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Australian Prayer Network

RELIGION BILL BLURS CHURCH AND STATE ROLES

By Australian Newsletter

Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam has slammed the draft religious discrimination bill of the Attorney-General, Christian Porter, saying it will “blur the distinction between church and state” by inviting “secular courts to define what is considered a ‘reasonable’ and ‘good faith’ religious practice”.  In an attack on the legislation Mr Roskam said the proposed laws would “put judges above priests, imams and rabbis in deciding the limits of religious freedom.  The proposed exemptions from the religious anti-discrimination laws do not include bodies which are solely or primarily engaged in commercial activities”.

“This fails to recognise that the manifestation of religious beliefs takes place as much in a commercial environment as in a church, synagogue, or mosque,” he said.  “The proposed bill will reverse the onus of proof by requiring a ‘large business’ to justify why their alleged discrimination against an employee of religious faith was justified.  “This is a reversal of a centuries-old legal tradition which seeks to protect individuals’ rights against arbitrary use of government power.”  The IPA submission to the ¬Attorney-General’s Department describes it as “unlikely to achieve its stated objective of protecting Australians of faith from unfair discrimination”.

It also says under the legislation, exemptions for faith-based organisations are “too narrow to guarantee the mechanisms introduced by the draft bill will not be used as a cudgel against Australians of faith to combat theological ideas”.  The conservative think tank said state and federal governments should “reverse years of encroachment on to the freedoms of Australians by removing or limiting the reach of laws which impinge on those freedoms, which are the anti-discrimination laws themselves”.  Mr Roskam said the proposed bill was unlikely to prevent another case such as that of the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, from arising.

“The bill intends to ensure ‘statements of faith’ cannot be found to be unlawful under state anti-discrimination law.  However, the protection for ‘statements of faith’ does not include speech, which is ‘likely to harass, vilify, or incite hatred’,’’ he said.  “This will render proposed protection for ‘statements of faith’ ineffective because state anti-discrimination laws by definition and intention include speech which ‘vilifies’, itself a notoriously vague and subjective word.”  Mark Fowler, adjunct associate professor at the School of Law Notre Dame, also expressed concern about oversight of faith-based cases under the proposed bill.

Fowler said the legislation required judges to determine whether conduct “may reasonably be regarded as being in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings or the religion”.  “It requires judges to perform feats in the interpretation of religious belief that leading jurists around the world have cautioned against,” Professor Fowler said.  “A strict distinction should be maintained between the task of identifying the content of a religious belief and the consideration of the limitations to be placed upon that belief.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN LOBBY RALLIES AGAINST DRAG QUEEN STORYTIME

By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is conducting a campaign calling for Drag Queen story time events to be banned saying it is putting adult entertainment in front of children.  The push against drag queens reading children’s books came as the Palmerston library in the Northern Territory held an event featuring local performers reading age appropriate books to children.  “Let’s not pretend drag queens in libraries are not promoting an ideology to children,” commented ACL’s acting NT director, Wendy Francis.  “In our society, we need to recognise that there are places for adult entertainment and then there are safe places for children.  These should never be conflated.”

“Attending one of these readings in the local library can plant a thought about gender fluidity in children who would have otherwise never considered this confusing and difficult life choice,” Francis said.  ACL has previous complained about drag queens performing in Sydney during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.  Francis argues that children are being referred to gender clinics concerned that they may be transgender because they have faced ‘constant exposure to transgenderism’.  Christian author James Parker has published an article claiming that many of the performers featured in Drag Queen Storytime events were leading “bizarre lives as sex entertainers”.

Parker has previously campaigned against marriage equality and formerly worked in the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth.  He claims he was previously homosexual but was able to lead a heterosexual life after embracing religion.  The Christian activist says Drag Queen Storytime is a harmful indoctrination process that is designed to lure children into a transgender lifestyle.  Parker claimed on Perth radio that few gay couples were able to maintain a monogamous relationship, and gay men had shorter life spans due to their high risk of catching sexually transmitted infections.  He also claimed many gay men were same-sex attracted because they had been sexually abused.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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ACT BANS RELIGIOUS CHAPLAINS FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS

By Australian Newsletter

The ACT government has banned chaplains from public schools in Canberra by withdrawing from the School Chaplaincy program.  ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry says the territory’s Education Act mandated that public schools were secular, and that any chaplains currently employed could stay but would have no authority to teach religion.  “They’re employed to continue to do that youth work and social work, which is important but that is conducted in non-religious way,” she told the ABC.  The Federal government has provided $247 million to support the voluntary opt-in program through to 2022 but requires workers to have a religious affiliation.

School Chaplaincy ACT accused the ACT government of attempting “state control over how students form their worldview” and have asked them to reconsider their decision.  “Even secular learning and wellbeing frameworks recognise the importance of spiritual support as part of achieving student wellbeing and educational outcomes, said CEO Peter James.  “The fact that so many schools choose to be part of chaplaincy speaks for the success of the program.”  Of the 150 schools in the ACT chaplains are currently employed in about 20.  Non-Government Schools will not be affected.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports 

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UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE

By Australian Newsletter

Editors Note: This article is written for the members of the Australian Prayer Network, Christians who we believe would have a biblical understanding of the concepts shared.  It is not written, nor intended to be distributed to unbelievers, therefore we ask for discernment to be exercised before passing on to others.  Thank you for your understanding.

Few would argue that we are living in a time when there is much shaking taking place.  Everything than can be shaken is being shaken.  That shaking is taking many forms and is not confined to Australia but is world-wide.  It is important for us in understanding the times to reflect what the Bible has to say on the subject and how the spiritual and natural realms interact and speak to us of what is happening.  The Bible tells us that the earth groans awaiting the revelation of the sons of God (Romans 8: 19)  In Romans 8: 22 it says again “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now”.  In verse 23 of the same chapter it reminds us that not only the natural creation, but we ourselves (also of course His creation) …. groan inwardly as we eagerly await adoption as His sons (and daughters).

Our groaning reflects the struggle we have to overcome sin in our lives in the spiritual battle in which we are engaged, and the biblical passage relates that the battle is also felt and manifested within God’s natural creation.  So we can gain understanding of the battle in the spiritual by observing what is happening in our natural world.  I am indebted to Kathleen Mitchell of Cleft in the Rock Ministries, an Intercessory prayer ministry in America for the following research, and interpretation of the results discovered, which I share with you for your edification and discernment as to what God may be wanting to say to us at this time.

Those, who stand against biblical values, truth, and righteousness, are coming out in fits of rage to displace at all costs, those, who embrace the authority, way, and word of God.  The Bible indicates that a great instability of the earth’s structures would be a sign for us. I recently checked the latest earthquake reports at https://earthquakes.volcanodiscovery.com   These statistics were correct at the time of writing this article.  Take a look at this report but note, these are only quakes larger than 1.5 in intensity.

**There have been 131 earthquakes in the past 24 hours
**There have been 1,243 earthquakes in the past 7 days
**There have been 5,485 earthquakes in the past 30 days
**There have been 60,283 earthquakes in the past 365 days

If you were to look at the stats from years past, you would note that the instability of the earth’s crust and tectonic plates is increasing significantly with each passing year.  Surely this is a sign for us to note.

As societies shake and crack under the weight of rebellion against God and His word, the earth itself reflects the upheaval.  I won’t give you the volcano statistics, but take note that since the beginning of 2020, volcanic activity has been picking up around the globe.  What has been dormant is now moving into a state of unrest; raising up warnings of possible future eruptions.  We have eruptions ongoing in Japan, Indonesia, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, Africa, Mexico, etc. etc., etc.  Without a doubt, the spiritual climate is heating up, as the two opposing Kingdoms are expressing their differences … and as human beings are making their choices regarding which Kingdom they will serve.

All this is not to cause fear and panic, but rather to confirm the scriptures.  Whatever is developing beyond our view and understanding, the Lord has it firmly gripped in His loving hands. His plan is perfect, and it is GOOD.  We don’t need to be afraid, and we surely don’t have to be silent to avoid the outcry of atheists and sceptics.  We are to be like the sons of Issachar; being aware of the season and responding wisely to the signs as we take note of them.  We point to the signs, but most importantly to the Messiah.  We intercede for the perfect will and plan of the Lord to be manifested on the earth NOW, and in the days ahead.

Brian Pickering

National Coordinator

Australian Prayer Network

Source: Australian Prayer Network

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HOW CHRISTIAN CHAPLAINS ARE MEETING EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF AUSTRALIANS

By Australian Newsletter

While emergency services and charities are responding to Australia’s relentless bushfire crisis in practical ways, there’s another army working quietly to meet peoples’ emotional and spiritual needs: the chaplains.  A constant presence in places like evacuation centres, chaplains are people of faith, mostly volunteers, who are equipped with the skills to support people in crisis.  In times of national emergency and disaster like this fire season, the organisation that heads the chaplaincy response is the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN).

Led by Rev Stephen Robinson, it’s a network of chaplains from a wide range of Christian denominations, who are trained to help people affected by grief, loss, displacement and trauma.  One of their many partner organisations is Chaplaincy Australia: a ministry of the Australian Christian Churches, founded 21 years ago in response to the Port Arthur Massacre.  National director Ralph Estherby said around 40 of their 500 chaplains are currently deployed in bushfire response centres around the nation.  “A chaplain can be a friend, a support, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to stand with them in the midst of a crisis” Ralph said.  “And a lot of people are finding that very helpful.”

“They’ll be deployed into evacuation centres, to calm and support people displaced because of this emergency.  They work with people who have lost their homes; or where a loved one has been lost, they’re able to offer grief and loss support.  “They are there to be a buffer for the other services such as Red Cross and the Salvation Army, who provide very practical help.”  While emergency services like rural fire brigades have their own chaplains who care for their staff and volunteers, chaplains in the DRCN often end up being a support to charity workers too, who are often overwhelmed by the very great needs they are facing, and the intense emotions people are going through.

“When it comes to being able to handle strong reactions of grief, loss, anger, disappointment and confusion, it’s important that we have people on the ground who’ve had prior training in those areas,” Ralph explained.  “Chaplains are able to handle that type of experience.  They are well equipped to deal with those painful times that many would just find completely overwhelming.”  Ralph said chaplains sit somewhere between the simple support a friend can give, and professional mental health therapy.  To make sure they are looked after themselves, disaster chaplains have a robust debriefing process they go through, to help them reset back into the normal rhythm of life.

While chaplains are people of faith themselves, many of the people they are ministering to, will either have a different belief, or no faith at all.  Ralph stresses that chaplains aren’t there to push people to think or talk about religious or spiritual issues, if that’s not what they want.  “31% of Australians or so say they have no religion, but what I find is that in crisis many of those will either look to some type of faith or some type of belief to hold onto because everything is shaking all around them,” he said.  “Often, people will find talking to a chaplain who is a person of faith, even though they’re not talking about ‘faith things’ they are able to get some comfort and support from that.”

“It needs to be said, these are not times that the chaplains in any way, at any time, would try to force their beliefs on anyone else.  If faith is something they want to discuss, or they’re asking questions or wanting to gain assurance or support, the chaplain will go out of their way to help facilitate the individual’s faith needs, whether that is Christian, or whether it’s from another faith, or whether it’s a different denomination than they are.  “They will always seek to help the person find comfort in that which they believe, from their own worldview.”  Often people find it comforting simply knowing that a chaplain has a connection to God.

“The fact is that many people don’t have faith at all, and at times of stress and pain it becomes a very, very disturbing time for them,” Ralph explained.  “So, often, they will find talking to a chaplain who is a person of faith, even though they’re not talking about ‘faith things’, they are able to get some comfort and support from that. “I’ve had many reports myself, as I’ve sat with people in extreme grief and loss, that the assistance we’ve offered, even though it seems only a small thing, has been greatly accepted.”

Source: 103.2FM

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JOHN ANDERSON SPEAKS OF MADNESS CONFRONTING AUSTRALIANS OF FAITH

By Australian Newsletter

A crowd of 500 people gathered recently in Western Sydney to hear political and academic speakers address the growing pressure on religious freedom in Australia.  The event, organised by Lalor Park-based Anglican minister Mark Tough with the support of various faith and law-based organisations, was held at Blacktown’s Bowman Hall.  It attracted a mixture of Christians (including evangelical and Catholic), as well as leaders from the local Sikh and Muslim communities.  It was designed to inform, educate and activate people about the issue of how religious freedoms are coming under threat in Australia, and about federal legislation being drafted to address the issue.

Political speakers included former Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, an outspoken Christian and defender of religious freedoms.  He spoke of the “madness” of some the litigation being pursued in courts across the nation, in which people of faith are being sued, ostracised, or sacked by employers, for expressing their faith often in very quiet, innocuous ways.  Also speaking was the ALP’s Michelle Rowland MP, Federal Member for the local Blacktown seat of Greenway, who urged her audience to write and speak to their local members about their concerns, in order to help politicians take the matter seriously.

Ms Rowland said she believes the issue won’t be decided along party lines, and also spoke of the need for not only a Religious Discrimination Bill, but also a Religious Freedom bill that protects the right of all Australians to practice faith.  “We keep hearing about the ‘quiet Australians’, and we need to be people who aren’t so quiet.” John Steenhof, managing director of the Human Rights Law Alliance told stories of individuals who’ve had cases brought against them for of their faith, such as Jason Tey, the West Australian photographer who was sued for discrimination after telling told a lesbian couple that he was a Christian, despite not refusing them his services.

A West Australian couple were labelled as “unsafe” by a foster care agency they’d approached in the hope of being respite carers for young children.  Their application to be foster parents was rejected, due to their traditional Christian beliefs about gender and sexuality.  The Alliance handed out a brochure on the night, recounting more than 30 different cases of this nature.  Event organiser Reverend Tough said it was good to see so many people of faith wanting to get informed about such a vital issue.  The Blacktown event represents a growing groundswell of support for religious freedom among Australians of all ages, religious beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Source: Hope 103.2FM

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