Monthly Archives

November 2018

DECISIVE ACTION IS REQUIRED AS ADVANCE AUSTRALIA IS LAUNCHED

By | Australian Newsletter

Over the past decade, a growing sense of unease has been felt by an increasing number of Australians about the direction in which our country has been heading.  Our country has been slowly drifting further and further away from our mainstream values and freedoms.  This has occurred not because of any single momentous event, but rather through a series of incremental changes pushed through by the left-wing activists without the peoples permission or say-so. Today, that stops.  They now have a voice to take back control according to Gerard Benedet the national director of Advance Australia.

This steady shift to the left can be witnessed in any number of policy areas from energy and education through to the corrosive effects of identity politics on our national debate.  Inch by inch, the left has steadily made gains while mainstream Australia has been left voiceless.  For over a decade our country has drifted off course.  The common sense basics we take for granted, like freedom of speech, free markets, smaller government, family values and community ethics, have been slowly replaced.  In their place is the politics of race, class culture, power, gender and victimhood.

There is a growing force of cultural elites, foreign money and left wing activists who are dictating our political and social environment.  At first the effects don’t seem that important, but over time, drastic and decisive action is required in order to get the aircraft back on course.  Mainstream values have been the foundation of Australia’s growth and development as a western liberal democracy.  Our forefathers’ steadfast pursuit of mainstream values has brought us to where we are today, a strong, safe and free nation.  Until recently, the centre-right of Australian politics, with the help of the silent majority, has successfully defended these foundations.

This is no longer the case.  A recent survey of Australians found that only 16% of Australians think it is better today than it was 10 years ago.   We’re being over-governed and Australians aren’t able to get ahead due to rising living costs and stagnant wages.  Our federal debt continues to blow out, robbing future generations of the opportunities we enjoyed.  Political correctness is everywhere we turn and little kids are being taught radical gender theories, undermining family values.  We’re told we should be ashamed of our history and our traditions.  More and more Australians are envious of others and their wealth and want it to be taken and redistributed by government.

It’s time to act.  Mainstream values, like the fair go for everyone, are under threat.  And no one in Canberra is able to stop them.   Advance Australia is a movement for the mainstream that will harness the power of new technologies to mobilise Australians to defend our shared values.  Over the past ten years we’ve learned that we cannot simply leave it up to politicians to defend our freedoms.  If we do not make a stand now, we will see another ten years like the last.  It’s time to take back control and make sure your voice is heard.

Compiled by APN from media reports

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IS THIS THE END OF MERIT BASED EMPLOYMENT

By | Australian Newsletter

The Victorian Labor government’s draft gender equality bill to equalise employment in its departments will be the end of merit-based employment, said the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).  “What we are seeing in Victoria is straight out of the Marxist playbook, people being employed not on their ability, merit or competency but instead on gender,” said Dan Flynn, ACL’s state director.  “The Minister for Women Natalie Hutchins believes that Victoria needs laws to proactively progress gender equality by enshrining targets, action plans and reporting into law.  Rather than hiring staff based on their ability, this bill will force departments to fill jobs based on quotas.”  “I’m concerned that this bill will mean the end of competency in the workplace, in favour of identity politics,” commented Mr Flynn.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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TASMANIA’S LOWER HOUSE PASSES SWEEPING TRANSGENDER LAWS

By | Australian Newsletter

Tasmania’s lower house has passed the nation’s most sweeping transgender rights laws, including requiring parents to “opt in” to have their newborn’s sex recorded on a birth certificate.  Amendments making gender an opt-in option on birth certificates passed Tasmania’s lower house with the support of Labor, the Greens and Liberal speaker Sue Hickey.  The Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter to criticise the move and said Mr Shorten should bring the matter up at next month’s ALP national conference in Adelaide.  “Labor’s plan to remove gender from birth certificates in Tasmania is ridiculous.  Bill Shorten should step up and commit to put a motion to ALP Federal Conference to outlaw it,” he tweeted.

Compiled by APN from media reports

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FOR SYDNEY READERS

By | Australian Newsletter

This coming weekend at ANZ Stadium in Sydney the following events will be held under the title Jesus Loves Australia.

UNITED WE STAND DAY OF PRAYER

Saturday 1st December 2018  –  10.00AM – 4.00PM

Followed by participants spreading out across Sydney to demonstrate the Gospel love of Jesus

Saturday 1st December 2018  –    4.00PM – 7.00PM

Followed back at ANZ Stadium

Saturday 1st December 2018  –    7.00PM

The Shine Gospel Concert

For more information on all these events go to www.jesuslovesaustralia.com 

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WE CANNOT LET THE AGGRESSIVE SECULARISTS DRIVE OUT RELIGION

By | Feature Articles

The Machiavellian leaking of “fake news” out of the Ruddock review of religious freedom during the Wentworth by-election and the emotionally charged reaction raises yet again the issue of how 25 million people are going to live together with their deepest ideological and religious beliefs in the vastly different Australia we now live in.  In short, the question is how we are now going to respect diversity and still promote liberty while maintaining the harmony that has been so much the hallmark of our national life.  We must face up to the urgency of the problem: we are atomising and fracturing in the context of the rise of powerful ferment over beliefs and ideologies across the globe.

Far from this being “the end of history” or an age of secularism, we are witnessing a global resurgence of religion and ideology.  We are also living through a clash of Western traditions within our own civilisation, between liberal traditionalism and cultural Marxism, both of which emerged out of the Enlightenment.  Add to this the emergence of social media, which was supposed to create a virtual global public square, but in the process has also created virtual global tribes, and we a have vast new machinery for transforming civil disagreement into civil hate.  These forces are potentially so destabilising that they may threaten our governability.

If we beneficiaries of liberal democracy and human rights better understood our history we wouldn’t be so reserved about affirming religious freedom.  History teaches that the long arc of Christian influence on society has proven to be hugely beneficial.  No doubt it is easy to find serious moral blemishes in Christian history, but it was also out of Christianity’s capacity for reform that the solutions evolved.  Perez Zagorin in his classic book How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West shows that religious freedom, the beginning of liberalism, largely emerged from Christian tradition in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The great myth is that all of our most cherished values came out of some secular Enlightenment.  On the contrary, notions of human dignity and equality arose in the Judeo-Christian tradition hundreds of years before the Enlightenment; and, in any case, for the most part the Enlightenment was not secular.  The great Enlightenment document affirming human rights, equality, and liberty, Thomas Jefferson’s 1776 Declaration of Independence, based these ideals on the notion that “all men are created equal” and are “endowed by their Creator” with these rights.  To this day secularists have not found a better foundation.

The anti-slavery movement, perhaps the greatest human rights achievement of all time, drank deeply at the well of Christianity, with the strong religiosity of African-Americans to this day testifying to a collective awareness of Christianity’s emancipatory potential.  The early feminist movement was also made up of many individual Christian women, including the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which was the major agent behind women getting the vote in South Australia in 1894.  Evangelicals were at the front of 19th-century movements to improve the conditions in factories: Catholic social thought influenced Justice Henry Higgins in the Harvester judgment of 1907, which introduced a minimum “living” wage in Australia.

None of this is even to mention the huge social utility of religion in Australia today, particularly in the founding of charities and levels of charitable giving, as outlined in Greg Sheridan’s brilliant God is Good For You: A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times.  Society benefits from religion, even if not all individuals know it, and thus it is at our collective loss if we hinder religion’s efforts to maintain strong institutions and have a public influence.  But strong religious institutions are made up of strongly religious individuals, that is, individuals who honour the principles of the institution in thought and deed.

For this reason as long as we recognise the importance of allowing religious institutions, churches, schools, charities, to exist we must allow them to discriminate in their membership, lest our commitment to freedom of religion and association is just an empty gong.  It cannot be doubted that individuals can be hurt by the exercise of the rights of religion and conscience, just as people can be hurt by other rights such as freedom of speech, association, we all exercise the right to exclude individuals from our circle of friends, and even free trade.  The best way to address this is within the paradigm of liberal freedoms themselves.

In a liberal democracy, if a clash of interests can be resolved without limiting anybody’s freedoms then it should be the preferred way.  In the case of religious schools in a highly developed country like Australia, most people have the option of more than just one school to work or study in.  Furthermore, as the Ruddock review recommends, schools can develop strategies for making their doctrinal and moral expectations clear from the beginning in a sensitive way, seeking to avoid any unnecessary hurt.  Interestingly, this reflects the diversity of political parties in our system as a vital part of the machinery of our freedom.

Politicians argue that voters should have choice, and we as voters embrace choice every time we decide whom to vote for.  The rhetoric of an often aggressive secularism which seeks to drive religion out of the public square fails to grasp that secularism is merely one voice in the pluralist crowd.  Contemporary secularists need to accept that while Australia is not as religious as it was a generation ago, it is not the secularist nation they would like.  If secularists rejoice that the 2016 census reported that 30 per cent of Australians register “no religion” they must also acknowledge that around 50 per cent of Australians identified as Christian, with continued immigration coming from countries that are less secular than Australia.

Thus, calls for the withdrawal of public funding for religious schools that discriminate are seriously flawed.  Such calls covertly define the Australian “public” as secular, as though the religious parents who send their children to religious schools aren’t themselves members of the same public that contributes the funds from which Australian schools are supported.  Once we acknowledge that the Australian public remains to a significant degree a religious public, as the 2016 census indicated, then religious schools have as much right to public funding as non-religious schools.

Sir Robert Menzies said that “democracy is more than a machine; it is a spirit. It is based upon the Christian conception that there is in every human soul a spark of the divine.”  For Menzies, democracy could work only if we remember that “with all their inequalities of mind and body, the souls of men stand equal in the sight of God”.  In the ridiculing and mocking of the Christian God and his expulsion from the public square, we have also lost the compelling narrative that Menzies so plainly understood for respecting one another that arises from the Christian insistence on loving your neighbour as yourself, even when that neighbour is your enemy.

In the all-too-common circumstances when we find we profoundly and genuinely disagree, we now resort to such levels of hate speech that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we are faced with a civic crisis.  The aggressive secularists who insist on burning down what remains of our cultural house have proved totally unable to point the way to a better dwelling.  The 20th century showed us just how hideous secular utopianism can be.  Modern Australia could surely use an infusion of some things traditionally Christian, for example Christianity’s emphasis on humility.

When you replace humility with a culture of narcissism and self-righteousness, those with whom we disagree become wicked in our minds.  But as Russian dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.”  We are also seeing how superficial progressives’ commitment to multiculturalism actually is, for the cultural integrity of religious schools, Christian or otherwise, seems to have no moral force when it comes to the diversity movement.

In fact, the demands of diversity are a new form of assimilation.  Dare to disagree on cultural grounds with the reigning orthodoxy on gender politics and you’ll immediately find yourself branded a lesser Australian.  Much as I dislike the racial and sexual discrimination architecture in this country, it appears that an overarching religious discrimination act may be the only way to secure as a positive right an acceptable degree of religious freedom in contemporary Australia.  It would need to be very carefully thought through and drafted in order to properly enshrine religious freedom, associational rights, and freedom of conscience as human rights.

Ironically, this is necessary to bring us into line with the very international obligations so beloved of today’s social activists.  We are fortunate that in Australia there is indication of a decent majority that values freedom of conscience and religious liberty.  The submissions in favour of religious liberty and freedom of conscience to the Ruddock review into religious freedom were overwhelming and, according to polls conducted during the 2017 same-sex marriage debate, a very large majority of Australians are in favour of the protection of religious liberty.

I don’t hear anyone arguing for an extension of religious liberty; rather, it has become patently obvious that effective measures are now needed to simply preserve the freedoms we’ve taken for granted and exercised for so long in laissez-faire Australia.  That is because our society is now plainly infused with activists who are determined to use every tool available to enforce their views on others, no matter the cost.  And as a result, our cherished social harmony really is now at risk.

Source: John Anderson, former deputy prime minister of Australia and leader of the National Party from 1999 to 2005.

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ACT GOES ROGUE ON RELIGION

By | Australian Newsletter

The ACT has proved yet again that Canberrans are living in a world of their own.  They have gone ahead and passed a bill aimed at eliminating the legal exemptions to the anti-discrimination laws pertaining to freedom of religion at schools and other religious institutions.  The exemptions have been branded by the Barr government as “loopholes” although they were deliberately included in the original legislation to give religious institutions freedom to run the institutions on religious principles.  The ACT has gone its own way, despite the federal government having yet to respond to the Ruddock review, pre-empting any changes the commonwealth may make.

It has always been the aim of the Greens and the Labor left to get rid of the exemptions to anti-discrimination law.  The last thing Mark Dreyfus did as attorney-general was to eliminate the exemptions in religious aged care.  The timely leaking of parts of the Ruddock review and the outrage that accompanied the leak were deliberately engineered and have given the green-Left the impetus it was seeking to eliminate the exemptions.  In Canberra, where 40%  of children are in independent schools, it will restrict the freedom of parents in the choice of school, under the mantle of eliminating “discrimination” and encouraging “diversity”.

It limits parents’ right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, all of which are part of the international covenants to which Australia is a signatory.  This was blatantly admitted in an accompanying speech by Shane Rattenbury, who sponsored the bill: “The amendments will engage and limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.  They potentially limit the right of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of a child in conformity with their convictions.  However, in the context of the  Discrimination Act as a whole, these limitations are reasonable and proportionate in accordance with s28 of the Human Rights Act.”

This is Rattenbury’s interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Remember what happened to Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous, who was taken to a human rights board for disseminating Catholic doctrine on marriage.  The archbishop was a victim of the human rights apparatus that has redefined and limited our rights by overriding fundamental human rights in favour of the rights of special interest groups.  All rights are important, religion, speech and right of minorities not to suffer discrimination, but the legal structure is skewed in favour of rights that appeal to identified groups, not the broader community.

We have given priority to a handful of rights while ignoring the impact on rights that are just as important.  Hence, the fundamental right of parents to educate their children in accordance with their moral and religious views is potentially compromised by the palaver about “balance” in the ACT legislation.  Freedom of religion is one of our foundation constitutional principles. Despite talk of the “private” practice of religion and those whingers of the freedom-from­religion camp, the manifest practice of religion cannot be separated from freedom to “private” practice of religion.  One must accept religion is not something separate from daily life.

Belief must be manifest in thought, conscience, which guides morality, and speech. Silencing religion in the public square is not just about silencing bishops; it is about silencing all of us.  Governments have begun to interfere in individual conscience in ways acceptable only in the worst totalitarian regimes.  Victoria has overridden the right to freedom of conscience by requiring doctors to refer patients for abortion.  Religious bodies should not be subject to legislation that affects their foundation principles but, then, religious bodies should not have to rely on exemptions.

Activists have been allowed to shape the debate by accepting that manifestations of religious freedom are, at law, mere incidents of discrimination permissible only because of legal exemptions.  Once they fell into that error, a bad outcome for religious freedom was assured.  The starting point for the debate must be that religious freedom is a fundamental human right, the position in international law.  If this right is given only lukewarm recognition, the inroads on religious freedom will get only worse.  Using them in anti-discrimination laws to refer to the importance of religion is much weaker than a stand-alone act that asserts that everyone has the right to private and public manifestations of religious belief.

This would change the debate as practice of religion would no longer be an exemption from discrimination laws but a manifestation of a right accepted by federal law.  Schools would no longer be allowed to “discriminate” but would be allowed to exercise a right to religious freedom.  The leaking of the Ruddock review was part of a campaign to scare the government ahead of the report’s full release.  There seems little appetite to declare freedom of religion as a full right.  However, those who fear such a law as the harbinger of a bill of rights should think again.  There is a greater fear we will have a half-hearted response to the issue and lose a vital part of our freedom.

Source: Angela Shanahan – Columnist with The Australian

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PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH WARNS MORRISON ON GENDER LAWS

By | Australian Newsletter

The head of the Presbyterian Church in Australia has warned Scott Morrison that the ability of religious schools to insist on separate uniforms, sporting teams and toilets for boys and girls will be open to legal challenge under a government plan to outlaw discrimination against gay students.  John Wilson, the Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church, has released an extract of a letter sent to the Prime Minister.  It reveals widespread concern among religious schools teaching 300,000 students about the unintended consequences of legislation aimed at better protecting gay students from discrimination.

The Coalition and Labor are trying to repeal an exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act that allows religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of their “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.  The exemption is rarely used for this purpose but is one of the only legal protections in federal law for faith-based educators.  Anglican schools have also sounded the alarm on a separate push by Labor and Greens MPs to protect gay teachers from discrimination, warning they could lose the right to hire staff who support their ethos.

The letter from Mr Wilson goes a step further.  It argues that schools should retain the exemption allowing them to discriminate against students, not on the basis of sexual orientation but on the basis of “gender identity”.  In his letter Mr Wilson says the removal of the exemption to section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act could expose schools to an allegation of “direct discrimination” simply for upholding gender as being determined by biology or promoting to students a biblical view of sexuality.  “Prime Minister, you will know that gender distinction, and the binary nature of gender, is a foundational precept of the teaching of Christian faith,” Mr Wilson says.

“Currently, an exemption exists for our Christian and church-connected schools to keep distinctions such as: insisting on distinct uniforms for boys and girls, providing separate male and female toilets for comfort and privacy, building separate accommodation quarters (for boarding schools) and having distinct boys and girls sporting teams.  “The removal of the exemption clause in the act will make it possible for a claim of ‘direct -discrimination’ against such schools.  Why is it that the government wants to undermine the integrity of our much-loved and valued schools where currently more than 300,000 students across the nation are flourishing?”

Mr Wilson also flagged the issue to the 650 Presbyterian pastors around the country so they could inform their congregations of the problem.  In the blog, he said it was “harmful to children to encourage them to think of changing gender” and said society was “being fed a lie that the male-female gender distinction is not a biological reality but a social construct”.  The letter from Mr Wilson will increase pressure on the government to ensure it strikes the right balance in its response to the Ruddock review into religious freedom, which was leaked in the lead-up to the by-election in Wentworth, home to one of the largest LGBTI communities in the country.

Some religious schools want their protections framed in a different way rather than in the form of exemptions to existing laws that grant them the right to “discriminate” against key groups in some circumstances.  Mark Spencer, the executive officer with responsibility for national policy at Christian Schools Australia, which represents about 140 schools teaching 60,000 students, warned that religious educators could lose their ability to resist the introduction of radical gender theory in schools.  “Our fear is that if section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act is removed, we may not even have the right to teach a biblical view of sexuality and sexual conduct,” he said.

“We don’t know where this will end and whether this will be really forcing us to have to teach a view of sexuality and sexual conduct that is inconsistent with our faith and beliefs”.  One of the possible solutions is to introduce a Religious Discrimination Act, a recommendation of the religious freedom review that Attorney-General Christian Porter will take to cabinet for approval.  The removal of exemptions allowing faith-based educators to discriminate on the basis of “gender identity” could also have broader ramifications if applied to teachers as well as students.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has noted that employees “should be able to use toilets, change rooms and other facilities that are appropriate to their affirmed gender”.  “Allowing transgender employees to use toilets and facilities that are appropriate to their affirmed gender should not affect others in the workplace, and not allowing them to do so may be unlawful,” it found.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports.

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FRANKLIN GRAHAM ANNOUNCES 2019 TOUR OF AUSTRALIA

By | Australian Newsletter

In 1959, Billy Graham launched a tour of evangelistic events across Australia that had a significant spiritual impact on tens of thousands of people.  Next year on the 60th anniversary of Graham’s historic 1959 visit, his son Franklin Graham will bring an all-new Graham Tour to six Australian cities.  The Graham Tour comes at a time when fear and uncertainty are plaguing communities across Australia, America and around the world.  Franklin Graham believes, as his father did, that what the world needs is spiritual change. “We will share the same life-changing message of hope my father preached in Australia 60 years ago,” said Franklin Graham.

Graham is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, which both have offices in Australia. “I first went to Australia in 1975 with my good friend Bob Pierce, who founded Samaritan’s Purse.  Since then I’ve had the opportunity to preach in many locations across this incredibly beautiful nation.  I’m looking forward to returning next year to share with the people of Australia that God loves them.”  The Graham Tour will be free of charge, and everyone is welcome.

Along with a message from Franklin Graham, these positive, family-friendly events will feature performances by popular Grammy-nominated music artist Crowder.

DATES AND LOCATIONS FOR THE 2019 GRAHAM TOUR

  • Perth: Feb. 9
  • Darwin: Feb.13
  • Melbourne: Feb. 16
  • Brisbane: Feb. 18
  • Adelaide: Feb. 20
  • Sydney: Feb. 23 – 24

For more information about the 2019 Graham Tour of Australia, visit www.grahamtour.com.au

Franklin Graham’s first evangelistic event was in 1989, and since then he has held 183 evangelistic festivals in 48 countries. In addition to serving as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin also leads the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, which helps meet the needs of refugees, victims of war and natural disasters, the sick, the poor, and the suffering in more than 100 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

Source: Billy Graham Evangelistic Organisation

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