Contacting Parliament on sex discrimination amendments

“A number of Christian and other religious organisations are deeply concerned about the proposals in the ALP-sponsored private Bill due to be debated in the Senate on Monday Dec 3. As I have discussed in previous comments (here and here) the Bill, which started out as an agreed measure to stop religious schools from expelling gay students on the basis of their “orientation” alone, has a number of other serious consequences for religious freedom, not only for schools but for churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious organisations (such as, for example, University student ministries.)

The Bill amends the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to remove some clauses which have previously provided protection for Christian organisations to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. …

I have been asked how concerned citizens can contact their Parliamentary representatives. …”

Associate Professor Neil Foster shares some points you might make to your Parliamentary representatives. (Emphasis added.)

Why Australian Religious Freedom is under legal threat

“Religious Freedom in Australia is under immediate legal threat.

A new bill introduced into the Senate last week (due to be debated this Monday, December 3rd) will, if passed unamended, severely erode Religious Freedom in our land. Especially for religious schools. …”

At the Gospel Coalition AustraliaAkos Balogh urges Christians to pray and act, and explains why.

Government amendments to religious schools bill

“For those following the debates about proposed amendments to discrimination laws removing religious freedom from faith-based schools, the LNP Government has now tabled a number of amendments to the ALP Bill released earlier this week.

While these amendments are a move in the right direction, there are still some serious concerns about their effect on religious schools and their ability to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. …”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster continues his coverage of the debates about religious freedom in Australia, at Law and Religion Australia.

ALP Bill on religious schools and students

“Senator Wong, leader of the Opposition in the Senate, has introduced a Private Senator’s Bill aimed at removing the power of religious schools to discriminate against same sex attracted students.

Unfortunately, the amendments do much more than stop schools expelling students on the basis of their internal sexual orientation (a goal all sides of politics agree on.) They will have a serious impact on the ability of such schools, and other religious bodies, to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. A more nuanced approach is needed. …

Despite the assurances offered in the Explanatory Memorandum, I think there is a real danger that the amendments made by this Bill will seriously impair the religious freedom of faith-based schools, and more legislative clarification is required to avoid this outcome. As noted below, it will also have an impact on other institutions.”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster tracks the latest twists and turns in the religious freedom issue – at Law and Religion Australia.

Senate Inquiry into ‘Legislative Exemptions’ reports

“The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee (“LCAR Committee”) has now handed down its report into Legislative exemptions that allow faith-based educational institutions to discriminate against students, teachers and staff.

The inquiry has been incredibly short – the motion referring the topic was only passed on 13 November.

As expected (due to the preponderance of ALP and Greens committee members) the report recommends complete removal of religious freedom protections for faith-based schools relating to how those schools deal with same-sex attracted students. There is a strong dissenting report from Coalition Senators.

In my view the majority report would seriously impair the right of faith-based schools to operate in accordance with their religious ethos, and should be rejected by those considering changes to the law. …

… without reading the contents of the Ruddock Report, the Committee recommends two of its recommendations be rejected out of hand. …

I can’t help but also register my dissent from the Committee’s apparent preference for the ‘Tasmanian’ model of discrimination law …

I recommend a careful reading of the minority report, which is (in terms of page length) of comparable size to the majority, and in my respectful opinion, provides a much more persuasive analysis than the majority.”

– Neil Foster, Associate Professor in Law, takes a look at the Senate Report on ‘Legislative exemptions’.

He notes that, while the recommendations of the Ruddock Report on religious freedom were leaked prior to a recent by-election, the Ruddock Report itself has not yet been released.

Read his full comments at Law and Religion Australia.

Delaying religious freedom legislation comes with a major cost

Here’s a media release from the Australian Christian Lobby –

The Australian Christian Lobby today warned that the radical amendments which passed Tasmania’s lower house last night will mean freedom of speech is now all but dead.

ACL’s state director Mark Brown said, “The changes pushed by Labor and the Greens mean that gender will become opt-in for all Tasmanian’s – a move which 95% of 44,000 respondents to a news poll did not agree with.”

“There has been no community consultation and these amendments have been rammed through without any consideration of the unintended consequences they may have,” commented Mr Brown.

One of the amendments pushed by Labor and the Greens changes the definition of gender identity in the Anti-Discrimination Act to include gender expression which means, “…any personal physical expression, appearance (whether by way of medical intervention or not), speech, mannerisms, behavioural patterns, names and personal references that manifest or express gender or gender identity.”  

Managing director of the ACL Martyn Iles said, “Prohibiting speech that ‘offends’ or ‘insults’ based on gender expression opens a Pandora’s box. Gender expression includes any behaviour whatsoever if justified by reference to one of the infinite genders people have invented. It is unenforceable madness enshrined in law, which will be abused constantly.”

“Failing to use someone’s preferred pronouns will also be hate speech if these laws pass the upper house.”

“There was an opportunity for Parliament to repeal the section 17 hate speech law last year, but they baulked at the idea because the politics seemed too difficult at the time. Now we see it being weaponised even further.”

“We are now in a position where laws preventing and removing democratic freedoms are being pushed through parliaments across the country while legislation to protect religious freedom has stagnated.”

“This shows the increasing and compounding cost associated with the government delaying action on religious freedom in Australia,” said Mr Iles.

Source. Emphasis added.

“White” on the new black-list

“A popular wedding magazine called ‘White’ has announced today that it is closing down. The reason? The Christian publishers had been asked to carry articles featuring same sex weddings, and had politely declined to do so.

The backlash on social media led to a number of advertisers withdrawing their custom, and some customers refusing to buy the magazine any more. In this post I want to comment on the legal issues around this incident, and another episode highlighted in the press today.

A report in The Australian today notes the close of White magazine, and also the other episode involving someone in the ‘wedding industry’:

Christian wedding photographer Jason Tey was taken to the West Australian Equal Opportunity Commission after he agreed to photograph the children of a same-sex couple but disclosed a conflict of belief, in case they felt more comfortable hiring someone else. …”

– Associate Professor Neil Foster comments on a story in today’s The Weekend Australian.

Religious freedom lost as White magazine shuts

“Christians are being run out of business, hounded by boycotts and bullied by activists, for adhering to their faith a year after the celebrated same-sex-marriage vote.

In a sign Australia faces a ‘crisis of freedom’, The Weekend Australian can reveal a successful international wedding magazine that chose not to feature gay couples will today announce its decision to shut down after becoming the target of an intimidation campaign.

The founders of White magazine, Christians Luke and Carla Burrell, said they were the targets of an activist campaign that deterred their advertisers, frightened their staff and included threats of physical harm because of their stand on same-sex weddings. …”

– Read the full story in The Weekend Australian (subscription).

See also:

Farewell – Official Statement from White magazine.

“Recently we’ve experienced a flood of judgement. We know much of that comes hand-in-hand with running a public magazine. But we are also just two humans fumbling our way through these big questions and like anyone else, and we don’t have all the answers.

Instead of allowing us the space to work through our thoughts and feelings, or being willing to engage in brave conversations to really hear each other’s stories, some have just blindly demanded that we pick a side. We’re not about sides, we’re about love, patience and kindness. A campaign was launched targeting the magazine, our team and our advertisers. Couples who have featured in our magazine have also been the subject of online abuse despite their individual beliefs. We’re really saddened by this. …”

(Note also some of the comments below that article.)

Urgent action needed on religious freedom – The Australian Christian Lobby media release:

“Revelations today that Australians are being persecuted for their beliefs shine a light on the need for urgent religious freedom protections, the Australian Christian Lobby says.

The call comes after The Weekend Australian has revealed that photographer Jason Tey, is before a State Administrative Tribunal not for declining service, but for simply stating his Christian beliefs. …”

Photo: White magazine.

Walking on Broken Glass

“This month, Chile became the newest province in the Anglican Communion, with national and international guests gathering in the capital, Santiago, for the celebrations presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Among the attendees was the General Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who presented a gift which he claimed symbolized the Anglican Communion. The gift was a glass cruet for communion wine, and it was etched with the Compass Rose, a design set in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral at the time of the 1988 Lambeth Conference.

Dr Idowu Fearon explained:

“It is our practice to remind all newly enthroned Primates that this communion of churches is very precious, and as Primates they are responsible for keeping this precious family together. They have no right to break it, and that is why we give them something that is breakable. So that they make sure they don’t drop it.”

To those unfamiliar with the history of the Anglican Communion it must have been just a nice illustration, but to those who are familiar with that history it was quite a statement remarkable for the depth of self-deception it revealed. …”

Read the complete article by Charles Raven, at the GAFCON website.

Thanks, but no thanks: New Zealand Church leaders reject Sydney proposal

“A proposal by the Archbishop of Sydney for an overlapping Anglican diocese or province to cater for Anglicans in New Zealand opposed to the blessing of same-sex marriage has been rejected by the leaders of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ANZP).

In May, the ANZP General Synod passed a ‘compromise’ resolution on the blessing of same-sex civil marriages in a move that was designed to allow both theological conservatives and those campaigning for change to stay in the same church. But a number of Anglicans have responded to the vote by saying that they were seeking to leave the Church as a result of the decision. …”

– Report from The Anglican Communion News Service.

In their reply to Archbishop Glenn Davies (PDF file – via Anglican Taonga), Archbishop Donald Tamihere and Archbishop Philip Richardson, speak of the cultural and colonial background of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia:

“One of the key messages we hoped you would take to your home from our meeting at Hemi Tapu is the unique consequences of our history as Anglicans in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We are a Church made up of colonised and coloniser.

We have a difficult history. It is a shared history. We know the language, the face and the consequences of colonisation. For Ma?ori, disenfranchisement, alienation from whenua [Land], racism and poverty are consequences of this shared history. …

To be Anglican in this land requires that we, led by our Lord Jesus Christ, face into this shared history so that we can help shape a common future for all people based on peace and justice and righteousness. …

If those disaffiliating want to be committed to that fundamental consequence of being Anglican in Aotearoa New Zealand, then they must stay in these constitutional and Treaty-based relationships.

We cannot recognise a Church as Anglican which does not encapsulate this 200 years of relationship and history. ”

TEC Bishop directs his clergy not to use General Convention trial Marriage Rites

Bishop William H. Love, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany in eastern New York state, has directed his clergy not to use the trial same-sex marriage rites authorised by the recent TEC General Convention.

In doing so, he writes not only to Christian believers in his own diocese, and to the worldwide church –

“To the People of God in the Diocese of Albany and throughout the World,

I speak to you today both as your Brother in Christ, and as the Bishop, Chief Pastor and Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Albany. As Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Jesus commands us to love God first and foremost with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and secondly, to love one another (Mark 12: 28-31), remembering as Paul points out in (I Corinthians 12:13), we are all part of the One Body of Christ.

What impacts any one part or member of the Body, ultimately impacts the entire body, either directly or indirectly. That is true not only for individuals, but also for congregations, dioceses, provinces, the world wide Anglican Communion and the wider catholic or universal Church. Resolution B012 recently passed at the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is one of those things that will impact all of us either directly or indirectly. …”

He goes on to explain why he is compelled to act as he does –

“On three separate occasions (my ordinations as deacon, priest, and bishop) I have solemnly declared ‘that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to Contain all things necessary to salvation’ (BCP 513). Upon my consecration as Bishop, I was given a Bible and was issued the following charge by the Presiding Bishop: Receive the Holy Scriptures. Feed the flock of Christ committed to your charge, guard and defend them in His truth, and be a faithful steward of his holy Word and Sacraments’ (BCP 521). I take this charge very seriously.

I share all of this with you in an effort to help you understand the charge and responsibilities that Christ has given to me as I attempt to carry out the ministry entrusted to me as the Bishop of Albany and deal with the various issues such as B012 confronting the Church, particularly as they pertain to this Diocese. By God’s grace and the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I have tried throughout my 12 years as Bishop of Albany, to be faithful and obedient to the Great Commandment, to God’s Holy Word, and to my ordination vows and the responsibilities entrusted to me as outlined above.

With the passage of B012, the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in effect is attempting to order me as a Bishop in God’s holy Church, to compromise ‘the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3 ESV), and to turn my back on the vows I have made to God and His People, in order to accommodate The Episcopal Church’s ‘new’ understanding of Christian marriage as no longer being ‘a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God’ as proclaimed in the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP 422), but now allowing for the marriage of same-sex couples. …”

– Do read Bishop Love’s full Pastoral Letter and Pastoral Directive (PDF file).

See also:

+Love’s Last StandThe Anglican Curmudgeon.

Albany Episcopal Bishop outlaws same-sex marriage in his churches – The Albany Times Union:

“Love’s eight-page statement that accompanied his new pastoral directive comes three weeks before a resolution goes into effect that will allow same-sex marriages to be performed in Episcopal churches nationwide. …

Some local Episcopalians strongly disagreed with the Bishop’s letter.

While the letter was being read at St. Andrew’s in Albany Sunday, some parishioners gathered on the church steps to ceremonially burn the letter …”

Photo: Diocese of Albany.

Ominous update:

Presiding Bishop’s statement on Bishop William Love’s November 10 Pastoral Letter and DirectiveEpiscopal Church.

“Along with other leaders in The Episcopal Church, I am assessing the implications of the statement and will make determinations about appropriate actions soon. …

In all matters, those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the Church.

I ask the prayers of all in the Church at this time, as we move forward.” (Emphasis added)

GAFCON Fuel for Prayer — 8th November 2018 update

Here are the latest praise and prayer points from GAFCON.

← Previous PageNext Page →