AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER
- WHAT THE LGBTI AND SECULAR LOBBIES WANT TO DO TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
- PROTECT FREEDOM TO REJECT WEDDINGS SAY CATHOLICS
- MOVEMENT DAY AUSTRALIA
- WORLD DAY OF PRAYER THIS FRIDAY
WHAT THE LGBTI AND SECULAR LOBBIES WANT TO DO TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Until last week, Sky News’ Paul Murray supported the same-sex marriage campaign. But the goodwill is fading. Speaking on his nightly program, Murray conceded what we have always forewarned: rainbow advocates are now asking for all protections for religious freedom to be “blown up.” That is, the scant protections that already exist. Not new ones. Murray agrees that there are people in the activist parts of the rainbow movement who will force churches to marry same-sex couples and deny Christian schools the right to hire staff who share their faith. “All of this, we were promised, was not up for grabs. But after they’ve got the victory, they now they want to keep rolling on.” Paul Murray said.
Submissions to the Ruddock Review prove all this and more. The yes campaign has advocated for the complete removal of religious freedoms from discrimination laws. Christian schools, churches and religious organisations would not be able to limit employment of staff, or the enrolment of members or students to only those that share their faith. The Rationalist Society argues for the same, adding that the “overwhelming” yes vote in the postal survey confirms that such “prejudice” is no longer acceptable in modern Australia. They are far from alone, and they are not the most extreme.
The National Secular Lobby goes the farthest, arguing that the indoctrination of children into religious faiths is a “tragic consequence” of religious freedom protections in international law. They claim, “It represents ‘intellectual child abuse’ to allow children to be taught Biblical myths.” The Northern Territory may be the first to fall, with the Attorney-General’s department currently undertaking a “modernisation” of their anti-discrimination laws which includes a complete review of all the religious freedoms they contain. Their discussion paper on the issue is ominous. Christians are already in trouble with the law for living out the most basic tenets of their faith. These changes would make it worse.
Tasmania’s discrimination laws have seen Christian pastor Campbell Markham and Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous hauled before the Equal Opportunity Commission for publishing Christian teachings. Markham may soon be at the Tasmanian Supreme Court. Flimsy protections for religious freedom have seen a Western Australian couple scrambling for justice since having their foster parenting application declined based on their Christian convictions. Anti-Discrimination laws are currently being weaponised against faith-based schools in Victoria to force them to adopt radical transgender policies that contradict their beliefs.
Teaching the gospel, maintaining a Christian home, providing a Christian education to disciple the next generation. All these endeavours, and many more besides, are genuinely under threat. We must fight to keep the doors open for the gospel, for the light of Christian witness, and for the voice of truth in our nation. The Apostle Paul speaks of this type of religious freedom when he exhorts prayers for governments, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Tim 2:2). A godly life must be one in which Christ’s commands to do all these things are worked out, and to do so in peace means to do so under the protection of laws that reflect truth or grant religious freedom.
The purpose of such freedom is that all people may come to a knowledge of the truth. This, Paul says, is “good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour…” (1 Tim 2:3-4). Paul and Timothy had precious little opportunity to complement prayers with political activism. By contrast, we can do so through the great gift of democracy. We must not squander the opportunity (but nor must we cease in prayer!) The Australian Christian Lobby will continue to take up the fight for religious freedom, to be a voice for values, and to keep the doors open for truth and Christian witness in our nation. Now that same-sex marriage is law, it is clear this is the next battlefront.
Let me put out this call: if religious freedoms continue to be taken from us, we must stand firm, come what may. The laws of this land do not necessarily reflect God’s truth or therefore what is right and wrong. Perhaps we are moving into a time when the conclusion of the Apostles in Acts 5:29 is ever more relevant, “we must obey God rather than men.” Let’s pray. Let’s act. Let’s be ready for anything.
Source: Martyn Iles Managing Director of the ACL
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PROTECT FREEDOM TO REJECT WEDDINGS SAY CATHOLICS
Bakers, florists and photographers could object to servicing same-sex weddings while faith-based employers would have stronger legal protections in refusing to hire openly gay staff under recommendations to a government review of religious freedoms by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney. In its submission to the Philip Ruddock-led review into religious freedoms, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher also calls for federal legislation to protect freedom of religion, which would supplement state protections and extend to all people rather than just ministers of religion.
Religious schools should also retain the right to ban LGBTI sex teachings and be allowed to stop transgender students from wearing uniforms or using toilets that are not of their biological gender. Archbishop Fisher, who appeared before the panel of religious experts last Friday, wrote in the 33-page submission that the same-sex marriage debate showed there was an “urgent need” for religious protection in Australia. The submission says there has been a “shift” in attitudes towards religious people, warning Australia is at a “crossroads” in its approach to religion. “For all its talk of tolerance, there are powerful influences in our culture less and less tolerant of religion,” it says.
“There is now a greater determination to minimise the role of faith in everyday life and exclude it altogether from the public square. Examples abound of this lack of tolerance for a religious worldview during the recent marriage debate.” The submission seeks similar exemptions for businesses as proposed in a failed same-sex marriage bill sponsored by Liberal senator James Paterson. These would allow florists, bakers and photographers to refuse to service gay weddings on religious grounds. “There are many options for wedding service providers, and accommodating the religious freedom of those who object will not result in these services being unobtainable,” the submission says.
“It is submitted there is no legitimate reason for the religious freedom of wedding service providers to remain unprotected.” The submission calls for federal protection of religious freedoms, through legislation rather than a charter of rights, to ensure religious people are not affected if states wind back the rights of conscientious objection. This would allow schools to teach sex and marriage according to Catholic doctrine rather than being forced to teach LGBTI programs. It would also allow religious schools to “maintain their own rules” in dealing with children with gender dysphoria, rather than force schools to allow transgender students to use toilets and wear uniforms that don’t align with their birth sex.
The submission says section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act should be strengthened to allow a faith-based education institution to “discriminate” in employment on the basis of a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, relationship status or pregnancy. It also calls for further protections for religious charities, freedom of speech and parental rights. The inquiry, which will hand down its findings to the Turnbull government by the end of March, was established during the same-sex marriage debate to assuage concerns about the impact a change in the Marriage Act would have on religious freedom.
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
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MOVEMENT DAY AUSTRALIA
Join the global conversation, hear the stories, be inspired and equipped to advance the gospel in your town/city. Movement Day Australia is being held at the Sydney Congress Hall on May 1-2, 2018. What does it mean to collaborate with other Christian leaders, from other denominations, backgrounds and spheres to reach your community with the gospel of Christ? Tim Keller from Redeemer Church in New York describes a city gospel movement in part as the “urban body of Christ that is growing in quality and quantity, faster than the population, so that the salt and light of Christian love and truth will influence the life of that city”.
The movement in New York has seen incredible results where there has been a 300% growth in Christianity in recent years. Special guest speaker Roger Sutton will share stories from the UK where God is moving in over 100 cities. Movement Day Australia is a gathering for pastors, missional leaders, market place leaders, intercessors and all who want to be involved in the proclamation of the gospel in word and deed to their communities. Christian leaders from all spheres are coming together to discuss the needs and pain of their city and leave with a plan to do something about it. We invite you to come. Early bird tickets on sale till 7th March. To find out more, or to register for the gathering, go to: www.movementday.com.au
Source: One Heart
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WORLD DAY OF PRAYER THIS FRIDAY
The material to be used in the World Day of Prayer services to be held this Friday 2nd March were this year prepared by Christians in Suriname. For your local service location and time throughout Australia check our website under “Worship Services” at www.worlddayofprayeraustralia.
Source: World Day of Prayer Organising Committee
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Have you visited our Web site? Australian Prayer Network