In the lead up to the recent federal election, I noticed that many people, including some Christians, stated that they believed that Julia Gillard’s atheism is a matter of little or no concern.
In one posting on Facebook, a minister from a conservative Protestant denomination attacked a Christian-based three minute video clip1that expressed concern about Julia Gillard’s atheism, claiming that the clip was “offensive” because “It implies that atheists as a class of people are less morally trustworthy than (presumably) Christians.”
From his statement it is clear that the minister believes, as do apparently many others in Australia, that atheists generally are as moral and upright as Christians.
But this belief has nothing in common with the teaching of Scripture or the facts of history. Regarding the moral and spiritual sensibility of those who deny the existence of God, the Scripture plainly states, “Only a fool would say, ‘There is no God!’” (Psalm 53:1, CEV). There is no suggestion of moral equivalence here between atheists and believers. The Psalm continues, drawing the connection between inward belief and outward behaviour, “People like this are worthless! They are heartless and cruel and never do right.”
There is a marked difference between Christians and atheists. This traces back to their most deeply held convictions.
Atheists believe, for example, that there is no God. Atheists believe that human beings are nothing more than complex animals. Atheists believe that humans determine right from wrong for themselves. Atheists believe in human autonomy—that self, or the collective—must be the first consideration. Indeed, atheists of the socialist persuasion believe that truth is whatever will serve their understanding of the collective good. This is exactly the opposite of what Christians believe.
Christians believe that there is a God. We believe that we are not merely complex animals, but that we have been made in the Creator’s image and likeness. We believe that God has spoken to us and given us a moral framework to live by, for our temporal and eternal benefit. We believe that rather than being primarily interested in self, we should serve others. And our beliefs, like theirs, profoundly impact our behaviour.
The Apostle Paul argues in many of the epistles that sound belief produces visible change. What we believe affects the language we use, our tempers and our inclinations. What we believe also affects the way we treat our husbands/wives, our children, our friends, our neighbours, our enemies, and so forth. These are all areas that are improved by God working in our lives, and these are all areas that are to some degree lacking in the lives of non-Christians.
Do we see the truth of Scriptures’ teaching in history? Yes, we do. Consider the 20thcentury — which was supposed to be a time of enlightenment — but which was the bloodiest century in the history of humanity. Consider some of the atheists who governed countries last century: Lenin and Stalin presided over the slaughtering of more than 20 million people in the Soviet Union (Russia); Mao slaughtered perhaps 40 million people in China; and Pol Pot slaughtered upwards of a million in Cambodia (Kampuchea). Atheism was the major contributor to the bloodiest century in human history. Contrast that with Western societies which as a whole were by far the most stable and free societies in the world. This is because these societies were based upon the Judeo-Christian ethic as given by God in the Ten Commandments for humanity’s happiness, stability and welfare.
Abandoning a belief in the existence of God in favour of a belief that views humans as merely complex animals (and not as beings made in the image of God and answerable to God) has had other profoundly detrimental effects.Consider the devaluing of human life over the past 40 years, which has resulted in an estimated 50 million unborn babies being aborted world-wide every year, or the acceptance of lethal human embryo experimentation and human cloning, or the relentless push for euthanasia. When the Psalmist claims that people who abandon belief in God are “heartless and cruel”, there is more than a little truth to the observation.
So, do Christians have genuine reason to be deeply concerned about Julia Gillard, the new Prime Minister of Australia?
Yes, for several reasons.
Julia Gillard rejects God. When attending Mitchum Baptist Church in her childhood, Julia received awards for her memorisation of Bible verses. However, at some point in time, probably when she became deeply involved in radical feminism at university, she abandoned her belief in God. On June 29thof this year, radio host Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne Radio asked her, “Do you believe in God?” to which she responded, “No, I don’t, John.”
Julia Gillard rejects marriage. In 1983, under Julia’s leadership of the Australian Union of Students, the AUS declared that marriage is a form of prostitution — “sex in return for love, security and house-keeping” (The Australian, 6 April 1984). Over two decades later Julia remains unmarried, but has had several de facto relationships, including one with a Labor frontbencher who was at the time, and still remains married with children.
Julia’s ongoing disregard for the importance of marriage can be seen in her choice to live with her partner, Tim Mathieson, outside of marriage. She is the first Prime Minister of Australia to live in fornication (to coin a biblical phrase) with a “partner” in Kirribilli. At a time when marriage and family are fracturing in Australia, to the detriment of couples, their children and society, our new Prime Minister sets a very poor example for the young people of this nation.
Julia has stated that Labor will not support gay marriage. She recently reinforced this commitment in response to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s reintroduction of her Marriage (Equality) Amendment Bill into the Senate. While marriage seems safe for now, it is worrying that Julia is not driven by a conviction that marriage must be preserved. She has previously indicated that a change in public support for gay marriage could result in a change to her position.
As part of her disregard of marriage, Julia also rejects children. Her mother, Moira Gillard, quotes Julia, at the age of 18, saying, “I don’t want children Mum, I never want children” (ABC Television’s Australian Story, 6/3/2006).
More alarming yet, Julia Gillard was a founding member, along with Premier Joan Kirner, of Emily’s List, a feminist group that helps pro-abortion Labor women to gain preselection to winnable seats. Julia supports abortion on demand. And she has ratified her view by voting for (a) the legalisation of the abortion drug RU486, (b) human embryo experimentation which involves the destruction of human embryos, and (c) the legalisation of human cloning.
The concerns I have expressed in this article about the fundamental difference between Christians and atheists have already begun to play themselves out. Immediately after the establishment of the Labor/Green government, Bob Brown, the atheist leader of the Greens, announced his intention to push for the legalisation of euthanasia and gay marriage. If a Christian had been able to form government and become Prime Minister after the last election, would he/she have pursued such policies?
1.The video clip can be viewed at http://onevote.com.au