Franklin Graham touring Australia

“On the 60th anniversary of Billy Graham’s historic 1959 visit, his son Franklin has started his tour to six Australian cities, including two events in Sydney.

The 1959 Billy Graham evangelistic tour changed the landscape of Christianity in Australia, with tens of thousands of people converted – including those who would later become significant leaders, such as Peter and Phillip Jensen. …”

– Russell Powell reports at SydneyAnglicans.net.

‘The Most Reverend The Primate and Patriarch of The Southern Hemisphere’

‘The Most Reverend The Primate and Patriarch of The Southern Hemisphere’ – that’s how John Newton addressed Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet and the fledgling colony of New South Wales.

Marylynn Rouse, at The John Newton Project, just in time for Australia Day, has posted a number of letters and new material relating to Richard Johnson – including letters to him from John Newton.

Richard Johnson:

“In the evening of the 23rd September 1786, I was asked by a friend, if I had got the spirit of a missionary, or, if I wished to go abroad. I smiled, and replied – No – I had no inclination or thoughts of ever leaving my native country.

On the 30th of the same month, I received a letter from another friend, informing me that a colony was going to be established in New Holland, or New Zealand – that a chaplain was wanted – that application had been made to him, to know whether he knew of any proper person for and willing to undertake such an arduous work – and that if I chose to accept of, he could secure me the appointment. …”

See what’s new at The John Newton Project.

See also: Richard Johnson – First Chaplain to Australia.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits?

Psalm 116 verse 12 –

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits towards me?”

These words were read by the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the Colony, on Sunday 3rd February 1788, at the first Christian service to be held after the arrival of the First Fleet.

It’s a good question to ponder.

For Australia Day: Analysing popular stereotypes on the foundation of Christianity in Australia

In 2015, Associate Professor Stuart Piggin gave this fascinating address at a gathering to commemorate the First Christian Service in Australia.

The event, in Richard Johnson Square on 3rd February, was close to where the Rev. Richard Johnson conducted the first Christian service in the Colony, on 3rd February 1788.

With Dr. Piggin’s permission, we published this at the time. We think it is well worth reading again.

“The preacher at that service, held under a ‘great tree’, beginning at 10 o’clock on 3 February 1788, a hot midsummer’s day, was the Rev Richard Johnson, Australia’s –

  • first minister,
  • first educator,
  • first carer for orphans,
  • first carer for aboriginal children.

With all those firsts, he was quite a pioneer – and John Newton, author of the much loved hymn ‘Amazing grace’, who recommended Johnson to MP William Wilberforce who recommended him to PM William Pitt, bestowed on Richard Johnson the title, ‘Patriarch of the Southern Hemisphere’, that is, if you will, founding father of the Christian movement in Australia.

Now, since this was the site of the first school house, it is surely fair to put a question to you. Here is the question:

If Newton gave Johnson the title ‘Patriarch of the Southern Hemisphere’, what title did the Eora people, the Aboriginal people who lived in the Sydney Basin, give Richard Johnson?

Well, class, I don’t see a forest of hands of those keen to answer the question. But I ask it to make a point. The basic question asked by the organisers of this event is:

‘Does our heritage matter?’ What they really mean is ‘does our Christian heritage matter?’

Well surely we must know what our Christian heritage is before we can decide if it matters. But I doubt if we have ever found what our Christian heritage is – we are in great danger of losing it before we ever find it. Nobody has ever told us.

Has anyone ever told us what title the Eora people gave Richard Johnson? I will tell you at the end of this address, but my point is that there are parts of our Christian heritage we just don’t know because no-one has ever told us.

Then there are other matters which we think we do know. We have been told them so often they have become stereotypes.

But maybe they are false stereotypes.…”

Do read the whole address. (PDF file.) Photos courtesy Ramon Williams, Worldwide Photos.

Related:

Richard Johnson’s Address To The Inhabitants Of The Colonies (PDF file).

See also:

John Anderson’s Conversations: Featuring Associate Professor Stuart Piggin (June 2018). Take the time to watch.

and

The Fountain of Public Prosperity – Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914, published by Monash University Publishing.

Conversations with John Anderson — Featuring Os Guinness

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has been publishing some fascinating Conversations on his website.

Recently, he spoke with Christian author and social critic Os Guinness. Watch the video of his 38-minute conversation here. (Direct link to the video here.)

And see the other conversations already published.

Thanksgiving

“On September 28th 1863 Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States of America, asking for an Annual Day of Thanksgiving. …

I had a deep sense of sadness when I read this, reflecting on our own nation that appears so confused and divisive. We live in a nation with a myriad number of commemoration days set aside and sometimes even a whole a week to remember certain things, but do we stop as a nation to offer thanksgiving? Someone has said ‘The worst moment for the atheist is when he/she is really thankful and has no-one to thank.’…”

–  At the Diocese of Armidale website, Bishop Rick Lewers reflects on what Australia needs as we enter a new year.

Ruddock Report response (part 3)

“In my former posts (here and here), O Friend of Law and Religion, I have dealt with all that the Ruddock Report covered in recommendations 1-12 and 15, along with the official Government Response to those recommendations.

In this post I aim to cover recommendations 13-14 and 16-20. These deal with important issues of the law of blasphemy and religious free speech, along with State discrimination laws, collection of data, education on religious freedom, the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the exercise of leadership in the area by the Commonwealth. …”

– Associate Professor in Law, Neil Foster, has just posted part three of his response to the Ruddock Report.

He concludes, in part, “… my general response is that the Report is a sensible document which takes religious freedom seriously, and hopefully the actions promised by the Government will be implemented with due speed”.

Ruddock Report summary and responses (Part 2)

“Following my previous post giving comments on Recommendations 1, 5-8 and 15 of the Ruddock Report and the Government Response, I will comment here on another set of recommendations (Recs 2-4, 9-12) and the likely outcome. Comments on recommendations 13-14, and 16-20, will (hopefully) be made in Part 3! …”

– More from Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia.

The Ruddock Report has landed! (Part 1)

“The long-awaited Religious Freedom Review: Report of the Expert Panel (chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock) has now been released publicly, along with the formal Government Response.

After the prior leaking of its 20 recommendations there were no major surprises as to the final conclusion, but there is much interesting background to the recommendations (and in one or two cases the full Report seems to have a significant impact on how one should read the language of the recommendations.) It is also important to see the announced intentions of the LNP Government as to how they will respond.

In this first post in response to the full Report I will comment mainly on recommendations 1 & 5-8 and recommendation 15, with the other recommendations to be left for part 2 or later. …”

– Neil Foster provides his first response, at Law and Religion Australia.

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ response to the release of the Ruddock Report

Anglican Diocese of Sydney Media Statement

13 December 2018

We are grateful the Ruddock report has finally been released and view it as the start of an urgent process to frame appropriate legislation for religious freedom. This should be a bipartisan issue since it involves the harmony of our entire community, not just the more than 60 percent of Australians who identify with religious faith.

Dr Glenn Davies
Archbishop of Sydney.

Source: SydneyAnglicans.net.

Debate to be resumed on Sex Discrimination Act amendments on Wednesday morning

“Despite the deferral on Monday of a Bill introduced in the Senate to amend balancing clauses applying to religious bodies in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), the Bill has now been rescheduled for debate in the Senate on Wednesday, December 5, between 11am and 12:35pm.

The Senate Notice Paper for December 5 contains the following entry, listed for 11 am …”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster has the latest. (Emphasis added)

Result of Senate debate on amendments to SDA

“A brief update on Parliamentary developments. The Senate debate on the ALP-sponsored Bill to amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 took place today. While initially the Bill had been subject to a tight time limit which meant it would have passed today if not actually voted down, at the last minute a Government motion amended this arrangement. The result is as follows:

Debate on this bill will continue at a later date.

It seems that the bill [reportedly identical is likely to be referred for consideration to a committee, and the debate will presumably be picked up in the New Year.

There was a similar Bill, however, introduced into the House of Representatives this morning by the Leader of the Opposition. At the moment it is not clear whether this Bill will be debated again this week. More updates will be provided when more is known.”

– Thanks to Assoc-Professor Neil Foster for this update.

Photo: Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Shorten, who has introduced a similar Bill into the House of Representatives.

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