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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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LABOR PARTY TO COERCE PUBLIC HOSPITALS INTO PERFORMING ABORTIONS

By | Australian Newsletter

Church leaders have come out swinging against a plan by Labor to force abortion on public hospitals by tying the issue to funding.  The Federal Government provides a large amount of money to the states for health.  The ALP has announced that it will hold this money hostage by making the performance of abortion a condition in funding agreements. Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said that the policy obscured the rights of the unborn. “We need to care for and support women who fall pregnant and do not wish to keep their child for whatever reason.  But we must do that without jeopardising the life of the child,” said Archbishop Davies.

“A pregnancy is a life given by God.  A pregnancy that is unwanted represents not a health problem but a responsibility for the whole society.  Mandating public funds to end the lives of unborn children is unjustified and simply wrong,” he added.  “We need policies which support the lives of children so as to enrich our society.” The Presbyterian Church of Australia has likewise condemned the move.   Moderator-General Rev John P Wilson said that when it comes to abortion there’s a massive blind-spot in Western culture.  “With some passion, we save whales from slaughter and birds from extinction, yet we kill babies by the tens of thousands,” said Rev Wilson.

“Tanya Plibersek’s announcement on behalf of the ALP would bring Australia deeper into shame by offering free abortions and making them more readily available.  The rights of the unborn are diminished in this proposal,” Wilson said. “The Presbyterian Church of Australia affirms that the right to life extends to the unborn, because all of human life is sacred in the eyes of God and is a gift of God from the moment of conception.”

Source: Family Voice Australia

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VICTORIAN PARLIAMENT TO CONSIDER AXING LORD’S PRAYER

By | Australian Newsletter

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says a “multi-faith moment at the beginning of the parliamentary day” may offer a better reflection of modern, multicultural Victoria than the Lord’s Prayer, backing a move by his Special Minister of State to consider scrapping the century-old tradition or add prayers from other faiths alongside it.  Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings has referred the matter to an upper house committee of review, following calls from Reason Party leader Fiona Patten and the Greens to end a tradition Coalition MPs have defended as an important part of our Judaeo-Christian heritage and the Westminster system.

“There’s a proposal to have a look at whether a number of different prayers from different faith traditions might be a more appropriate way to begin the parliamentary day,” the Premier, who is a practising Catholic, said.  “If that was something that had bipartisan support or support across the political divide, then we’d be happy to look at that, but it should be done in a respectful way.  “I think that some traditions are worth valuing.  At the same time though, we do live in a multi-faith community.  “If it were a multi-faith moment at the beginning of the parliamentary day, perhaps that would be more reflective of what modern Victoria looks like.”

Ms Patten welcomed the move as a “major step forward” for those who wished to see further separation of church and state in parliament and recognition of Victoria’s 153 religions.  “It’s high time we found an alternative, such as moving the acknowledgement of country to the opening of parliament every day,” Ms Patten said.  “Victoria is built on diversity and multiculturalism.  This is a secular society and most religious people I speak to are surprised to find out that this is how we start every day here.  “Removing the Lord’s Prayer is a nod to how diverse the Victorian Parliament is.”

Liberal frontbencher David Davis said he supported the Lord’s Prayer remaining part of the parliamentary standing orders.  “It’s a very important part of our history.  It’s a very important reflection of the Judaeo-Christian tradition that’s very much part of our history, and part of our Westminster parliamentary tradition too,” Mr Davis said.  State parliament has opened each sitting day since 1918 with the prayer, but in recent years has also recited an indigenous acknowledgement of country.  Conservative Liberal MP Bernie Finn has controversially refused to stand for the acknowledgment.

Replacing the prayer with the acknowledgment or silent reflection, as practised in the ACT Legislative Assembly, has been mooted as an option.  The issue last flared in Victoria in 2015 when Greens MPs Ellen Sandell and Sam Hibbins were criticised for entering the chamber once the prayer had finished.  The Lord’s Prayer is recited in federal parliament and every other state and territory parliament except the ACT.  At the federal level, a Senate inquiry last year rejected a Greens-led push to dump the prayer from the start of upper house proceedings.

Victoria has the highest rate (10.6%) of affiliation with a religion other than Christianity, according to 2016 Census data.  Victorian Reason Party leader Fiona Patten said it was “high time” an alternative was found as the Lord’s Prayer conflicts with the separation of church and state and fails to recognise Victoria’s 153 religions.  But Christianity (47.9%) is the most common religion in the state, while 32.1% of Victorians have no religious affiliation.  Sustainable Australia MP Clifford Hayes said he believed a prayer at the beginning of the parliamentary week helped focus MPs attentions on “the greater good”.

“I think there should be some sort of prayer. If they’re going to replace the Lord’s Prayer, which I’m not particularly pushing for, I think we should consider another prayer which should be suitable to all faiths,” Mr Hayes said.  “I don’t think that Parliament is a holy place, but we all come in there concerned about our own matters and think they’re very important, but when we stand and reflect for a minute about society’s needs on a wider basis, I think something like that helps direct our thoughts to the greater good.”  Corrections Minister Ben Carroll said that as a Catholic, he had no problem with the Lord’s Prayer, but was also open to including prayers from other faiths.

“We live in a democracy. I’m in favour of keeping it,” Mr Carroll said. “I’m also open to other religions and whatever the parliament chooses to go with.  “I would certainly support rotating different faith groups.”  Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz, a Maronite Catholic, said she also supported the Lord’s Prayer but was open to introducing additional prayers from other traditions.  “We have one of the most diverse parliaments, and it’s something that I’m extremely proud of, and if we need to share other prayers and recognise other religions or other traditions I’m more than happy to consider that,” Ms Kairouz said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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SUICIDE RATE SOARS AMONG INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND CHILDREN

By | Australian Newsletter

Aboriginal children and women are increasingly taking their own lives, with the number of suicides among indigenous Australians continuing to soar after a tragic few months across the country.  Four Aboriginal youths, aged between 15 and 23, killed themselves in a horror two days last week in Queensland, bringing the total of suicides among indigenous Australians to 31 during the first 10 weeks of the year.  Leading suicide researcher Gerry Georgatos, who heads the federal government’s indigenous critical response team, said a third of deaths this year had been children, including two 12-year-olds, and almost half were female.

It follows a record number of indigenous suicides in 2017, when 165 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (125 males and 40 females) killed themselves, and the toll is estimated to have risen to at least 180 last year.  The most recent tragedies involved a 15-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman taking their own lives in Townsville within a day of two young men, 19 and 20, killing themselves in separate incidents in Mount Isa.  Mr Georgatos, who co-ordinates critical response and support services for grieving relatives, said the proportion of females and children was dramatically increasing as the number of suicides rose, particularly in regional and remote Australia.

“The suicide crisis for First ­Nations peoples remains an un­interrupted three-decade-long tragedy and it is a humanitarian crisis, with more children and females lost than ever before,’’ he said.  “Almost a half of suicides are now female, whereas historically the proportion was around nine to one, male to female, although that had increased in the past years or so to about a quarter being women or girls.

“We have yet to receive all of the coroners’ reports, but I estimate there will be about 180 suicides last year among First Nations people and about 50 of them were under the age of 18 years.’’

In January, four young Aboriginal girls, aged between 12 and 15, had killed themselves in a single week.  About 5% of Australian children aged up to 17 are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, but 40% of the children who took their own lives in 2018 were indigenous.

Hannah McGlade, a senior indigenous research fellow at Curtin University who detailed the trauma of sexual abuse against Aboriginal children in her 2012 book Our Greatest Challenge, said there were links between that abuse and the high rates of indigenous youth suicide.  “It’s really important to discuss this. It’s critical,” Dr McGlade said.

“Not all suicide victims have experienced child sexual abuse, but many have.’’  To find solutions that helped children, especially girls, governments needed to prioritise indigenous women and their expertise in policy and implementation of programs, Dr McGlade said.

“We are not tackling gender-based violence against indigenous women and girls properly as we should,” Dr McGlade said.

“We are still struggling with systemic discrimination today.  That includes the silencing of Aboriginal women.  “I’ve been doing this work for over 30 years.  The stronger you speak up, the less some people want to know about it.

“I don’t pull any punches on this issue of gender violence.  Government doesn’t like it and often Aboriginal men don’t like it.”  Mr Georgatos said that “crushing poverty’’ was the common factor among those that took their own lives.  “In my research and in responding to suicide-affected families, nearly 100% of First Nations suicides are of people living below the poverty line,’’ he said.  “Above the poverty line, there’s few First Nations people taking their lives and in terms of rates of suicides above the poverty line, First Nations suicide rates are much less than non-indigenous.  “The more crushing the poverty for First Nations people, the higher the suicide rates.’’

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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SBS PROMOTES RADICAL IDEOLOGY AGENDA

By | Australian Newsletter

SBS is actively promoting instructions on how to de-gender children.  The national broadcaster has republished an article from the New York Times titled, “How to raise a child without imposing gender.” “More parents are stripping nurseries of all gender cues, to create spaces where children can develop their own identities,” it says.  Describing the journeys of two families, SBS seeks to normalise and encourage an extremist ideology.  One family has called their daughter Elliot Claire.  “My husband went through the experience of having to change his name,” said the mother, “When we first met, he was living as a girl.  He was my first girlfriend, but now that’s changed.”

“These examples are the minority and the fringe,” said Binary spokeswoman, Kirralie Smith.  “SBS are serving out radical gender propaganda on the tax-payer dime and it is completely inappropriate.”  Smith questions the motive behind such propaganda.  “Why can’t these activists simply let kids be kids?  Why impose such radical ideas when science and biology confirm the reality of male and female?”

Source: Binery

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COCAINE THE DRUG OF CHOICE IN SYDNEY ACCORDING TO AUSTRALIA’S SEWERS

By | Australian Newsletter

Sydneysiders are consuming more than twice as much cocaine as people in Melbourne and Brisbane, according to the nation’s sewers.

In August last year, for every 1000 people, 1.2 grams of cocaine was consumed daily in Sydney, compared with just over 400 milligrams in Melbourne and Brisbane.  NSW is consuming more than twice as much cocaine as Victoria and Queensland.  The figures were revealed in the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s most recent examination of wastewater treatment plants across the nation, compiled in partnership with the University of Queensland and University of South Australia.

It is the sixth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, which covers 56% of the population, or 13 million people, and is concluding its second year.  It found that capital city and regional locations in NSW in August last year were the only parts of Australia where cocaine consumption rivalled levels of methylamphetamine, or ice.  Everywhere else, cocaine use was detected to be far below that of methylamphetamine.  Nationally, more than 4.1 tonnes of cocaine was consumed between 2017 and 2018, an increase of 34.6% on the previous year, worth $1.5 billion.

Between August 2017 and August 2018, the study found $9.3 billion was spent on almost 10 tonnes of methylamphetamine, more than four tonnes of cocaine, 1.1 tonne of MDMA and 700kg of heroin.  Of the $9.3 billion, almost 80% was spent on methylamphetamine.  The heroin blocks were allegedly hidden in crates containing straw hats and souvenir items.  The dollar figure is not far off the $9.8 billion Australians are estimated to spend at cafes and coffee shops in a single year.  Over two years the study collected samples of 13 different substances, including alcohol, nicotine, oxycodone, heroin and MDMA (or ecstasy) from 58 wastewater treatment plants.

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, which collects information from 24,000 people across Australia has compiled a detailed picture of who uses what drugs and how often.  In NSW, data was collected from five wastewater plants in Sydney and seven from regional sites.  Each site was allocated a code, to maintain the confidentiality of participating sites.  The demand for illicit substances has not gone unnoticed by international drug dealers, with an estimated $1.29 billion worth of methylamphetamine bound for Australia seized recently in the USA, just weeks after 154kg of heroin worth around $77 million was seized by Border Force officials in Sydney.

“Australians waste over $9.3 billion a year on drugs,” ACIC chief executive officer Michael Phelan said. “This is money people could spend on items for themselves and their families.”  The report also recorded levels of cannabis consumption, which Mr Phelan described as “one of the most used illicit drugs, both domestically and internationally”.  Consumption of cannabis, a depressant, was reportedly low in NSW compared to the rest of Australia, with Tasmania recording the highest levels of use.  As the specific marker for cannabis consumption is excreted in extremely small amounts, the report’s authors identified possible “spatial differences across the nation”.

The drug consumption figures come after 5 drug related deaths at music festivals, which prompted debate over the merits of pill-testing and the dangers of party drugs.  Yet in comparisons of wastewater from August 2016 to August 2018, the population-weighted average consumption of MDMA around Australia decreased.  Consumption of methylamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, nicotine and alcohol in the same period increased.  Of the 13 substances surveyed, alcohol and nicotine were the most highly consumed.  Consumption of alcohol, nicotine, methylamphetamine, MDMA, oxycodone, fentanyl and cannabis in regional areas exceeded levels recorded in capital cities.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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PRINCIPALS TAKING OUT RESTRAINING ORDERS AGAINST VIOLENT PARENTS

By | Australian Newsletter

School principals are taking out restraining orders against violent and aggressive students and parents, amid rising numbers of school leaders being threatened, and assaulted while at work.  School leaders are almost 10 times more likely to be physically assaulted at work than the general population, with women employed at government primary schools the most at risk, according to new research on principals’ working conditions.  According to the latest Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey, 45% of principals experienced threats of violence during 2018, while 37% were subjected to acts of physical violence.  Students and parents were the most common perpetrators.

A further 35% of principals claimed they had been bullied, most often by parents.  Australian Primary Principals Association president Malcolm Elliott, said he knew of principals who had sought restraining orders to protect themselves, or their colleagues, from “unacceptable threats, intimidation and violence.  It’s a right available to them under law.”  Mr Elliott said he learnt early on in his own career “not to tolerate abusive behaviour” and would “order people off the school premises”.  More school leaders should consider the legal options available to them, he said.

The survey, conducted by the Australian Catholic University involving more than 2300 principals and deputy principals in public and private schools across all jurisdictions, has revealed a considerable increase in the number of principals dealing with offensive behaviour since data collection began in 2011.  Government primary schools reported the highest prevalence of violent threats at 49%, while 40% of female principals, compared with 32% of males, experienced violence.  Principals reported being punched, kicked, head-butted, bitten, spat at, stabbed with scissors or pencils and having school furniture flung at them.

One principal said they had been “stalked by car, tailgated” by parents of a student, while another said they had developed post-traumatic stress disorder after having a student point a gun at them.  Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said improving the respect shown to teachers and principals needed to be an “absolute priority” but it was largely in the hands of the states and school systems.  “Principals and teachers should be safe in their workplace and their employers are responsible for that safety,” he said.  “Improving the working conditions of teachers and principals will lead to better results for our school kids.”

Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said violence experienced by school principals was “completely unacceptable” and called on families to ensure they supported school discipline. “We must show teachers and principals proper respect and get our children to do the same,” she said.  The survey’s author, Australian Catholic University professor of psychology Philip Riley, said although school leaders experienced a higher rate of offensive behaviour at work, tackling the issue was not easy.  Dr Riley recommends a “whole new government approach” to education, transparency over the education budget, and policymakers resisting “short-term, quick fixes”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL

By | Australian Newsletter

The National Day of Prayer for Defence encourages all who have a heart to pray for our Defence personnel to join together in uplifting the Australian Defence Organisation to God. This year the National Day of Prayer for Defence will be held on Saturday 13th April 2019. Groups all across Australia will pray either on the day or generally in the week preceding. See http://mcf-a.org.au/events/national-day-prayer-defence-2019/ for group locations and to download the prayer booklet, this can be adapted to your local setting. It includes prayer for deployed personnel, those who have returned with physical, mental and spiritual injuries, defence leadership and culture.

Why not organise a group to pray If there isn’t already a group meeting where you are. Consider also becoming a National Day of Prayer for Defence contact. It can be as simple as adding prayer points to your regular Small Group meeting. For more info or to host a gathering contact: mcf.office@defence.gov.au  or phone 02 6266 4950. The MCF-A Exec would also like you to know that those hosting an event should save receipts for purchasing of light refreshments at the event up to the value of $5 p/head and email receipts and bank details after the event to mcf.office@defence.gov.au for reimbursement.  Please contact the MCF Office if you have any questions.

Source:  Military Christian Fellowship

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TRUTH HAS STUMBLED IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

By | Australian Newsletter

Editors comment:  This article is a rallying call to stand up for truth in a culture where truth is under increasing attack.  We at the Australian Prayer Network are committed to do just that through our newsletters and our ministry of calling the Christians of our nation to prayer.  We invite you to consider how you may respond as the Lord quickens to you the urgency of the hour.

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.  Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.  The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede… [Isaiah 59:14-16a]

One year ago, almost exactly, I read this scripture.  I was days away from starting my new job as Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Managing Director.  Isaiah’s prophecy diagnoses many cultural maladies in his day.  All of them are increasingly relevant to our times.  This one hits the bullseye.  Across the western world, truth in the public squares is being attacked and suppressed.  The greatest stronghold of truth, Christianity, is being pathologised and blamed for significant harms.  To this end, Christian institutions are being undermined.

Churches are being pressured by new moral and legal norms.  Individuals who speak or live consistent with truth are made a prey; fair game for everything from public hostility to legal action.  Individual voices are few and easily targeted.  Institutions are compromised or quieted.  Churches are derided and ignored.  Those who will not be silent are targeted relentlessly by regulatory authorities, public spokespeople, activists, political figures, the law, and media commentary.  The outcome is that truth has stumbled in the public squares.

When truth stumbles, Isaiah 59 teaches that this progression will quickly follow: righteousness will be far away, then justice will be turned back, then those who depart from evil will be made a prey.  I have seen that in so many ways, not least of which are the 60 or so legal cases ACL has supported, where Christians who have done what is right have gotten in trouble with the law.  But the injustice that represents had to happen.  When truth is evacuated from the public squares, righteousness must soon follow, for the truth about right and wrong is no longer heard.  And when right and wrong are muddled, justice cannot be done.

No wonder Isaiah said of his day, “woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”  It’s all part of the same problem.  To stand for truth in public as a relentless, unquieted, and effective voice, is a leadership role that is desperately needed.  It requires divinely inspired courage, wisdom and endurance.  But the courage of one inspires the courage of others.  And the truth, whenever it is spoken, will yield fruit.  Silence is not an option.  To be silent is to stand by whilst evil ideologies gain the ascendency.  It is to neglect the opportunity to call a nation back to righteousness.  It is to allow people and children to suffer.  It is to fail to defend the church and Christian people in our nation.  It is to fail to do good. It is to fail to love our neighbour.

Each of these failures would individually be a shameful sin. Collectively, they represent an abrogation of responsibility for which we will be held accountable.  My prayer is that the final clause of that Isaiah 59 scripture will never be true in our time: “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede…” God’s desire to see truth in public is clear.  Who will He find to fly that banner?

I know that many Christians feel as I have already described: quieted.  We self-censor our beliefs.  We marvel that nobody thinks like us.  We are frustrated at compromise on every hand, especially politically.  The news about the church is so often bad.  The news about the culture is so often bad.  And we feel powerless to really make a difference.  We wonder where our society is heading.  In God’s grace, I pray that the Australian Christian Lobby will be able to boldly proclaim God’s truth in the public squares, with the unshakable confidence that these timeless, divinely authored convictions make sense of our world, give us wisdom for our world, and literally save the world.

I want to see truth made public.  That is ACL’s mission for this next season.  But it cannot be done alone. It’s not just me.  It’s not just ACL.  It’s all of us.  There are nearly 150,000 of us, easily one of the very biggest movements in the country, and we are growing quickly.

We have the technology.  We have your support.  We have the connections.  We have lobbyists, lawyers, and educators.  And we have God’s truth.  And God empowers His truth, whenever it is spoken.  We just need to stand together and be heard.  That is why I am asking you to be ready to stand with us as we refocus ACL as a grassroots movement of people like you and I who will seek to boldly and effectively proclaim God’s truth in public.

We already have a bold voice for truth in every parliament in the country, through our lobbyists.  We already have a bold voice for truth in courts and tribunals across the nation, through the Human Rights Law Alliance.  We already equip young people of exceptional ability to stand for truth in their careers, through the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.  We already produce original research, speak into the media, host dozens of targeted events in every state, and produce quality Christian content on social media.  And now we are building the army.  That’s you.

When you pick up the phone to call your Senator, sign a petition online, write to your local MP, nominate a candidate for LMI, share ACL with a friend, volunteer in an election campaign, knock on a door, or kneel to pray, you too will be making truth public.  Let’s build an army for truth that cannot be ignored.  By God’s grace and with your prayers, that is our mission.  Please be ready to join me, and please be praying.  I’m excited as we refocus and hone our mission to see truth made public.

Source: An article written by Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Martyn Iles.

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SCHOOL STUDENTS’ STRIKE ORGANISED BY ADULT ACTIVISTS

By | Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note:  This article is not about the issue of climate change, on which we recognise our readers would have a variety of differing views, but it is to expose and draw attention to the emerging trend for political activists to take advantage of our children to further their own political causes.  Children as young as 5 cannot have a considered view on complex political issues therefore involving them in this way is indoctrination not education.  We ignore it at our peril (see our other article in this newsletter).

A school strike last Friday promoted as a “student-led protest” by thousands of children skipping classes to attend climate change rallies around the nation has been organised by a network of adult activists from climate campaign organisations.  The primary backer of the planned student walkout called School Strike 4 Climate Action is the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, a non-profit company registered as a charity with an all-adult board and 68 adult staff.  The AYCC was set up a decade ago to mobilise young people on climate action by Anna Rose, an adult activist and the wife of former GetUp national director and Greens candidate Simon Sheikh.

Mr Sheikh was listed in the AYCC’s 2013 constitution as one of its 16 full members, along with Ms Rose, with voting rights to elect the group’s board.  The adult-controlled AYCC has extensive links to other climate action and anti-Adani groups with large campaign budgets, including the Sunrise Project, GetUp and Greenpeace.  Asked about adult activists helping to organise Friday’s strike while it was billed as student-led, AYCC national director Gemma Borgo-Caratti said that students taking part were “an inspiration” and the group was proud to support them as they fought for their future.

“It’s been so powerful to see parents, organisations, unions and people of all ages standing with them,” Ms Borgo-Caratti said. “Either­ you are with these students or you are standing on the wrong side of history.”  While Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have urged students to attend school today NSW Labor leader Michael Daley backs the student walkout as the “right thing”, just a week before the NSW election.  Ms Borgo-Caratti said the AYCC, which received donations and grants totalling $2.8 million according to its last submitted financial report, was a “people-powered, people-funded” organisation.

As well as 68 adult staff, the AYCC says it has 850 volunteers aged 13 to 30.  The group runs a high school program called Switched on Schools, with student workshops and summits.  An AYCC spokeswoman said schoolchildren were “determining” the climate protest today, while confirming staff were “helping to organise and giving support” at the request of students.  “Young people are passionate but they may not have really organised a big event before,” she said.  The contact number for inquiries about the strike by “children aged 5-18” is the AYCC.

Another key group helping with organisation is the recently formed Climate Leaders, which says it represents under-18s who cannot vote or run for public office.  Climate Leaders, which endorses political candidates such as Warringah independent Zali Steggall who “meet our criteria and prove, in an interview with us, that they have what it takes”, was co-founded by Christina McPhail. Ms McPhail, a professional activist and the group’s chair­woman, said she had been working “full-time” in recent months on today’s school strike.

Other members of the all-adult Climate Leaders board include Django Merope Synge, a national campaigner for GetUp recently involved with Ms McPhail in the campaign to oust Tony Abbott at the expected May election, and Chris Cooper, a campaigner for GetUp offshoot group Purpose.  When students staged a sit-in at Parliament House in Canberra during their November strike, they were addressed by Greenpeace chief executive David Ritter, GetUp environmental justice campaign director Sam Regester and Sunrise executive director John Hepburn.

Adult climate activists are using children as “pawns” for their own purposes by encouraging them to leave school to attend  environment strikes, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.  “I think that most Australians would take a cynical view of professional adult activists using kids for this purpose during school time when they should be at school,” he said.  “They should not be used as pawns by professional adult activists as part of a political strategy.” “It’s a free world and during their free time kids can pursue whatever agendas and issues they want to pursue,” he said.  “But I call on all involved to ensure that kids, during the day, during school time, attend school.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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ARE AUSTRALIAN HOSPITALS HELPING OR HINDERING GENDER DYSPHORIC CHILDREN

By | Australian Newsletter

9news.com.au has reported on the dramatic increase in the number of children seeking transgender treatment in Australia.   They say, “according to The Royal Children’s Hospital, 1.2 per cent of the adolescent population identify as transgender with children as young as three expressing concerns about their biological sex.”  The increase is not limited to one hospital.

“Figures exclusively provided to 9news.com.au show that at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, there was 54 new referrals last year compared to one patient in 2013.”  They also say, “The average age of children referred to the hospital is 12.”

There is a great deal of debate about the cause of such a dramatic spike.

This is happening in many western nations.  Some say it is about more awareness and acceptance.  Others say it is the result of a social contagion.

Not enough credible studies have been conducted to be conclusive.

Spokeswoman for Binary, Kirralie Smith, is concerned about the alarming increase in the number of children seeking medical intervention.  The 9news report stated, “Research shows that 96% of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria have continued to identify as gender diverse and no patient who commenced stage 2 treatment has wanted to transition back to their birth sex.”

Smith responded by saying, “that is consistent with many other statistics from around the world.  What they failed to mention is that if children do not undergo any intervention, up to 90% of children will desist.  In other words, if you allow kids to naturally develop, they will grow out of the dysphoria and live their adult lives according to their biological gender.”

Smith also noted, “Medical intervention has proven only to reinforce the dysphoria.  Not enough studies have been conducted on side effects of the medications and surgeries, but one thing we know for sure is infertility or sterilisation is one permanent effect.”

Source: Binery

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QUEENSLAND INTRODUCE GENDER THEORY IN SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY COURSE

By | Australian Newsletter

A new ATAR psychology course on offer for Queensland year 11 and 12 students seeks to embed gender theory into school curriculum once more.  “Including gender theory in school curriculum does no good for children,” commented Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Martyn Iles.  “It harms kids by causing them to question their identity and can sow uncertainty during an already vulnerable stage of life.” “Across the country, we are already seeing a dramatic increase in the number of children struggling with gender identity and wanting to transition, this kind of addition to the QLD curriculum is the last thing kids need.”

“Gender theory often purposely omits the reasons for gender dysphoria which includes the tragedy of sexual abuse.  Teaching gender theory potentially puts kids on a pathway of hormones and irreversible reassignment surgery,”

warned Mr Iles. “The reality is that tens of thousands of people across the globe regret mutilating their bodies.  We know that without medical intervention 80-90% of children revert to their natal sex through puberty, a process which is now being prevented by puberty blockers.   Embedding gender theory into year 11 and 12 school subjects is a retrograde step which is anti-science and pro-ideology.”

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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TOWNSVILLE – GOD IN THE FLOOD

By | Australian Newsletter

On the 27th January it started to rain.   A typical summer monsoon bringing much needed rain to the city.  12 months ago the dam was 14 % and the Council was pumping water from the Burdekin at a cost of $150,000 a day.  It continued to rain and by Wednesday 30th January the dam was at 100%.  Bluewater creek had flooded wiping out houses and property.  On Friday (1st February) all schools were closed.  The dam reached 200%. On Sunday (3rd February), most Churches were abandoned.  Evacuation texts came through encouraging people to get out and move to higher ground as the Ross River Dam flood gates were going to be fully opened.

Monday (4th February) we woke to the devastation that had occurred.  100’s of homes and businesses flooded.  1000’s of people had been evacuated by police, SES and the army.  Townville was in crisis and declared a catastrophic situation.  On Friday the 8th February the rain stopped.  Many areas of Townville had over 1,500mls of rain (60 inches for those that remember the old scale).  It was time for the Church to shine and God to reveal himself.  Amazing stories of care and love flooded the airways, the radio, TV, Facebook and the paper.  People caring for people; random acts of kindness; heroic stories; incredible generosity; and at that stage, not a life lost.

The Church leaders of the city were called together and began to strategize how to meet the needs before us.  Each Church began to take on a different role.

  • Rev Bruce Cornish (Townsville City Central Mission) was appointed Liaison person on the relevant committee of the local disaster management board;
  • Willow’s Presbyterian ran a children’s programme because schools were closed and kids were going ‘stir crazy’;
  • North reach Baptist established a Facebook page and mobilized there young adults in the clean-up.  They also took on a role in coordinating accommodation for those who had nowhere to live;
  • Salvation Army provided food at the evacuation centres;
  • Calvary Church provided hot meals for people with no power and no homes;
  • Aitkenvale Uniting ran an information night;
  • Northreach Baptist started collecting donations of clothing etc;
  • Samaritan’s Purse came into the city and provided training and set up teams with local Church folk to help in the clean-up;
  • YWAM with the Combined Churches, Council, SES and other Christian organizations established ‘team Townsville’, whatever it takes.  This was a programme to visit every affected house in every affected suburb and ask “How are you going?”  And then to direct appropriate resources as required; and
  • The intercessors prayed.  What a great opportunity the Church of Townsville has had to love the people of this city.   It truly has been a chance for the Church to shine and the character of God to be revealed.  Please pray for us in the coming weeks and months.  Pastor David Frewin Lord asks us to give thanks that the Church, the community and businesses have really stepped up to be good neighbours!  Please also pray for people:
  • Who have lost everything, many without insurance;
  • Who now have no permanent accommodation;
  • Who have lost their businesses;
  • Who’s businesses are impacted by having either no insurance, or rejected insurance claims;
  • Who have lost their jobs;
  • Who have health problems resulting from the floods; and
  • Whose children have to go to different schools.

Pray for God opportunities:

  • for the combined churches and their relationship with the local government councillors including the mayor;
  • for Samaritans Purse chaplains with local teams who are visiting flood victims and offering care, support and prayer;
  • for the council which has initiated with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) coordinating “Well-being teams” (Team Townsville) to visit houses impacted by floods to make sure physical & mental needs are being met;
  • for the many groups including Church groups who are sending teams to physically help with the clean-up; and
  • for Churches and Christians involved in ongoing care.

Long term prayer is required:

  • for people with Post Traumatic Stress;
  • to pray against a potential rise in domestic violence (common after disasters); and
  • to pray also against suicides (common after losses from disasters).

Pray for Western Queensland as the devastation on properties is unfolding and much prayer is still required.

Source: Article written by Rev Anne Harley – a Townsville Pastor

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SYDNEY CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP SAYS DON’T BE QUICK TO JUDGE GEORGE PELL VERDICT

By | Australian Newsletter

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher has told Catholic worshippers not to be “too quick to judge” in relation to Cardinal George Pell’s conviction over child sexual abuse.  “As the Cardinal’s matter is ongoing in the courts I cannot comment on the substance,” he said at solemn mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.  “Others have done so, and some have raised serious questions for the court to examine.  If we are too quick to judge we can end up joining the demonisers or the apologists, those baying for blood or those in denial.  Our readings remind us that things are not always what they seem; that we must look beneath the surface and allow truth and justice to unfold in God’s time.”

In remarks before his Sunday homily, Archbishop Fisher urged people “not to draw final conclusions until the appeal judges have had their chance to review this matter.  Amidst the heated emotions of the present I also pray for public calm and civility.”  He said many were feeling disheartened and uncertain how to go on believing, worshipping, living the Christian Gospel; indeed, some are not even sure they want to.  We should not be afraid to place our bewilderment and anger before God.  As he awaits the conclusion of his legal process, the Cardinal is offering his time to pray for all innocents who suffer; we faithful can do likewise with the shame and sorrow we are feeling.”

Archbishop Fisher said he prayed for the Catholic church to “emerge from present trials purified, humbled, more compassionate.”  If it was to recover from “this dark chapter” then “only a deep spiritual and moral conversion of hearts, cultures and institutions will suffice”.  He expressed sorrow for the suffering of victims of abuse within the church.  “Let me assure you I feel your shock and pain, and the Catholic community with you” he told the packed congregation.  “We are all shaken by reports about the shameful actions or inactions of church people towards children and the vulnerable’.

The Archbishop’s comments on the Pell case had a mixed response among attendees.  One worshipper said Archbishop Fisher was being “very diplomatic” by asking people not to judge too quickly, but this “could be misconstrued.  People are going to say, well maybe he knows something that we don’t.  But at the same time, what else does he say?”  Another attendee said the focus of the homily should have been more clearly on victims and that it was “probably better if mention of Pell at this point was ignored.  It was not the right time to speak like that.”

However another woman said she felt Archbishop Fisher had struck the right balance.  She had travelled from outer Sydney to hear him speak and was “pleased” to hear it so openly addressed.  Archbishop Fisher’s comments during Sunday mass come after other high profile Australians defended Pell following the revelation of his conviction earlier in the week.  Former Prime Minister John Howard provided a character reference for Pell, while former Prime Minister Tony Abbott rang the disgraced Catholic on Tuesday after the suppression over the cardinal’s guilty verdict was lifted.

Mr Abbott said friends of the cardinal, including himself, were devastated by the result.  “Certainly for the friends of Cardinal Pell, and as you say I am one, devastating for all who believe in the Catholic church, and I’m also one of those,” he told 2GB radio. Pell was found guilty of five charges of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys inside St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne in December 1996, after Sunday mass.  He also attacked one of the boys early in 1997. Pell, who was the Archbishop of Melbourne at the time, maintains he is innocent.

The current Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Conemsoli also addressed the shock of the Pell revelations on Sunday, at St Patrick’s Cathedral.  “The soul of our Church has been grievously wounded from the evil of sexual abuse” he said.  “It feels like we have reached Golgotha, where the smell of death is thick in the air and the sense of panic and confusion is pervasive”.  He said the church had to focus now on “actions that are transfiguring.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports 

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FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE FOR DOCTORS IMPORTANT IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REFORMS

By | Australian Newsletter

New research by Professor Louise Keogh at the University of Melbourne has revealed a small minority of doctors are going against the state abortion legislation by not complying with the requirement to actively refer women seeking abortions to willing practitioners.  It has long been known that there are doctors who conscientiously object to abortion, often on faith grounds.  “The fact that it is illegal for a doctor to protect their conscience in respect of a life and death matter like abortion is a blight on Victorian law,” commented the Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) managing director Martyn Iles.

“Nobody should be compelled by the state to violate their conscience.  The mental anguish and long-term guilt caused by violating a person’s conscience constitutes real harm.  That is nothing less than discrimination, especially against people with a faith identity.  What we see under current Victorian legislation is a form of state-sanctioned discrimination against people of faith.  Some simple inclusions by the federal government in the proposed religious discrimination act could end this kind of human rights violation wherever it occurs in Australia,” said Mr Iles.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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