Submission on Second Draft of Religious Discrimination Bill

Associate Professor Neil Foster writes about the Second Draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill –

“In short, I think this legisation is an important step in improving protection of religious freedom in Australia, and the second draft is an improvement on the first. But I recommend some clarification or change of approach in the following areas:

Giving thanks for Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson SquareThis Australia Day long weekend, pause to give thanks to the Lord for the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet and first Chaplain to the Colony of New South Wales.

232 years ago this weekend, the First Fleet arrived at Farm Cove. 232 years ago next weekend, Johnson preached at the first church service at Farm Cove.

Read about Richard Johnson and pray that the Lord will call many into the service of Christ’s gospel in our land.

An Aboriginal Pastor’s message for Australia Day

“There’s a heartache still in this land,” says Pastor Michael Duckett of the Macarthur Indigenous Church as he shares a message for Australia Day, calling on non-indigenous Australians to remember the mixed feelings in the Aboriginal community about the day.

Speaking in a video titled The Ministry of Reconciliation, Australia Day 2020, Pastor Duckett gives a greeting in the indigenous Gumbayggirr language of the North Coast of New South Wales.

He said he hopes people will enjoy Australia Day but be sensitive to Aboriginal People…

Read the full story, and watch the video, at

You could download the video to show in church on Sunday, Australia Day.

Thank-you Fireys as Sydney prays

“Sustained applause greeted Rural Fire Service Senior Assistant Commissioner Bruce MacDonald as he was introduced at a Prayer service at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral on Sunday 19th January for those affected by the bushfires. …”

– Russell Powell has the story of Sunday’s service at the Cathedral for everyone affected by the bushfires. At

Anglican Aid NSW Bushfire Appeal

“The Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid has launched an appeal to allow immediate response to the devastating bushfires raging in NSW.”


Pastoral letter from Bishop Mark Short to the Anglican Parish of Cobargo

Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Mark Short, has sent this pastoral letter to the Anglican Parish of Cobargo. In this fire season across Australia, each loss is locally felt, and this is one.

January 1 at 12:27 PM ·

Dear sisters and brothers of the Parish of Cobargo,

I write as your Bishop at a time of shared loss and grief.

You have lost treasured buildings, valued homes and beloved friends and neighbours. Many of you have faced overwhelming situations and have worked selflessly to care for others .

The Bible assures us that God is close to the broken-hearted and it is right and healthy to grieve. The Bible also assures us that in Jesus Christ God is able to bring restoration and hope. This journey of hope will take time, and it is a journey we will make together. Be assured of the prayers of the rest of the Diocese and our readiness to work with you as, with God’s help, we renew and rebuild.

Almighty God,
In your wisdom you have so ordered our earthly life
that we must walk by faith and not by sight:
give us such trust in your fatherly care
that in the face of all perplexities
we may give proof our faith by the courage of our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. APBA, p465

In the love of Jesus,

+Mark Short

The Bishop’s pastoral letter includes the prayer, written by the Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral, The Very Reverend Kanishka Raffel, to be read on Sunday:

“Lord of all days and years, and time and eternity, You made this land and have blessed us with its riches and beauty.

You are a refuge to all who seek your shelter, our strong defence in trial and tribulation.
Send rain we pray to extinguish flames and heal our land.
Mercifully protect life and property.
Give help and hope to our neighbours assailed by fire.
Comfort and provide for those who grieve.
Uphold those who suffer loss,
Give peace and hope to those bewildered and broken-hearted.

We thank you for men and women of courage and selflessness.
We thank you for brave communities of care and support, We thank you for those who share your comfort and hope, We thank you for those at a distance giving and praying.

Lord, you sent your Son so that we would know your power to save, your presence with your people in this world of turmoil, and your promise to renew the whole creation. Turn our hearts to you, that we may have faith for this day and hope for eternity.

We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

“St Saviour’s Church Quaama in the Parish of Cobargo. Locals tell me that the bell-tower always appeared to be the most rickety part of the structure. Yet it still stands [top photo]; a reminder that in the most challenging circumstances our call to summons people to find comfort and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ endures. Thank you for your prayers as the communities of the Diocese face a difficult weekend.”

(With thanks to Ramon Williams for forwarding this letter and images.)

A Prayer for protection amid bushfire emergency

“Archbishop Glenn Davies has appealed for Christians to be in fervent prayer as New South Wales enters a State of Emergency because of bushfires raging around the state.

As the state of emergency was declared, at least 17 people had died in Australia and more than 1,400 homes have been destroyed in bushfires since October. Three bushfire fighters have lost their lives in New South Wales.

Archbishop Davies wrote to churches noting that many, especially in the Wollongong Region have been arranging special prayer meetings as well as practical offers of support to those affected.

“Our January Sunday services will give us all an opportunity for bringing our prayers to God for his mercy to flow, and indeed for rain to fall.” Dr Davies said.

The Archbishop issued a special prayer, which asks for protection for the firefighters…“

– The full prayer is available at

Related: At the time of writing, the CMS Summer School at Katoomba is still going ahead.

Church leaders use Christmas message to spread hope for the new year

“Millions of Australians have today celebrated the spirit of Christmas with family and friends.”

– Report and Image from Seven News Sydney (on Facebook).

Second draft of Religious Discrimination Package released

“The Commonwealth Government has released a second version of its draft legislation dealing with religious discrimination issues, for further comment before it is formally introduced into the Federal Parliament in the New Year. There are a number of important changes from the previous drafts which in my view make it a much better package of amendments. But there are areas for improvement…”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Associate Professor Neil Foster, shares his response to the updated draft legislation.

Diocese of Sydney Response to Second Exposure Draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney

Media Statement

The Release of the Second Exposure Draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill

We appreciate the thorough way in which the government has approached this issue and takes seriously the deeply-held views of people of faith.

In particular, I am encouraged by a number of changes in the second exposure draft. The respect given to faith charities is an important model for the future harmony of Australian society.

Personal faith and the activities of religious communities touch so many areas of our lives. As the Prime Minister has pointed out, we have laws preventing discrimination on race, sex, age or disabilities and faith should likewise be protected.

We look forward to providing further feedback on the updated Bill.

Glenn N Davies,

Archbishop of Sydney

10 December 2019.


Attending to the National Soul: Book launch Thursday 12 December

Here’s an invitation to all ACL members and others interested in Australian history:

Attending to the National Soul – Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1914 – 2014 by Stuart Piggin and Robert D. Linder follows the highly awarded book The Fountain of Public Prosperity – Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914, which was published in 2018.

Both volumes are the result of thirty years’ research and writing. Read more

Archbishop calls for compassion for bushfire victims

In a tweet today, Archbishop Glenn Davies has urged all Christians to continue to show compassion for bushfire victims, and to pray for the threat to ease.

He refers to Luke 13:1-5, where Jesus warns against ascribing a particular tragedy as a direct judgment of God.


Media Release from The Australian Christian Lobby:

The Australian Christian Lobby is responding to requests from the media to comment on Israel Folau’s recent sermon.

“Sermons don’t lend themselves to quick soundbites, and the media’s attempts to paraphrase a sermon has caused some unnecessary angst,” said ACL Managing Director, Martyn Iles, “For one thing, Israel did not claim to know that the current bushfires are God’s direct judgement for same-sex marriage.”

“Nobody knows God’s mind, nor do they understand ultimately why bad things happen,” Mr Iles added, “We do know that the Bible says God is sovereign over everything, and He is ‘our ever-present help in times of trouble.’ (Ps 46:1)”

“A call to turn our minds and hearts to God in challenging days such as these is supported by all Christians,” Mr Iles confirmed, “Churches across Australia are not only offering practical support to victims, firefighters, and communities, but are also praying for rain, for repentance, and for God’s plan in people’s lives to be strengthened even through difficulty.”

“Not all Australians will resonate with these beliefs, but the many who do shouldn’t be threatened or lose their freedoms,” Mr Iles urged.

The Australian Christian Lobby calls on Australians to pray for our nation, and to help those who are doing it tough, including victims, firefighters and their communities.


Urgent prayer for our country

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has announced the opening of a bushfire appeal as one million hectares of land has been burned already this fire season. Tuesday, Nov 12, has been declared a day of catastrophic fire danger.

Archbishop Davies has appealed for Anglicans and other Christians to pray fervently in light of the danger facing New South Wales, Queensland and other parts of the country.

Dr Davies has written a prayer, which reads:

A prayer for Our Country, in drought and fire.

Our heavenly Father, creator of all things and especially the creator of this land and its original peoples, we call out to you in these desperate times as we see the first catastrophic fire warnings for New South Wales, as fires have already swept across several parts of our land.

Our hearts cry out to you in desperation for those whose properties are affected by ravaging fires and whose very lives are in danger.

Father we pray, in your mercy, restrain the forces of nature from creating catastrophic damage; in your mercy protect human life.

Guard those who selflessly step into the breach to fight these fires. Guide police and authorities who help evacuate and shelter those who are displaced.  Bring comfort and healing to all who suffer loss.

Remembering that long ago you extended your hand through your servant Moses to stop the waters and then to return the waters to their normal course, so we pray for rain. 

In your mercy, we pray for drenching rain. 

We pray that despite the forecasts, in your miraculous power you would bring forth rain to quench these fires and to bring life back into the earth, so that crops may grow and farmers may bring forth the harvest of the land again.

We bring these requests before your throne, in the name of your Son, who died and rose again for our deliverance,


The Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid appeal page can be found here.

– Source:

Further, the Archbishop has written to all Rectors, Assistant Ministers and Chaplains:

“I have announced a special appeal by the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid to raise tax-deductible funds for those affected.

Funds raised from this appeal will help those who miss out on NSW government emergency assistance. I encourage you to circulate the details of the appeal and encourage your congregation to support it or please telephone (02) 9284 1406.  More importantly, funds from this appeal will come with prayer and human connection. Our donations are a tangible symbol of God’s grace to us all.  Donations for this appeal are tax deductible.

Sadly, there are fires burning right now in the Anglican Dioceses of Grafton, Armidale, Newcastle, Bathurst, Brisbane and Sydney, but we can rejoice that there are established churches on the ground in the places most seriously affected, providing an existing network of prayer and the delivery of financial assistance.

All funds donated to the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid appeal will go to Anglican churches in the affected areas, so that specific distributions can be made to those most affected within their communities.”

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