Victorian proposals to further limit religious freedom rights

“The Victorian government has recently announced proposals to further limit important protections for religious freedom currently applicable to religious persons, bodies and schools in that State.

The recent proposals have been put forward as dealing with the problem of religious schools sacking gay teachers, or expelling gay students: see this comment from The Age: “Religious schools in Victoria to lose the right to sack LGBTQ staff” (Sept 16, 2021).

However, the details of the proposals hinted at in the recent “Fact Sheet” provided by the government go much further than this. …”

Read the details from Associate Professor Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia.

Victorian Government to Discriminate against Faith-Based Schools

“The past 18 months have proven difficult for all Victorians. During this time 100,000s of Victorians rely on and are grateful for the support, care, and education provided by religious organisations: from schools to counselling services, and more. Churches have continued to minster to people and offer hope where disease and lockdowns have darkened the lives of so many. During this same period, the Victorian Government has moved again and again to reduce the freedoms of religious organisations for the simple reasons: for holding beliefs and practices that align with the historical convictions of their religion. …

By the end of the year, hundreds of schools and organisations will need to decide who they’ll follow.”

– Murray Campbell in Melbourne writes of yet another threat coming from the Government of the State of Victoria.

Queensland legalises voluntary assisted dying

“Queensland will become the fifth state to legalise voluntary assisted dying (VAD) after state Parliament passed a historic bill today.

After more than two days of emotionally charged debate, the bill passed with 61 MPs supporting the legislation and 30 voting against it. …

Meanwhile, the new legislation has been described as “deeply disappointing” by the Chair of Catholic Health Australia, John Watkins.

He said the organisation had made it clear they did not want to allow voluntary assisted dying in faith-based hospitals or aged care facilities in Queensland.”

– Report from ABC News.

Call for all Queensland euthanasia amendments to be heard

“The nation’s most extreme euthanasia legislation has been tabled in Queensland Parliament and the government has declared they will end the debate at 5:45pm on Thursday 16 September – whether or not all amendments have been tabled and discussion has been allowed.

This is essentially a gagging rule. 54 amendments have been tabled. Every one of them should be allowed to be presented and considered. …“

– The Australian Christian Lobby, and a number of Queensland politicians are calling for all proposed amendments to the euthanasia legislation to be debated.

Why We Can’t Sign the Ezekiel Declaration — an Evangelical Response

“Over the past week a letter has been promoted and circulated around many churches and religious organisations. The Ezekiel Declaration (“the Declaration”) is addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and outlines concerns over a potential “vaccine passport” that would be required for church attendance.

The letter has now received 2000+ signatures of religious leaders from across Australia, and for that reason alone it is gaining much attention receiving quite a splash. For every signatory there are certainly many more Christian leaders who have not signed their names. Still, 2000+ names and the organisations that they represent is a significant number. …”

– David Ould and Murray Campbell have jointly published their thoughts on “the Ezekiel Declaration”.

See what you think of their reasoning, and continue to pray for all those in authority.

Update (02 September 2021) –

A response to The Ezekiel Declaration – Gospel, Society and Culture Committee of the Presbyterian Church in Australia in NSW and the ACT.

Anglican bishop: ‘No-religion’ census campaign is quite ‘frankly bizarre’

“Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Dr Michael Stead says he finds it ‘bizarre’ that there needs to be a concerted campaign by the Rationalist Society, atheists and the like to try and dissuade people from saying they are religious in the census. …”

– Story and video from Sky News Australia.

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney on ‘Alex Greenwich’s Kill Bill’

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher has released a statement about the assisted suicide legislation being introduced into NSW Parliament by independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich:

“There’s never a good time to introduce laws that sanction the killing of vulnerable human beings such as the terminally ill, elderly, frail and suffering. But to introduce such a bill in the middle of a pandemic and amidst lockdowns adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions seems especially insensitive.

The people of NSW are currently accepting significant restrictions on their personal autonomy in order to protect those most at risk – particularly the elderly. In response to the latest wave of COVID-19, we’ve had a month of lockdown already and more is likely. Many of us have been unable to visit our elderly parents at home, in hospital or in aged care. Our sick and elderly have already suffered 17 months of increasing isolation and right now that is being intensified. Meanwhile, people are losing their jobs, businesses are going under, families are under the pressures of schooling and working from home, people’s movements are severely restricted, and depression rates are up. The last thing we need to hear from our leaders in this situation is a pro-suicide message or any suggestion that the elderly and dying no longer deserve the resources or protections given to the rest of us.

The NSW Government is rightly focused on getting us safely vaccinated and out of lockdown as soon as possible, and leading the process of social and economic recovery.

The NSW Health System is rightly focused on keeping the elderly and sick safe, and ensuring the system can cope with the increasing pressures upon it. Our health professionals do not want a bruising controversy that will further disrupt their already very pressured work environment.

In the face of our present emergency precious parliamentary time and health resources should not be diverted to other causes, and especially not to a bill that would enable a small group of highly autonomous people to make their doctors complicit in their suicide. The state-sanctioned killing of the sick, elderly and frail of New South Wales is the last thing we need right now! I call on the Government to keep us focused on the present challenges and once they have been met, let us focus on medicine at its best and not its most lethal.

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Archbishop of Sydney.”

Source (PDF).

Related:

NSW assisted suicide bid must fail – Australian Christian Lobby, 15 December 2020.

Assisted suicide opposed – SydneyAnglicans.net, 08 September 2017.

Palliative Care It’s More Than You Think – Palliative Care Australia.

The religious freedom crisis – with Freedom for Faith’s Patrick Parkinson

“Religious Freedom is being increasingly marginalised in Australia and across the western world.

There’s freedom for worship, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of conscience.

Australia’s Morrison government was moving to protect religious freedoms.  But all this was put on hold by last year’s pandemic.

Freedom for Faith’s Chair Professor Patrick Parkinson talks with Dominic Steele about his hopes for bipartisan legislation.

Plus there’s a call for all Christians to be involved in this weekend’s Religious Freedom Weekend.”

– Watch or listen at The Pastor’s Heart.

Presbyterian Church of Queensland goes into receivership

“The Presbyterian Church of Queensland has gone into receivership, raising questions about the long-term fate of its aged-care facilities, schools and other operations.

PwC Australia intends to continue all operations while it carries out a sweeping review of the church’s activities and financial position.…”

– Unwelcome news via The West Australian – and a matter for much prayer.

See also this PCQ Media Statement which gives some of the background, and a Letter to Congregation Members from the Clerk of Assembly.

‘We’ve failed the Great Commission and lost the Gospel’

On this week’s episode of The Pastor’s Heart,

“A prophetic word from the most senior evangelical leader in Australia’s Uniting Church, Stu Cameron.

Stu has published two short essays over the last week, the first diagnoses the problems in his denomination, saying: We’ve failed the great commission; Stifled entrepreneurial leadership; and most significantly, Have lost confidence in the gospel.

The second essay suggests a five fold solution: 1. Confess, Repent, Pray; 2. Obsess about Disciple-Making; 3. Release Property Joyfully; 4. Learn Humbly; and 5. Blow it all Up.

Stu Cameron is the new senior pastor of the influential Wesley Central Mission in Sydney…”

Watch or listen at here.

What Can we Learn Today from the Preaching of John Stott?

“John Stott visited Australia in January 1965, and this visit, one of many, had a profound effect on Australian preaching.

Stott gave Bible studies on 2 Corinthians at the Anglican Church Missionary Society Summer Schools in several states in Australia. Much Australian preaching at that time was on ‘a text’, that is, on an individual verse from the Bible, often without much regard to its context.

In his Bible studies John Stott was demonstrating the obvious value of preaching from passages of Scripture, and from consecutive passages of Scripture. His example had a profound impact on Australian preaching, initially transforming preaching in Anglican churches, but soon also in other churches as well. …

Under God, he was part of a revival of systematic expository preaching in the UK in the 20th Century, which was achieved through Willie Still in Aberdeen, and Martin Lloyd-Jones, John Stott and Dick Lucas in London, and has spread around the world.”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, Peter Adam’s article is an encouragement for preachers and their hearers.

Image: An interview with Peter Adam at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.

NSW Parliamentary report supports religious discrimination law

“The recently released NSW Parliamentary Report of the Joint Select Committee on the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020 (handed down on 31 March 2021) has recommended that the NSW government introduce amendments to make it unlawful in NSW to discriminate on irrelevant grounds relating to religious belief or activity.

The proposals supported by the Committee are a good idea and I think their recommendations (with a couple of minor reservations noted below) should be implemented. …”

— Assoc. Professor Neil Foster has the latest on NSW proposals.

John Anderson announces he is available for preselection to the Senate

In a video statement on his website, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, John Anderson AO, explains why he is offering himself for preselection for The Nationals Senate ticket in NSW.

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