From the Hawkesbury Gazette 16 May 2007
Christian voice from right-wing wilderness
FORMER Hawkesbury resident Emma Whale has joined forces with fellow Christian John Chisholm to help battle the right-wing hijacking of the Christian voice in the lead-up to the Federal Election.
A Blue Mountains resident and mother-of two, Mrs Whale and Mr Chisholm last week launched the Progression: Christians for Social Justice lobby group, and urged anyone, Christian or not, to log on and find out more about their campaign for a wider Christian voice to be heard.
"We feel there are so many Christians not only not represented, but actually misrepresented by conservative Christian lobby groups and conservative Christian political parties," Mrs Whale said. "We also believe the Gospel is misrepresented and Christianity is misrepresented to mainstream Australia... The impression people have is that if you say you're a Christian, then you must be conservative.
"There are so many Christians who don't think like that, but they have don't have a voice. Their voice is drowned out by the monologue of the religious right. "That's all anyone hears. "The conservative groups have hijacked the Christian voice."
Mrs Whale said conservative groups had reduced Christianity to a "very narrowly defined set of moral values". "We're concerned there is an over-emphasis on sexual issues," she said. "Jesus spoke out again and again about oppression, about the poor and social justice issues. He never mentioned homosexuality and abortion. "If you've got a real conviction on those issues, that's fine, but they shouldn't be the defining issues (for Christians). "We've got people in our group who are morally conservative, but they don't believe it's their right to impose their opinion on others."
Mrs Whale said protecting the environment was also a moral and ethical issue. She said she realised the Australian Christian Lobby group was opposed to homosexual marriage. "But why should we prevent homosexuals having the same civil rights as other people?" she asked. "It's not our duty to legislate for other people's morality. "Homosexual couples don't have access to a lot of legal rights. How can Christians be in favour of marginalising groups is beyond me." Mrs Whale said her new group was also "very concerned" about Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile's attitudes on a range of issues, particularly towards Muslims. "We worry Christian politics is polarising people.
How can Christians be in favour of marginalising people, of creating dissension and division in society? "That's not in keeping with Christ's message of 'love your neighbour as yourself'. "It's all based on fear – fear of homosexuals, fear of Muslims, fear of the unknown." Mrs Whale said being a Christian was "essentially about a change of heart". "It's about living life in as loving and peaceful way as you can. Marginalising people is doing violence to them. "You can't legislate righteousness. "
Mrs Whale said the Australian Christian Lobby had not spoken out against "hard right fanaticism", such as Mr Nile's position. "And Family First always run an anti-Green campaign, so it's as if you can't vote Green and be a Christian at the same time. "But a lot of Greens' policies are shaped by social justice concerns."
Mrs Whale said such a black-and-white approach polarised people. "People with left leanings are immediately turned off Christianity. "They think they would have to be like Fred Nile. It's such a travesty. It's locking people out of Christianity. "Our faith informs what we do, but anybody passionate about social justice issues can join our non-denominational group. "This will be an exciting journey. Please join us."