In 2012 a Perth builder put an advertisement for a bricklayer on Gumtree with the condition ‘No Irish’.
The ad was a bigoted throwback to the practice common in Australia up until the mid 20th century of job ads stating NINA (No Irish Need Apply), or sometimes ‘English Only’ or ‘Protestants Preferred’.
Elizabeth Malcolm and Dianne Hall catalogue thousands of these ads in their brilliant A New History of the Irish in Australia.
The practice was an example of the antiCatholic sentiment that then dominated much of the elite parts of Australian society. Irish Catholics were viewed with suspicion as uncouth members of the working class with greater loyalty to Rome than Australia.
The new NSW Premier, Dom Perrottet, is not Irish, but he is Catholic. While it would be nice to think that Australia has left behind the darker parts of its sectarian history, for a small minority, Dom’s Catholicism makes him suspect.
He has 6 kids! He went to an Opus Dei school! He probably reads Dan Brown novels as an instruction manual not a warning. Full disclosure: I am Catholic. My wife and I have five kids, and I hate Dan Brown novels.
An opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald this week trumpeted the headline “Power and preaching don’t mix” with the subtitle that “NSW must do better than a Premier Dominic Perrottet”.
Just in case people missed the reason why, the SMH included a cartoon of two people clutching rosary beads. The article described the new NSW Premier as a "highly conservative Catholic with views that represent the most extreme end of a male dominated institutional Church”.
Some seem to believe that there should be a new condition stamped on the ballot papers that elect our Parliamentarians, “Christians need not apply”.
Australia is not and should never be a theocracy. Our Parliaments make laws equally for people of all faiths, and our constitution explicitly bans the creation of a state church. But that does not mean that people’s religious faiths and ethics should not inform and guide their decision making in public life.
Judeo-Christian principles have been the foundation for so much of the rights we enjoy today. Christianity teaches that all men are made in the image of God, meaning that Christians should respect and love all human beings as they are all the children of God.
A principle expressed most succinctly by Jesus in the Golden Rule: treat others like you would like to be treated.
William Wilberforce’s Christianity inspired him to campaign to end slavery. Martin Luther King Jr was a Baptist Minister who peppered his speeches and letters with biblical references in his fight to end discrimination in the US. Pope John Paul II fought the evils of communism. These men were committed to common and shared God given principles that were worth fighting for.
So much that ills our modern world is caused by our departure from these common moral principles into the selfish echo chamber of the self.
As Carl Trueman and Rod Dreher recently wrote “Satisfaction and meaning ... are now found by an inward turn, and the culture is reconfigured to this end. Indeed, it must now serve the purpose of meeting my psychological needs; I must not tailor my psychological needs to the nature of society, for that would create anxiety and make me inauthentic.”
The worst abuses of the 20th century all came at the hands of the godless regimes of fascism and communism. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a survivor of Russian gulags, explained the horrors by concluding “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Let’s not impose a new discrimination that men who still believe in God need not apply.