Recently, I have had a couple of Christian friends contact me to say that they are deeply worried about the real priorities of the Greens. There is a perception that the ecological concerns are the bait used to lure in potential voters, who are then unwittingly signing up to a radical social agenda. Now the Greens do indeed have a radical social agenda and make no secret of it. Some parts of it I like; others I don't. Many Christians are concerned about Greens' policies on social issues such as abortion, euthanasia, drug decriminalisation, same-sex marriage or access to public schools for Scripture classes.
In any case, an email from the Greens today (pointing to this article) gave me an idea of one way to test the Greens' political priorities. I receive semi-regular emails from four or five different political parties and perhaps a few dozen NGOs and advocacy groups. I usually just skim headlines as there is far too much to read all of it. I thought I'd trawl back through a few years' worth of correspondence from the Australian Greens making a note of each time a topic came up and see if any patterns emerged.
Of course, this is not the only way to measure priorities. One could also look at official policy documents, public statements, voting records, Hansard, membership surveys and various other things. But I thought it might still be worth doing nonetheless. And I may have missed some references, so this was not a highly rigorous investigation.
Below are the results arranged in alphabetical order. See if you can pick any trends or possible priorities expressed by the Greens to their support base (and interested onlookers):
• Abortion 0Total references: 74
• Climate change 23
• Deforestation/wilderness protection 5
• Decriminalising drugs 0
• Dental care 4
• Donate 4
• Education 2
• Energy future/Renewable energy 5
• Enroll/volunteer/vote/election 5
• Euthanasia 0
• Green jobs 1
• Indigenous reconciliation 2
• Mental health 1
• Paid parental leave 1
• Parliamentary process 2
• Pollution 1
• Refugees 6
• Same sex-marriage 3
• Scripture in schools 0
• Taxation 2
• Tibet 2
• War in Afghanistan 1
• Water management 1
• Whaling 1
• Workers' rights 2
References to same sex marriage: 3
References to abortion, drugs, euthanasia or scripture in schools: 0
Total references to ecological/energy issues (including climate): 37 (=50%).
The conclusion seems clear enough: the Greens' priorities are, well, green. Some emails mentioned more than one topic. If I'd been giving weighing to the numbers of words, then I suspect the results would have been even clearer.
I am not saying that only ecological issues matter, or that Christians ought to vote for the Greens (or that voting is the heart of political responsibility). Like all parties, the relative weight of various attractive and repulsive policies and principles needs to be considered. But this ought to be done soberly and without caricature. I hope this little exercise might contribute in some small way to that task.
Image by ALS.
PS A little more research has revealed the Greens' true agenda, based on the parliamentary record of Adam Bandt MP. Bandt has so far proposed two amendments to existing legislation: one stopping banks from changing exorbitant fees and one requiring parliamentary approval for any overseas service by the ADF (i.e. shifting the decision to conduct overseas military operations from the executive to the parliament). See ##3&4 here. Since they target the ease of war-making and the unrestrained profiteering of huge oligarchies, the Australian Greens are clearly antithetical to evangelical Christianity.