73% of non-religious Aussies believe religious faith should remain a private, personal matter. ABC reporter Annabel Crabb has a helpful write up on the recent Australian Talks survey on what Australians believe about religion. As Crabb states, one of the most striking findings is “Religious leaders were distrusted by a full 70 per cent of the population, with 35 per cent saying they did not trust them “at all”.” For Aussies, religious belief is the least important attribute that defines Australians sense of who they are.
I have been reading “God is Good for You”, by The Australian journalist Greg Sheridan. This is a defence of how Christian faith contributes to the common good at every level. It is well researched, well written. I don’t need Sheridan’s book as I see daily how the church, her people and her leaders do incredible good, often without acknowledgement, or thanks. For instance, our churches co-fund chaplains in local schools. Yet the public perception is funding is provided only by the federal government. In addition to this, the churches are often challenged for having chaplains in schools. Would any business sponsor a venture that brings this kind of negative exposure? Yet the church does, because we think this is good for children, young people and families.
Last Sunday we looked at Ephesians 6 and who we are struggling against: “rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). What is at stake here is not simply religious freedom for Christians. What is also at stake is the common good of our society. We are becoming more polarised, less tolerant, less compassionate, more anxious, more self-righteous, more controlling. Of course, these enemies want Christian faith to remain private and personal, the world is then wide open to their schemes. The alternative is Christian faith is personal, prayerful and public. As we said on Sunday, in a spiritual battle prayer matters. Pray for wisdom for those who lead in churches and Christian ministries. Pray the enemy’s schemes will not succeed. Let us also pray for one another so we each may play our part.