The Australian Labor Party has abandoned Aussies of faith. This is the story being told by media outlets as diverse as the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, SBS, Nine Newsand the ABC, in the fallout from Labor's shock election loss.
Labor's own Chris Bowen agrees. Pulling out of Labor's leadership contest, he reflected that, "During the election campaign… it has been raised with me that people of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them." In a gesture to the faithful - and a rebuke to his colleagues - he declared, "We need to tackle this urgently."
Labor does need to tackle this urgently. If May 18 taught us anything, it is this: Australia is still a country deeply shaped by faith, and any political party or prospective PM that ignores this fact will pay the price at the polling booth.
The ALP has traditionally appealed to the working class because of their strong stance on welfare and workers' rights. As such, they would normally win huge support in Labor heartlands like Western Sydneyand the blue collar strongholds of Queensland, where voters have the most to gain from their policies.
But it's precisely here that huge swings were recorded against Labor. And as analysts have pointed out, it's precisely here that religious voters are also well represented.
Not just the rusted-on Liberal types either-but believing battlers from the lower classes, Christians who have fled persecution in the Middle East and Asia, and many Muslim and other faithful besides.
Looking back on the election campaign, there are two defining moments that clearly carried weight with religious voters around the country.
The first was Scott Morrison, worshipping in his home church south of Sydney with hands raised. Despite all the negativity the media could muster about that photo, there was an authenticity and abandon there that stood out to the Aussie public.
The second was Bill Shorten bullying ScoMo about his religious beliefs. "I cannot believe that the Prime Minister has not immediately said that gay people will not go to hell," scoffed Shorten, effectively creating a de facto religious test for officeâ€•which, by the way, is outlawed in Australia's Constitution.
One candidate for PM wore his faith out in public, unconcerned about the public reaction. The other told the country that faith is out of place in public. For religious Australians, the choice between them was easy.
If the ALP is to gain back ground with religious voters, there are a number of issues they need to address as a matter of priority before the next election.
First, Labor needs to realise, as University of Queensland Professor Patrick Parkinson points out, that "multicultural Australia is also religious Australia".
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