For the last few years I don’t think anyone would disagree that we have seen the fabric of democracy fraying in a way that seems very serious.
The core of the damage seems to be that we have lost trust in the people who are supposed to lead us, and in particular we have lost trust that those people will tell us the truth. Our politicians are operating in an environment of profound mistrust… and no matter what they do they seem unable to break through the dark veil of skepticism.
On Wednesday I attended a remarkable breakfast. At a time when politics is incredibly polarised, I witnessed a moment of hope.
The 2017 Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast saw 461 people, largely from Christian churches, join with more than half of Tasmania’s Members of Parliament including the Premier, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Greens.
It is hard to imagine a more highly charged time for political leaders to be in the same room as Christian leaders. There is about to be a national postal plebiscite about Same-Sex Marriage and at the state level, there was a bill calling for the removal of the Lord’s Prayer from the opening of Parliament. Feelings are running high on Social Media and also the National “Mainstream” Media.
It was into this context on Wednesday morning that Stephen Baxter stood up to introduce the morning’s events. He said something like “this breakfast has been happening for 12 years. This is a safe place where we come together in the name of Jesus Christ to pray for our leaders and hear from one civic leader how their faith has informed their own journey.” Stephen said a lot of other things, but in laying down the ground rules it was clear that this was not a moment for political activists to fight about issues.
There was a beautiful moment when Stephen asked everyone who wasn’t a politican to stand and express their thanks to those who had given their lives to serve. The applause was long and heartfelt. …