'Common values': whiteness, Christianity, asylum seekers and the Howard Government

Holly Randell-Moon

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The articulation of whiteness as a moral homogeneity comprising ‘common’ Judeo-Christian values has contributed to the formation and representation of Australian national identity as unproblematically Anglo-Celtic. The ways in which the Howard Government cites Christianity is reflective of this investment in, and protection of, a white teleology of Australian nationalism. By imputing a universal status to Australian and Christian values through an articulation of a ‘common’ set of values reflective of a ‘broad church’, Howard’s statements on religion and national culture attempt to reproduce racially unmarked subjects and disassociate this location from the investment in and protection of white hegemony. By examining governmental responses to media reports of asylum seekers converting to Christianity it will be shown how the discursive association between whiteness and Australianness is produced as a naturalised norm. Within the media reports on asylum seekers converting to Christianity, differentiations based on race are subsumed by assumptions of moral difference that locate Christianity with Australianness. By aligning these values with a discourse of secular, Western nations, the Howard Government makes invisible a religiously inflected cultural agenda that presents Australian values as ‘broad’ and inclusive but underpinned by an adherence to a teleology of Australian nationality that is Anglocentric in its outlook.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalACRAWSA E-journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Australian national identity
  • Howard Government
  • whiteness
  • Christian values
  • asylum seekers

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