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Australian Newsletter

AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN LOBBY STATEMENT REGARDING PILL TESTING

By | Australian Newsletter

Recent drug-related deaths at festivals over the recent holiday period have renewed the push for pill testing in Australia.  The Australian Christian Lobby notes that drugs are inherently unsafe regardless of whether or not they have been tested.  For example, 15-year-old Anna Wood died from ecstasy not because it was tainted, but because of the idiosyncratic effects of any illicit drug.  Illicit drugs remain illegal and should be treated as such by governments and by the police.  Not enforcing the law sends a message, especially to young people, that drug-taking is both dangerous and foolish.

Testing a pill creates a permission structure for consumption of the pill, thereby giving implicit approval to dangerous and irresponsible behaviour which no careful parent would wish their child to partake in.  In any event, as with most ‘harm minimisation’ systems, it is unlikely that pill testing would have the benefits claimed by advocates.   Research conducted during the first pill testing trial in Australia at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo last year showed that only 18 percent of festival-goers would decide not to take a drug which returned an adverse test result.  State governments should continue to enforce the law and reject pill-testing proposals.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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WISING UP TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS AND CONVERSION THERAPY AGENDAS

By | Australian Newsletter

A blog written by Martin Iles Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby

When I was very young, I watched Disney’s Aladdin. From that day, I’d often speculate about what I’d ask the genie in the lamp if I ever found him. How could I eke maximum benefit out of just three wishes? Could I phrase my wishes in such a way as to get more wishes? Or perhaps some infinite benefit out of what appeared to be a single wish? My mind was abuzz with options. Of course, I’d never ask for a million dollars or some specific amount of money. I’d ask for a wallet that never stopped dispensing money – hah! Yes! Clever! Pity the fool who didn’t think of that!

It was around this time that I read the story of Solomon. God gave him one wish which would be His command. Wisdom. Solomon’s request deeply impacted me. It impacted me not merely because of what he asked for, though that was part of it, but also why he asked for it. First, it was because he was humble. He knew that he didn’t know. He knew that he was not equipped to discern and understand the realities of this world. He confessed that he was “a little child” concerning the task that lay before him. But secondly, he identified the particular reality of this world concerning which he would need the most profound help, “to discern between good and evil.”

He wanted wisdom in order to know what was right and what was wrong. This is a key application of wisdom in today’s world because that which is wrong is so often cloaked in what seems right. The deceitfulness of sin means we are sitting ducks without training in godly discernment, insight, understanding and wisdom. We need wisdom when it comes to people, for example. We have all known people who present admirably, but after time, years perhaps, their true colours are finally exposed. Maybe they were never the person we thought they were. Maybe you feel sick to discover they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

God’s own advice rings true, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” [Jer 17:9] We also need wisdom when it comes to judging ideas. I wrote some time ago about self-esteem, self-worth, inner beauty and identity. So many Christians have hitched their wagons to those buzzwords in recent decades. And now we stand back, wondering why a generation filled with affirmation and ideas of their own empowerment are seduced by a postmodern worldview. Of course they are, it just plays to the script they’ve already heard, taking it one step further. A step we did not foresee, for lack of wisdom.

Telling a child how special they were seemed harmless enough. But too often we fail to discern the deeper foundations behind ideas. The attractive, surface veneer of that which is wrong fools us. Again, we need so much wisdom. But my call today is not primarily for wisdom in relation to people or ideas, but for wisdom in discerning agendas and understanding the path they lead us down. I am reminded of two seemingly good causes being pushed in the public square which have a dark underbelly. One is the reform of legislation to prevent gay students being expelled from religious schools.

The second is the effort to outlaw so-called “LGBTQ conversion therapy.” The recent release of the movie Boy Erased is the latest PR effort here, though media and political parties have been running a soft campaign for some time. Each of these sounds like something we could all support, but the devil is in the detail, or rather the underlying agenda. This is a call to wisdom. The religious schools’ reforms began with a straightforward lie. The Sydney Morning Herald claimed that the Ruddock Review recommended schools be able to expel students based on their sexuality. That was just not true.

But in this false claim was another idea simmering away: the idea that religious schools are expelling students simply because they are same-sex attracted. It turns out that is simply not true, either. There is, however, a section in the Sex Discrimination Act which would technically make this possible, so the debate quickly zeroed in on that. But that section is crucial to the protection of Christian schools, enabling them to operate according to their ethos. It allows them to uphold a Biblical sexual ethic in the conduct of their staff and student body, something which is surely in accord with the expectations of most parents who send their children to a Christian school.

It also includes a crucial protection which could enable a school to teach Biblical sexual ethics without falling foul of legal technicalities, or to refuse to teach Safe Schools-style programs without being accused of causing detriment to LGBTQ students. This is a seriously important matter. Many quickly stood on the landmine that had been laid to blow open this debate. But what is the actual objective? Is it about protecting gay kids from the persecution they suffer at the hands of religionists? No. It is about nothing less than the decimation of the freedom of our Christian schools; Nothing less than an attack on your ability to raise your children in accord with your moral values.

Meanwhile, the conversion therapy debate continues with the release of Boy Erased in theatres. It is the story of a young man whose devoutly Christian parents force him to go to a bootcamp to knock the gay out of him. The practices are abusive, coercive, demeaning and wrong. To the average Australian, the emerging narrative is that conversion therapy based around coercion, electric shocks, bizarre rituals and other madness is alive and well. The term “conversion therapy” itself is enough to conjure up a nightmare. But that is a lie. It’s not happening. The more subtle idea is that this has been a mainstream practice in Christianity in the past. But that is not true, either.

I do not deny that this happened to some, including the boy around which the movie is based. I do not deny that it is tragic, and it should be condemned. I condemn it. But I don’t think I know a Christian who would have experience with any such practices. Overwhelmingly, we couldn’t even have imagined them. Certainly, I know that they are not a problem in 2018 Australia. And yet there is a vigorous push on to outlaw so-called “LGBTQ conversion therapy.” Why? Because the laws that are being proposed use the name “conversion therapy” to capture more than what we see in Boy Erased.

Activists believe that a major oppressor of LGBTQ young people are their parents with Christian moral values. The mere teaching of those values is enough to cause harm to a vulnerable LGBTQ child and therefore ought to be stopped. So “conversion therapy” really comes to mean anything less than positive affirmation of a child’s felt gender identity of sexual orientation at any given time. It could become “conversion therapy” to affirm your male child as a boy if he feels like he might be a girl after speaking with the school counsellor. It could become “conversion therapy” to uphold a Biblical sexual ethic in the family home.

The laws which enshrine the outlawing of conversion therapy are nothing less than an excuse for the long arm of the government to reach into homes and label Christian parents “domestic and psychological abusers” (words taken from the Australian Labor Party’s conversion therapy policy). They would also prevent pastors, counsellors, and other Christian professionals from teaching the truth that change comes through Christ; the very gospel itself. This is perhaps one of the most insidious political agendas at work today, and yet it presents as totally compassionate.

It is no wonder that Solomon later wrote: Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. [Prov 4:7] Let us be those who are wise, understanding the times in which we live, and discerning what is right and what is wrong in the agendas that are pushed all around us. Hebrews 5 calls us to become “those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM LOST AS WHITE MAGAZINE SHUTS

By | Australian Newsletter

Christians are being run out of business, hounded by boycotts and bullied by activists, for adhering to their faith a year after the celebrated same-sex-marriage vote.  In a sign Australia faces a “crisis of freedom”, a successful international wedding magazine that chose not to feature gay couples has announced its decision to shut down after becoming the target of an intimidation campaign.  The founders of White magazine, Christians Luke and Carla Burrell, said they were the targets of an activist campaign that deterred their advertisers, frightened their staff and included threats of physical harm because of their stand on same-sex weddings.

The couple, who have published White for 12 years, said the campaign was triggered by the same-sex marriage vote and saw them branded homophobes and bigots.  One individual warned their house would be burned down.  With the government poised to respond to a  review into religious freedoms amid concern gay school students and teachers will be subject to discrimination, the Burrells expressed deep frustration that activists had forced them to “draw the curtain on this part of our lives”.  “A number of advertisers withdrew their sponsorship out of fear of being judged, or in protest.  We have had to recognise that White magazine is no longer economically viable.’’

In another case, Christian photographer Jason Tey was taken to the West Australian Equal Opportunity Commission after agreeing to photograph the children of a same-sex couple but disclosed a conflict of belief, in case they felt more comfortable hiring someone else.  At the conciliation hearing, Mr Tey was ordered to provide an admission of discrimination and place a written apology on his website  homepage and all social media pages associated with his business for at least two months. Mr Tey, said: “I don’t believe I have discriminated in any way, nor offered unfavourable treatment.  I merely stated that I have a contrary view due to my Christian faith.”

The matter was not resolved at conciliation and was referred to the State Administrative Tribunal for mediation. Martyn Iles, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby who helped establish the Human Rights Law Alliance, said the two cases were “the tip of the iceberg” that represented “a far deeper crisis of freedom”.  He warned that Australians with traditional views on marriage, gender and family were now in “direct contradiction to new laws” and said he was “imploring the government to pass high quality religious freedom laws”.  “We have assisted some 50 people who have come under legal persecution simply for what they believe,” he said.

“These cases demonstrate the intolerance shown towards those whose beliefs conflict with the new normal.  Jason is being sued simply for stating his beliefs. Luke and Carla were harassed out of business for saying and doing nothing.  We are at the stage where anything less than total affirmation is worthy of vicious attack.”  One of the recommendations of the review into religious freedoms, led by former  attorney-general Philip Ruddock, is for a religious discrimination act.  This would reframe the legal protections for religious freedoms as a positive right rather than continuing to have them enshrined as a negative right by way of exemptions to the Sex Discrimination Act.

The current system of exemptions, strengthened by Labor in 2013, allows faith-based institutions the ability to discriminate in certain circumstances, an arrangement that triggered a public backlash in the lead-up to last year’s Wentworth by-election.  Attorney-General Christian Porter will take the proposal for a religious discrimination act to cabinet for approval, but it is unclear whether the proposal will have enough support to pass the parliament.  White was published quarterly and, at its peak, had a circulation of about 32,000 copies and was available in 17 countries.  It had a small staff with one full-time employee in addition to Mr and Mrs Burrell.

In August, stories broke in the mainstream media identifying that White did not feature gay couples, with photographer Lara Hotz arguing it was an unspoken policy that should be made clear.  Ms Hotz, whose images had featured in the magazine, said at the time she felt discriminated against.  The 32-year-old said she had also received numerous threats after posting about the magazine’s policy.  “I fully support religious freedom,” Ms Hotz said.  “But this was simply a request for White magazine to be transparent with their advertisers and contributors so they could make informed decisions.”

Source:  Compiled by APN from media reports

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HOW POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS CHANGING EDUCATION

By | Australian Newsletter

“There is something sinister going on in Australian classrooms.  The “cultural left” is using political correctness to control how students think about everything from post-colonial theory to maths and science,” Kevin Donnelly, a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University said at the launch of his new book, How Political Correctness is Destroying Education and Your Child’s Future.  “Political correctness is also visible in the Acknowledgement of Country, commonly used to pay respect to the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owners of the land, which should be accompanied by a prayer,” former prime minister Tony Abbott said.

“Recently I went to the opening of the new Northern Beaches Hospital and there was a formal welcome to country.  Every single speaker, and there were about six of them, acknowledged country, fair enough, but there was not a single prayer, even though our society is absolutely unimaginable without the influence of Christianity,” Mr Abbott said.  There is also a lack of religious and cultural teachings in schools, Mr Abbott said at the launch of the book, which is a follow-up to Dr Donnelly’s earlier book, How Political Correctness Is Destroying Australia – Enemies Within and Without, released in June last year.

“It’s not enough to be able to read, write, count and think, there needs to be a cultural literacy that everyone coming through an Australian education should have,” Mr Abbott said.  “That means a familiarity with the gospel stories, especially the parables, which have done so much to shape our culture.  And this is not a question of trying to ram religious faith down people’s throats, it’s a matter of giving people the knowledge essential to understand the culture in which they live.  “I am all in favour of Asian, environmental and Indigenous perspectives, but are these really the top priorities which should permeate every aspect of our curriculum? I doubt it very much indeed.”

Dr Donnelly’s new book argues for the need to preserve Western culture.  “It argues that mathematics, physics, science, all social constructs, have no inherent meaning or value,” said Dr Donnelly, who was a co-chair of the 2014 Australian Curriculum review.  “And if they’re constructs they can be reshaped, deconstructed, remodelled in terms of the cultural left’s ideology, so you now have Aboriginal science being put into the national curriculum.”  Dr Donnelly is referring to recommendations for teachers to incorporate Aboriginal culture and history when covering existing science topics in a bid to increase the accessibility of the subject and close the gap.

What we need, Dr Donnelly said, is a return to 1950s Australia, where things were less complicated and children were happier.  “Some people talk about political correctness as being polite and as being civil and that for many years we discriminated unfairly,” Dr Donnelly said. “Now all of that is true… [but] we used to run around as kids, happy as Larry, free-range, no helicopter parents, doing all kinds of dodgy stuff.  “No one had heard of multiculturalism or diversity and difference, no one had heard of identity politics or micro-aggression.  We were kids growing up in Australia in the 1950s or 60s.”

Abbott continued “We were all equal, we were all proud of who we were, but how times have changed.”  Mr Abbott also had some advice for state and territory education authorities on how to arrest Australia’s fall in international rankings such as PISA and TIMMS, including raising entry requirements for teaching degrees and increasing pay.  “We need to focus on better acknowledging and rewarding the very best teachers, and the best teachers of senior subjects, even at a state school, should be paid at least as much as a backbench member of parliament” Mr Abbott said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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TEST OF FAITH FOR AUSSIE CRICKETER MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE

By | Australian Newsletter

Underlying the sharp rise of cricketer Marnus Labuschagne, the gritty, batting all-rounder, is a lifelong faith in God.  In October Marnus made a surprise entry into the Test cricket scene, debuting against Pakistan.  He’s since shown promise with the bat and ball though it’s his hard working demeanour that is setting him apart.  Coaches and peers have seen a great amount of character and potential in the 24 year old as the team looks to reshape its ethos stemming from the ball tampering saga last March and the resulting Cricket Australia Culture Review.

“It does give me perspective on things.  That cricket isn’t everything.” Labuschagne said “His work ethic is as good as anyone’s.” says Australian coach Justin Langer.  “He’s one of those guys who is like the heartbeat of the team in terms of work ethic, desire, focus.”  After what’s been a whirlwind four months for the regular Gateway Baptist Church attendee, Manus spoke with cricket.com.au about the role of his faith in his cricket and life.  “I’ve been a Christian my whole life,” he says.  “I grew up going to church, and I made my own commitment to follow the Lord when I was 17, when I got baptised at my church, and it’s been a journey since then.

Unfortunately he was unable to retain his spot in the test team against India.  Despite the promising start to his international career he notes the balance church and faith provides him when cricket doesn’t go as planned.  “It gives me perspective on things.  That cricket isn’t everything.  Although at times it feels like it has become that.  I know when I come back from wherever I have been, I’m coming into an environment where I’m loved.  My faith has played a massive part these past few months.”  Labuschagne is very open about his faith, even displaying a small Isaiah 40:31 sticker on the back of his bat though he’ll admit it’s not something he has always found easy to share.

“It’s definitely something where earlier, when I came into an ageing Queensland State Team and everyone knew I was Christian, that was a bit more challenging,” he says.  “There were older players and it was a bit tougher.  But people were willing to listen and try to understand me.”  Despite some preconceptions, his faith is very much now viewed by team mates as part of who he his is as a person.  It has opened up a number of interactions with teammates keen to learn more about this side of him including Australia’s only practicing Muslim cricketer, Usman Khawaja.”

“Usman and I have had numerous conversations about faith. Even from when I first came into the squad, we’ve had some amazing conversations, about his faith, my faith, and how they sort of intertwine” Labuschagne said.   2019 is set to be an exciting year for the young cricketer.  He’s re-earned his place in the side and with the Ashes coming up in August Ricky Ponting has already backed him to receive a plane ticket to England.  Whatever happens though he will always have his faith in something much bigger than cricket.

Source: Hope 103.2 Radio Station

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A LETTER FROM THE PRIME MINISTER CONCERNING OUR RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES

By | Australian Newsletter

I write to you on a matter of great concern to Australians of all faiths.

As you may be aware, late last year I released our Government’s response to the Religious Freedom Review, chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock.  I was also pleased to announce our plans to legislate a Religious Discrimination Act, to protect Australians of faith from discrimination.  Our Government will also establish the position of Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.  The new Commissioner will be dedicated to safeguarding the rights of religious Australians.

However, those are not the reasons for this letter.  My reason for writing is a matter that is perhaps of even greater importance to you.

In October last year, the Government made a commitment to address the issue of discrimination against children in schools on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Government proposed legislative changes that sought to remove discrimination against children while also upholding the fundamental right to freedom of religion.  Importantly, the changes we proposed would protect the right of religious schools and religious institutions to continue to teach and act in accordance with the tenets and doctrines of their faiths.

We hoped to reach a bipartisan solution.

Instead, the Leader of the Opposition introduced a Bill into the Parliament that would, for the first time, apply the full force of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) to all bodies established for religious purposes: churches, mosques, synagogues, monasteries, convents, prayer groups, faith study groups, theological colleges, and all others.

Mr Shorten’s Sex Discrimination Amendment (Removing Discrimination Against Students) Bill 2018 risks an unprecedented encroachment on religious freedom in this country.  The effect of these changes would be to censor what can be taught in religious bodies and dictate how these bodies teach their faiths.
There is agreement across the Parliament to remove the provision of the SDA that currently permits religious educational institutions to discriminate against students on the basis of their identity.  Our Government wishes to repeal it. However, the Liberal National Government cannot support the idea that the teachings and practices of temples, synagogues, churches and mosques across Australia should suddenly expose those bodies to lawsuits under anti-discrimination legislation.

For those reasons, we sought Mr Shorten’s support for a Government Bill that would remove the right to discriminate against students while also protecting faith-based schools from legal action on the grounds I have described.  The Bill would keep the current protections for other religious bodies such as churches, synagogues and mosques.

Mr Shorten refused this offer.

In this new year, please rest assured that the Government will continue to defend the right of religious bodies to teach and act in accordance with their faith.
I would appreciate if you would consider informing your community of the Government’s efforts on this issue.

Yours sincerely,
Scott Morrison
Prime Minister

Source: Letter issued by the Prime Minister to Christian Organisations

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POLL REVEALS NATIONAL BACKLASH AT CHANGING AUSTRALIA DAY DATE

By | Australian Newsletter

Australians have overwhelmingly rejected a push by the left-wing lobby to change the date of Australia Day, with almost 80% of voters claiming to be proud to celebrate the landing of the First Fleet on January 26.  Rejection by mainstream Australia of the culture war being fuelled by the Greens-backed Invasion Day rallies has been revealed in a national poll that has confirmed that there was no mood among voters for changing the date of Australia Day.  With activist group GetUp also escalating its campaign for change by describing January 26 as celebrating a “massacre”, the poll shows that 92% believing the nation was now hostage to political correctness that had gone too far.

The poll was commissioned by the conservative lobby group Advance Australia and conducted by Mediareach, which polled 1659 voters nationally on January 14.  The group claimed it wanted to get ahead of what had now become an annual debate.  Labor leader Bill Shorten this week was forced to pledge that Labor, if elected, would keep the status quo this year after Scott Morrison’s decision to strip councils of their citizenship ceremonies if they did not hold them on Australia Day.  The poll showed 73% of Labor voters claiming to be proud of January 26 being Australia Day.  This was more pronounced among Coalition voters with 98% claiming the same position.

In a warning that the issue could be a vote changer, almost half of voters claimed they would not vote for their local MP if they didn’t support Australia Day being held on January 26.  Only 14% of voters believed the day represented nothing more than a public holiday, with 66% claiming they believed it was a day of inclusion and a “coming together” of a nation.  A majority of all ages supported keeping the date of Australia Day.  Only 3% believed it should be a day of protest. Indigenous communities broadly refuse to recognise January 26 and the arrival of the First Fleet as Australia Day, with many marking it as the beginning of the illegal occupation of their land.

GetUp has since taken up the issue as a left-wing political issue, embraced primarily by Greens voters with 81% supporting scrapping January 26, according to the poll.  Advance Australia national director Gerard Benedet said the results showed people expected January 26 to be an inclusive day rather than a day of protest.  “The poll proves mainstream Australians are overwhelmingly united in wanting to celebrate our country together, because we are all Aussies, and mateship comes first,” Mr Benedet said.  “More and more Australians now understand the historical significance of the date, with 67% recognising it as the day the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove.

“However, it’s not all good news. Australians have stated, loudly, that they believe politicians are more concerned with political point-scoring rather than real matters of importance, with 84% in agreement.  “Most Australians believe moves to change Australia Day are solely for political point-scoring purposes, and not for the benefit of our nation.  It’s political correctness on steroids.  “So while the results are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping Australia Day exactly where it is, the issue does not stop here.  We should be proud of our country and who we have become.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports 

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ANTI-BULLYING ACTIVISTS TARGETING KIDS IN SCHOOL

By | Australian Newsletter

An anti-bullying project with ties to the controversial Safe Schools program, whose founders are active in LGBTI advocacy, has been accused by Christian lobbyists of launching a recruitment drive for “child political activists and ideologues”.  Project Rockit, an enterprise that runs workshops in primary and secondary schools, recently attracted a $1 million grant from Facebook to help train 10,000 students across 600 schools to tackle bullying online and in schools.  The program, founded by Melbourne sisters Lucy and Rosie Thomas has already reached more than 200,000 students, and its work has attracted support from the Foundation for Young Australians to UNICEF.

However, the group’s active role in sexuality and gender politics, largely via social media, has drawn the attention of the Australian Christian Lobby, which has expressed concern about young people being exposed to its activism.  Project Rockit’s lead program director, Danielle Weber, is a drag performer who goes by the name Dani Boi.  When the self-described “dragtavist” announced the new anti-bullying role in an Instagram post in July, a message was posted saying the group was “advocating for the dismantling of white / cis / hetero / patriarchal supremacy and normativity”.

Project Rockit’s Facebook page, which has close to 40,000 followers, shows it to be an advocate for LGBTI rights, posting photos from the Midsumma Pride March last year and advocating for marriage equality.  The group also frequently videos and takes images promoting contentious gender theory, the belief that multiple gender identities exist on a spectrum beyond simply male and female, which was central to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program that was opposed by Christian groups and conservative politicians.  According to Project Rockit’s website, the group works with Safe Schools and Minus 18, which co-authored some of Safe School’s classroom resources.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles said anti-bullying was an important cause, but those behind Project Rockit appeared to have an “ideological, political agenda”. “Most parents would be outraged if they understood the politics of these so-called anti-bullying initiatives,” he said.  “Activists are given a blank cheque and open access to confuse kids with gender-bending and sexualised ideas.  Not only are these groups confusing other people’s kids but they have $1m to make them into child political activists and ideologues.”

Project Rockit chief executive Lucy Thomas defended the program, saying its only aim was to ensure that young people felt safe and included in society and was not an LGBTI organisation,” she said.  “We deal with cyber safety, promoting online safety.  It’s very difficult to address these without addressing homophobia, racism and ableism.”  Ms Thomas acknowledged that, given the political landscape, comments on diversity and inclusion could potentially be interpreted as political statements.  “But I wouldn’t say we go in and talk about politically charged messages, it would detract from our message.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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UNITING CHURCH CONFIRMS DECISION ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGES

By | Australian Newsletter

The same-sex marriage saga that has been ongoing in the Uniting Church (UCA) since the 15th Assembly last July has finally come to an end.  The South Australian (SA) Synod has voted against enacting Clause 39 of the UCA Constitution in regard to Resolution 64 from the 15th Assembly.  Voting was 49% in favour, 51% against with a threshold requirement of 66.6%.  Voting on a request for Assembly to seek concurrence on their decision was over 50%, but it also missed the two thirds requirement.  This was the last of many meetings across the nation on this issue and so Resolution 64 is now the official position of the Uniting Church and no other appeals can be lodged.

Resolution 64 of the 15th General Assembly gave approval for same-sex marriages to be held within the Uniting Church. Since the Assembly opponents of the resolution have been trying to have it overturned but were unable to engender sufficient support to achieve their aim.  Under church rules, if enough presbyteries had demanded more consultation within six months of the July meeting, then the decision would have had to have been suspended.  Some interstate branches of the church had already voted in favour of more consultation, leaving the decision of the SA synod the deciding factor in whether the church would suspend same-sex marriages.

This will leave a large number of UCA members, Ministers and Pastors, having to make a decision about their future within the denomination.  Whilst there may be a challenge to this position at the next Assembly, the most likely scenario is that a large number of members who hold to the orthodox view of Scripture, will simply leave the Uniting Church and the ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ influences will be significantly strengthened following this result.  Please pray for the Uniting Church as a whole and for all those members who will be bitterly disappointed with this result and in coming days will be making decisions relative to their future.

Source: National Alliance of Christian Leaders

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SOUTH AUSTRALIA SHOULD NOT REPEAT AMSTERDAM’S MISTAKE

By | Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has raised concerns due to a report from The Guardian exposing the incidence of human trafficking under the Netherland’s prostitution regime.  Prostitution has been legal in Amsterdam since 2000 and continues to be home to human trafficking and criminal gangs who force and coerce women mainly from eastern Europe into prostitution.  ACL’s state director Christopher Brohier said, “South Australia would be foolish indeed not to learn from the mistakes of other jurisdictions.”  “Amsterdam is yet another example of where industrialised prostitution fails to protect women.

“South Australia should not go down the decriminalisation route in relation to prostitution law reform.   Instead, if we are serious in fighting sex trafficking let’s enact the Nordic Model of prostitution law reform.  This model puts the blame on those who traffic women and criminalises the buying of sexual services.  It provides meaningful exit strategies for women wanting to leave prostitution rather than trapping them in an industry they were forced into initially.  This will help end the industrialisation of prostitution and so the demand for trafficked human beings” Brohier said.

“Einstein said the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing, again and again, expecting a different result.  Let’s not repeat Amsterdam’s madness,” commented Mr Brohier.  ACL will continue to campaign against the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill 2018 introduced by the Greens into the SA upper house earlier this year as this bill will only serve to increase trafficking and further degrade respect for women.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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SCHOOLS MUST STOP BEING SEXUALISED

By | Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has urged state and federal governments to stop the sexualisation of school children.  Its reported that in Australia 38% of kids aged between 13-15 have sent a sexual picture or video, and 62% have received one.  Additionally, 50% of kids between 16-18 have sent a ‘sext’ and over 70% of them have received one.  ACL’s managing director Martyn Iles said, “The number of school children engaging in this activity is alarming.  It is incumbent upon governments to exercise their duty of care and remove sexualising influences from schools.”

Mr Iles continued “We are concerned about the impact of programs like Safe Schools, Respectful Relationships and organisations like Project Rockit which actively encourage kids to explore sexuality.  Activists groups like these are making it increasingly possible for young children to be influenced by sexualised messages under the guise of educational content.”  Wendy Francis, director of the Centre for Human Dignity said; “It’s not the role of schools to promote the early sexualisation of children.  Sexting promotes unhealthy and dangerous ideas around sexuality and identity and can seriously harm the development of children’s body image and mental health.”

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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SYDNEY ANGLICANS BAN SAME-SEX WEDDINGS AND PRO-LBGTI ADVOCACY ON CHURCH PROPERTY

By | Australian Newsletter

The Sydney Anglican diocese has voted to ban same-sex weddings from any Anglican church or building, and prohibit its properties from being used to promote homosexuality or “transgender ideology”.  Critics within the church say the policy could stop pastors and teachers from speaking in favour of marriage equality, and stifle student-led LGBTI support groups at Anglican schools.  The Church sees the current debate about its right to fire gay teachers as a “key threat” to its ability to foster a Christian ethos at its schools.  The 51st Synod of the Sydney diocese voted to introduce the property policy to ensure church-owned buildings are used only for “acts or practices which conform to the doctrines, tenets and beliefs of the diocese”.

The policy specifies it would be inappropriate to use church-owned property for “advocacy for transgender ideology (e.g gender-fluidity)” and “advocacy for expressions of human sexuality contrary to our doctrine of marriage”.  It also bans local Anglican boards from allowing property, such as school halls, to host same-sex marriages or receptions associated with same-sex weddings.  Under Archbishop Glenn Davies, the conservative Sydney diocese of the Anglican church was one of the key forces opposed to same-sex marriage, donating $1 million to the “No” campaign last year.

Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead, the senior clergyman who authored the proposal, said that the use of church property had “always been governed by various regulations” and the new policy merely sought to consolidate those into a single document.  “The new policy doesn’t represent a change in our position and I wouldn’t expect it to have an effect on any activities currently occurring on church trust property,” he said.  “Because the federal government has changed its definition of marriage, the policy makes clear the church’s doctrine of marriage has not changed and that property use scenarios relate only to man/woman marriage.”

Bishop Stead’s report noted “man-woman marriage” was not explicitly defined as a tenet of the Sydney Anglican church, and it would be “prudent” to do so in order to harness the power granted to the church through exemptions to NSW anti-discrimination laws.  “A key threat to maintaining the Christian ethos of our Anglican institutions is in relation to the employment of Christian staff,” he noted.   The Ruddock review of religious freedom, which is currently before Federal Parliament, urges new laws to “make it clear” religious schools are not required to provide their facilities for any marriage providing the refusal conforms to the tenets of their religion.

Mr Ruddock also recommends schools retain their right to hire and fire teachers on the basis of their sexuality, provided they have a written policy on the matter.  However, Labor, and some Liberals, are seeking to propose removing that right altogether.  The government intends to remove religious schools’ right to discriminate against gay students a policy that is supported by the Labor Opposition.  Bishop Stead said the bill was intended primarily as a necessary protection against being accused of, or sued for, discrimination under anti-discrimination legislation in a world he described as increasingly at odds with the conservative Christian world view.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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LABOR RADICAL GENDER POLICY WATERED DOWN BUT FOR HOW LONG

By | Australian Newsletter

Bill Shorten’s claims that birth certificates and other legal documents will not be de-gendered under Labor are contradicted by his own written policy platform; the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has pointed out.  Managing Director, Martyn Iles said, “Bill Shorten denies his party have any plans to remove gender from birth certificates and other legal documents.  However, the ALP draft policy platform taken to the recent ALP National Conference affirmed the Yogyakarta Principles, Principal 31 of which says “States shall end the registration of the sex and gender of the person in identity documents such as birth certificates, identification cards, passports and driver licences, and as part of their legal personality.”

“ACL has been concerned about the ALP’s national platform for some time.  It is riddled with identity politics including opening the door to criminalising parents who don’t blindly facilitate their child’s chosen gender identity.  Labor’s gender agenda is clear in their policy platform and was succinctly explained by Miranda Devine in the Daily Telegraph” Iles said.  For instance there are 64 mentions of “sexual orientation”, 59 of “intersex”, 42 of “LGBTI”, 36 of “transgender”, 33 of “bisexual”, 31 of “lesbian”, 29 of “gay”, along with several mentions of transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.  “Gender” gets a whopping 138 mentions including 19 mentions of “gender identity”.

The recent National Conference of the ALP voted to remove a number of contentious sections of policy surrounding gender identity however the fear is that it was only for purposes of window dressing to avoid scrutiny prior to the election and does not reflect a permanent change in the policy direction Labor will take following the election should they win it when it is held, probably in May.

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources

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HUMAN RIGHTS BILL FOR QUEENSLAND MISGUIDED

By | Australian Newsletter

Queensland’s Attorney General Yvette D’Ath has introduced the Human Rights Bill 2018 to the Legislative Assembly.  A bill the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) considers a misguided policy priority of the government.  Martyn Iles, ACL’s managing director, said “Human rights issues are by nature, political, and it is already the responsibility of parliament to protect these human rights.  A bill of rights that shifts the power of parliament to electorally unaccountable judges is extremely concerning.  It will erode the nature of Queensland democracy forever.  ACL is deeply concerned that this bill could lead to politically contested rights issues being handled by unelected officials.”

“Queensland parliament considered this issue in 2016.  At that time the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee was unable to agree on whether it would be appropriate and desirable to introduce a human rights act.  A human rights bill has also been considered in federal parliament since federation. Referendums to create a bill of rights in both 1944 and 1988 were defeated, while the government responded to the 2008 National Human Rights Consultation Committee by creating a Joint Committee on Human Rights.”  “Parliament must remain as the essential body to handle human rights as it consists of elected members who consult widely,” said Mr Iles.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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LAST AUSTRALIAN NEWSLETTER FOR 2018

By | Australian Newsletter

This is the final Australian News for the year.

We thank all of our readers for their support throughout the year and wish you all a Happy Christmas full of joy and spiritual blessing. The next edition of Australian News will be produced on Wednesday 9th January 2019.

Brian Pickering
National Coordinator
Australian Prayer Network

 

MORRISON TAKES A STAND ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION

By | Australian Newsletter

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will take a religious discrimination act to the next election, in a major change to commonwealth discrimination laws that will introduce, for the first time, stand-alone legal protections for Australians of faith. Mr Morrison has unveiled the long-awaited review into religious freedoms conducted by former Liberal attorney-general Philip Ruddock and accepted its centrepiece recommendation for a religious discrimination act. The overhaul is aimed at ensuring religious discrimination is treated as seriously as racial or sexual discrimination, and will not pose curbs on free speech by avoiding replication of controversial provisions in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Draft legislation for the shake-up will be released early next year and will include a provision for the creation of a “freedom of religion” commissioner to sit within the Australian Human Rights ­Commission. The government will seek feedback on the draft legislation, which will make it unlawful to ­discriminate on the basis of an individual’s religious beliefs, before taking the overhaul to next year’s election.

In a key step, the government has also moved to defuse the parliamentary impasse over the treatment of gay students within religious schools by referring the issue to the Australian Law Reform Commission for review.

The Prime Minister said he was taking action because religion and faith were central to the lives of millions of Australians, their families and their communities. “Australia is a secular democracy but that does not mean that Australians are a godless people,” Mr Morrison said. “Australians have a diversity of faith and religious backgrounds and these should all be respected. “This is an essential part of multiculturalism, in the same way no Australian should be discriminated against for their ethnicity or sexuality. Protecting freedom of belief is central to the liberty of each and every Australian.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said a religious discrimination act was necessary because society had changed. “There have been attempts in some states to ban the sacrament of confession,” he said. “There’s moves to remove the few existing religious liberty protections from our schools. “There was an attempt to prosecute the Tasmanian Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous for upholding Catholic teachings about marriage. “A lot of other supporters of traditional marriage felt that they were, one way or another, discriminated against, including being sacked just for saying they supported traditional marriage.”

Archbishop Fisher said Australians used to be “live and let live” on religious matters. “Our neighbours could have a different religion to us,” he said. “We gave each other the space to be different. But lately there has been a hard-edged secularism that wants to stamp out religion from public life. So that’s why there are calls today for religious discrimination legislation.” The government has accepted absolutely or in-principle all 20 of the Ruddock review’s recommendations and will move to implement some changes more quickly than others. Mr Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter announced their intention to accept 14 recommendations immediately.

The Coalition government will seek to enact these recommendations through legislation when parliament resumes in February and views them as uncontroversial. They include measures such as an amendment to the Charities Act ensuring groups that uphold a traditional view of marriage are not stripped of their charitable status. The Australian has confirmed that five of the Ruddock review recommendations dealing with exemptions in the Fair Work Act and existing anti-discrimination laws will be referred to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). These include the recommendations relating to students and teachers at faith-based schools.

Mr Porter said the ALRC would be charged with devising a mechanism to balance the rights of gay students with the rights of religious schools. “Labors refusal so far to accept that religious-based schools should be allowed to impose what are known as rules of general application, such as a requirement for all students to attend chapel, meant this issue could not be dealt with by parliament before the end of the sitting year,” Mr Porter said. “If Labor is able to support the government’s amendments to ensure religious schools can educate within the doctrine and tenets of their faith, then this issue could be dealt with in the first sitting days of 2019.”

He also said there was no reason for any political party to oppose the introduction of a religious discrimination act. “I don’t see what arguments you would legitimately raise as to why we should protect people from discrimination based on their age, their race, their sex or the fact of a disability but not similarly protect them by virtue of the fact that they are a religious person,” Mr Porter said. He said the government would not make it unlawful to “offend, insult or humiliate” someone on the basis of their religion, a move that would have replicated section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and has been attacked as an impediment to free speech.

Religious freedom expert Mark Fowler said the protection of people against discrimination on the basis of religious belief was “the missing piece in the constellation of Australian equality legislation. Of the five main equality rights recognised in the inter­national law to which Australia is a signatory, being race, age, disability, sex (including sexual orientation) and religion, only religion fails to receive protection in commonwealth law.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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SECULARISM WOULD STIFLE FAITH IF LABOR HAS ITS WAY

By | Australian Newsletter

The hysterical response to the government’s attempts to secure the basic right of faith-based schools to operate according to the tenets of their religion exposes the grave danger facing religious freedom in Australia. The recent debate in parliament, as well as much of the related media coverage, betrayed a profound lack of understanding about the meaning of religious freedom in a free and pluralistic society. Two misconceptions stand out. The first is that the essence of last week’s clash was about whether faith-based schools should have a right to discriminate against pupils on the basis of their sexuality alone.

Despite plenty of grandstanding to the contrary, there is clear consensus inside and outside parliament that gay students should not be singled out for different treatment. No Christian school has sought to expel a student for being gay. What is at stake, however, is the far weightier issue of whether faith-based schools should be free to teach religious doctrines that conflict with progressive values that have the backing of anti-discrimination statutes. How this question is resolved could impose unprecedented limits on how faith-based schools approach their mission of providing a religious education in contemporary Australian society.

Should a faith-based school, a theological college or seminary, acting on the basis of its religious beliefs, be allowed to refuse a gender transitioning student to run a club or publish posters or web pages at the institution advocating for gender-fluid ideology? Should a faith-based school be allowed to refuse a male student who wishes to identify as female but has yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery the use of female toilets and changing rooms? And should a religious institution freely be able to articulate its teachings on sexuality, human relationships and marriage?

These scenarios are not hyperbole but precisely the type of conduct that could see faith-based schools hauled before anti-discrimination tribunals if the ALP’s amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act are passed, according to legal scholar Mark Sneddon. Yet Labor senator Penny Wong, her party and large sections of the media insist this kind of intrusion into the operation of faith-based schools has no real bearing on religious freedom. This goes to the second misconception that has corrupted this debate: that religious freedom can meaningfully coexist with laws that weaponise subjective offence.

Foundational human rights such as freedom of religion differ from goals of social justice enshrined in legislation. The former is a birthright of a liberal democracy: one of the rights that’s essential to being a free person in a free society. It is non-negotiable because it is inseparable from freedom of speech, thought and conscience. These rights are fundamental because without them the underlying basis of liberal democracy falls away. Like freedom of speech, true freedom of religion protects faith regardless of its content. After all, if religious teachings are forced to abide by the secular morality of the state, it is no longer free but licensed.

To be sure, religious freedom in practice may be subject to reasonable limits in the interests of public safety and preserving human dignity. But if freedom of religion is to be anything more than a mealy-mouthed platitude, it has to mean the freedom to express faith through worship and teaching. In the context of Australia’s school system, that means respecting the right of parents to enrol their children in a school founded for the express purpose of providing a faith-based education. And it means respecting the right of those schools to provide religious teachings on sexuality and human relationships that gainsay the progressive zeitgeist.

This gives the lie to any pretence that Labor’s amendments provide an accommodation between religious freedom and anti-discrimination law. Labor’s position represents an elevation of secular morality over religious doctrine without precedent in Australia’s history. Religious freedom would formally acquire the status of a second-rate right. As a result, faith-based schools would risk being forced to choose between their faith and anti-discrimination law, gutting them of their religious foundation. The passage of Labor’s bill also would repudiate international human rights, which have long emphasised the equal status of all rights, including religion.

It would mean Australia has chosen to take a different path: one that prioritises the right of a person to express his or her sexuality as  overriding of the right to faith, and the right of parents to raise their children according to their own beliefs. It would also mark a betrayal of our society’s pluralistic foundations. According to the 2016 census, 7 in 10 Australians still hold religious beliefs. Faith-based schooling remains a popular option; it accounts for about a third of school students. The millions of parents who send their children to faith-based schools do so because they want their child’s schooling to be based on the culture, values and teachings of a specific religion.

Public opinion is on these parents’ side. Opinion polls have consistently shown higher levels of public support for the protection of religious freedom than for same-sex marriage. Protecting the freedom of faith-based schools isn’t about endorsing any particular religious belief. It’s about recognising that for us to continue to be a diverse and harmonious society, we must cherish and respect the right of all religious Australians to practise their faith as they see fit. What could be more tolerant than that?

Source: Written by Amanda Stoker, Liberal National Party senator for Queensland. 

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UNITING CHURCH TORN OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DECISION

By | Australian Newsletter

Protest is in the air at the Uniting Church of Australia (UCA) after its National Assembly’s decision earlier this year to allow two distinct, and contradictory, views on marriage. The Assembly resolved that the UCA would become the first major denomination in Australia to conduct same-sex “weddings”, while also allowing some parishes to only recognise man-woman marriage. The decision, apparently made in order to “honour the diversity of Christian belief among its members”, has placed a wedge firmly down the middle of the church.

Whether any full congregations leave the UCA or not over the inclusion of same-sex “marriage” within the life of the church is yet to be determined. However, there has already been a significant protest move made, one that could determine the long-term future of the denomination. The protest, made in accordance with Clause 39 of the church’s constitution, allows the wider membership of the Uniting Church to stop the implementation of a decision and call for a wider consultation and review. And that is what is happening right now. There is a call from several groups within the Uniting Church calling for the Assembly’s decision to be reviewed and reversed.

Failure by the assembly to respect this call could lead to the fracturing of the Uniting Church. UCA’s largest Church, Newlife on the Gold Coast, has already dropped the word “Uniting” from its name. And the Assembly of Confessing Congregations (ACC) has called for the UCA to adopt “non-geographic presbyteries” which would allow evangelical churches that hold to traditional marriage only, to band together. ACC’s move has widespread support, including from outside of the Uniting Church. “The decisions of the Uniting Church National Assembly should be of grave concern to Christians of all denominations,” said Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies.

“On my behalf, Bishop Michael Stead has been in discussions with the leaders of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations and others. “We urge them to stand firm in the face of a departure from the doctrine of Christ and compromise with the spirit of the world by the Synod of the Uniting Church.” Only time will tell whether the Uniting Church can survive intact. Many ministers and their congregants have already left the Uniting Church; and only a complete reversal of the same-sex “marriage” decision may prevent many more doing the same in coming months.

Source: Australian Family Coalition 

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WHAT IS ALL THE FUSS BEHIND THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DEBATE

By | Australian Newsletter

While we might have expected the Ruddock Review into Religious Freedom to have enhanced religious freedoms, in the absence of the government adopting any of its recommendations, the ALP introduced a Bill into the Senate in the last sitting week to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to remove the freedoms religious bodies currently enjoy which allow them to teach and run their institutions according to their religious beliefs. Fortunately that Bill was delayed and probably will go to a committee for consideration. In the meantime, Bill Shorten introduced an identical Bill into the House of Representatives which fortunately has also been delayed and will not now be considered until Parliament resumes in February.

The bills would remove the freedoms of:

  • religious schools and parents who send their children there
  • religious adult colleges and training institutions for missionaries, chaplains and religious workers (including theological colleges); and
  • all religious bodies like churches, mosques, synagogues and temples to provide education services to their members and the public through sermons, religious education classes for children, youth or adults and courses on issues like marriage, family and relationships.

This is an assault against the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and religion which are the basis of a properly functioning democracy. It would make illegal the teaching of religious principles which don’t subscribe to the secular worldview that transgenderism is perfectly good and same-sex or transgender relationships or “marriage” is as equally valid as traditional marriage.

The bills would make it illegal to take any action to uphold the religious sensibilities of faith-based institutions which currently allows them to discriminate against people on the grounds of, for example, someone in an openly homosexual relationship or someone identifying as transgender or advocating for transgenderism in a school. This bill would even restrict religious institutions from teaching their biblically-based position on heterosexual sexual relations outside of marriage.  Editor’s note: This may not be the intention of the legislation proposed by Bill Shorten (as claimed by Mr Shorten), but according to legal advice it will be the outcome of such legislation as currently drafted.

I am forwarding this serious warning and call to action to you from Professor Mark Sneddon, Adjunct Professor of Law Monash University; Executive Director, Institute for Civil Society and Legal; and Partner at Holley Nethercote Lawyers. This warning and call to action refers to religious freedom debate in the Federal Parliament. If passed, this law change will curtail your freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Letter of advice given to Christian Schools Australia by Professor Mark Sneddon Adjunct Professor of Law at Monash University.

You are probably aware that the Senate has been debating an ALP Bill to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to remove existing exemptions for religion and restrict the freedom of religious schools. What you may not be aware of is that this Bill has much wider effects. It will also:

  • restrict the freedoms of religious adult education colleges including theological colleges and religious institutions for training missionaries, chaplains, youth workers etc; and
  • apply to the acts and practices of a religious body (such as a church, temple, mosque or synagogue) which are connected with the provision of education by that body, this would seem broad enough to include sermons, and any education based on the Bible, the Koran, the Torah and other scriptures to adults, youth and children in the religious body, whether general scripture education or education applied to topics like relationships, marriage and sexuality.

At time of writing the Bill seems likely to pass the Senate, perhaps with some government amendments. It would then move to the House of Representatives later next week where the government does not have a guaranteed majority and it may pass that house also, becoming law.

The purpose of this email is to alert you to the wider application of the Bill for religious freedom and to ask you to tell your people and to contact your Senators and MHRs urgently to oppose this Bill.

Some examples of the Bill’s effects are as follows.

1. Religious schools and theological and adult training colleges

If a religious school, theological college or adult education institutions acting on the basis of its religious beliefs:

  • refuses to admit students or expel them or impose any other detriment on a student because of the student’s relationship status, sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • refuses permission for a sexually active student (straight or gay) or gender transitioning student to run a club or publish posters or webpages at the school or college advocating for sex outside marriage (straight or gay) or fluid gender ideology; or
  • refuses permission for a same sex oriented student to take a same sex romantic partner to a school or college function; or
  • requires a male student who wishes to publicly identify as female and whose appearance is male and has not had sex reassignment or cosmetic surgery to use the male change rooms and toilets rather than the female ones, and to be addressed by the male pronoun;
  • the school or college is “subjecting the student to a detriment” on the grounds of relationship status or sexual orientation or gender identity and can be sued under s.21 of the Sex Discrimination Act.

2. Religious bodies like churches, mosques, synagogues and temples engaging in acts or practices in connection with the provision of education by the body e.g. sermons, religious instruction, scripture classes

A religious body could discriminate in the provision of education services by it (or the facilities through which they are provided) under s.22 of the Act in several ways:

(a) by the manner in which the religious body provides the other person with those services or makes those facilities available to the other person (e.g. the manner of the sermon or scripture teaching is discriminatory because the content of the teaching based on sacred scriptures is critical of same sex marriage or of the behaviour of those having sex outside marriage (straight or gay) but not of other forms of sexual behaviour, or because the teaching criticises the idea and practice of gender transitioning).

(b) by refusing to provide a person with those services or to make those facilities available to the other persons (e.g. the religious body provides separate training on marriage, relationships and sexuality to men only and women only groups, or refuses to provide training on relationships to people known to be actively engaged in extramarital sex);

(c)  in the terms or conditions on which the religious body provides the other person with those services or makes those facilities available (e.g. the religious body requires attendees at the training to affirm that they are living godly lives in accordance with the teachings of the religion including on relationships and sexuality).

Such discrimination can lead to a complaint and lawsuit under the Sex Discrimination Act if the Bill is passed.

Additional Resources

I have written in my capacity as the Executive Director of the Institute for Civil Society and you can also find a copy of this paper and our other work on the issue at www.i4cs.com.au  and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/institute4civilsociety/

Freedom for Faith’s Facebook page has recent posts on this issue including posts from pastors and others about their conversations with and letters written to MPs protesting about this Bill – see https://www.facebook.com/freedomforfaith/

Professor Neil Foster has some excellent recent blogs on this Bill and the Coalition’s proposed amendments at his Law and Religion blog:

https://lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2018/12/01/government-amendments-to-religious-schools-bill/

The Gospel Coalition presents a Christian perspective on the Bill at https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/religious-freedom-immediate-threat/

The Coalition Senator’s dissenting report in the Senate Committee inquiry into exemptions and faith based schools is a useful resource – Legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff

Please consider carefully, pray and act.

The position of cross-bench Senators and MHRs will be important. If you are able to contact them that would be most helpful.

Kind regards,

Professor Mark Sneddon
Adjunct Professor of Law Monash University
Executive Director, Institute for Civil Society
Principal Sneddon Legal and Partner Holley Nethercote Lawyers

Source: Mark Spencer, Executive Officer Policy, Governance and Staff Relations Christian Schools Australia Limited

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CALL FOR DAILY PRAYER OVER ISSUES FACING OUR NATION

By | Australian Newsletter

Many prayer networks in our nation are calling Christians to set aside time each day to pray for Australia over the many issues that are currently before our Federal Parliament and facing our nation, many of which are contentious and have the capacity to take our nation down the path of radical societal change affecting our religious freedom, freedom of speech and the economic and cultural future of our nation.

The plan is for folk to pray for as long as they feel led by the Spirit of God for our nation at the times of 7.00AM, 12 Noon and 7.00PM just as Daniel prayed for Jerusalem. Most networks are calling for daily prayer until 21st December, but we the Australian Prayer Network, would encourage our members to engage each and every day until the Spirit of God gives you release to move on from this commitment. We will not bow our knees to evil decrees but like Daniel we will bow our knees in prayer to our God in heaven.

Please pray:

  • for revival and transformation for our nation.
  • that Australia would be awakened to Christ.
  • for Godly and stable government
  • for renewal within the church and an out pouring of the Holy Spirit.
  • for an awakening to the importance of faith, family, Life and freedom in our government and in our nation.

Martin Luther said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Mother Teresa said, “God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.” Let us put this inspiration into action.  Our nation is in serious trouble and the one thing we can do is to follow the example of Daniel who got down on his knees three times a day to pray and seek God on behalf of the land.

Source: Australian Prayer Network

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