In Australia, a strange phenomenon has become
observe: Politicians of all parties emphasize their Christian values. The supporters of evangelical groups provided the conservative coalition government of Prime Minister John Howard with the decisive votes for re-election in the last two parliamentary elections. Religion has become a factor in Australian politics.

Creed before 100.000 Life viewers on the Internet Regular "prayer breakfasts" based on the American model are very popular in the Australian parliament. On the big moral-political ies, however – the admittance of the "abortion pill," the legalization of embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning – the churches' positions have not prevailed.For the first time in Australia's electoral history, Christians have put the two leading candidates for the job of Canberra's head of government – incumbent John Howard and his challenger Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party – to the religious test to ensure Christian sustainability in parliament. In front of Australia's assembled Christian celebrities and more than 100.Howard and Rudd made their "profession of faith" to thousands of Life viewers on the Internet at the Press Club in Canberra. The event was organized by the Australian Christian Lobby, which says it wants to create a "moral and compassionate Australia". Secret to success: social justice Kevin Rudd has been far ahead of Howard in all opinion polls since he was chosen as the Labor Party's top candidate nine months ago. The secret of the 50-year-old's success is not his party's political program, but his approach of placing all policy areas in the context of social justice.The Brisbane man, who converted from Catholicism to the Anglican Church, made his debut as a leading candidate with a very unusual move: in a 5.500-word essay, Rudd laid out his religious philosophy: Christians, he said, must be actively engaged in the state in accordance with the teachings of Jesus, and they must be especially committed to helping the disadvantaged and oppressed. As an example, Rudd, a family man, cites his "great role model" Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Prime Minister: a man without principles? Anders John Howard. Although the prime minister, who has been in office for almost twelve years, talks a lot about values, church and family, many Australians see him as a man without principles. In her book, God Under Howard: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australia, Marion Maddox writes that Howard, an Anglican, has adopted the "prosperity gospel" of the evangelical churches.On major political ies, government and major churches are far apart. Howard sent Australian troops to Iraq in the face of church opposition; churches repeatedly condemn his harsh asylum policy; churches vainly urged the government to sign the Kyoto Protocol. The Catholic Church, in particular, has been the spokesperson against labor law reform that has drastically curtailed workers' rights.Environment, workers' rights and the Iraq war: They will also be central ies in the election expected in November. Howard scored few points in the debate when he presented his campaign against Internet pornography as election bait for Christian voters. Better received was the message of former diplomat Rudd, who linked Ten Commandments and interest rates, prosperity and social justice, church teachings and respect for dissenters. At least Jim Wallace, head of the "Australian Lobby Organisation", thinks he recognized: "He knows the Bible well. This is not a political show."By KNA contributor Michael Lenz

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