Tony Abbott: "A Liberal Prime Minister and a devout Christian." Photo: Robert Shakespeare
How might Jesus have governed Australia? As a greenie, leftie, pinko atheist, it strikes me that being a Liberal Prime Minister and a devout Christian is a hard ask, so here's some free advice to Tony Abbott.
1. Thou shalt welcome refugees.
The Lord would be unimpressed with your 'stop the boats' mantra.
According to the Bible, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to escape the violent regime of Herod. So that means Jesus was the child of asylum seekers. Moses led his people out of Egypt and in the early days of Christianity, persecuted believers sought safety in foreign nations.
I've got a feeling the Lord would be unimpressed with your ''stop the boats'' mantra.
2. Thou shalt value education.
Proverbs state that wisdom is worth more than gold. Jesus was a keen student who grew up to be one of the greatest teachers in history. He's not going to be very happy with cuts to education.
3. Thou shalt not deny the rights of a select group.
Let's focus on LGBT citizens of Australia. As Kevin Rudd pointed out, if you don't think God made gay people, then you're just wrong. He made each of us in his image. So either you are saying that God got it wrong or that we're all godlike. Don't set yourself up as moral judge and let gay people get married.
4. Thou shalt provide quality healthcare.
Australia is a great place to get sick. But our public hospitals are understaffed and under-funded. Need I point out that Jesus was a healer? He healed the sick, the deaf, the blind and the crippled. He even cured a few people of death and never once sent a bill or put them on a waiting list. Be generous to the hospitals and the overworked staff. Basic Christianity there.
5. Thou shalt tax religious bodies.
When the priests came to him to ask whether they should pay tax to Rome, Jesus held up a coin with Caesar's face on it and said ''render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's''. Organised religions amass huge fortunes and are not taxed. The government gives funding to religious schools. I don't get exemptions for my belief in science and reason. So if you want a budget surplus … there it is right there.
6. Thou shalt not favour the rich over the poor.
That policy of lowering the tax threshold back to where it was … that's going to hurt the people who make the least amount of money. Scrapping the Schoolkids Bonus - ouch. ''It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.'' Who said that? Jesus said that!
7. Thou shalt not put your snout in the trough.
Work expenses are for work-related costs. If you use public funds for personal benefit, you are stealing. That is a sin. If you then say it was an honest mistake, you are lying and lying is also a sin.
8. Thou shalt give aid to your neighbours.
Jesus did not only heal and help his own kind. Remember that Samaritan woman? Jesus saw she needed help and he helped. How would Jesus feel about you cutting foreign aid?
9. Thou shalt tend and keep this planet Earth.
If you left your kids in charge of your house while you were away, how would you feel when you came back and they'd vandalised the joint? You would most likely smite them. So don't be a dingus and rescind the carbon tax.
10. Thou shalt treat women as your equal.
The Old Testament is nauseatingly sexist. But Jesus was a revolutionary leader who did not win followers by pointing out his attractive sidekick Mary Magdalene, but by breaking with tradition and welcoming female preachers. We want to hear women's voices in politics.
So, verily I say unto you, Tony Abbott. If you are the devout Christian you purport to be, let's see you be an honest-to-God Christian Prime Minister. Remember that your Jesus was at various times homeless, unemployed, seeking asylum, relying on welfare, a teacher, a healer and also a great leader.
Nikki McWatters is a Sydney-based writer and lapsed Catholic.