Recent resignations from the NSW parliament have brought to light a serious problem in our political setup. I'm referring to the deleterious effects of religion in politics, with the rise of Dominic Perrottet to the NSW premiership through a factional deal.
The concern arises from the separation of church and state being an established principle of our political make-up.
Generally, religion and politics were not too closely entwined in 21st-century Australia. That is, until Scott Morrison became PM and Dominic Perrottet became Premier of NSW.
Mr Perrottet had a conservative Catholic upbringing and attended the Opus Dei-affiliated Redfield College at Dural.
So not surprisingly, he is a staunch conservative Catholic, with views that represent the most extreme end of a rigidly male-dominated institutional church.
He is a leading member of the right and has been involved in factional politics since a young man in the Young Liberals and later as a staffer for David Clarke, then as leader of the conservative right.
On social issues, Perrottet has a track record of being very conservative.
He voted against decriminalisation of abortion in NSW last year, and will almost certainly oppose the assisted dying bill that independent Alex Greenwich plans to bring before parliament in October, pointed out the Guardian Australia.
At the same time, we have in our federal Parliament a Pentecostal Prime Minister who genuinely believes his own election victory was a literal miracle.
He lives alongside the oldest surviving culture in the world, our First Nations, that can trace their lived history back at least 60,000 years.
Yet Morrison and his fellow Pentecostal Christians believe the world was created a mere 6000 years ago. Go figure.
What's more, the Pentecostals believe that the world as we know it will soon come to an end, with the "Elect" ascending to their eternal reward while the rest of us, including Christians of other denominations, will eternally suffer for their ignorance.
At the more fundamental end of all religions, including Christianity, "a dogmatism takes hold that blurs those vital margins between private and public", noted Stephanie Dowrick in the Sydney Morning Herald. And that will always be significant when those individuals have the power to exercise choices that directly affect our collective wellbeing,
There are real differences also between the two men's beliefs.
As a Pentecostal Christian, Morrison supports a prosperity gospel that assures him accumulating wealth in this life is a sign of divine favour. Neglecting the poor, or those seeking refuge, homes, food security or recognition of all as full and deserving human beings, can be justified in this logic because of their lack of favour. Morrison's secrecy, avoidance of accountability, and extreme harshness to the vulnerable, should be matters of private conscience. They are not.
The kind of Catholicism with which Perrottet is associated is different.
Thankfully, there is no adherence to a prosperity gospel. Care for the suffering is active.
However, in its righteousness around central questions of identity, sexuality, gender politics, minority rights and an unwavering conviction that this is the "one, true faith", it is also far from mainstream 21st-century Christianity.
And far from the more progressive Catholicism that flourishes in some parishes.
Numerous laypeople are active in social and environmental justice.
The rights to full social inclusion for marginalised groups remain vulnerable to far-right Catholicism.
Issues such as women's rights to choose, respect for LGBTIQ+ communities, limitations on evangelical proselytising within schools and social services, welcoming of interfaith, multi-faith or no-faith perspectives, gender equality and safety are all threatened by an authoritarian perspective that believes a highly conservative, white, male-dominated hierarchy is "divinely ordained" both within the church. And outside it.
Perrottet has been outspoken on certain religious issues.
He spoke out against a Victorian law requiring priests to disclose instances of child abuse.
His management of iCare oversaw an underpayment of injured workers by up to $80 million, and the scheme had accrued up to $4 billion in debt.
On the vital questions of COVID-19 management, he was vocal against a lockdown which many thought was far, far too late. On taking office, one of his first acts was to dangerously speed up the opening of restrictions.
Hitting the nail on the head Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Senator for NSW, tweeted: "This man is a far-right ideologue who shouldn't have been elected the NSW Premier".