Church leaders and secular journalists alike continue to put forward compelling arguments for the “NO” case in the forthcoming plebiscite on same-sex marriage. This unusual coalition of views shows that the opposition to same-sex marriage is gaining momentum as people realise that legalisation of same-sex marriage carries with it unexpected consequences that will change the face of our nation and limit religious freedom and freedom of speech. With some polls showing declining support for same-sex marriage, those supporting the “NO” vote are becoming increasingly hopeful that people are now beginning to grapple with the consequences of same-sex marriage rather than seeing it just as allowing people to do something that will have no impact on the wider society.


This week Hillsong Senior Pastor Brian Houston issued a statement which in part said “I urge all Christians to be a part of the upcoming postal plebiscite on same sex marriage. Whatever your view on this issue, it is undeniably one that is important to the fabric of our social structure. Changing the definition of marriage has wide-reaching ramifications and should not be taken lightly by any society. All Australians should be a part of this process, not just a select few. For Christians, the issue is also a matter of faith and biblical teaching, something that should never be mocked or downplayed by those with opposing views. I believe God’s Word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. The writings of the apostle Paul in scripture on the subject of homosexuality are also clear, as I have mentioned in previous public statements.


The statement continued “Throughout this entire debate, some on both sides of the argument have failed to understand and respect the views of others. Some of those advocating for change to the definition of marriage have confused faith convictions with bigotry however they must understand that Christian, and other religious beliefs are extremely important to those who hold them and in fact are vital to a tolerant and free society. Sadly some also use Christianity to alienate and even condemn those who are gay and dismiss their desire to pursue happiness. As a Christian pastor, I will always teach and preach according to scripture and to my personal convictions, but I cannot make other people’s choices for them. God created humanity with a free will, and I care about all people including those who believe differently to me.


Houston concluded his statement by saying “Australians will soon receive the ballot papers which gives us all the ability to cast a vote on the issue of same sex marriage. It must be emphasised, that for Christians to obtain an outcome consistent with their beliefs, they must vote. I believe that many Australians feel strongly on this subject but allow louder and often more aggressive voices to control the public dialogue. This plebiscite provides us all with an equal voice and we should not waste this opportunity.”


John Wilson Moderator General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, writing for The Australian Newspaper said “Marriage, as defined today between a man and a woman is the best way for Australian society to flourish. It has been the foundation of stable societies since time immemorial and is central to the raising of the next generation. The proposed changes to the Marriage Act are far-reaching and must not be taken lightly. Should same-sex marriage become law this will have a significant and disturbing impact on our Schools. There is no doubt that teachers will be required to teach pupils about the validity of same-sex marriage. What protections will there be if they conscientiously object? In Canada which went down this path in 2005 there were no exemptions for teachers in state or faith-based schools. They must support this material despite misgivings.


Wilson went on “There are consequences to redefining marriage, such that may affect ordinary Australians who uphold the traditional view of marriage and who ask for the fundamental freedom to do so. I urge all Australians to recognise marriage as the fundamental institution of society, which is not ours to change on a whim. Let us recognise that this is a divisive issue for non-churchgoers as well many of whom do not want to be silenced on such a socially significant matter.”


The editor at large for The Australian newspaper, Paul Kelly, wrote “The failure of parliament to confront the need for broad based religious-freedom guarantees in association with same-sex marriage laws has produced the inevitable, strong warnings that one right will be won at the erosion of other rights. The refusal of politicians to admit or address such defects, and the abundant evidence that we see at home and abroad, virtually ensures that individuals and institutions will be intimidated after the marriage law is changed. Assertions to the contrary by politicians are worthless. Newspoll this week showed 62% support for protecting religious freedoms should same-sex marriage by approved in the plebiscite. Over time, the main social consequences will not arise from same-sex marriage itself, but the wider social, cultural, and institutional changes it will bring.          

Source: Compiled by APN from information provided by various sources

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The Australian Prayer Network has launched a season of continuous prayer through until the proposed Postal Plebiscite concludes on November 7 or the High Court declares the Plebiscite to be unconstitutional and puts an end to that process.  The continuous prayer will be undergirded by our extensive National 24 Hour Prayer Watch which has been running continuously for some 17 years and which has several thousand members. Others who are not members of the Prayer Watch are then free to join in prayer every day for as long as they wish and at any time of the day their schedule allows. Each week prayer points will be issued through this newsletter to prompt prayer, however we encourage each person to pray as the Holy Spirit leads them individually. Churches are welcome to use the prayer points in their Sunday bulletins to encourage prayer by all members of their congregation. 


Whilst much of the activity around the Plebiscite will centre around political activism, we believe as a Prayer Network we are in a unique position to engage in the spiritual battle for our nation with the same-sex marriage issue being the vehicle through which that battle is currently being fought.  We do understand that many of our members may also wish to add their hands and feet to their prayers in taking action to support the battle “on the ground”, so the Australian Prayer Network, as a member of the Coalition for Marriage, is pleased to point you to ways that you will be able to support the “No” vote in the plebiscite in practical as well as spiritual ways. For this purpose we are pleased to announce the launch of the Coalition for Marriage website at www.coalitionformarriage.com.au 


At that website you will be able to register for regular updates, contribute towards the fighting fund for the “NO” campaign, volunteer to assist in a number of ways and generally contribute to the campaign to preserve marriage as a permanent union between one man and one woman. This battle which is coming to a climax, is clearly the most important battle we have ever faced as a nation with the future of the freedom of belief and speech we have enjoyed as Christians for more than 200 years teetering on the edge. Make no mistake if we lose this battle our long held freedoms will be lost and the Christian values which have been the bedrock of our society will be taken from us forever. Please do not underestimate the consequences of this battle but neither fear the battle itself, but look to the One who will fight on our behalf. We can only do so much but He is able to go where we cannot, providing we do all He asks of us to defend our nation. Let us all put our shoulder to the wheel whilst at the same time confessing our desperate need of Him and placing all our reliance on Him to secure the ultimate victory.


This week’s prayer points are:


Please pray


*   Praising Him that He has ‘all power and authority on heaven and on ‘earth’ (Matt 28:18)  As people decide on how to vote in the plebiscite pray that the Lord would release wisdom and understanding to them which would enable them to see the issues clearly and vote according to the revelation of truth that they receive.

*   that we the people of God would humble ourselves and pray during this “valley of decision” period for our nation that we are entering, seek His face and confess our individual and corporate sin that has allowed us to be drawn into the position we are now facing.

*   that God would hear our cry for mercy, extend His forgiveness for our sin, and stop us as a nation from turning further from His word by voting to destroy His God given institution of marriage as being between a man and a woman.


Source: Australian Prayer Network

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The man accused of driving a burning van laden with gas bottles into the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) headquarters was a gay activist who disliked the group because of its “position on sexuality” and had searched online how to make plastic explosives and a pressure-cooker bomb. Court documents tendered to the ACT Magistrates Court reveal Jaden Duong had also run searches about gay marriage in other countries and, a month before the alleged attack at 10.45pm onDecember 21 last year, had searched for the “Australian Christian Lobby”. After the blast at the group’s Canberra headquarters in Deakin, which gutted the ground floor and caused $100,000 of damage, police said the attack was not “politically, religiously or ideologically motivated” and referred to it as a “car fire”. ACL head Lyle Shelton dis-puted the police claims.


Police allege 36-year-old Mr Duong had stepped up internet searching from July last year for terms including “how to make ammonium nitrate”, “pressure cooker bomb”, “C4”, “how to buy a gun in Australia”, “gas leak explosion”

and “how much gas to cause explosion”. The US military uses C4, a plastic explosive, and ammonium nitrate has been used as an ingredient in terrorist bombs. Mr Duong also allegedly researched same-sex marriage in Israel and Germany and searched for “countries with gay marriage”. Mr Duong, who was badly burned in the blast, walked 4km to Canberra Hospital. He was later transferred for treatment in Sydney due to the severity of his injuries. His hospital records allegedly showed Mr Duong had attempted suicide previously, had chosen to target the ACL spontaneously and had “quit his job to plan this suicide attempt”.


“He is ‘not a huge fan’ of the ACL, or religion in general, due to their beliefs and position on sexuality,” the records from Sydney’s Concord Hospital state. At Canberra Hospital, records allegedly show he was trying to commit suicide when “he drove a van up to a church, opened four cylinders of gas and lit a lighter”. The $40,000 van was near new and had been rented from Hertz at Canberra Airport on December 19. The gas cylinders had been bought from several service stations using Mr Duong’s credit card, police records said. According to documents tendered in court, soon after the explosion, police asked Mr Duong why he had picked the location. “Because I dislike the Australian Christian Lobby,” he allegedly replied. Asked why, he allegedly said: “Because religions are failed.”


The documents said he was asked what he aimed to achieve and allegedly replied that he wanted to “blow myself up”.  Mr Duong allegedly apologised for the mess and, when asked about the hired van, said: “Well to be perfectly honest, I thought I would blow up and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” In January, police were notified Mr Duong would not participate in an interview or any conversation with police. Mr Duong appeared in court with a bandaged right hand and burn scars on his neck and face. He was committed to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court and was formally charged with one count of arson and one count of property damage. His lawyer Peter Woodhouse said he would plead not guilty on the basis of mental impairment. “The facts in this matter are not in dispute. It’s an issue of mental impairment,” Mr Woodhouse told the court.


Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin told a Senate estimates hearing earlier this year that authorities believed Mr Duong knew the building he drove into in December was the ACL office, but that he was not driven by an ideology based on anything the Christian lobby had said or done. Mr Colvin said he thought Mr Duong’s main motivation had been to commit suicide and not to target the Christian group. In May, Mr Shelton said he was frustrated that police had been so quick to rule out a political motive for Mr Duong’s actions. “I am also concerned that the police continue to refer to the incident which blew out thick glass windows on the ground floor and first floor of our office as a ‘car fire’,” he said. Mr Shelton said there was little he could say while the case was before the courts. “I look forward to the legal process taking its course,” he said.


Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Tony Abbott has taken a fresh shot at what he dubs the radical left, saying he is “appalled” NSW education authorities tried to re-introduce Safe Schools “by the back door”. The former prime minister weighed in after the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) was forced to apologise for an “oversight” that saw a resource posted on its website containing a link to the anti-bullying Safe Schools campaign. It wasn’t the only controversy for NSW education officials with the Forestville Public School under fire for staging a play last week on the Stolen Generations that featured Year 6 students dressed up as nuns abusing indigenous children. “I am disappointed that schools would be propagating a black armband view of history,” Mr Abbott said. “I am also appalled that the NSW Department of Education has tried to reintroduce Safe Schools by the back door. It just shows the extent of the radical left’s long march on the institutions.


Abbott said, this confirms the importance of voting No,” in the postal ballot on same-sex marriage. “We need to send a strong message that the era of political correctness is over.” A NESA spokesman said: “After a concern was raised to NESA that a link on a resource contained a link to the federal government’s Safe Schools program and other unauthorised resources, it was removed immediately. “This was an oversight and NESA apologises that the federal government funded website was included. Safe Schools is not and has never been part of the NSW curriculum.” A spokeswoman for the Coalition for Marriage said the incident “demonstrates activists will stop at nothing to introduce gender ideology into the classrooms, even if it means deceptively repackaging the material and sending it back to schools”. Federal funding for the program ended on June 30.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton also called for heads to roll over what he called the latest example of “political correctness gone mad”. “The silent majority just shake their head in bewilderment at this,” he said on Sydney radio. “We send our kids to school because we want them to learn to read and write, we don’t want them to have politically correct agendas shoved down their throat. Something has to happen. The people in the department that actively made the decision to go against the government of the day, and the New South Wales Education Minister, and provide this information, need to be sacked. They need to be held to account for their actions. “I think we need to really shine a light on this because it’s unacceptable and these people need to realise that there’s a consequence and a price to pay if they’re going to act against the instruction that they’ve been given.”


Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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