by Wendy Francis Queensland State Representative of the Australian Christian Lobby

At times I feel like I am caught in some sort of weird ‘Alice in Wonderland’ scenario. “.you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on. `I do,’ Alice replied; `at least I mean what I say-that’s the same thing, you know.’ `Not the same thing at all!’ said the Hatter. `You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same as “I eat what I see”!’ `You might just as well say,’ added the March Hare, `that “I like what I get” is the same as “I get what I like”!’  The real-life scenario is the inconsistency of what we as a society say we expect in regards to behaviour, as opposed to the behaviour we promote as being legitimate.. until it produces what we oppose in behaviour.

You reap what you sow is a modern day idiom which actually originates in the Bible. It remains a valuable lesson. This year we as a nation have been shocked as we mourned together over the savage and brutal rape and murder of 29 year old Jill Meagher, and the terrible tragedy of young Joan Ryther, also raped, then murdered along with her unborn child by an 18 year old man while she was on her way to work. Her distraught husband told Australia via the press, “Please, please don’t forget my wife, my child and please, don’t let this happen again”. 

But on the very day that the memorial service was being held for Joan Ryther in another suburb of Brisbane, Eatons Hill hotel hosted US Hip Hop entertainer, Tyler the Creator, whose lyrics include, “Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome.”  In their promotion of the event they said they were “thrilled to have our venue chosen” and that it was “very exciting”. Murder and rape is not exciting. Rather it is widely condemned in our society. But Tyler the Creator with his message of rape and murder is welcomed. This was despite a 20,000+ strong petition calling for him to not be allowed to spread his messages of hate against women.

Respect for our Australian military took a dive recently with more sex scandal details revealed resulting in the dismissal of five officers. Women had once again been treated as objects rather than equals with rather degrading behaviour. This is a huge disappointment to Australians who, every year on Anzac Day, celebrate the bravery, the courage and the heroic behaviour of our soldiers past and present. When those who we look to for protection act in a way that takes advantage of vulnerable people, our national sense of security and pride dissipates because we all acknowledge that there is nothing courageous or heroic about misogyny.

But in the closing hours of the very week that the sexual misdemeanours were revealed, and Australia’s top military representatives were using every means available to convey the message to the public that this behaviour would not be tolerated under any circumstances, a strip club billboard was erected on Samford Road, opposite the Gallipoli army barracks in Enoggera, Brisbane. Objectifying women and treating them as less than equal is unacceptable in our culture and we expect more of those in positions of trust.

But our Government advertising watchdog dismisses all complaints when a huge brightly lit billboard appeals to our military officers after a week of scandal to come to a club to objectify women. We allow the grooming of our society to accept the objectification of women through our advertising and then we are shocked at the outworking of that culture. But it’s not just the military that is impacted by this sexual advertising. The exact same strip club billboard had been removed weeks before from outside Brisbane Boys Grammar School, 8km away. This was not because the Advertising Standards Board had said it should go. They had already dismissed all complaints.

In the end it was taken down on the back of a successful petition, signed by thousands. If this billboard was deemed to be unsuitable for Spring Hill in Brisbane, why would it be suitable for Enoggera? It can’t be because it is not in the vicinity of schools. The local schools and kindergartens are within 500 metres of the billboard and it is on the main thoroughfare to and from the same. What sort of society is it where we do not allow advertisements showing a person smoking a cigarette and yet it is permissible to portray explicit sexual advertising to children that objectifies women, sending messages that contribute to eating disorders, depression and self-harm?

There was wide-spread, justifiable shock and outrage recently at the alleged assault by Nigella Lawson’s husband, Charles Saatchi, as we viewed in many forms of media, from many angles, photos of him mistreating her and grabbing her throat at a restaurant. As a society we took the opportunity to enforce the fact that women should not put up with domestic violence or any bad behaviour from any man. Bravo! But at the same time, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane hosted Tyler the Creator as he ‘entertained’ all age crowds with lyrics such as “Punch a bitch in her mouth just for talkin’ shit”, and we called that art.

From the stage in the Sydney concert, the artist shouted out to his loyal fans, “who is going to go out of here tonight and rape and kill someone?”. The shouts of support with many fists raised in the air should send a chill through every Australian. It would seem reasonable to me that young people attending the Tyler the Creator concert could be justifiably confused at the outrage directed towards Charles Saatchi for a comparably minor offence. It’s time we matched our messaging with our expectations. To say what we mean and mean what we say. Otherwise it’s just too confusing.

Source: Wendy Francis Australian Christian Lobby



Editors note:  Due to ministry travel commitments this newsletter was compiled ahead of time before the news reported in the final paragraph was subsequently announced and then added to our initial report. Due to my heavy travel schedule our newsletters cannot always be time sensitive and often have to be compiled on planes, at airports or in hotel rooms and queued to go out on due dates in order to maintain the level of service to which our readers have become accustomed. I ask for your understanding of the difficulties this creates for us at the Australian Prayer Network and appreciate the grace our members extend to us in situations such as this.  

Kevin Rudd is still trying to settle the concerns of parents of children at non-government schools over the Gonski funding changes as Catholic parents demand certainty about funding and school management.  The Prime Minister, Education Minister Bill Shorten and federal education officials are meeting Catholic education administrators who are calling for changes to the school funding system under Gonski.  Negotiations centre around changes to be made to regulations attached to the main legislation and in reassuring the Catholic sector — which accounts for 20 per cent of Australia’s school population — that there will be an accommodation.

Catholic school parents have called for Mr Rudd and Mr Shorten to provide certainty on funding for next year and guarantee extra funds wouldn’t be absorbed by administration. Council of Catholic School Parents executive director Danielle Cronin said Catholic parents had become aware of financial modelling that showed there would be only “negligible” additional funding per student next year. “While the federal government has continued to raise community expectations regarding additional new money for schools we have been warned that relatively meagre levels of new funding will in fact flow to schools from next year,” Ms Cronin said.

“Parents and school communities deserve to know exactly what dollars they can expect to see in schools next year. For parents in non-government schools, they also deserve to know what, if any, the impact on school fees will be. “The uncertainty of not knowing is beginning to cause considerable anxiety.” Ms Cronin said parents were also concerned about how the Australian Education Act would be used to direct funding within the Catholic school system. “There are fears that increased administrative and regulatory costs imposed by the new model will eat into any funding increase,” she said.

In a later development and as a result of the negotiations mentioned above, the Catholic education sector has now signed up to the Federal Government’s “Gonski” Better Schools funding plan, saying it will “deliver significant increases” in funding for every child in the Catholic system. The National Catholic Education Commission says it is confident that “no school will be worse off” and is “appreciative of the constructive way” the Federal Government has resolved any concerns. The agreement will affect one in five, or 735,403 students currently enrolled at 1,706 Catholic schools across the country.

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources



The Australian Christian Lobby has renewed calls for Australia’s humanitarian intake to give greater weighting to vulnerable minorities, particularly those displaced by the conflict in Syria and the wider Middle East. Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the debate opened up by the new Rudd Cabinet about the refugee program is an opportunity to assess whether vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities were getting a fair go.  “There are around 1,000,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon including those from vulnerable Syrian minority groups such as Alawites, Christians and Druze. Mr Shelton said.

“Many of these have lost confidence in the UNHCR processes and were not registering because it locked them into a slow and arduous process. ACL would like to see some flexibility in our humanitarian program so that an allocation could be made for some of these people,” Mr Shelton said. “ACL believes a greater weighting system should be applied to vulnerable persecuted minorities to ensure that they have a fair chance of being eligible for placement in Australia. “It is important that our humanitarian program is calibrated towards people who are in the greatest need,” Mr Shelton said.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby