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Australian Newsletter

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MAJORITY BACK FAITH-BASED RIGHTS

By Australian Newsletter

Polling shows that two-thirds of the population believe Australian laws must protect the “universal human right to hold and practise religious beliefs.”  70% of Australians support the right of faith-based educators to recruit staff willing to uphold the religious ethos of a school.  Commissioned by the Christian Schools Alliance, the poll comes after the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader recently offered their views on the dispute between Rugby Australia and Israel Folau over his religious views on homosexuals.  The findings will increase pressure on Labor to explain how it would prevent activist teachers from undermining the values of faith-based educators.

Labor has told religious schools it’s policy is to remove key protections for religious schools from the Sex Discrimination Act to better protect teachers from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.  The pledge has raised concerns among Christian educators, who fear they will be legally exposed if they move against teachers who seek to undermine promotion of a traditional view of marriage as being between a man and a woman.  The survey of more than 2000 people across the country found that 70% of Australians support the “right of a religious school to employ teachers and other staff who support the values and beliefs of the school”.

National executive officer of Christian Schools Australia (CSA) Mark Spencer said the poll confirmed “resounding support” for schools to hire staff who shared the beliefs of the schools they taught in.  “These results are consistent with the policy views of the CSA, and should serve as a reassurance for policymakers and politicians,’’ he said.  “Australians back Christian schools and are very supportive of protecting their values.”  The poll also found 66 per cent of respondents thought our “laws should uphold and protect the universal human right to hold and practise religious beliefs”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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‘EXPERT’ SAYS ALL AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS SHOULD PROMOTE GENDER FLUIDITY

By Australian Newsletter

The Herald Sun has reported on a new guide for teachers which promotes gender fluidity to our kids.  Australian schools should adopt a non-binary approach to gender in a bid to support and educate ‘genderfluid’ and ‘genderqueer’ students, the new guide for teachers says.”  So-called “leading gender expert” Damien Riggs believes that even schools without students who identify as non-binary should “shift focus away from binary gender segregation because it is useful for all students”.  According to Riggs, schools should fly rainbow flags, teach about and advocate for gender fluid students. He also urges teachers to stop using gendered pronouns.

 “Prof Riggs has contributed to more than 150 publications about gender, sexuality and mental health.  He is also a psychotherapist working with transgender children under 12, which informed the contents of the guide.”  Kirralie Smith, spokeswoman for Binary, suggests this is just a taste of what is to come.  “Schools are increasingly becoming places of indoctrination rather than education,” she said.  “Radical gender activists are emboldened by the lack of opposition to their agenda.  The policy platforms of the Labor Party and the Greens Party include a number of promises to promote radical gender ideology in schools. 

Source: Binary

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NEW RESEARCH REVEALS SHOCKING EXTENT OF AUSTRALIA’S SCHOOL BULLYING CRISIS

By Australian Newsletter

Going to school is a ‘bottleneck’ through which all Australians pass.  Currently, one in six Australians go to school.  Yet despite the constant improvement in school facilities, education curriculum, teaching methods and training, bullying is a serious problem in Australian schools.  The Make Bullying History Foundation surveyed 692 students in 2018 and found that four in every five students (80%) believe bullying is a serious problem at their school.  Arguably, that makes it a national crisis.  More students have been bullied than those who haven’t, with 59%,  2.3 million students nationally, saying they’ve experienced bullying, and one in five experiencing it weekly.

Four in every five students recognise the seriousness of the issue, with 80 percent saying it’s a problem in their school, and 20 percent saying it’s an extremely serious, or very serious, problem.  While cyberbullying is a growing problem, the most common form is still verbal (50%) followed by physical (20%).  The challenge for schools, though, is that many incidents are not reported.  One in seven students don’t speak to anyone about the bullying they suffer and of those who do speak up, they most often talk to parents (27%) and friends (24%).

The good news is that anti-bullying seminars do have an impact.  Of the high school students who have attended a seminar, before the event, less than half (46%) would have said they were very confident or extremely confident in handling bullying, but after the seminar, this number grew to a healthy three quarters of students (75%).  In other words, the seminar gave kids and teens a real confidence boost.

Students are a key part of the solution.  One in five high school students admitted to having bullied another person (20%), but after attending a seminar, 83% said they are now likely to step in and stop bullying if they see it.

Brett Murray, CEO and co-founder of Make Bullying History, said students are very proactive on the issue when they’re given the chance.  “I’ve had countless conversations with young people in the context of the anti-bullying seminars that I run, that share the pain that bullying has incurred on their life, and unfortunately this trauma is repeated daily in thousands of young lives across Australia,” he said. “I have found students to not only be incredibly attentive on the topic of bullying, which is such a priority for them, but this generation of young people are also increasingly empowered to step up and stop bullying.”

“A key component of this is empowering them with change the culture in their school and equipping them with the right training and empowering them to be proactive.”  The Make Bullying History Foundation surveyed students who had attended one of their seminars during 2018, with 840 people commencing the survey and 692 completed.  This article was supplied with thanks to McCrindle, a team of researchers and communications specialists who discover insights, and tell the story of Australians – what we do, and who we are.

Source: Hope 103.2

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QANTAS BARS RELIGIOUS LEADERS FROM CHAIRMAN’S LOUNGE

By Australian Newsletter

Qantas has quietly purged several Australian religious leaders from its Chairman’s Lounge as part of a drive to create efficiencies and reward the biggest spenders on the airline.  It is believed the airline has been working on reducing the Chairman’s Lounge list for up to four years.  Religious leaders across faiths have received letters removing them from the exclusive list over the past several years.  While Cardinal George Pell has been stripped of membership, it is understood the purge is wider than just the convicted Catholic, who has been jailed for child-sex offences.

Qantas does not comment on who is on the list and senior church leaders have either declined to respond, or simply declared they are not on the list.  The Australian media has contacted several Catholic and Anglican archbishops to determine the extent of the purge.  Sources said the Qantas letter referenced the fact the purge related to religious leaders across faiths and was not related purely to the Catholic Church.  The purge began several years ago but has not been reported.  Anglican primate of Australia Philip Freier is overseas and the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, is not a member of the Chairman’s Lounge.

Qantas’s purge is believed to have started before the same-sex marriage debate and was part of a long-running strategy.  The Chairman’s Lounge is considered the peak club for high flyers but would-be members can’t buy their way in and are invited by the Qantas hierarchy based on their suitability.  Benefits include free alcohol and food, showers and communications facilities.  Club memberships extend to members of parliament, chief executives and celebrities but Qantas increasingly has focused its attention on CEOs and those who have significant control over flight expenditure.

The decision to purge religious leaders has raised the eyebrows of some, with the major churches spending millions each year on travel.  The Catholic Church has health and education networks worth billions of dollars and its senior clergy and staff are constantly travelling to Rome for meetings and development programs.  The Anglican Church’s welfare programs are in place across Australia and it also has a significant schools network.  Controversy about the membership intensified after journalist Phillip Adams, who coined the phrase “Spirit of Australia” for Qantas, had his lounge membership withdrawn.’

The Weekend Australian columnist, Radio National broadcaster and former advertising executive was dismayed when told by Qantas, which came after Senator Fraser Anning was expelled from the Chairman’s Lounge based on the censure motion passed against him over his Christchurch shooting massacre commentary.  “Because of age and decrepitude, I haven’t been using it much at all, but that’s not the point,” Adams said.  “I was hardly cluttering up the facility and I was really quite surprised because I do have a large media footprint.”

Source:  Compiled by Australian Prayer Network

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AUSTRALIA ELECTS A NEW GOVERNMENT

By Australian Newsletter

Editorial staff of the Australian Prayer Network have returned to Australia from overseas prayer assignments to the reality of an unexpected win for the Liberal National Coalition in the recent Federal election.  In what was a surprise for most Australians the former Government was returned with an increased majority thus maintaining a significant history of Christian Prime Ministers who have occupied the senior political position in our country.  Scott Morrison himself described the victory as a “miracle”.  A miracle of course is an act of God, so in saying that he was acknowledging the part that God played in the victory.

Thank you to all who engaged with us during the 35 days of prayer we called prior to the election, asking for God’s will to be done in and through the election process.  We can now see what that looks like in reality.  The cleaning out of much of the old guard on both sides of the Parliament gives opportunity for the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to both bring renewal to their parties and the Government/Nation as a whole and to escape from the revolving door of leadership change that has dogged our Federal Parliament over recent years.

The return of the Coalition opens the door for considerable reform to be enacted to protect freedom of speech and religious freedom in our nation, which many feared would come under pressure had the Labor/Greens parties occupied the majority position in Parliament.  It will however require all of us to continue to pray for Prime Minister Morrison and his parliamentary colleagues as they grapple with the many issues that face our nation at present.  We must also pray for the opposition Labor Party which will hopefully learn from this that we are still at heart a conservative Christian nation not wanting to jettison the Christian values that have undergirded our laws since European settlement, and align their future policy decisions to that reality.

A nation is at its strongest when there is a strong God fearing Government in control, kept honest by a strong God fearing Opposition and supported and informed by a strong Christian conscience.  We as the Church in Australia need to rise into our position as the visible and audible prophetic witness of God to the whole nation.  When all 3 of those pillars are in place is when we will see our nation return to its former pathway of godly laws and values which will direct our path back to prosperity and a biblically informed national character.  Let us pray that God will guide our path towards that objective in the days to come.

Source:  Compiled by Australian Prayer Network

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FEWER STUDENTS IDENTIFING A RELIGION FUELS PUSH TO SCRAP SCRIPTURE

By Australian Newsletter

This is an abridged version of Australian News prepared before our editorial staff left for overseas prayer assignments.  The full edition will return on Wednesday 5th June.

The number of NSW public school students who do not identify with a religion surged by 13 per cent in the three years to 2018, making non-believers the fastest-growing group, ahead of Islam and Hinduism.  About 43 per cent of students did not nominate a religion last year, Department of Education figures show.  They come as principal and teacher groups push for mandatory Special Religious Education (SRE) to be scrapped from high school.  The least religious primary schools in Sydney with more than 100 students were Australia Street Infants’, Camdenville Public and Darlington Public.  The most religious were Auburn West, Wylie Park Public and Mount Lewis Infants’.

Among high schools, the least religious schools were Newtown School of Performing Arts, Sydney Secondary College and Marrickville High.  The most religious were Punchbowl Boys, Auburn Girls and Granville Boys.  While the majority of religious students still identified as Christian, that category suffered the biggest decline in numbers, with more than 24,000 fewer students identifying as Anglican, Catholic, Uniting Church or Protestant.  Meanwhile, 3500 more students identified as Muslim, and 3000 more identified as Hindu between 2016 and 2018.  The number of students choosing either no religion or leaving the section blank grew by about 40,000 over the 3 year period.

Primary school students were more likely to have a religion on their enrolment form than high school students.  The NSW Department of Education does not track SRE enrolments, so religious affiliation is the only indicator of the subject’s popularity.  However, even that data will no longer be available from this year due to changes to SRE enrolment procedures.  The new process makes it easier for parents to select non-scripture but means the department no longer collects centralised information on religious affiliation.  Many expect the procedural changes will lead to a fall in SRE enrolments.

Pressure is mounting on SRE in NSW public schools, with the NSW Teachers Federation and the Secondary Principals Council, calling for an end to mandatory SRE.  Chris Presland from the council said removing SRE from secondary schools was a simple way to “free up”  40 minutes a week amid concerns about an over-crowded curriculum.  “We don’t have a problem with religion,” he said.  “If parents want their kids to have religious education that’s fine, but it’s like swimming school.  It’s a parenting responsibility, not an educational responsibility.”

Daniel Guenther from Fairness in Religion in Schools said “Non-scripture students are not allowed to engage in meaningful activity while their peers are in SRE class.  If that many students are sitting idle, and we estimate hundreds of thousands, that’s the most obvious place they should be looking.”  A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said the department did not believe it was the best use of public resources to establish a state-wide system of monitoring attendance.  Christian SRE spokesman Murray Norman said SRE in schools was about giving parents the right to choose what they wanted for their children.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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ECSTASY USE BY SCHOOL STUDENTS DOUBLES IN 3 YEARS

By Australian Newsletter

This is an abridged version of Australian News prepared before editorial staff left to undertake overseas prayer assignments. The full version of Australian News will return on Wednesday 5th June.

The proportion of high school students using ecstasy has more than doubled in three years, prompting a leading drug educator to warn about the normalisation of the illicit drug’s use among young people.  Paul Dillon, the founder of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia, said the latest Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Other Drug study revealed an “alarming” increase in the consumption of ecstasy by students.  Ecstasy use among students aged between 12 and 17 has increased from 2 per cent in 2011 to 5 per cent in 2017, according to a study of almost 20,000 high school students.

Mr Dillon said he was concerned about the blasé attitude of students towards MDMA (the main ingredient in ecstasy).  “All drugs have risks and the minute you don’t have respect for drugs, you start doing things that are much more dangerous,” he said. “We’re going to see young people die.”  The survey of almost 20,000 high school students around Australia found 16 per cent of 17-year-old boys had tried ecstasy in 2017 compared to 9.2 per cent three years earlier.  The proportion of 17-year-old girls who had consumed the party drug increased from 4.7 per cent in 2014 to 9 per cent in 2017.

Cocaine use by 16 and 17 year olds increased from 3 to 5 per cent between 2014 and 2017, but the use of other illicit substances appeared stable and consumption of alcohol and tobacco declined.  The study found high levels of students using multiple substances such as alcohol and cannabis (58 per cent) or cannabis and ecstasy (43 per cent) at the same time.  It also found much higher rates of substance use by high school students with a mental health diagnosis.  A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said any increase in drug use was concerning.

Other studies have found young drug users are shifting towards higher purity ecstasy and an increase in the number of MDMA poisoning cases in NSW.  Mr Dillon, a drug educator for more than 25 years, said ecstasy was readily available through friendship networks and could be purchased by students for as little as $10.  Some students he encountered seemed to believe there was little risk in consuming large amounts of ecstasy in the mistaken belief that MDMA was safe.  Mr Dillon also expressed concern about the use of DIY pill-testing kits such as the EZ test to find out the contents of a pill, questioning whether young people were able to accurately interpret the results.

He said the increased use of ecstasy by young people would lead to fatalities beyond the nightclubs and music festivals where drug reform campaigners and some politicians have called for the introduction of pill testing.  Mr Dillon supports pill testing because it provides information about the contents of the drug that is tested, but he does not believe it is a “silver bullet” to prevent festival deaths.

Mr Dillon said the study revealed three concerning drug trends among students: the normalisation of ecstasy, and increasing use of cannabis and inhalants such as nitrous oxide.

“When people don’t have respect for drugs or perceive there is some kind of risk involved, that’s when you see tragedies occur,” Mr Dillon said.  Melinda Lucas, a spokeswoman for the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, said the use of ecstasy by secondary students is low, but “it is important for everyone to understand that is no safe level of drug use and any use increases the risk of harms such as accidents, injuries and overdose”. “It is important young people understand that taking drugs is not the norm, only a small number of high school students consume illicit drugs,” she said.

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AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S PARTY IS RUN BY A MAN

By Australian Newsletter

This is an abridged version of Australian News prepared before editorial staff left to undertake overseas prayer assignments. The full version of Australian News will return on Wednesday 5th June.

Feminists and transgenders are increasingly at odds as biological men attempt to appropriate women’s gender.  The media has reported, “Divvi De Vendre registered The Women’s Party in January and is running candidates at the upcoming Federal Election but the Lismore based transgender woman has clashed with Sydney’s feminist movement which has raised questions about laws governing the self-identification of gender.”  In an effort to shed light on the fact a man had started the political party claiming to represent women, Australian feminist Anna Kerr wrote an article entitled “Are women voters being duped?”.

Her work was censored as it was deemed “insensitive and potentially offensive to the trans community”.  “Isn’t it ironic that a biological male is claiming to be a woman but doesn’t welcome transparency when it comes to biological facts?” said Kirralie Smith, spokeswoman for Binary.  “Voters need to understand who they are voting for.  They need facts so they can make informed decisions at the ballot box.  Transgender people and real women are not the same.  If people want to vote for a trans candidate that is their right, but candidates need to be honest about who they are,” said Smith.

Source: Binary

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A SEASON OF PRAYER FOR THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS – WEEK 5

By Australian Newsletter

Day 1 – Monday 13 May
Pray for the Candidates.  Pray that all candidates standing for election will come to know the fear of the LORD.  Pray that those elected will walk in wisdom throughout the period of the next Parliament.  Pray for their families and their staffers.  Pray that those elected would be energized and invigorated by the desire to serve the people of Australia.
Scriptures:  Proverbs 9:10 and Ecclesiastes 12:13

Day 2 – Tuesday 14 May
Pray for the Voters.  Pray that voters will know and correctly discern the true character of each candidate for whom they are being asked to vote.  Pray that they will choose wisely, each one being led by the Spirit of God.  Pray that voters will have clarity, discernment and wisdom when they go to the polls on Saturday.
Scriptures:  Ecclesiastes 12:14

Day 3 – Wednesday 15 May
Pray for the Media.  In these final days leading up to the election, intercede that each member of the print and broadcast media will report the policies of each party in truth, avoiding personal bias in their comments.  Pray that God will make Himself real and personal in their lives.  Pray that any editorial comment will be fair and represent truth and not be influenced by political motives.
Scriptures:  Isaiah 50:5 Luke 19:10 Luke 12:2

Day 4 – Thursday 16 May
Pray for an Open Heaven on Election Day.  Pray that people will have clarity of thought and intent as they cast their ballots.  Pray that confusion will be bound in the minds of voters and that they will not be influenced by lies, deception, dishonesty nor distortion.  Pray that truth, honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour will abound in the final days of the election campaign.
Scriptures:  Matthew 18:18 Romans 12:2, 1 Cor 2:16 Hebrews 4:12

Day 5 – Friday 17 May
Pray for the Elected and Defeated.  Pray that those elected tomorrow will accept their endorsement by the people with humility.  Pray that they will be granted wisdom by God to perform their duties in the best interest of all Australians.  Pray that those who lose will accept the verdict of the people with grace.  Pray they will quickly find alternative employment as well as other opportunities to serve through other forms of community service.
Scriptures:  Ephesians 1:17 James 4:6 2 Peter 1:2

Day 6 – Saturday 18 May
Today is Election Day.  Let us pray that as the votes are counted tonight and in subsequence days, that no ballots will be lost, that there will be no errors made in the counting and that adjudication on votes that are challenged by scrutineers will be fair and consistent in application.  Pray that God’s perfect will be done in the outcome of this election.

Thank you for taking part in this season of prayer for our Nation.

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CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS WARN OVER LABOR’S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION BILL

By Australian Newsletter

Christian Schools Australia (CSA), which represents some 140 faith-based schools across the country, has called on Labor to clarify its plans regarding the Sex Discrimination Act, in the wake of revelations it would scrap exemptions that enable faith-based schools to employ teachers that represent their ethos and teach its traditional values.  Although Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has signalled a willingness to support religious schools to continue to employ staff that “faithfully represent their values”, she declined to provide details of exactly how those rights would be protected under Labor’s pledge to amend the Sex Discrimination Act if elected.

CSA national policy director Mark Spencer said the group had previously held constructive conversations with Labor over the issue, which sparked fierce public debate late last year when recommendations from the Ruddock review into religious freedom were released, but it was now unclear what Labor’s intentions were.  Mr Spencer has sought clarification from Labor. “It sounds as though they expect us to rely on the employment process to deal with staff matters but you can’t put something in the employment contract if it is protected in discrimination legislation,” he said.

“We would be concerned with any plan to remove the exemption without replacing it with some other protection for religious schools” Mr Spencer said.  Charity lawyer Mark Fowler, an adjunct associate professor at the Notre Dame School of Law, agreed that removing the religious exemption without introducing accompanying legislative protection for schools posed a risk to faith-based schools. “Private parties cannot contract out of federal anti-discrimination law,” Mr Fowler said. “Where a school requires fidelity from its employees that conflicts with a statutory prohibition on discrimination, the statute will override the contract, unless an exemption applies.

“Moreover, to authentically model their beliefs to students and the community, many schools seek to prefer teachers and staff who actually share their beliefs. “On the face of it, Labor’s proposal appears to be to remove this ability.” Currently, the Sex Discrimination Act prevents discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status however there are exemptions that permit religious schools to discriminate in their employment decisions, as well as in relation to education and training, if it is in the interests of upholding religious values.

The Australian Law Reform Commission is currently looking into religious exemptions in anti-discrimination legislation, including the Ruddock review and some of its more contentious recommendations.  The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) has expressed its desire to retain the existing exemption and strenuously denies that Catholic schools used the exemptions “to expel or otherwise discriminate against students simply on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status”. “The exemptions allow schools to focus on educating students according to their mission and identity,” the ACBC wrote.

“We are concerned that without adequate recognition of our religious freedom, we will not be able to maintain a school community that operates in accordance with the tenets of its faith and in a spirit of harmony and cohesion” the ACBC went on.  In advice to the National Catholic Education Commission, the ALP said it respected the right of people to practise their religion freely and that Ms Plibersek had “made our position on the rights of religious schools very clear in parliament when she stated, ‘schools are also entitled to have rules that ensure staff don’t deliberately and wilfully behave contrary to the values of the school’.”

It stressed that Labor was “not proposing to amend the Sex Discrimination Act which allows educational institutions to impose reasonable conditions in accordance with their doctrines, beliefs or teachings.” Some within Labor believe that those discrimination provisions could be key to religious schools being able to ensure that its teachers outwardly adhere to the institutions values.  In a dissenting report on Senator Penny Wong’s proposed Sex Discrimination Amendment Bill 2018, Labor Senators raised the issue of whether schools needed to rely on exemptions to uphold the fidelity of an employee at their school or whether it was a contractual matter.

Their report referred to a hypothetical example of a teacher “who was not supportive of the teachings of the church and who voiced that belief publicly”.  “The committee noted that the failure to uphold a specific teaching, needed to be pursued through the contract with the employee,” said the Labor Senators’ report.  Ms Plibersek said that she did not believe that there was “any tension” between the rights of schools to require employees uphold their values and protecting people from discrimination. “What the Schools want is employees who can live by or demonstrate the values of their school,” she said.

She went on “I think it is possible to find that balance without discriminating against people because of who they love or how they identify.  I don’t think that’s beyond us.” Labor has advised advocacy group Equality Australia that it would “continue to work to remove all discrimination against LGBTI people from Commonwealth law”.  “Labor will not give up,” the response said. “We do not believe that freedom from discrimination and religious freedom are mutually exclusive.  We do not believe that the removal of these exemption will hamper a religious schools’ capacity to continue to teach its religion and operate according to its traditions and beliefs.”

Source:  Compiled by APN from media reports

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A SEASON OF PRAYER FOR THE FEDERAL ELECTION – WEEK 4

By Australian Newsletter

WEEK 4 – PRAYING FOR ALL WHO ARE STANDING FOR ELECTION

Day 1 – Monday 6 May
Thanksgiving, Requests, Prayers and Intercession Let us begin this week by giving thanksgiving to the Lord for all who are standing for election. Pray and ask the Lord that He would lead us to pray His heart for them. Make your requests known to Him asking that all who seek to serve our nation would walk in truth, integrity and righteousness. Intercede that in the election process and outcome the Lord’s will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven.
Scriptures: 1 Timothy 2: 1-6

Day 2 – Tuesday 7 May
That we may lead peaceful and quiet lives in all Godliness and holiness Pray for the Peace of God to invade this Election and that Leaders & Candidates would experience God’s peace. Pray and Intercede that they will receive visions and dreams of, and from, God. Pray for the Prophetic voice of encouragement to come alongside those standing for election, that they would speak truth in all their utterances.
Scriptures: Isaiah 60: 1-2

Day 3 – Wednesday 8 May
For there is one mediator between God and Mankind, the man Jesus Christ Remember in our prayers that Jesus gave His life for all mankind. Give thanksgiving and praise that Jesus gave himself as ransom for those standing for election. Pray for the salvation of all those who seek to serve us that they will not reject ‘the truth’ that Jesus gave His life for them. Pray that in the lead up to the elections many Leaders & Candidates who believe would publicly confess their faith in Jesus as Lord.
Scriptures: Hebrews 9: 11-15

Day 4 – Thursday 9 May
Do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves Pray that those seeking public office would walk in humility not pride as they prepare to serve our Nation of Australia. Pray that Leaders & Candidates will live in love, humility & service to one another. That they be unified as one in purpose for the betterment of our nation.
Scriptures: Philippians 2: 1-11 Prov 14: 34

Day 5 – Friday 10 May
Praying for the character of God to emerge in those standing for election Pray for electoral success for all Leaders and Candidates who are prepared to walk in righteousness and justice. Pray that they would recognise the need to be in right standing with God in personal moral, spiritual, and relationship issues. Pray they would be faithful, thoughtful and wise as the Lord places them in strategic areas to serve our Nation.
Scriptures: Romans: 5: 1-5

Day 6 – Saturday 11 May
Immersing all candidates in His love Read today’s scripture and pray that all who are standing for election would exhibit the qualities of love outlined in verses 4 to 7. Pray for the raising up of the banner of His love over all standing for election.
Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8a

Day 7 – Sunday 12> May
Praying for our nation to be built on the foundation of Jesus Christ Pray that candidates will acknowledge and honour the Christian foundations of our nation and continue to build around the Chief Corner Stone (Jesus Christ). Pray for believing politicians to stand firm and profess their faith in Christ. Pray that the Spirit of God would speak clearly to all who put themselves up for election bringing conviction of their need to rely on Him for all wisdom. Pray with confidence remembering that God works quietly and continuously to bring His kingdom on earth.
Scriptures: Matthew 21: 42-44

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CHRISTIAN CONFERENCE CENSORED BY FACEBOOK

By Australian Newsletter

This coming June, along with some of the brightest legal minds from Australia and around the world, Dr Augusto Zimmermann is hosting a conference called Religious Freedom at the Crossroads: The Rise of Anti-Christian Sentiment in the West.  When he and others shared the conference link on social media, Facebook censored it, claiming that the conference violates their community standards.  The biggest social media platform in the world censored an event highlighting the rising intolerance of Christianity.  Did you catch the irony?

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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CHRISTIAN WOMAN PROTESTING ABORTIONS RULED A CRIMINAL

By Australian Newsletter

A Christian woman seeking to save saving unborn children has been ruled a criminal.  In 2016, Kathy Clubb was arrested for offering help and hope to mothers near an abortion clinic in Victoria.  Recent laws had made it illegal for pro-life activists to be within 150 metres of such a facility.  She decided to challenge the law since it goes against Australia’s Constitution which grants Australian citizens freedom of political communication.  The highest court in Australia dismissed her challenge and forced her to pay fines and all of the court costs.

There’s a bitter irony in the story too.  Former Greens leader Bob Brown faced similar charges to Kathy Club for protesting against logging in an exclusion zone.  His case was acquitted by the High Court.  Since when are trees worth more than babies?

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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A SEASON OF PRAYER FOR THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS – Week 3

By Australian Newsletter

WEEK 3 – PRAYING FOR A NATION THAT REFLECTS GOD’S JUSTICE

Day 1 – Monday 29 April
Justice in the Church  Let us pray for justice to be manifested in the Church. Let us repent of our prayerlessness for those in government, and for the times we have judged and criticized them, instead of praying for them.  Pray that the Church will be faithful in praying for all members of Parliament, and their advisors, taking the time to find out the policies and intentions of those in their own constituencies standing for parliament, and ask the Lord to grant His grace and favour to those who would stand up for justice and truth to be elected.
Scriptures:  Matthew 5:13-16 Col 4:2

Day 2 – Tuesday 30 April
Justice in our Communities  Pray that the rights of the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, the aged, unborn children and refugees be upheld.  Ask the Lord to raise up people in our government and amongst those who advise them, who will understand with godly wisdom, and implement with compassion, principles that will meet the needs of these people in fair and practical ways.  Ask that those elected to government will honour, encourage and support Christian churches and organizations who care for the poor and homeless.  Pray that no government legislation will attempt to compromise their Christian values.
Scriptures:  James 2:5-9

Day 3 – Wednesday 1 May
Justice in Government  Pray that the person called to be Attorney General in the next government will be a God fearing person of integrity, with a clear understanding of justice and truth, and a heart after God’s own heart.  That he/she and his/her department would have God’s wisdom, strategies, favour and blessing in dealing with the issues of this portfolio.  Some of those areas covered in this portfolio include:

  • Australia’s national security which includes Security intelligence and border protection
  • Organised crime
  • Promoting access to justice and protection of human rights. Also censorship.
  • Indigenous law and justice
  • Courts, tribunals and the Judiciary Appointments
  • Family law

Scriptures:  1 Timothy2:1-4 Proverbs 24:23b-25 Prov 29:4a

Day 4 – Thursday 2 May
Economic Justice  Let us bring before our Lord today, that the person of His choice will be elected as the Treasurer of our Nation. Pray that He would prepare the heart of this person and all who would advise, and head up the departments under this portfolio, to think and to act in the counsel of God regarding the financial policies of Australia. These areas include:

  • Economic and fiscal policy and taxation
  • Prices surveillance; competition policy
  • Taxation
  • Superannuation, banking, insurance, and foreign investment.  Pray that the policies of both major parties regarding finances will reflect God’s compassion for those in greatest need – the poor, the homeless, the aged, families etc.  Also that they would research their financial responsibilities well and be accountable when implementing new policies.  Especially pray that in the run up to election unattainable promises would not be made to win votes.

Scriptures:  Romans 13:6-7

Day 5 – Friday 3 May
Justice in the Electorate  Let us ask the Lord to move people’s hearts to research the policies of the different parties and understand how those policies will affect them and their family’s lives. Pray that voters will not look for money or favours for their own gain, but look to the real needs of the Nation. Ask that voters be given divine discernment to choose to vote for those candidates with godly principles.
Scriptures:  Micah 6:8 (particularly in The Message)

Day 6 – Saturday 4 May
Justice in the Media  Pray for all those who report, commentate, and opinionate in newspapers and magazines, on TV and radio. Ask the Lord to enable these people to be neutral and fair in their assessments of the policies presented, that deception and lies be exposed, that truth and righteousness be declared and encouraged, and those who are reading, listening and seeing these reports will perceive what is real, just and true. Pray too that political advertising will not demean personalities, but will concentrate on the policies and issues being presented. Pray that voters will not be influenced by people, but by God.
Scriptures:  Proverbs 12:17-23

Day 7 – Sunday 5 May
Election of Just, Righteous and Honest Parliamentarians  Please pray that the Lord would call and appoint those who are just, righteous, honest and with integrity to lead our country.  Pray today for the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten.  Wait on the Lord, and ask Him how you are to pray for our leaders and then obey Him in prayer.  Pray also for all candidates standing on a Christian platform that they would truly reflect Jesus in their public life and that God would grant them favour in their constituencies, that many people would vote for them because of their Christian stand.  Pray that those who will hold the balance of power in the Senate will be men and women of faith, integrity with a true sense of justice for all.
Scriptures:  Proverbs 8:12-16 Psalm 72:1-4

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OUR WORLD NEEDS THE COURAGE OF ISRAEL FOLAU

By Australian Newsletter

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe…” (Rom 1:16) There was once a society very similar to our own.  Children were seen as a burden.  They were routinely left to die in the hours after their birth, for the convenience of their parents, in a primitive abortion-like practice.  Sexual expressionism was celebrated, in an ancient version of what we might call PRIDE.  Homosexual activity was a feature of religious practice, and prevalent in the culture.  The weekend crowds at the stadium left our MCG’s capacity in the shade.

Materialism, love of entertainment, and hedonistic pleasures reigned supreme.  A condition which gave rise to the idiom, “bread and circuses.”  Orgies were the foul indulgence of the elite.  There was even a thriving feminist movement.  Public expressions of Christianity were dissident acts, offending the cultural sensitivities of the time, and earning adherents a place on the fringe of society.  It was a world in which the emperor would marry two boys, one he called his husband, and the other his wife.  But not before he had kicked his pregnant (actual) wife to death amidst the rise and rise of a broader domestic violence epidemic.

It was a world whose power, prestige, and wealth betrayed its crippling sickness; a sickness of soul and spirit, which ultimately destroyed it completely.  It was the dizzying and spectacular, yet broken world of pagan Rome.  What medicine does a world like this need?

Where to begin?  How to engage?  The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at the epicentre of it all – in Rome herself. “I am not ashamed!” he declares.  And why should he be?  He carries a priceless treasure for a broken world.  He knows and proclaims the truth which will set these people free.  And he pulls no punches in demonstrating just how unashamed he is.

His very next words state the blunt truth that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” We only need to look at Israel Folau’s lot over the past week to know how inflammatory that was.  You can almost see the furrowed brows of outrage over this man’s lack of nuance and grace.  How dare he! Why is he alienating people?  Such judgmentalism! But he will not stop.  He calls out the people’s sins in rapid-fire succession, not pausing for breath for three chapters.

And yes, he even has a few uncomfortably direct things to say about homosexual behaviour.  And hellfire, for that matter.  Crucially, he does not ease up the pressure until he is sure his readers are no longer pointing the finger of accusation outwards at their culture… but at their own hearts, too.  Until they have had every defence mechanism, every excuse, every instinct to burst with outrage, overwhelmed with rapid-fire condemnation.  Paul concludes, “None is righteous, no, not one,” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But of all the sacred cows he kills along the way, self-worship would have to be the biggest.

Because, in times like these, the very last thing people can comprehend is the idea that they might be wrong; that they could be judged by God and found wanting; that they could possibly be hell-bound.  That is offensive. It is worthy of ridicule.  Reading over the various opinion pieces on Israel Folau, the common feature among authors, both his supporters and detractors, is their contempt for this very notion.  “If those are the criteria for entry [to hell], then I’ll see you all down there,” says one.  Well… yes… exactly… Above all things, we live amongst a generation that tells us to believe in ourselves, so we do.  And we believe that self is good.

The Mardi Gras banners emblazoned with “pride” just give overt expression to the cardinal, though often more subtly expressed, sin of our times.  Our highest value is ourselves, and our identities.  Paul presses this very button in Romans 1, declaring that we “worship and serve creature rather than creator.”  We’re narcissists who have killed God in our thinking, putting ourselves on His throne.  Nietzsche’s famous words have been fulfilled, “If there is a God, how can I bear not to be that God?”  And Paul intends to burst that bubble with some serious trigger words.

Because he knows it is the thing which is immunising his fellow Romans against the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So long as this remains true, they will never repent.  They will never turn to Christ.  They will never be saved.  And that means ultimate disaster.  That is why the Apostles preached sin, guilt, and judgment with boldness at every turn.  There is not one public sermon in the book of Acts which does anything less than press the issue home with unrelenting conviction, normally right after exposing the specific sin of the crowd being preached to.

Paul even declared the coming judgement of the “unknown God” to the men at Mars Hill, whose forebears had killed Socrates for “introducing new deities”, no wonder scripture says he was stressed before he spoke!  And the full ambit of reactions is seen.  Paul was mocked and laughed at. Peter and John were hauled before a tribunal for hate speech.  Agrippa had his curiosity aroused.  Many were “cut to the heart” in response to Peter.  Detractors plotted revenge.  People threw stones at Stephen.  The churches were a mixed bag, too.  Some listened, clearly, but Paul also writes that “all in Asia have deserted me.”  And he had to defend himself against endless attacks and smears by writing 2 Corinthians.  His was no smooth road.

And, crucially, anger continued to swell from all quarters against these men who dared to point the finger, name sin, declare Christ’s judgement, and urge repentance.  Paul died as an axe took his head off.  Every Apostle was martyred, except the one they exiled.  But they followed in the footsteps of their Lord, the crucified Christ.  And He, too, was One who began His earthly ministry with the word, “Repent.” And He, too, experienced the full range of reactions.  But crucially, we must not forget that something else happened.  The gospel spread faster than a pandemic through the Ancient Roman world, fuelled by the unrelenting boldness of these early Christians.

Why do I say all this? Because too many of us think Israel Folau did something wrong.  If he did the wrong thing, then so, too, did Paul, Peter, James, John, the rest of the Apostles, and Jesus Himself.  The truth is, there’s nothing more offensive than the ideas of sin and judgment to a generation like ours, no matter how you say it.  The notion that in myself I am judged and found wicked is anathema and contemptible.  This idea that some sovereign God has power over me in any real sense must not be countenanced.  But the truth will set the people of such a world free, as it did you and I.  And the truth, whenever it is spoken, will yield fruit.  That is a promise of God.

I have no doubt that there are many who are saved through the most gentle of encounters, as Christ with the woman caught in adultery, or through honed apologetics, like Nicodemus.  But in a hardened, self-loving, neo-pagan age, maybe Folau’s paraphrase of a scripture which assaults it all head-on will be just the medicine someone needed to turn to God in repentance and faith, and know Him forever through Jesus Christ.  If we don’t believe that, then we must ask ourselves to what extent our wayward culture has shaped our thinking.

Perhaps the boldness of the apostles, who bravely declared against the odds that they were “not ashamed” is what God looks for among His people in these changing times.  From pagan Rome, to neo-pagan Australia, there really is nothing new under the sun.

Source: Blog by Martyn Iles Managing Director Australian Christian Lobby

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TASMANIAN UPPER HOUSE PASSES CONTROVERSIAL TRANSGENDER LAW

By Australian Newsletter

The Tasmanian Upper House has passed an extremely controversial bill that will have far reaching ramifications for all Australians.  The bill, which began as an amendment to the Marriage Act, removes biological sex markers from birth certificates and allows self-identification on birth certificates through a declaration.  This complex, hotly debated bill underwent 20 revisions and more than 50 pages of amendments but very little expert or community consultation was passed 8 votes to 6.  Liberal Member Leonie Hiscutt said the legislation should not have been ‘rushed through’ parliament without a full review from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute.”

A recent poll suggested 71% of Tasmanians were opposed to the bill.  Despite this, eight Labor and Independent MLCs rushed it through and hailed it as historic win for the country.  Ruth Forrest MLC, who drafted the bill, said “I think other states will be looking at us and saying “we should be considering this.”  Kirralie Smith, Binary spokeswoman said “It is very concerning that a mere eight politicians were able to rush through such an important landmark bill.  This decision will have a lot of negative consequences that were dismissed or ignored by the decision makers.

Smith said “I sincerely hope other states take note what not to do.  The community and experts ought to be heavily consulted in such a process.”  The Mercury noted that “The laws will also prevent hate speech and offensive language against gender identity and intersex status.”  Smith asked, “Who gets to decide what is offensive language?” “Someone’s feelings could be hurt by another person’s unintended remarks.  Feelings are not a consistent, reliable or measurable benchmark for determining offense.  Stating biological, scientific facts could potentially land people in big trouble with the new law,” Smith warned.

Source: Binary

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A SEASON OF PRAYER FOR THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS – Week 2

By Australian Newsletter

WEEK 2 – PRAYING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS IN GOVERNMENT

Day 1 – Monday 22 April
God’s Righteousness  Cry out to God for His righteousness, just nature, and rulership to be established in Australia through the Government we elect, as it is in heaven.
Scriptures:  Psalm 33:5  Psalm 36:6  Psalm 45:7  Psalm 71:19  Psalm 85:13  Psalm 89:14  Psalm 145:17  Jeremiah 9:24  Acts 17:31

Day 2 – Tuesday 23 April
Australia’s Unrighteousness  In the light of His perfect righteousness let us acknowledge our sin and failures as His people to pray for, and represent Him to, our nation.  In repentance and humility let us cry out for His mercy to be extended to ourselves and our nation through the outcome of this election.
Scriptures:  1 Peter 4:17  Daniel 9:4-19  1 John 1:9

Day 3 – Wednesday 24 April
Our Righteousness before God  Let us approach His throne of grace with confidence concerning these elections, to pray that our nation will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Pray that the Church in Australia will be like Esther and find favour and approval with our King so that He will hear and answer our prayers.  Pray that God would give His Church the prayers of Jesus so that we pray in righteousness, unity, and maturity.
Scriptures:  Corinthians 1:30  Romans 10:10a  Esther 2:17  Esther 7:2  Hebrews 5:13-14

Day 4 – Thursday 25 April
God’s Promise of Righteousness for our Nation  Pray for righteousness to come forth from the Federal elections.  Pray that Australia would be known and respected in the forums of the world as a nation of righteousness and integrity, holding to and doing what is right regardless of internal or external pressures and short term expediency.  Pray for a government we can trust to conduct our affairs righteously in every area of power.
Scriptures:  Proverbs 14:34  Isaiah 26:2,9  Psalm 75:10  Isaiah 28:17  Isaiah 32:17  Malachi 4:2-3  Psalm 125:3

Day 5 – Friday 26 April
Righteousness in the Election Campaign  Let us pray that this election campaign, however strongly contested, will be conducted with righteousness, decency and respect.   Pray His Kingdom come and His will be done in this election.  Pray that He will expose to the eyes of the nation any hidden, ruthless, unscrupulous, unrighteous motives of parties and candidates.  Pray the electors see and take to heart what is right, honourable, just and true and let it prevail in the voting on election day:  Pray that righteousness and truth rather than sensationalism will prevail in all reporting in the media.
Scriptures:  Matthew 6:33  Romans 14:17-18  Amos 5:24  Psalm 85:13  Luke 12:2-3  Philippians 4:8  Psalm 85:13

Day 6 – Saturday 27 April
The Election of Righteous Candidates  In prayer, call forth from each electorate into the Federal Parliament, those who will represent us in righteousness and will be open to the influence of His Holy Spirit.
Scriputres:  Psalm 112:4-10  Isaiah 64:4-5a  1 John 3:7-10  Psalm 34:15  Psalm 37:29

Day 7 – Sunday 28 April
Pray for a Prime Minister and Government that would lead our Nation in Righteousness   Pray in faith for a Prime Minister who will be an instrument of true righteousness in His hands.  Pray for the election of a Government that will be under His authority so that Australia can fulfil in every way the calling He has for us.  Pray that whoever is elected Prime Minister will lead Australia under His Lordship and authority and with His wisdom into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Scriptures:  Psalm 18:20  Proverbs 14:34  Proverbs 16:7  Proverbs 21:1  Proverbs 25:5  Psalm 11:3  Hosea 10:12  Psalm 85:9-13  Jeremiah 29:11-14a

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HIGH COURT HANDS DOWN JUDGEMENT IN PRO-LIFE CASE

By Australian Newsletter

The High Court of Australia has handed down its judgement on two very important cases with serious implications for freedom of speech and the pro-life cause.  The court has upheld criminal convictions against Kathy Clubb and Graham Preston.  In doing so, they have confirmed the legality of so-called ‘safe access zones’ outside abortion clinics.  These laws prohibit anyone from communicating within the zone about abortion, in a way that can be seen or heard.  They are designed to stop pro-life counsellors from offering help and alternatives to abortion at the most dangerous moment of an unborn baby’s life.

In 2014 Tasmania made it illegal to express disagreement with abortion within 150m of abortion clinics.  Mr Graham Preston from Queensland was arrested, convicted, and fined $3,000 in Hobart for holding signs within the exclusion zone that read on one side, “Everyone has the right to life, Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and on the other side “Every child has the right to life, Article 6, UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child”, along with an enlarged photo of an 8-week-old preborn baby.  Last October Mr Preston’s appeal against his conviction was heard in the High Court of Australia which has now handed down its decision that this exclusion zone law is not unconstitutional so the law will remain in place.

In particular, Kathy Clubb and the ministry she worked with has saved over 300 babies’ lives and supported their mothers, often through difficult circumstances.  When the law shuts down a ministry like this, the law clearly is not working.  As Kathy has said, her ministry is a ministry of mercy to women, and it has yielded incredible fruit.  Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) supporters all over Australia have campaigned for years against the introduction of ‘safe access zones’, standing with Kathy and Graham, praying for them, their families and for the justices of the High Court.

While the court’s decision is profoundly disappointing, it should only strengthen the resolve of supporters to stand up for freedom of speech and the cause of the unborn.  This case is not the end for Kathy and Graham as the matter will now go back to the Supreme Court of Victoria and Tasmania to deal with the rest of their appeals.  There are still substantial legal arguments about the validity of their convictions.  Please continue to uphold Kathy, Graham and our legal system in your prayers.  Could it be a criminal offence to promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a public place in Australia?   Yes it could, based on this judgement.

Mr Preston said, “It is a very sad day for this country.  This decision means that a person can be fined up to $10 000 and/or be jailed for up to 12 months simply for promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in a public place in Australia. “This is not the old Soviet Union where human rights laws were a mockery, this is Australia.  Australia is signatory to both of these documents but now you can be sent to jail for promoting them on a public footpath!  “Every Australian, whatever their views on abortion, should be very concerned about this draconian suppression of free speech that has been upheld.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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CHRISTIAN RUGBY PLAYER FACES SACK AFTER MEDIA POST ABOUT SIN AND HELL

By Australian Newsletter

One of the best rugby players in the world is set to have his contract terminated after posting a warning on social media to those who sin.  Israel Folau, who has starred for Australia over the past six years, has often spoken about his Christian faith, regularly sharing Bible verses and messages on Twitter and Instagram.  Last year he received much criticism for telling a follower that God’s plan for homosexual people was hell unless they repent of their sins. His employer, Rugby Australia, had said his comments “did not reflect the views” of the organisation but added: “In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game.  We accept Israel’s position.”

His latest post lists a number of different sins including homosexuality and tells followers that “hell awaits”.  Rugby Australia and his club NSW Waratahs have released a statement criticising his comments.  They said they have failed to get hold of Folau over the past 24 hours but now intend to sack him.  They said: “Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport.  We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.  In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”

Folau has previously defended his comments on the Players Voice website.  In a long article in which he talks about the basics of Christianity, he said: “People’s lives are not for me to judge. Only God can do that. “I have sinned many times in my life.  I take responsibility for those sins and ask for forgiveness through repentance daily.”  Speaking about his views on homosexuality and sin, he went on to say he was unprepared to “compromise my faith in Jesus Christ, which is the cornerstone of every single thing in my life”.

Source: Premier News Service

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UNI STUDENTS TOLD ANZACS WERE KILLERS AND BRITISH ARRIVAL WAS AN INVASION

By Australian Newsletter

Students at Murdoch University are being taught that the Anzacs who fought at Gallipoli were “killers”, that the British arrival in Australia in 1788 was an “invasion”, and that asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru are “prisoners”.  A lecturer in Australian history at Murdoch, Dean Aszkie­lowicz, told School of Arts students that many of the young people who attend annual Anzac Day services in Gallipoli were “drunk”.  In an audio recording obtained by The Australian newspaper, he also described Anzac Day as a “cliche” that would diminish in popularity.

When asked by a student whether he thought the Anzacs should be viewed as murderers, Dr Aszkielowicz said: “If you kill people, whether it’s overseas or not, then you’re a killer.  “I don’t see why that isn’t a viewpoint that shouldn’t sit alongside the other version of how we look at the Anzacs.” In a separate lecture English and creative arts lecturer Anne Surma blamed the government, right-wing media and shock jocks for peddling misinformation about refugees and asylum-seekers. Murdoch University is standing by its academics amid allegations of left-wing bias in their teaching, and criticisms that the comments about the Anzacs were “insulting” to fallen soldiers.

Dr Aszkielowicz declined to comment further.  Some of the students in the course are concerned about a left-wing bias among academics and that they are being given only one side of the argument about Australian history and culture.  Federal Liberal MP and former SAS commander Andrew Hastie said Australians should be free to question assumptions around Anzac Day but should be careful about attacking or repudiating what it stood for.  “Humanities students would be better off building a home library based on the Western canon, rather than listening to an overpaid radical malign our war dead,” he said. “They’d save money and get a proper education.”

The RSL’s chief executive in Western Australia, John McCourt, said the comments were “insulting to the memories of the men and women who perished in World War I”.  “It’s the job of an academic to be rational and reasoned, and to give students both sides of the argument,” he said.  In his lecture Dr Aszkielowicz told students about Australia’s search for a national identity, tracing this back to the arrival of the British in 1788.  “The British thought of themselves as settlers when they arrived in Australia,” he said.  “But the Aboriginal people saw the arrival as an invasion and that is certainly how the majority of historians, including myself, see it.”

He showed a photo of an Anzac Day ceremony at Gallipoli, saying: “These young people at Anzac Cove, are mostly drunk.” Dr Aszkielowicz said he believed the “surge in Anzac Day nationalism” had made the occasion more popular than ever but he predicted this would wane. “It is fuelled by the military, who dominate the agenda for Anzac Day,” he said. “It is used unashamedly by politicians to further their own causes and it’s embraced by certain sections of the community who still fear outsiders. “Warrior myths of this kind are  going to appeal to certain sections of the community who need to feel togetherness or worth, especially amongst young men.”

Associate Professor Surma spent much of her lecture discussing an acclaimed book by Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani, whom she referred to as being a “prisoner”.  She praised the Kurdish-Iranian journalist for documenting the “torture and inhumane treatment” of detainees.  Associate Professor Surma urged students to read Boochani’s book and to see a film he shot on his smartphone about the plight of asylum-seekers on Manus Island.  She last year spoke at an event at Murdoch held by a lobby group, Academics for Refugees, which wants Australia to end offshore processing, boat turn-backs and mandatory detention.

Murdoch University defended Dr Aszkielowicz and Associate Professor Surma.  The interim pro-vice-chancellor of the College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences, Professor Rikki Kersten, said the institution was passionate about producing graduates who were critical thinkers.  “We actively encourage students to draw on views from across the political and academic spectrum,” she said.  “They might not agree with all the viewpoints expressed, but it is important they understand them and have the tools to form their own views.  “In the context of these lectures, our academics provided challenging comment respectfully, this is academic freedom in action.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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