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By Australian Newsletter

Christians in Victoria are fearing for their religious freedom after the legislature voted to ban so-called conversion therapy. The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill criminalises practices seeking to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Christians have voiced concern over a subclause making it an offence to carry out “a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer based practice, a deliverance practice or an exorcism.” Church leaders in the state fear that they could fall foul of the law simply for offering prayer or counselling to someone struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the Bill, conducting suppression practices carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years or a $10,000 fine.

Ahead of the vote, dozens of faith leaders raised their opposition in an open letter to Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria. “Religious organisations, parents and families, faith-based schools, ministries, and other individuals will face scrutiny, investigation, censorship, significant jail terms and large fines for exercising their religious duty to teach or advise individuals who request support to maintain adherence to religious constructs of sexuality and gender,” they wrote. The Bill recently passed the legislative council by 29 votes to nine after a 12-hour debate. Martyn Iles, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said the Bill “basically criminalises the truth”. “It takes those truths about marriage, gender, sex and family, which are part of creation itself, and it says that those ideas, the expression of them, the living out of them can become criminal acts.

Iles went on to say “There’s not many laws that I can say that about. Christians must continue to support and pray for those who come to them for help, even if it means breaking the law. I want to say something that’s going to sound a little bit radical but it’s so true, especially in this case. We must live as though this Bill doesn’t exist,” he said.

Source: Christian Today Australia

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By Australian Newsletter

Brian and Bobbie Houston are making way for a new generation of younger leaders to take the helm of Hillsong Church. Houston, 67, said at Hillsong’s recent Vision Sunday service that he had been “doing a lot of soul-searching and praying” about the future of the church and decided it was time for change. He said the couple, who have led the church for 38 years, are “definitely not retiring” but gradually handing over the reins to others, starting with Gary and Cathy Clarke, lead pastors of Hillsong London, who will move into a global leadership role over the next two years. Houston said “The Hillsong movement has grown so rapidly it has become clear to us we need to put a whole lot more structure into what we’re doing globally. It has become “virtually impossible” and “unsustainable” for us to manage the international church by ourselves.

“I want to look at ways that we can share that load and over these next couple of years heading up to that church being 40 here,” he said. “I would like to really put in place younger leaders. Younger leaders here in Australia and younger leaders around the globe.” The decision follows a challenging time for the international Hillsong family, with its New York campus pastor, Carl Lentz, being fired last November over adultery. His ousting was followed by an internal investigation into claims of financial abuse and inappropriate sexual relationships between staff and volunteers at the New York church.  The probe closed last week with an admission of failings but the findings are not to be made public. “We’re definitely not retiring,” Houston said. “We’ll be around but I do think it’s the right time to look at a whole new season.”

Source: Christian Today Australia

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By Australian Newsletter

Abortion to birth has been written into law in South Australia. Unborn babies can now be disposed of on demand up to 22 weeks and six days in South Australia, and under certain conditions they can be aborted right up to the moment of birth. The horrific legislation passed 29 to 15 last week after some 20 hours of debate. Fortunately several amendments were made to the Bill before it was passed. These were that there is a ban on sex-selection abortions and a requirement for counselling, as well as information on abortion risks and alternatives such as adoption. Babies born alive after an abortion will now be given the same care as other babies after birth.

The result of last week’s vote should prompt some sober reflection for our society and for the church specifically. Five thousand people “Walked for Life” in opposition to the abortion legislation. Many Pastors spoke up on this issue in ways they have not in the past. Many marched in support of life, again an unprecedented effort. Many believers are now waking up to the evil unfolding in our midst, but this time the church’s response has been too little, too late. Those who were active are to be commended. But the fight for life needs to be embraced by the whole church: countless believers still need to be aroused.

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources

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By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note:  With the rollout of vaccines against COVID 19 imminent in Australia, all of us will soon be required to make a decision as to whether we wish to be vaccinated or not.  This article is not designed to address any expressed safety concerns surrounding the vaccines, we leave that to the medical experts, but to the ethical concerns that have been discussed in Christian circles. We know from correspondence received that many of our members have a keen interest in the subject, some with minds already made up on the subject. It is not our intention nor desire to question or challenge any views people hold on the matter as our position is, as our heading indicates, it is a matter of individual conscience.

We are grateful to Martyn Iles from the Australian Christian Lobby who has done some study on the issue and has produced the following article to assist people come to their decision, based on as many facts as possible that he has been able to glean on the subject. The Australian Prayer Network has no expertise in this matter and in re-producing this article we are acting in good faith but are totally reliant on the efforts of Martyn Iles as to the accuracy of the information it contains. We will not therefore engage in discussion on the issues raised as our purpose in publishing the article is not to state or take a position on the subject but simply to provide facts that will allow our readers to make up their own minds on the matter. 

As praying people we encourage you to pray that people will seriously consider all facts related to this issue and be guided by the Holy Spirit to the decision that is right for them. Pray too that people will respect the decisions that other people make in good conscience, whether that be to receive or reject the vaccinations. Pray that Governments will, as far as possible, also respect individual decisions recognising that they also have the responsibility to keep all people safe from being infected by the COVID virus. 

Martyn Iles writes:

I am constantly asked, so here are some thoughts and explanations on vaccines. Firstly I am grateful for the technology that makes them possible, and accept that they are generally safe. But there are qualifications. The main one relates to those vaccines which had an association, during their development, with foetal cell lines. In Australia, this includes the MMR, Chickenpox, Hepatitis A, and Rabies vaccines. A person’s attitude to these vaccines is a matter of individual conscience that ought to be respected. You may wonder which way your conscience ought to go – the following information may help:

Vaccine development requires a cellular environment. Companies buy cells “off the shelf” for this purpose, called “cell lines.” They have names which are combinations of letters and numbers. The cells are not ingredients in the vaccine; they are tools used during the research and development process.

But some have raised the question – where did these cell lines come from?  In each case, they descended from an original cell. That cell was replicated once, twice, three times… and to infinity, over many years. These replicated cells, descended from an original cell at some point in history, are the “cell line”. In some cases, the original cell was from plant matter. In others, from an animal. Sometimes, they come from human tissue. Then, there are cases where the original cell was from an aborted foetus. There are two or three popular foetal cell lines which originated from abortions in or around the 1960s. They each came from a single abortion. Their use does not result in more abortions. The abortions were not for the purpose of creating the cell line.

These cell lines are used so extensively in biotech and medicine that they are ubiquitous. We will all encounter and probably use multiple products developed with their help during our lifetimes. Most theologians, Christian bioethicists, and all church denominations who have publically spoken to the matter, do not consider it sinful to use products, including vaccines, which have had an association with these foetal cell lines. They make that deduction because it does not amount to complicity in abortion, nor endorsement of abortion. In other words, taking these vaccines does not cause or support abortions.

Whilst I have accepted this view for a while, I must confess to harbouring uncertainty in more recent times, along – I think – with anyone who really cares about the pro-life cause. Taking an affected vaccine may not be sinful per se, but I can see that it is a serious matter of individual conscience. On the one hand, the association is incredibly remote – materially and historically. On the other hand, an abortion is a serious matter. The situation becomes more complex, because there is no completely ‘ethical’ COVID-19 vaccine. (Some time ago, we indicated that the Prime Minister’s office had confirmed there would be an ‘ethical’ alternative vaccine. Sadly, this was the UQ candidate which was abandoned during the testing phase.)

Pfizer’s is the best from an ethical standpoint, but not perfect. (Because it does not rely on a foetal cell line for its development or manufacture… they only made use of a foetal cell line to conduct some trials.) I believe that this is reason enough not to make the COVID-19 vaccines compulsory. This conscience issue is not fanciful or baseless. It should be respected in cases where it is genuine.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

The study of humanities at top-ranked universities has been overrun by identity politics, sparking accusations that academics pushing ideological projects are fuelling division within the community.  Themes of class, race and gender dominate history, literature, politics and social studies courses at the expense of traditional disciplinary content, according to an audit of Bachelor of Arts subjects that 10 universities offered last year. Conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs, the audit found that 572 subjects, or 44 per cent of the 1181 subjects analysed, were concerned with identity politics, while a further 380 subjects featured critical race theory — a US-born framework for studying race and power responsible for coining the concepts “white privilege” and “structural racism”.

In contrast, a mere quarter of English literature subjects involved the study of great works comprising the Western canon, while just 23 per cent of history subjects dealt with the history of Western civilisation ranging from Ancient Greece to the modern world. In the political sciences, 10 per cent of subjects offered taught students about the history of ideas and political thought. Freedom, a key tenet of the study of social sciences, was also in just 10 per cent of the 524 possible subjects. IPA director Bella d’Abrera, who carried out the review, said the findings could have devastating consequences, pointing to the impact of critical race theory on interracial tensions in the US, which has spilled over into violent rioting.

Dr d’Abrera said divisive ideologies were already having an impact on Australian society, evidenced by the perennial controversy around Australia Day and campaigns for the removal of public statues associated with European settlement. An obsession with identity politics had divided Australians according to characteristics such as class, race and gender, she said, “preventing us from living together harmoniously as a cohesive society”. “Academics have turned the humanities into a political project which seeks to replace the values and institutions of Western civilisation with a fatal combination of nihilism and anarchy,” Dr d’Abrera said. “The concept of a shared humanity has been removed and replaced with a divisive ideology which pits us against each other on the basis of our immutable characteristics.”

The audit, on the back of Dr d’Abrera’s previous analysis of the study of history at the nation’s tertiary institutions, follows a recent move by the federal government to raise fees for humanities courses in a bid to steer young people to study nursing, mathematics, science and engineering where there are greater employment opportunities. Dr d’Abrera said the humanities had become “homogenised” to the extent that it was “almost impossible to differentiate between them”. “There is no discernible difference, for example, between sociology and English literature or philosophy and sociology,” she said. “No matter the subject, the same worldview, which is that of identity politics and critical race theory, is repeated throughout all disciplines.”

Subjects captured in the audit included Macquarie University’s history subject “Global History of Sport”, where students examine the meaning of sport across “class, racial, gender, and ethnic groups”, including “the rise of female, LGBT, and transgender athletes”. At the University of Melbourne, philosophy students taking “Race and Gender: Philosophical Issues” are asked to consider if race and gender are “biological” or “socially constructed” categories. Even the study of children’s literature is framed through an ideological lens, with one course examining the canonical works only to veer into looking at “the ideological implications of the adult interests vested in the production of children’s literature, and how the genre works to socialise children into dominant views about gender, race and class”.

Simon Haines, chief executive of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, which is sponsoring great books-style courses at several universities, said it was concerning if students were being offered little choice but to study history, literature and other humanities disciplines “exclusively or primarily through a limited number of prisms, such as race, class and sexuality”.  “This is not because great works are not affected by such issues, but because they, like human life itself, are about so much more … Academics can do their students’ understanding of life and our past a tremendous disservice if they appear to evaluate the huge range of human experience using relatively crude ideological and conceptual templates, which can often seem to be as activist as they are scholarly,” Professor Haines said.

Campion College president Paul Morrissey, whose private university offers liberal arts degrees, said infiltration of identity politics into the humanities was a worrying trend. “Disciplines like literature and history should be studied for their own sake, using a wide range of interpretative lenses,” Dr Morrissey said. “If everything about our past, especially our history and art, is reduced to a contemporary ideology of identity this will have a broader negative impact on our society. One of the problems with identity politics is that it has an innate suspicion and disdain of western history and culture writ large.” Australian Catholic University senior research fellow Kevin Donnelly said academic freedom, rational debate and the search for wisdom and truth had disappeared from the university sector only to be replaced by “cultural-left ideology”.

“One of the greatest threats to liberty and freedom is the fact that neo-Marxist-inspired mind control and group think dominate our universities,” Dr Donnelly said. “It‘s time universities were brought to account given the millions of dollars spent every year on subjects riven with destructive and nihilistic identity politics and cancel culture.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Extra police have had to have been sent to Numbulwar on the Gulf of Carpenteria, where leaders are grappling with petrol sniffing and the arrival of “frightening amounts” of alcohol and cannabis. Unrest in the Northern Territory community of 687 people has coincided with a series of crimes. Community leaders have called a meeting of residents to discuss concerns, including the safety of nurses who were recently barricaded in their house while people threw rocks and made threats. The community has a health clinic, a school and a police station. Locals believe some children in the community have recently been sniffing petrol and getting into petty crime, including damaging the health clinic vehicle. Northern Territory Police have responded to the crisis in Numbulwar.

Further south in the Central Australia community of Yuendumu, additional officers have been working with local leaders to deal with a spate of crimes by juveniles over the January holiday period. Recent break-ins at the homes of teachers, police and health clinic staff at Yuendumu have prompted one health worker to leave town. The possibility that other health clinic staff could follow has caused deep concern inside the NT government. The last time the clinic closed was in November 2019 when health clinic workers were evacuated in response to a series of break-ins at the nurses’ quarters. It meant there were no health workers in Yuendumu a few hours later when 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker was shot dead by NT Police Constable Zachary Rolfe.

Walker, who had brandished an axe at officers a few days earlier, was killed as police tried to arrest him. Walker stabbed Constable Rolfe with scissors in the moments before the first shot was fired, according to evidence presented at a committal hearing in September. Constable Rolfe has been charged with murder and will stand trial in Darwin in July. His lawyer has indicated he intends to plead not guilty. In a media statement about the recent troubles at Yuendumu, NT Police confirmed it had sent extra police to the community of 760 people to deal with the outbreak of juvenile crime. Police have charged two youths following a number of recent property offences. Superintendent Jody Nobbs said: “Additional officers had been sent to the community to support local police in their investigations.

“Police have been conducting reassurance patrols and are working with stakeholders to ensure continued provision of services to the community and as a result, the two youths were arrested and there have been no further incidents since Christmas.  This recent spate of offending has been committed by a very small cohort of young people who have been identified and are being dealt with according to the law.” While the youths are due to appear in court at a later date, at least some young offenders have also been dealt with by adults in the community. Children who stole an ambulance in Yuendumu were caught when they got trapped due to heavy rain. According to locals, when the children were brought home, men in the community disciplined them according to local custom.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The Victorian government’s Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 was passed last week by the upper house, 27 votes to 9. Not one of the reasoned amendments were passed, which leaves parents with children who are exploring their gender identity and, doctors, psychiatrists or psychologists who provide medical care for these children, at risk of complaints of change or suppression practice if they do not affirm and support gender transition. Children and young people presenting with gender dysphoria are left with only one treatment option – to transition gender. Prohibited actions under the Bill include “carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer-based practice”. The prohibition applies whether or not the subject consented to the prayer-based activity. The penalty is up to 10 years’ in jail or an enormous fine.

It is also of serious concern for any Australian writing, discussing, teaching or debating ideas and theories around sexuality, gender, transgenderism or biological sex. The concerns of the Victorian AMA, the RANZCP and the Law Institute of Victoria as well as of faith leaders were ignored. The Bill was also opposed by gay & lesbian groups, feminist legal centres among others. The Andrews government failed to listen to any voice of concern. Only two Liberal/National Party members voted against the bill with all others supporting the Labor Party in voting the Bill into law. In addition to the two Liberal members others who voted against the Bill were the Shooters & Fishers, the Derryn Hinch Justice Party (2), Sustainable Australia, the Liberal Democrats (2) and one Independent.

Source: Australian Family Association

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