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Rudd gets confessional

Labor politician and essayist Kevin Rudd
In a much publicised 5000 word essay in the October issue of The Monthly, Opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd has pointed to German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer as the model for Christian involvement in political life.

Quoting from Bonhoeffer as well as Jim Wallis, James Woelfel and Stanley Hauerwas, Rudd advocates for an "alternative vision for Australia’s future" shaped by Christian values.

Mr Rudd who is also chairperson of Labor’s committee on faith, politics and values has been consistently seeking to move the support of Christians away from what he sees as conservative “tick-the-box” moral agendas.

He points to Bonhoeffer as “an eloquent corrective to those who would seek today to traduce Christianity by turning it into the political handmaiden of the conservative political establishment”.

“The function of the church in all these areas of social, economic and security policy is to speak directly to the state; to give power to the powerless, voice to those who have none, and to point to the great silences in our national discourse,” Mr Rudd said.

He describes the Gospel as “exhortation to social action” and calls on the church to speak “robustly” to government on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

“At the time of the Great Judgement Christians will be asked not how pious they have been but instead whether they helped to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the lonely,” he said.

ABC Lateline’s Tony Jones and other journalists have accused Mr Rudd of merely launching an appeal for Christians to support the Labor Party.

"No one in politics and no political party actually owns God," Mr Rudd told ABC Radio.

"For anyone to assume directly or indirectly that they do is just plain wrong.

"What I’m seeking to do in this debate is to simply restore the balance and ensure that Christians of varying traditions have a sense that they can have their express political view in politics but they don’t necessarily have to vote conservative."

Mr Rudd’s essay will be read by more than the church goers, anxious conservative politicians and his own party, and the ripples are already spreading out from what may be the first signs of an emerging political manifesto.

Headlining it as “Viva La Revolution”, the news service VHeadline.com from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela said yesterday of Mr Rudd that he “may never be as vividly colorful as Chavez when he takes the stage, but Australians may yet see the next leader of this nations people emerge from his cocoon and storm the bastions of corruption with the truth.”

Staying with the story of his champion, Mr Rudd said he believed that Bonhoeffer would be traumatised by the “privatised, pietised and politically compliant Christianity on offer from the televangelists of the twenty-first century”.

“Bonhoeffer’s Christianity was, and remains, a more demanding challenge than that.”

Photo : Labor politician and essayist Kevin Rudd