If this subject does not interest you, please feel free to leave now. Moderators, this is a historical and sociological commentary prompted by personal discussions. It is not a competition in patriotism (I am not a patriot by any description), and I would appreciate it if you kept the patriots well clear of this thread. Apologies for the length.
The saving grace of Christianity in Australia is that (unlike the US), we weren't founded by a group of fanatical religious zealots, but by a group of convicts and settlers whose Christianity (if any), was pragmatic, non-elitist, anti-authoritarian, anti-institutional sympathetic, and humanitarian. Vive le difference.
Australian Christianity wrote:"Any political candidate who declared God was on his side would be laughed off the podium as an idiot or a wowser (prude, intrusive bluenose)." Robert Hughes
Australian Christianity wrote:'America's urban foundations were laid by English puritans. In other words, those people with the institutional psychology that Jesus challenged. Australia's urban foundations were laid by English Convicts. In other words, the type of rejects that Jesus hung around with.
The difference in urban foundations has in turn shaped the nature of Christian expression in the two countries.'
Australian Christianity wrote:'While most Americans are quite happy with religion being intertwined with the institution, Australians tend to be very suspicious of such a mixing.
For example, when Peter Hollingsworth, an archbishop, was appointed to the position of Australian Governor General, he soon found himself targeted by people who saw it as a merger of politics and religion. These people made it their mission to have him removed from office. Hollingsworth was eventually forced to resign over allegations that he helped cover up paedophile activity.'
Australian Christianity wrote:'Aside from directly targeting religious figures, Australia’s suspicion of Christian institutional psychology is reflected in their scorn for the "wowser." The word "wowser" is a peculiarly Australian insult. Over the years, it has been defined in less than complimentary ways by members of the institutional hierarchy. In 1910, William Holman MLA said:
"A wowser...is a man who, being entirely destitute of the greater virtues, makes up for their lack by a continuous denunciation of little vices."
In 1912, John Scaddan, the premier of Western Australia:
"A wowser is...a person who is more shocked at seeing two inches of underskirt than a mountain of misery."'
In current Australian usage the term 'wowser' is reserved almost exclusively for the religious prude.
Australian Christianity wrote:'The Australian community's suspicion of intertwining religion with the institution has in turn affected how Australian Christians practice. One Christian organisation, The Salvation Army, is held in high regard because it has changed its emphasis from judgement to practical Christianity by rolling up of its sleeves in service of the poor.'
Australian Christianity wrote:'In another act that is would not occur in America, in 2006, numerous churches across Australia displayed the slogan:
"Jesus loves Osama." [Bin Laden]
After the slogan appeared, talkback radio received a few calls from concerned citizens, but otherwise nothing happened. In America, religion is so intertwined with politics that if a Church said that Jesus loves Osama, the Church would have more than just a few concerned citizens on talkback radio to contend with.'
Australian Christianity wrote:'The anti-institution element of Australian Christianity can be traced to the days of the penal colony. Whereas American Christian leaders were firmly on the side of the general population, Australia's Christian leaders were very much against them. Instead of looking at the Convicts as humans to be helped, the Christians looked at them as sinners to be punished. In response, the Convicts returned the hostility.'
Australian Christianity wrote:'The Convict's scorn for religious crusaders did not stem from atheism. Instead, it stemmed from a perceived hypocrisy in the morals crusaders. The Convicts felt that the religious authorities didn't understand the message of the bible. For example, many Convicts had tattooed onto their backs images of crucifixes or angels holding cups of blood. This gave the impression that when they were being flogged, Christ himself was being flogged. Likewise, a Convict wrote that Jesus himself was a criminal, and the first stone should only be thrown by he or she who is free of sin:
"Moreover, was the innocent Saviour of the world a convict, and executed as such! Therefore, O ye, conscious of immaculate purity and ye whose backslidings have never been found out; harbour no feelings of anger and disdain; regard not too sternly the errors and crimes of your less fortunate and more frail mortals."'
Australian Christianity wrote:'It wasn't only Convicts that were critical of the Church. Australia's first saint, Mary McKillop, also had some concerns with the religious institution. Mary was a woman who stood up for what she believed, which brought her into conflict with religious leaders. She took a vow of poverty, which meant she had to beg for money. Catholic Church leaders didn't like begging, but Mary refused to change her ways. The tension escalated into conflict over educational matters. As a result, Mary was excommunicated for insubordination in 1871. (The excommunication placed on her was lifted 6 months later.) In 1883, Mary came into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church establishment by insisting on an equalitarian rather than hierarchical organization. She was then ordered to leave the diocese.'
Australian Christianity wrote:'It is interesting to speculate whether Jesus would prefer to live in America or Australia. The social problems of America would no doubt make Jesus feel that he was more needed there. However, the Australian's love of a wine or two, as well as their healthy suspicion of the institution, means that Jesus would probably see them as more like himself, and feel more at home around them as a result.'