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Tuesday, 23 October 1984
Page: 2208

Senator TATE —by leave-I claim to have been misrepresented. I refer to reports in today's media attributing to Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen an attack on the Labor Party in the course of which he said:

We want people down there who honour God and not atheists who won't take their oath of office on the Bible.

The assumption that those senators who make an affirmation are atheists is unfounded and insulting. It is offensive to me personally in that it is not for Sir Joh to put me in one category or another depending on public manifestation of religiosity or piety. Not all of us think constant display of outward trappings of religion is to be equated with living according to Christian precepts. Further, his theology is wrong and his understanding of the scriptures defective. It is quite clear from St Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, chapter 5, verses 33-37, which the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) has already quoted, that Christians should not invoke an oath to bolster their undertakings or truthfulness. A plain yes or no is all that is required of a Christian. I refuse to take the oath precisely because of my understanding of that injunction . I challenge Sir Joh to look at that passage and concede that my reading of it is open.