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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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GOD’S GRACE OVER AUSTRALIA

By | Feature Articles

It is encouraging as well as instructive to look at some of the godly elements displayed in Australia’s colonial  history, and its foundations.  Our oldest parliament in NSW opens with this prayer. “Almighty God we humbly beseech thee to vouchsafe thy blessing upon this parliament, direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of thy glory and the true welfare of the people, our State and Australia. Amen.”

A similar prayer is said in our Federal Parliament.  Our Australian Constitution was prayed over continually by the man mainly responsible for its passage through the House of Commons.  Alfred Deakin, who was later to become Prime Minister, regarded the Federal Constitution as providential and that it only came into being through a series of miracles.  The Constitution Preamble states: “Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland; and Tasmania humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established….” This preamble was in response to numerous signed petitions from people from every colony represented in the Federal Convention.

Our Constitutional Christian Monarchy likewise expressed the Lordship of Christ when the Queen was presented with the Bible: “to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the rule for the whole of life and government of Christian Princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing this world affords. Here is wisdom; this is the royal law; these are the lively oracles of God.” When the Orb was delivered to the Queen the Coronation Service stated: “Receive this Orb set under the cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the power and empire of Christ our Redeemer.”

Our Australian flag has four Christian crosses.  In the Southern Hemisphere God has placed the Southern Cross which is specially incorporated into our national flag, along with the crosses of St Andrew, St Patrick and St George.  As Christians we need to reflect on our foundations and recognise the hand of God in the commencement of a Christian nation in the Pacific within reach of the great Asian nations.  While many Australians look to a convict past with its fear of authority and feeling of inferiority and isolation, there is another history;  that of our Christian forefathers and their faith and contribution to the kingdom of God, a positive affirmation of a nation with a providential destiny.

It was Portuguese Catholic, Magellan who opened up the South Seas to the Europeans.  Magellan’s main purpose was to convert the barbarous nations to Christ.  It was his faith that sustained him through terrible deprivations until a strait was found into the Pacific.  Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, another Portuguese Catholic, was also seeking to convert the Inhabitants of the south seas to Christianity and believed he finally had discovered “Australia Del Espiritu Santo”—a land he dedicated to the Holy Spirit—which he described as being the region of the south as far as the pole.  Since he in fact discovered Vanuatu( the New Hebrides) the region he described includes all of Australasia, which encompasses New Zealand as well.

Abel Tasman was the first European to sight New Zealand and Tasmania and on his return wrote in his journal “God be praised and thanked for this happy voyage.”  Tasman was encouraged by the voyages of Christopher Columbus who stated: “…It was the Lord who put into my mind, I could feel His hand upon me, the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies.  All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me…. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of marvellous illumination from the Holy Scriptures… For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps. It is simply the fulfilment of what Isaiah had prophesied … No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His Holy service… the fact that the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time—this is what convinces me.” (“Book of Prophecies,” Christopher Columbus).

The first Christian minister came with the First Fleet. He was recommended by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.  John Newton and William Wilberforce, two members of the Eclectic Society persuaded England’s Prime Minister, William Pitt to accept Richard Johnson’s nomination.  Johnson an evangelical churchman, took with him many Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, Psalters and numerous booklets against common sins, and on Sunday 3rd February 1788 he conducted the first Christian Service on Australian soil using as his text Psalm 116:12: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me.”

The Evangelical Awakening in England also had its effect in Australia and the South Pacific.  People such as William Carey were awakened to the need for evangelism of heathen lands through reading “Captain Cooks Voyages.”  Many Englishmen became aware for the first time of lands in the Pacific and Asian regions.  Commencing In 1784, as part of the Evangelical Awakening, first Baptists, then other non-conformists throughout the Midlands began meeting for one hour on the first Monday in each month to pray for revival which would spread the gospel to the most distant parts of the globe.

This marked the beginning of the greatest period of expansion of the Christian faith since apostolic times.  Many missionary organisations were formed, one being the London Missionary Society. By 1826 Carey was responsible for the translation of the Bible into 30 languages in the Pacific and Asian region.  A missionary ship called the “Duff” sailed from England In 1796 to Tahiti with Rowland Hassall and his family.  In 1798 the Hassall family arrived in Australia after endangering their lives in Tahiti.  Within a short time Rowland Hassall had preached the gospel in all the districts of the colony.

Most of the colonies early leadership came from the evangelical Christian community, many being chaplains.  Governors such as Hunter, Macquarie and Brisbane, and a number of officials such as the Judge Advocates, Wylde and Ellis Bent, the editor of Australia’s first newspaper, were strongly committed to Christian views, as were the school teachers.

Governor Macquarie was always trying to improve the moral and religious well-being of the colony, hoping that those in his care would become good Christians.  He personally promoted the British and Foreign Bible Society and the Sunday School Movement.  He also encouraged other Christian groups such as the Auxiliary Bible Society, and spoke at the Inaugural meeting.  Macquarie particularly encouraged Christian Education commencing a number of schools under the supervision of the Government Chaplains, so that by 1817 the most common discussion in the pages of the Sydney Gazette, was on the merits of Bible reading.

James Stephen, the Permanent Under Secretary of the Colonial Office believed God was going to sovereignly use Australia as a Christian Nation and he was influential in the choice of many Christian leaders to the colony.  Amongst them was George Arthur, who shared with James Stephen, the vision of Australia as a base in South East Asia and the Pacific to reach the Chinese, Hindu and Muslim nations to the North.  Captain Charles Sturt was a great Australian pioneer and heroic inland explorer.  Sturt was a man of considerable courage, faith and prayer and was responsible for opening up most of Southern Australia to free settlement.  Sturt loved the majesty of the Australian bush and on a number of occasions his life was only spared, due to what he acknowledged as divine intervention.  Throughout the pages of his journals Sturt shared his faith constantly, especially when writing to his wife. He used to pray continually for guidance, committing each day’s journey to God.

For many years South Australia’s capital was known as the Holy City, but today it is known as the City of Churches.  Adelaide in its formative years couldn’t seat all the parishioners in their churches.  During Adelaide’s first eight years there were more preachers and places of worship than in the first decade in New England, U.S.A. From the time of South Australia’s settlement in 1836 to 1915 more children attended Sunday School than attended school.  In one of the first schools opened by George Fife Angas the sole textbook was the bible.  Angas had distributed millions of gospel tracts in his lifetime.  Many of South Australia’s founders were Christians.  Such people as Robert Torrens who stated in a House of Commons speech In 1827 that “We are cooperating in the scheme of Providence and are the favoured Instrument In causing Christian civilization to cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea.”

At that time one had to virtually be a lay preacher to be a director of the South Australia Company.  Robert Gouger, the Colonial Secretary was a devout evangelical. Even E.G. Wakefield acknowledged that without him South Australia would not have been settled as early as it was.  It was Gouger who wrote a “Sketch of Proposal for Colonizing Australia”.  He organised the first public meeting for the free settlement of the South Australian coast, attended by 2,500 people in a Christian Centre, Exeter Hall in London. Many others instrumental in the formation of S.A. were Christians such as Lt. Col. George Gawler who was determined to establish a Christian settlement: Sir George Grey, Capt. John Hindmarsh, Charles Mann, David McLaren, Capt. Barker, Edward John Eyre and clergymen such as T.Q. Stow as well as Lord Glenelg of the Home Office.

Hebrews 11:32 says ‘and what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon. Barak, Samson, Jephthah.  David, Samuel and the prophets who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised….” So also we could continue about many of the early pioneers.  People such as Matthew Flinders; or Capt. John Molloy with his wife Georgiana, “The Madonna of the bush,” who settled in Western Australia, and were prayed over prophetically by other Charismatic Irvingite Christians before coming to Australia.  There was of course the remarkable Caroline Chisholm, who in six years settled eleven thousand people as servants and farmers in N.S.W.; the Moravian Missionary Latrobe family of Victoria.  Ludwig Leichhardt, who explored much of Australia’s north; and the Rev John Flynn, who founded the Flying Doctor Service and the Australian Inland Mission, whose Presbyterian Ministers were known as the boundary riders of the bush, and which was responsible for establishing communication through the inland by pedal wireless, giving a mantle of support and protection over inland Australia, the size of Western Europe.

Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, and another Prime Minister, George Reid, were trained in public speaking and inspired to enter public life through the vision of a Christian minister, Dr Steel. Evangelical Christians have also been responsible for the creation of some of Australia’ s foremost inventions. John Ridley, a devout Christian, created the labour saving stripper, and the famous “Sunshine” Harvester was invented by H.V. McKay, who named it in honour of the “Son”.  It was manufactured in what was to be the largest factory in Australia for many years.  In recent times in Australia we find committed Christians involved in major areas of human endeavour such as in Government, Business, Education, Health, Entertainment, Sport & Welfare.  Christians have also been at the very forefront of community awareness campaigns, and public movements active in preserving Australia’s Constitutional heritage and democratic freedoms.

Thus we can see that Australia’s discovery, settlement and growth can easily be explained in terms of God’s intentions for our nation.  He has used His men and women to lead in so many areas of development that even the most humanist historian could have difficulty explaining away the mass of evidence at which this article only hints.  Law and Parliament Common Law have been based on the Christian faith, exemplified by the statue of Jesus occupying the central place above the entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice in London Jesus pictured above the circle with Moses and Alfred the Great towards the side.  An enlarged picture of Jesus (below) can be found here  www.artandarchitecture.org.uk/images/conway/145ad2a2.html and by many statements by scholars such as one Chief Justice who declared: “Christianity is parcel of the Common Law of England and therefore to be protected by it.  So whatever strikes at the very root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government.²

If the past is misinterpreted then so is the significance of the future.  It is important that we don’t continue to be deceived by the secularization process which denies the sovereignty of God in history, and be like Esau who sold his birthright for a meal when Psalm 61:56 says: “You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.”  Australian’s can rejoice in the contribution of our Christian forebears and confidently step out in faith aware of God’s great intentions for our great island continent.

For further information on our Christian Heritage or National Christian Heritage Sunday on the 3rd of Feb 2019 please visit www.chr.org.au

Source: Dr Graham McLennan Christian Historian and Head of the National Alliance of Christian Leaders

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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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