One of the great rhetorical sleights of hand journalists at the taxpayer-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation like to pull when accused of bias is to talk about voting.

They’ll say they’ve voted for both major parties, or they don’t care who wins an election, or they don’t vote at all.

But, of course, how they vote is beside the point.

The ABC’s problem isn’t about whom their journalists vote for; it’s about what they cover and how they cover it.

And boy, didn’t Australians get a great example of that this week.

Monday morning saw the ABC drop a big investigative story about the “infiltration” (their word) of religious conservatives into the Victorian Liberal Party. The story goes into great detail about how a number of leaders in Melbourne-based evangelical churches have developed a plan to sign up members to the Liberal party so they can influence policy making and potentially get candidates more favourable to their worldview elected.

There are two things to note about this.

First, given that these leaders aren’t coercing or paying people to join the party, there is nothing untoward or illegal about a strategy to get like-minded people to join your political party. Indeed, there’s an argument that that’s precisely how democracy is meant to work.

Second, and this is more subtle, the entire tenor of the piece is that this is a Bad Thing. It’s never explicitly anti-Christian. The journalists never say “religious people are not welcome in politics” but you can sense it, like the smell of an imminent storm.

Notice how often the piece is at pains to frame these Christians’ participation in politics in relation to abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality? Notice how often there’s some side-eye that someone’s views on these moral issues are “unknown”? And, above all else, notice how the only on-the-record quote from a politician about all this is from Fiona Patten, Reason MP, and avid opponent of religion in the public square?

Now contrast this with another story from the ABC published earlier this month: What Is Satanism? And where does social justice fit into this controversial religion?

Now, I’ll grant you that this was written by a different journalist in a different section of the ABC with different journalistic goals (it is, in fact, adapted from a radio segment). Nonetheless, this is a Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame induction speech in comparison.

From the introductory section:

“Are Satanists really out there? And do they pose some sort of demonic threat to decent society?

The short answers are (1) yes, and (2) no — and beyond the scare stories lie some fascinating complexities.”

Fascinating complexities?

One gets the impression there isn’t much credence given to the fascinating complexities of Christian moral theology, the Christian doctrine of sin, and the intricate relationship between personal conscience and the pastor’s instruction at your local church.

What’s interesting is this: why the difference in treatment? Why do the Satanists get to be “complex” and “unthreatening” while the Christians trying to engage in public life are “over-represented” and “controversial”?

Maybe the clue is in the ABC’s neat summary of the Satanist platform:

“Satan in modern Satanism functions more as a symbol of certain things that Satanists venerate: freedom, knowledge, fearlessness, power, pleasure.”

(Most moderately faithful Christians would note that this “Satan in modern Satanism” rather strongly resembles, uh, Satan. But I digress.)

You see, freedom, fearlessness, pleasure: the primacy of the individual. These are comprehensible moral values for an ABC journalist.

But sincere Christian belief; that one’s faith might inform one’s political views, that those views might have merit, or at the very least that people have a right to put forward those views. That simply doesn’t compute for the woke ABC journo class.

American writer Rod Dreher talks about the media’s “radical incomprehension of religion” and the widespread secular cultural view that religion is something between consenting adults behind closed doors.

It doesn’t occur to the media class that the massive load-bearing societal work done by Catholic hospitals, Christian charities, and Christian schools is directly informed by Christian faith. No, religion is a mild curiosity at best, a sinister force at worst.

Pride month: yes! Christmas: no!

And this is the critical bias at the ABC. It doesn’t matter who they vote for when an election rolls around, it matters that they are incapable of covering religion fairly or impartially. It matters that the national broadcaster fundamentally doesn’t understand a significant portion of the nation’s population.

It matters because people are already being pushed out of jobs for their faith and the woke will come back for more.  

Samuel John is a Sydney-based writer and commentator. He has previously worked as a political staffer, ministerial adviser, and in government relations.