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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM MATTERS

By Australian Newsletter

Tonight my adjournment speech is about the very important issue of religious freedom.  It is a very important issue for the Christian Democratic Party but it is also important for the majority of people in Australia.  We have just had two major elections, one in New South Wales that saw the return of Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the most recent election that saw the election of the Federal Government under our Christian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.  Many issues motivate the public in casting their vote for this or that party or person but there is one issue that I think impacted both elections and will likely remain a pressing concern for many people.

I am referring to religious freedom or, rather, how that freedom has no guarantees in law or statute.  As members know, the Ruddock review was very clear in its recommendations, one of which stated that legislation should be passed to protect the rights and liberties of people of faith.  I recall the Government indicated to me that it would not be taking any action until the review published its findings and the recommendations were known to all.  We now have the recommendations but so far no action has been taken, although I have given notice of a bill dealing with religious freedom that I hope will be debated in the next few weeks.

This issue has resulted in many people of conscience having their lives turned upside down and their careers ruined.  This has happened not because of what they did or said having a really harmful impact on anyone but because a small minority in this country are very negative in their attitude to people of faith.  They feign offence so as to attack and vilify.  This illustrates an abuse of existing laws that seek to limit discrimination and vilification in society.  These laws, which we support, are now being abused.  We now have a system that facilitates and enables the discrimination of people of faith, when they have done nothing other than preach to their own congregations.

Members would be aware of the recent case of Israel Folau.  Israel is a great sportsman but when he is not on the field he is a preacher in his community church.  By exercising his right to speak on a social media website by quoting the Bible he became the focus of a relentless campaign of hate that finally led to the end of his professional career.  This is not an issue that only religious people should be concerned about.  The new puritans who are sniffing out witches to burn at the stake of public opinion are not motivated by any desire for a better society.

Once people of faith are dispatched, it is likely they will come up with another group or view that they find offensive.  By “offensive”, I mean something they simply disagree with and want to shut down debate on.  In the Hon. Mark Latham’s inaugural speech, which I  congratulated him on, he made it clear that even someone who is agnostic should be concerned about the choking effect of political correctness.  Nobody is perfect but if we cannot talk and exchange frank views, even on religious topics, then we destroy the very thing that has made our civilisation dynamic.  I am of course referring to freedom of thought and the ability to express it in the public square.

Ironically, while those who disagree with me about this may preach tolerance, it is they who should display a little more tolerance themselves.  Recently I spoke to a professor at the University of Notre Dame here in Sydney.  He made very clear to me his concerns about the effect that an absence of law guaranteeing religious freedom may have on his ability to teach at the university.  Universities should be places where ideas can be most freely discussed and debated.  This freedom becomes especially valuable to people who work and teach at universities, at Christian colleges and at Christian schools that have a religious charter or objectives.

I feel it is almost ridiculous to have to say this, it seems too obvious, but if we do not pass some form of legislative protection for religious liberty then I fear that what many take for granted now will come under increasing threat.  Christians have suffered persecution for centuries.  Even today Christians are the most repressed, persecuted religious group in the world, whether it is in North Africa, the Middle East or parts of Asia.  I commend Almighty God to provide that protection for us.

Source: Parliamentary Speech by Rev Fred Nile in NSW Parliament

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WHY RELIGIOUS FREEDOM MATTERS

By Australian Newsletter

Why does religious freedom matter. I think, from a Christian perspective.  I want to quote a verse of scripture which I often refer to when I write.  It is the prayer of Paul that is written in 1 Timothy 2. Paul says: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and pleasing in the sight of God, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  This passage is very significant because if you read that carefully, Paul is effectively saying to these people, “Pray for religious freedom.”

Sometimes when I travel around I almost hear people praying for persecution which is very foolish.  If persecution comes, we pray that God will lead us through it in His sovereign will, and perhaps use that which is intended for evil for good.  But nobody prays for persecution because the darkness that it brings into society, the destructive nature of it, is evil and wrong.  The Apostle Paul says in these verses we should rather pray that the godly life would be a life of peace and dignity.  What does a godly life mean?  It is a life in which the mandate to be Christ’s witnesses is lived out.

That means the life of following His commands; to be salt and light, to do things in the world out of the power of a converted life, to do good in His name, to use our talents for His glory.  It is a life which contributes to the flourishing of Christ’s church; doing its ministry, preaching the gospel to all nations.  Paul says: ‘pray that’s a life of peace.’  Why?  The text tells us, because “it is good and pleasing in the sight of God.”  But why would that be?  If this paradigm exists in a society, it is a society in which the governing authorities are fulfilling their God-given ministry.  That ministry is stated in the Bible, in Solomon’s famous statement, “righteousness exalts a nation.”

Whether it’s Solomon’s own prayer for wisdom, or Romans 13, or 1 Peter 2, we see that government is sent by God to punish evil and reward good.  Now, if that’s what the government is doing, then those who are doing good and living consistent with truth in society are going to be free.  It also means they are not going to be punished.  They will lead lives of peace.  Meanwhile, those in society who are doing wrong will be punished instead.  The persecutor will not get away with it.  Evil will be rightly suppressed by the effective ministry of the governing authorities.

Source: Blog by Martyn Iles Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby

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PENTECOSTAL PRIME MINISTER WON THE ELECTION BY BEING HIMSELF

By Australian Newsletter

It was the ‘real’ Scott Morrison people saw on the campaign trail, with a capacity for compassion and change, which won him the votes to secure the Coalition’s surprise victory, says Stephen O’Doherty.  Chatting to Katrina Roe about the Federal Election results, the former Liberal politician shared his views saying he believes Morrison took his party to victory “by being himself”.  “People needed to get to know a different side of Scott Morrison than the one they’ve seen in the past,” he said.  “He was the hard-nosed treasurer, he was a fairly hard-nosed immigration minister, and yet what we saw on the election trail was the real Scott.  And he is the real deal.

“He is the family man, he is the person who has a passionate Christian faith, which leads into a life of service, and he genuinely loves his country.  The more they saw Scott Morrison the more they liked him” O’Doherty said.  In his post-election victory speech, Mr Morrison, who attends Sutherland Shire’s Pentecostal ‘Horizon Church’, wished opposition leader Bill Shorten and his family all the best and “God’s blessings”.  Then, in another reference to his faith and the surprise win, he declared that “I have always believed in miracles”.  “I’m standing with the three biggest miracles in my life here tonight, and tonight we’ve been delivered another one,” he added.

The leader’s strong beliefs were no doubt a comfort to many voters concerned about religious freedoms.  But while Scott Morrison is enjoying his moment of popularity, he now has “a thumping great mandate” to fulfil, said O’Doherty.  “He’s got a tremendous amount of goodwill right now, but I would want to see him turn around and take seriously some issues that have been niggling away, that have to be addressed,” Stephen said.  “Climate change and energy policy have to be addressed.  He’s got the opportunity to do it now in a careful way.  He has to do something about the welfare system.  Almost everyone agrees that the Newstart allowance needs to be lifted.

“He needs to find conciliation with our First Nations people.  We have to really listen carefully to what our Aboriginal Elders are telling us.  And I’d love to see them taking a more compassionate view towards foreign aid, and not be divisive around the immigration question.  Yeah, we get the secure borders, but the fact that he got the children out of detention was a necessary precondition to him winning, and I hope he takes a lesson from that.”  Stephen added “He’s capable of doing all that.  That’s the Scott we saw.  Let’s see more of that Scott now that he’s had this thumping victory.”

Source: Hope 103.2

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MAJORITY BACK FAITH-BASED RIGHTS

By Australian Newsletter

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

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

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

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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‘EXPERT’ SAYS ALL AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS SHOULD PROMOTE GENDER FLUIDITY

By Australian Newsletter

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

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

Source: Binary

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