Keeping the Faith

Letter to the Prime Minister

26 August, 2013


Dear Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott,


In less than two weeks time one of you will be elected Prime Minister.

You are educated men, determined men, thinking men. You have worked hard to reach your privileged positions and now, more than ever, your days are as long as your pressures are heavy.

To the considerations of a politician in election mode, I add this letter. I will be brief.

No jibes here on funding promises, policy unveilings and slur campaigns – just a memento of the strangled heartbeat at the core of community.

There are two things foundational to any society: marriage and family. When these two things are crumpled and broken, split and repaired, Band-Aid slapped on top of bloodied Band-Aid, redefined, renamed and ripped open; brokenness becomes us.

This is our reality. We exist in a culture that accepts brokenness as the norm. We are the broken culture. And brokenness begets brokenness.

You both (appear to be) happily married. You both have (what appear to be) happy families. You are therefore (undoubtedly) privileged.

What happens when a girl becomes a woman becomes a wife – yet only has the broken marriage of her parents as role model?  What happens when a boy becomes a man becomes a father – yet doesn’t have a paternal role model to draw from?

Sound trivial? Don’t be fooled. Everything is connected to those two things I have mentioned: marriage and family. Teen pregnancy, crime, suicide, anorexia, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking and so on can often, if not always, be linked back to family and marriage. We hear it often enough in the courts – a convicted criminal appealing for clemency because he had a bad childhood.

My concern is that all we ever do is address the outcome.

Mr Rudd, Mr Abbott, you know as well as the next person that prevention is better than cure.

All teachers and childcare workers must satisfy a police check before commencing employment – a process that is repeated every three years.  A teacher studies a minimum of four years before they are entrusted with the sponge-minds of a classroom full of children.

Yet, there is nothing – no university degree, no distance education course or even a questionnaire before a newly titled mum and dad take on responsibility for the physical, financial, social, educational, spiritual, emotional, behavioural and developmental wellbeing of their child.  There’s help when it all goes wrong – sure – but there’s not much beyond antenatal classes in terms of preparation.

Same for marriage.

Any man and woman can tie the knot without thought to the complexities of joining two independent lives in an ‘until-death-do-us-part’ covenant.  How many couples consider family dynamics, personal and united goals, how many kids they want, patterns of family issues passed on through generations, attitudes and beliefs around relationship, expectations, roles, resolving previous relationships, trust and so on before walking down the aisle?

I appreciate that your inboxes are likely crammed with suggested reforms should you be dubbed PM post September 7, but can I drop you just one more, flagged urgent?  I reckon if you get these two things right, there will be a domino-esque toppling of many, many other social issues.

Teach how marriage works.

Teach how family works.

And you know what? While Australia has and will continue to shun her Christian heritage, it is the Church that continues to provide courses and resources on these arterial cultural matters.  I know for a fact that countless churches across my hometown run courses on parenting, preparing for marriage and integrity in our sexualised culture.

All this has been confirmed and recommended in the For Kids’ Sake report, subtitled Repairing the Social Environment for Australian Children and Young People (Professor Patrick Parkinson, 2011). Dig it out – it’s worth another read.

Mr Rudd, Mr Abbott, my suggestion is this: link arms with the Church to help couples and families set down strong foundations that won’t crumble when the going gets tough.

Yours sincerely,

A concerned citizen.


As printed in The Examiner newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday August 26, 2013. 


  1. Charles Jackson says

    It’s fair to assume you’re only talking about Christian churches here? We’re leaving Jews and Muslims and Hindus and everyone else out of this project? Maybe we should give the Catholic Church a miss too, because of that massive pedophilia cover-up thing?

    Your personal beliefs are your personal business, why should government be getting into the business of spreading a religious agenda? Have you not heard of the separation of church and state?

    • It is not about spreading religious agenda. She is suggesting some kind of moral framework society should live by to prevent brokenness.

      • Fiona Vosper says

        You do realise that this country’s heritage is not a Christian one. The Aborigines were here with their own spiritual beliefs long before the Christian Europeans came here. I find your comments about ignoring a Christian Heritage to be extremely ignorant. I also do not think that the Christian Church has the monopoly on what family is suppose to be. Your religion does not speak for me.

    • Hi Charles,
      Thing is, the Church already provides countless invaluable services to ‘the state’. Where would we be without Anglicare, Centacare, The Salvation Army, City Mission, Missiondale (drug and alcohol rehabilitation) the various hospitals, nursing homes, schools, support services etc.? What I suggest is merely an extension of what already exists. The only religious agenda here is to support marriage and family – is that such a crime? The whole ‘separation of church and state’ comment is a tired, overused statement to stifle meaningful discussion on the issues that affect us all – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists – whatever your religion.

  2. Tini Drysdale says

    Wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments Claire. Unfortunately our society revels in all the negatives. It’s about time we called for less waste on fixing problems and more on preventing them.

  3. Denise Sly says

    The Church teaches hope faith and love. We need these like we need water. Go Claire remind us again and again of our heritage and of the teachings of God’s son Jesus

    • mike says

      And controls each individual along the way… Religion is about one thing only, controlling people, so many of you people are dillusional

  4. Ian Porter says

    History shows that almost all the welfare services now operated by government (e.g. hospitals, schools, hospices, orphanages, Red Cross), were established and originally operated by Christian agencies. Many still are! The institutional ‘church’ has a vital role as the ‘conscience’ of Government, calling it to use its authority for the good of the nation. Although formally separate, each needs the other as they seek to Minister (there’s a Christian principle of government for you!) most effectively to their ‘neighbours’.

  5. Jarred says

    Fiona, only in regards to your comment that:
    I also do not think that the Christian Church has the monopoly on what family is suppose to be. Your religion does not speak for me.

    So many institutions these days are based off the Christian morals. I doubt you can prove to me that you are not involved in some form or other to a Christian based organisation. And the truth is this: The Christian church is not controlling how you are to live your life as you seem to imply. However, I think that we can all be thankful that someone has taken the lead in funding and helping the community in the aiding marriage and family values, in communities where marriage is looked upon as just a “thing” which people do. I don’t see too many institutions who are taking this step a part from the church. I may be wrong, but if you do not want the church to help you, then that is fine – they don’t have the right to force you into it. But at least they are there.

    • vgaoitjaf says

      In reply to Fiona, your reply to adf is a strawman (or strawwoman) argument. adf is not referring to Christianity, or any other religion in particular. But wait, no one can talk about morals because of people who insist that morality is about forcing people to conform to others out of selfish, or self-seeking, manipulative, cunning, deceitful motives, can they Fiona?

      • Fiona Vosper says

        Morality is subjective, so how do we make a moral framework for a society that is full of different people with different ideas and expectations, exactly?
        for instance, homosexuality is against some morals. But does that give one the right to say this? To run others down because of their sexual preference? Or should one mind their own business when it comes to the private lives of others? I find that to religion forcing people to conform to others out of selfish motives.

    • Fiona Vosper says

      I am not involved in any Christian organsiations, unless you count shopping at the op-shop.

      There are many secular charities that help families. The one that springs to mind first is the Red Cross.

      The church does force it’s opinions onto others. One only has to look at how homosexual people or women seeking abortion are treated to see that.

      • 5q90vaf says

        You know nothing about the Church or its charities. Stop pretending you know – you do not.

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