We may not have been interested in politics, but it is now interested in us.
Christians and conservatives have generally had a “set and forget” approach to politics.
Vote once in a while and then get on with life.
For most of my life, Australia has been reasonably well governed by both sides.
Life has been good. Australians are more focussed on socialising, sport, building some wealth and raising their families.
In a perfect world, that might be how things should be.
But while we may not have been interested in politics, it is now intensely interested in us.
As one of my favourite Christian commentators, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia says, Christians have gone from pillars of society to pariahs in the space of 20 years.
This has accelerated since the rise of identity politics and has been turbo-charged with the advent of same-sex marriage.
Christians and conservatives who do not accept same-sex marriage (the public policy idea, not people) and its consequential dogma that gender is fluid, a mere social construct, are seen as doing harm.
We are to be ostracised and even punished for not conforming.
Christian schools seeking to uphold, on behalf of parents, their Christian ethos are the canary in the coal mine.
But plenty of individuals are under pressure at work. Israel Folau is but one high profile case. I am being sued for saying gender-fluid and adult entertainer drag queens are dangerous role models for children.
All this is just the beginning.
While not a Christian, NSW parliamentarian Mark Latham is a defender of Christian views on parenting and biological science on gender.
Yet rainbow political activists screamed “bigot” and “thug” at him this week as he conducted public hearings into a bill to restore parental rights in education and to outlaw the teaching of harmful gender fluid ideology in schools.
Neither of Latham’s proposals are controversial to mainstream Australians.
But the radical left, which has won the political ascendency through diligently showing up when we haven’t, doesn’t like its reforms being re-balanced.
This brings me to my point.
CJ Cregg, the White House Press Secretary in the fictional television series The West Wing, said decisions in politics are made by those who show up.
Our democracy was always meant to be participatory.
We’ve had the luxury of this not being a problem because generally the culture has been sympathetic to Christian and conservative views.
Suddenly this is no longer the case.
The good news is that we still have a democracy in which citizens can participate.
Political parties are a key means.
Since I left Australian Christian Lobby, a necessarily non-partisan organisation, I have been involved in party politics.
First through Cory Bernardi’s ill-fated Australian Conservatives and then through attempts, unsuccessfully, to join the Liberal National Party in Queensland.
Having been approached by the Reverend Honourable Fred Nile to succeed him as leader of the Christian Democratic Party, I have taken up this challenge.
Over forty years Fred built a political organisation which has delivered for most of that time two seats in the Upper House of the New South Wales Parliament.
My task, with the CDP faithful, is to build upon this legacy and revitalise the party.
Political movements can be very effective in bringing about change.
A voice in the Parliament is a precious thing. It is something bitterly opposed by those who hate Christianity and the Christian vision for human flourishing.
A glance at Twitter’s reaction to me joining the CDP bears testament to this.
Christian involvement in politics is not about setting up a theocracy or tearing down the wall of separation between church and state.
It is about engaging as citizens, with our Christian worldview, the democratic process that is open to all.
It is about engaging the contest for ideas so that civil society can distil, through the parliamentary process, the best public policy.
The most passionate participants in politics today are those who hold a worldview that is hostile to the ways of Jesus.
Why should we leave the space to radicals like the Greens and the rainbow left who think our schools should be “queer transformative spaces”?
Why should we leave health policy to those who think unborn children do not deserve human rights?
Why leave economic policy to those who would spend public money recklessly?
I could go on.
In just over a week, I will be moving to Sydney to begin campaigning with the CDP for the 2023 election.
Fred has nominated me as his successor in the NSW Parliament and will be retiring in November.
The challenge to fill Fred’s shoes, grow the CDP and retain the seat in Parliament (and hopefully gain another) is daunting.
Parliamentary representation is only achieved if there is a grass roots army.
The times are such that we need to call up the army. The other side has been in the fight, legitimately using the tools of democracy, while most of us have not.
Can I encourage you to consider joining the fight (that is a bog standard political metaphor for those worried I’m being militaristic)?
Politics in free countries like Australia is a battle for ideas.
Ideas need some organisational structure, resources and volunteers. This is what political parties do.
Like any army, there is great camaraderie in being in the trenches together.
Thanks for considering this call to arms. While the NSW Parliament is our current focus, membership is open to all Australians.
Wherever you live, you will be helping raise a voice that will reverberate nationally.
I hope you will join. You can sign up here.
If you are not ready for party membership, you might like to make a donation to the war effort.