarray like some European nations who embraced the social democratic welfare state.

That Salt found the greatest concentration of people of faith in outer metropolitan communities, the same place that most of the common sense seems to reside in respect to what is truly important for our nation, suggests that the two are closely linked.

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