CONTINUOUS PRAYER DURING THE PERIOD OF PLEBISCITE VOTING
The Australian Prayer Network is conducting continuous 24/7 prayer during the period of the plebiscite vote on same-sex marriage. Our National 24 Hour Prayer Watch is anchoring the prayer but many thousands of members of our general network are also joining in as they are able and for as long as their schedule allows. You do not need to register to be part of this initiative simply use the prayer points which we are giving each week in this newsletter. This week’s prayer points are as follows:
In Malachi 2:11-12 God accuses Judah of breaking faith and desecrating the sanctuary that the Lord loves by marrying the daughter of a foreign god. The consequence is a cutting off from the community (tents of Jacob) or it could possibly mean a cutting off from the presence of the Lord (some would argue it’s both). The underlying issue was not that they married someone from another race, but God knew that sexual union with them would inevitably lead them to the worship of other gods. In the same way, we are instructed in 2 Corinthians to not be yoked together with unbelievers because “what agreement is there between the temple God and idols” and WE ARE the TEMPLE of God (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). 1 Corinthians 6 also speaks of the issue of uniting our bodies with others through sexual relations outside of marriage and how this sin dishonours God and therefore also represents a breaking of faith.
The many times people of God (Shepherds and priesthood of believers) have dishonoured God and disregarded or sought to justify ourselves when it comes to God’s command to be yoked with unbelievers in marriage or through participating in sexual relations outside of marriage. Ask forgiveness, cleansing and mercy.
* The Spirit to bring conviction of sin wherever God’s people are yoked with unbelievers because of their disobedience and that God would have mercy on them and their relationship and both spouses would encounter the love of God and their hearts be transformed so that what the enemy has meant for evil in their lives would be turned around for the glory of God!
* The healing and deliverance needed for those in the body of Christ who have had multiple sexual partners and are reaping the spiritual consequences of each of those times their bodies became one with another. Pray for them to have an understanding of their need to confess and renounce their sexual sin so freedom and healing can occur and any soul ties can be broken off that might be affecting their current relationships.
The sons and daughters of God will flee from sexual immorality because our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in us, whom we have received from God. We are not our own, but we were bought at a price, therefore we will honour God with our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:16-20)
For those wishing to join with others in prayer this month, daily Zoom one hour prayer calls are being held at 7AM, 1PM & 8PM to pray for marriage and family. To register and get log in details for the Zoom conference call go to http://www.prayercall.com.au/
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS FEAR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CHANGES
Religious institutions and free-speech advocates have condemned a move by the Northern Territory (NT) government to “modernise” anti-discrimination laws, describing proposed changes as a significant threat to religious freedom. Faith-based schools would be stripped of their ability to hire teachers who adhere to their beliefs and banned from excluding prospective students who are not of a particular religion, with existing religious exemptions to the NT Anti-Discrimination Act on the chopping block. The proposed reforms also include replacing the term “parenthood” with “carer responsibilities” and “marital status” with “relationship status”. While the aim of the overhaul is said to be to ensure religious bodies were “accountable and more inclusive”, it is seen by many Christians as evidence that religious freedom would not be protected in the event of marriage laws being changed.
Nationals senator Matt Canavan, co-ordinator for the Coalition’s No case in the same-sex postal survey, said the NT push showed why Australians should have serious concerns about future protections for religious freedom. “It indicates that people can’t trust the parliament to get these protections right,” Mr Canavan said. “We can tell by the actions of the NT Labor Party that they are not serious about protecting religious freedoms. Couple that with the Federal ALP, who, with the Greens, don’t support protections for schools and hospitals.” According to the Modernisation of the Anti-Discrimination Act discussion paper, released by the NT Department of the Attorney-General and Justice, religious bodies currently have exemptions under the act for certain attributes aligning with their religious doctrines to avoid offending the sensitivities of followers.
“To promote equality of opportunity for all Territorians, the removal of some of these exemptions is being considered,” it notes. “One exemption that could be removed is section 37A that permits religious schools to discriminate against employees on the grounds of religious beliefs, activity or sexuality.” The only area in which religious groups would be permitted to discriminate would be in relation to the training and ordination of clergy, the education of religious sisters and brothers and roles in liturgical settings. Freedom for Faith chief executive Michael Kellahan said the mooted changes, if enacted, would see the NT take on “the worst laws in the country for religious freedom”. “There will be concerns for free speech; there will be concerns for faith-based schools and their ability to really live out those convictions that help to form them,” Mr Kellahan said.
The Catholic Bishop of Darwin, Eugene Hurley, said he was surprised by the push, given the lack of evidence pointing towards discrimination by schools or welfare agencies. “If we remove these exemptions, we may end up with a situation where people may not be able to practise their faith or teach their religion, even in a religious school,” he said. NT Anglican Bishop Greg Anderson said aspects of the overhaul were concerning, and church administrators had already met with the department over the issue. Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton said the paper confirmed the fears of those worried about the implications of taking gender out of marriage. “The Australian public is being told that their freedoms won’t be affected with a change to the marriage law,” he said. “But already the Northern Territory is positioning itself to take away protections of speech, religion and association.”
CHRISTIANS UNDER SIEGE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM INQUIRY HEARS
A Melbourne IT specialist engaged to work on the Safe Schools program was sacked after privately expressing concerns about the contentious initiative during a staff meeting, with his employer later accusing him of “creating an unsafe work environment”. Lee Jones, a Christian who was general manager of a business at the time, had told his boss he would work on the project despite his views but was dismissed regardless, according to a submission to a federal inquiry into the status of religious freedom. His predicament is just one of several cases of discrimination alleged by Christians or opponents of same-sex marriage that have come to light as part of the inquiry, which, in the wake of the Coopers Brewery fiasco, has heightened concerns about free speech and a growing intolerance towards traditional views.
Other cases include a Victoria-based commonwealth public servant who was given a warning for complaining about being pressured to take part in a gay pride march. The man, who was a Christian, later asked to be taken off the email list of the department’s LGBTI network as he found emails “offensive by reason of his religious background”. According to the submission of the Wilberforce Foundation, a coalition of lawyers committed to common law values, rights and freedoms, the public servant was issued a notice to show cause why he should not be disciplined. That was challenged and there was a finding that there had been no breach of the APS Code of Conduct. The foundation also cites Alice Springs teacher Ian Shepherd, who was threatened with disciplinary action last year for expressing opposition to same-sex marriage on a Facebook forum.
Despite the comments being made outside school hours, he was issued a notice to show cause. The Northern Territory Education Department has since dropped the action. Meanwhile, an Adelaide university student was suspended last year after offering to pray for a student who was stressed over her workload and later voicing his opinion about homosexuality. The student had said that he would treat a gay person kindly “but didn’t agree with their choice”. He was ordered to undergo “re-education” but sought legal advice and the university withdrew the allegations. Human Rights Law Alliance managing director Martyn Iles, who was involved with some of the cases, said they were evidence of the “purging of certain ideas in public discourse”. Mr Iles said people with traditional views on same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program were not being permitted to express them publicly.
In Mr Jones’s case, he was in a staff meeting when asked his opinion about Safe Schools, which had been generating significant media due to its promotion of contested ideas around gender fluidity and sexuality. His response was that he would not want his own children to be taught some of the more controversial elements of the program. No representatives from Safe Schools were at the meeting. Mr Jones did not want to discuss details of his situation. However, he said his sacking, “a brutal over-reaction”, had opened his eyes to attempts to censor those opposed to “rewriting the law and morality”.
AUSTRALIA FAVOURING CHRISTIAN REFUGEES OVER MUSLIMS
According to data obtained through Australia’s freedom of information law, the country is favouring Christian refugees over Muslim refugees. The country reportedly took in 18,563 refugees from Syria and Iraq from July 1, 2015 through January 6, 2017, and 78% of these refugees identified as Christian. Christian Today reports that this number seems disproportional when one considers the respective populations of Christians and Muslims in those countries. The Australian government has not denied this favouritism and has stated that it is due to the fact that Christians face more severe persecution in their home countries. “Australia’s government has never denied that religion is an important factor in choosing who will be admitted from Syria and Iraq,” says the report.