My 19 year old son voted for the first time in the recent Federal Election. Apart from a few hearty debates around the dinner table when I was the same age, politics has not been discussed at length in my family, nor between my wife and I.
It has not been a taboo subject, it has just been a subject we have avoided for no apparent reason. My Dad was the same age I am now and in my early Christian walk (which began at 17), he often accused me of being a socialist. I have turned this back on my own son and often accused him of being a “greenie”, but we have laughed it off and moved on.
As a university student and also a new Christian in the early 90s, I was “rejected” in Uni circles and also at home. I never felt lonely, I felt misunderstood. Being called a socialist at home could be a badge of honour at Uni, being called a “Jesus Freak” at Uni was a badge of honour at home (with Mum anyway) and at youth group.
Through the crackles of my tape and record player blaring out on my ghetto blaster or walkman (remember those?), I listened to Midnight Oil, U2, Billy Bragg, The Housemartins and many other bands wailing and screaming for justice, as Jesus said, for “the least of these”.
The recently deceased God Squad founder, John Smith, challenged me personally on the night of my commitment to Christ with words from Peter Garrett (lead singer of Midnight Oil)- “Mate, now you are Jesus follower, “Who is going to stand in the way when there’s a dollar to be made?” Will it be you young fella?”
My son and I talked in the car at length about the election and the respective policies of the major parties and the minor parties. I even tried to explain the intricacies of the Senate and proportional representation, while explaining that the Pirate Party, the HEMP Party and the myriad of variations of Conservatives and Workers parties are all legitimate. I didn’t think it would cause so much confusion, but he was definitely intrigued as to why one of the ballot papers was going to be over 1 metre long.
And now our new Prime Minister, an openly evangelical Christian, has been elected to office. He described this “win” as a “miracle.” Sitting back, I couldn’t agree more. Even I was shocked and did not predict what transpired this year. My 19 year old son questioned me at length as to why I could get it so wrong, when I am always right! He expressed to me quite sincerely that he agonised over his vote and that he felt he could only pick and choose policies from different parties to make up his decision- but who do you then vote for in that situation?
Prime Minister Morrison’s maiden speech to parliament in 2008 highlights the values I hold dear, and I believe many young Christians I come into contact with firmly wish to follow as well. He said, “So what values do I derive from my faith? My answer comes from Jeremiah, chapter 9 verse 24: “I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the Lord.””
I congratulate you on your election as Prime Minister.
As a Christian citizen of this country, a loving husband and a father of three young men, I wanted to reach out on behalf of my family. I want to let you know, we are behind you and the government. My family goes to church, just as you do.
I am a follower of Jesus as well as a supporter of the Common Grace movement. I, along with my wife and sons, are also passionate to see an Australia that is kinder and more compassionate, and hope that this government leads in a way that shows concern for justice, equity, and access for all.
I am particularly concerned about our nation’s treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and feel that truth telling and Treaty are long overdue. I want to see real investment to Close the Gap, and see all the 1991 Royal Commission recommendations implemented to prevent any more Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Let’s discuss the National Anthem and Australia Day debates open and honestly; listen to what many indigenous leaders and people are saying- not what many who feel they speak on their behalf are saying.
I am particularly concerned about climate change and the massive disruption I foresee for our globe ahead. I am very distressed by Australia’s lack of action to address the impacts of climate change on our environment and communities, and I believe systemic changes to Australia's energy policy - including significant new investment in renewables and the end of coal - are urgently needed.
I am particularly concerned about our nation’s treatment of people seeking asylum on our shores. We must urgently end offshore processing, treat people seeking asylum fairly, reform the immigration detention system and rethink our broader refugee and humanitarian program. I am supportive of the ‘Choose Humane’ campaign and would love to see a major shift in our approach.
I am particularly concerned about our nation’s domestic violence crisis. Police are called to attend a family violence matter every two minutes; and women are literally being murdered in their own homes. I want to see violence against women declared a national emergency with real targets and enough funding to make progress a reality.
I understand that these issues are ones that are not easily fixed. That’s why I’ll be praying for you as you serve our nation - for wisdom, for compassion, and for a concern for people who need our support the most.
Thank you for the work you are doing to serve our community. Let us encourage all Australians in their efforts to improve the lives of their families and communities, to support people on the margins, and make Australia the envy of all nations.
By this everyone will know that we are Jesus followers, if we show love and compassion to one another.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html
Russell Modlin is in his 30th year as a Secondary English and Physical Education Teacher. He has taught in Mackay, Brisbane, Alice Springs and currently on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda (26 years) and they have three sons- 2 have finished High School, 1 to go!
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found atwww.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html