By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
God Under Howard: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australia
By Marion Maddox (Allen & Unwin, $29.95, softcover, 386 pages)
Ignorance about religion is common, but some regard it as a minor topic with little value. The danger of such ignorance is demonstrated in this authoritative analysis of the frightening growth of the religious Right in Australian politics. It cannot be disregarded.
Defining religion, and its place in Australian politics today, would be an impossible task, but this leading authority on the intersection of religion and politics in Australia has done so with remarkable balance.
Seven years ago, the federal election campaign saw religion take centre stage: how did American-style evangelicalism become so important in secular Australia?
Maddox argues that John Howard’s Liberal Party gradually imported US Christian right values and the matter was compounded with the Australian media doing little to report this shift in social and public policy. She makes a convincing argument.
She further suggests that the line between state and church became distorted, just like it did in America.
These developments, however, are not aimed exclusively at John Howard even though that’s the impression you get from the book’s title and its defining graphic cover – with John and Janette Howard as cheerless Amish-style Americans.
Maddox says that, “This book is about faith, power and the assault which Australians’ collective soul sustained over successive terms of Howard government”. No ‘use by’ dates are necessary for this astonishing examination of the real politics of Australia.
Maddox concludes that “...[Howard] has not entirely had his way with Australia’s soul” and carefully weighs up the credible and disturbing arguments against outcomes of meticulous research which has accurate timelines of major events in the life of the former Prime Minister. Deserves a wider audience.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.