Helping Christians to make a difference
Dealing with current Issues
Helping Christian families to make a difference
A concerning development in the UK legal system - with the Law Society telling lawyers HOW to draw up sharia-compliant WILLS that disenfranchise women. Some Members of the UK Parliament have called for a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.
The UK has already allowed Islamic courts, in the form of Arbitration Tribunals, to decide on matters relating to marriage and divorce from an Islamic/sharia perspective.
This is just the next step in the process of having Islamic law as an alternative legal system in the UK.
The Law Society has defended their decision to publish a 'Practice Note' by saying that anyone can write a Will however they choose - so long as it obeys the 'law'.
After hearing about the situation in the UK (full article on that BELOW) I investigated what is happening in Australia.
Surprise, surprise... well, perhaps not surprising really!
There are law firms in Australia ALREADY providing sharia compliant wills for Muslim clients!
Again, the statement that anyone can choose how they distribute their estate is being made. See section BELOW on Australia...
On the issue of marriage, if a man has already married more than one wife overseas, the Australian Family Court accepts 'polygamy' when deciding on Family Law matters. The Family Law Act also recognises additional 'wives' as de facto marriages. (See Family Law Act S6 and article.)
For further reading on Family Law in these situations, see AIFS site here.
The Telegraph's religion writer says,
"Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up “Sharia compliant” wills. Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.
"The documents, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.
"Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes."
"Many people have expressed grave concern about this development:
"Some lawyers, however, described the guidance as “astonishing”, while campaigners warned it represented a major step on the road to a “parallel legal system” for Britain’s Muslim communities.
"Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer leading a Parliamentary campaign to protect women from religiously sanctioned discrimination, including from unofficial Sharia courts in Britain, said it was a “deeply disturbing” development and pledged to raise it with ministers.
“This violates everything that we stand for,” she said. “It would make the Suffragettes turn in their graves.”
Read the FULL article online:
Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs, Telegraph, 22/3/2014.
Read the GUIDELINES from the Law Society:
Press Release - Law Society publishes practice Note on Sharia Wills and Inheritance Rules
The ACTUAL Guidelines - 'Practice Note' on wills and succession rules
- click here.
The Law Society has defended its Practice Note - saying that anyone has the right to distribute their assets as they choose - so long as it complies with English law and makes 'provision' for family (source).
When I looked at what is happening in Australia, I had two initial questions:
'Can Muslims in Australia draw up a 'sharia complaint WILL?' and 'Is a sharia compliant Will VALID under Australian law?'
In summary, yes Muslims can draw up a sharia compliant Will - some law firms are already doing this (see below). They are valid provided they are in accordance with Australian law. The law allows anyone to draw up a Will as they choose - it can be challenged in the courts if a party feels they are hard done by' - but there is NO requirement to have 'EQUAL' distribution of assets!
It is perhaps the notion that this is 'Islamic law' that causes the controversy!
The questions are certainly being debated in Australia. . .
In February 2014, the University of Queensland hosted the:"Master of Philosophy Confirmation Seminar: The feasibility of legal pluralism in Australia's secular framework - Would the introduction of Sharia inheritance laws be a viable exception?" View details of the event.
Canberra - Woman challenged 'Muslim will'
The issue received some prominence back in 2012, when a Canberra Muslim woman, Fatama Omari, successfully challenged her elderly mother's will. The mother's Will left FULL shares to her three sons and HALF shares to the five daughters, in accordance with 'Islamic law'.
In the end, the Will was overturned because... "One daughter, Fatama, successfully overturned the will by establishing that her mother was suffering dementia at the time she executed the document." Thus the Will was held to be invalid and the Court ruled the estate be distributed equally.
Read a report on the case at Radio National's Law Report - click here (20/3/2012).
Questions about Wills...
In considering the issue of 'sharia-complaint Wills', there are other questions to be considered about Wills in general...
As the Law Report stated, "Do wills need to be fair? Should people be able to leave their assets to whomever they like? Or should courts be able to intervene if a will discriminates unfairly between family members?"
Just yesterday, the guest lawyer on the ABC radio in Melbourne was asked about the execution of a will where the daughter was left 70% of the mother's estate and the son was left 30% - the question related to the sale of the house, not the unequal distribution. However, it was clear that a person can write a will as they choose. A Will can be challenged by someone in the courts if they don't like it!
Political responses to the Canberra case
In response to the case involving Fatama Omari, various politicians spoke out.
Nicola Roxon, then Labor's Attorney-General, said there was no place for Islamic law to settle family issues in Australia.
But Senator George Brandis, then Shadow Attorney -General and now the Attorney-General in the Coalition government, said, "Our laws start with the presumption that people are entitled to write their will as they choose, subject to certain formal requirements. The Coalition does not believe that sharia law should be accepted or recognised in Australia. It is logically possible for somebody to do something that is both consistent with Australian law and consistent with sharia principles. The question is: are they obedient to Australian law."
In essence, this refers to the principle referred to in the questions asked in the Law Report program - people can write a Will as they choose!
- Roxon baulks at role for sharia by Australian Muslims, The Australian, 17/3/2012.
- Brandis defends sharia for Muslim wills, The Australian, 31/3/2012.
Are legal firms offering sharia complaint wills?
I Googled 'sharia wills Australia' and came up with a surprising list of articles (click here).
In 2012, a Canberra-based 'intercultural organisation' [Muslim] called 'Bluestar' told the federal parliamentary Inquiry into Multiculturalism that there should be legal pluralism in Australia - allowing Muslims to write wills according to sharia law. (source)
In the Radio National program, Imran Khan, a Wollongong lawyer, said his firm had drafted about 1,000 traditional Muslim wills in the previous five years - click here.
The firm's website advertises Muslim Wills - click here.
They state, "We are able to offer an Islamic Will which incorporates the rules of Inheritance under Islam and which is recognised under Australian law."
This page also explains the Islamic sharia principles involved in Wills.
In 2010, the Melbourne law firm Logie-Smith Lanyon employed a Muslim imam, Sheikh Mohamadu Nawas, as a consultant on "commercial contracts and disputes between Muslims, plus separation agreements, divorces, wills and pre-nuptial agreements”.
The article mentioned that Muslim women's groups have often been opposed to such principles being applied as they disadvantage women. The Sheik insisted that his advice would be 'compatible with Australian law. He said, "In other countries, sharia courts deal with these issues, but here we don't have this, so we are trying to promote sharia-compliance in advance.'' The firm is also involved in Islamic finance (source).
There's even an Australian website called http://islamicwills.com.au/ which promotes Islamic Wills.
Are 'sharia compliant' or Islamic Wills VALID?
The Law Report program discussed whether such wills are VALID or could be challenged in the courts.
The basic principle is that any person can write their Will as they choose - they can be challenged in the courts.
Professor Prue Vines from the law faculty at UNSW said that, if the will had been written by a person with the legal ability to write the will, and the daughter was unhappy with the Will, she "would have the right to go to the court and make a family provision claim. Now, that right to go there doesn’t mean she automatically gets a right to get what she wants, but it would be extremely unusual for an Australian court to say that it was alright generally for daughters to get a half share and sons to get a full share." More details in the program.
Interesting article on 'Australian Estate Law':
Cultural and religious considerations when making a Will, 8/10/2012.
In June 2012, Jan Ali, a Muslim who is a Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Western Sydney, wrote about Wills and Islamic law... He highlighted the Omari case, but noted that people can write Wills in any way they choose and noted that they can be challenged. He explained the principles behind the Islamic rule - he also said that in pre-Islamic culture in the Arabian Peninsula women didn't receive an inheritance so the Islamic ruling increased their status!
Article: Religion and the law:Sharia-compliant wills in Australia, The Conversation, 28/6/2014.
Now FamilyVoice has provided a helpful SUMMARY of the Preference flows of some of the key political parties...
David Lowe, WA State Officer, also provides a helpful COMMENT as to WHEN it is SAFE to vote ABOVE the line!
"A party’s preference flow gives some idea of the party’s values. Here are a few brief summaries:
Australian Christians (scored 100 in our survey)→ Democratic Labour Party (DLP)→ Rise Up Australia Party (RUAP) → Family First → Liberals → Joe Bullock (pro-family ALP candidate) → … Nationals → … Shooters & Fishers → … Katter → … Palmer United Party (PUP) → rest of Labor → … HEMP (Marijuana) Party → Greens→ Voluntary Euthanasia Party → (last) Sex Party.
Democratic Labour Party (scored 100 in our survey) → RUAP → Australian Christians → Family First →…. → Liberals → Joe Bullock → …. →Voluntary Euthanasia Party → Sex Party → Greens → (last) Louise Pratt – anti-family ALP candidate.
Rise Up Australia Party (scored 100 in our survey) → DLP → Australian Christians → Family First → … Liberals → … Shooters & Fishers → … ALP → … HEMP → … Sex Party → Greens → (last) Louise Pratt.
Family First (scored 100 in our survey) → Palmer United Party → DLP → RUAP → Australian Christians → … Liberal Democrats → Liberals → Shooters & Fishers → Katter → ALP → Greens → Voluntary Euthanasia → Greens → Wikileaks → HEMP → Socialist Alliance → (last) Sex Party.
Liberals (scored 55 in our survey) → Nationals → Australian Christians → DLP → …. Family First → … PUP → … Vol Euthanasia →Sex Party → … ALP → … Greens → (last) Independents Lieshout, Mubarak.
Labor (scored 39 in our survey) → Secular Party →Animal Justice → Sex Party → … Vol Euthanasia → HEMP → Greens → Aust Democrats → … Socialist Alliance → … DLP → … PUP → … Australian Christians → Family First → … (second last) Liberals → (last) RUAP.
Palmer United Party (scored 10 in our survey) → Australian Sports Party → Family First → Aust Motoring Enthusiasts → …Shooters & Fishers → HEMP → Australian Democrats → Katter → Liberals → Australian Christians → RUAP → Greens/DLP/Labor (mixed) →Socialist Alliance → Sex Party → Liberal Democrats → (last) Voluntary Euthanasia.
Nationals (scored 55 in our survey) → Liberals → DLP → … Australian Christians → Family First → Liberal Democrats → … Katter → … PUP → … ALP → Greens → … RUAP → Sex Party → Socialist Alliance → HEMP → (last) Independents Lieshout, Mubarak.
Katter’s Australian Party (scored 100 in our survey) →Mutual Party → … DLP → … Australian Christians → … Family First → … Liberals/Labor (split ticket) → … Vol Euthanasia → Greens → Sex Party → (last) Smokers’ Rights.
"To vote in a box above the line, choose a party whose values and preferences you support. It is safe to vote “1” above the line for a minor party with pro-family values if it gives high preference to the major party you support. Your vote may end up electing your preferred major party, and you will also send that party a message that pro-family, pro-life values are important.
"BUT it is not safe to vote “1” in a box above the line for your favourite party if you do not agree with your party’s preference flow – your vote may end up helping to elect a party you oppose. In this case, vote below the line, numbering every square from 1 – 77. Your vote will be counted even if you make up to three mistakes and miss out up to seven squares. Number your first choice parties first, then your preferred major party, and put your least favourite parties last. Number the middle any way you like!"
"To help voters determine their preferences on Saturday, FamilyVoice is surveying all candidates who have supplied email addresses, on issues relating to family, faith and freedom. To see the survey scores for the 77 candidates in the order they will appear on your ballot paper, click here.
To see the replies from the parties who responded in some way, click http://www.fava.org.au/election-survey-commonwealth-of-australia-2014/" href="http://www.fava.org.au/election-survey-commonwealth-of-australia-2014/">here.
"You can print out the candidates’ page, number the candidates in order at home, then take it with you to the polling booth to help fill out the ballot paper." David Lowe, WA State Officer.
What should we make of the film?
Should we view it and how close is it to the Biblical account of Genesis Ch 5-9?
Many people will be pleased that Hollywood is making a 'movie' about the Bible. Others have been analysing the film to see how it compares with the Biblical story.
We provide links for several reviews below.
In essence, the film does talk about Noah. But MANY aspects of the story are NOT Biblical.
Tas Walker, who works for Creation Ministries and whose field is geology, notes that, although many aspects are not Biblical, the film will get people asking questions about the Bible, in particular, about Biblical geology - he says the film shows a BIG ark and also shows a WORLD-WIDE flood.
The review by Creation Ministries analyses the areas where the film is not Biblical...
Cameron has posted a 19 minute video review of the film on our Resistance Thinking website.
Bill Muehlenberg's review reveals some insightful information:
"... when we knew ahead of time that the director is an atheist; that God is never once mentioned in the film; and that a main theme of this film is loopy environmentalism, then you know this thing is going to be a loser."
Bill continues, "And it gets even worse. Director Darren Aronofsky said he is proud of the fact that he’s taken a story inspired by God’s word and turned it into something so secular. He even called his movie “the least biblical biblical film ever made”. Yet clueless Christians are still defending the film to the hilt. You know we are in big trouble when atheists have more biblical discernment than those claiming to be Christians.... There has been one Christian after another defending the film, telling us we must use it to dialogue with others and to reach people. I have been utterly shocked and saddened to see that biblical discernment is at such an all time low amongst the church today, and amongst so many of our so-called Christian leaders."
Bill also commends a review by Barbara Nicolosi, a Christian and a Hollywood insider.
Movieguide, who critique films according to their Christian worldview, notes that the film has a lot of extra-Biblical material and advise caution - but they say it ends up with portraying a Christian worldview at the end...
So caution and discernment are advised!
If you do see the film. remember that it doesn't tell the Biblical story!
Check out these reviews to help you discern the truth about what is portrayed!
Or, as the graphic says, 'Read the book (the Bible), Skip the movie'!
Creation Ministries review
Noah movie making waves - How does it stack up to the biblical account?
Tas Walker’s review
Aronofsky’s Noah will stimulate biblical geology
RT TV - Noah Movie Review
"A VIDEO review – 19 minutes. “RT reviews the Darren Aronofsky directed movie about the flood. Cameron discusses the liberties taken, and why they matter."
Bill Muehlenberg's review
Noah and Christian Discrernment
Barbara Nicolosi's review
Noah – The Emperor’s New Movie
Answers in Genesis review
Noah Movie Review: An Unbiblical Film
We had a great chat on Vision Radio today – discussing Salt Shakers, Christianity and politics, religious education, same-sex ‘marriage’ and the theme of ‘Legislating Morality’.
If you’d like to listen to – or DOWNLOAD – the podcast of the program, it is posted on the Vision Radio 20 Twenty page – click here. Scroll down to the recorded programs.
To download, click on the icon on the right of the program line.
Christians are often accused of trying to legislate their morality. This complaint is often used in an attempt to shut us down and stop debate…
But is it a valid complaint?
In effect, all law is legislated morality. We have laws against stealing and murder because everyone knows they are ‘wrong’. And we have punishments for people who infringe these laws.
The question we should actually ask is, “WHOSE morality is being legislated?’
Labor’s preferences in the WA Senate election – whose morality?
As an example, Bernard Gaynor has analysed the ‘allocated preferences’ for Labor’s ‘Group Voting Ticket’ in the WA Senate election – the top ten include the Secular Party, Animal Justice, Sex Party, Euthanasia Party… the eleventh preference goes to the Socialist Alliance, the group behind many of the protests on our streets.
'Whose morality?' is indeed the question!
Click here for Bernard’s article – click here for GREAT graphic – click here for the official Labor Group Voting Ticket (see Group F).
When it comes to the issue of marriage, all societies have had a position of marriage between a man and a woman – it is not just a ‘Christian’ position.
We discussed the topic of 'Legislating Morality' on our radio interview on Vision Radio today…
Here are some articles on the subject of ‘legislating morality’ from a Christian perspective. . .
* Should Christians try to legislate their morality?
Video discussion (9 minutes) and short overview, Kevin DeYoung, Trevin Wax and Collin Hansen, Gospel Coalition, 10/6/2013.
“As Trevin Wax observes in this video discussion with Kevin DeYoung and Collin Hansen, legislation is always, inescapably moral. The real question, therefore, is not whether we should legislate morality but rather whose morality we should legislate… Further, DeYoung points out, the purpose of the law is not only to protect rights, but to teach. . .”
- You Can’t Not Legislate Morality, Tom Gilson, Thinking Christian, 30/6/2013.
- The Truth about Legislating Morality, Trevor Thomas, American Thinker, March 10, 2013.
- You Can (Not) Legislate Morality?, Michael Brown, Townhall, 19/6/2012.
- Legislating Morality: Why Everyone is Doing it - By Frank Turek, Article adapted from the following book, Midwest Outreach.
- Book: Legislating Morality: Is It Wise? Is It Legal? Is It Possible?, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, 2003.
Citizen Link, part of Focus on the Family, writes, "In a letter to its constituents, the organization said the board has chosen to “revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.”
We congratulate the Board of World Vision USA for responding to the concerns expressed by evangelical Christians about their recent decision regarding the employment of Christians who are in a same-sex 'marriage'.
In the past few days, a number of evangelical Christian leaders had published a draft letter to World Vision, which criticised their decision to employ Christians who were in same-sex 'marriages'. They had asked church and Christian leaders to sign the letter to World Vision. Others had written about withdrawing support from World Vision programs.
It seems that World Vision has responded to the furore by reversing their decision. Other Christian leaders, such as Peter Jones and Franklin Graham, had also spoken out on the issue (see below).
We provide various documents for your information, PLUS a COMMENT on World Vision, the law and theology and the Australian connection...
Some relevant documents:The letter from the World Vision USA Board - click here.
The announcement of the retraction:
World Vision Retracts Policy Change Regarding Same-Sex Marriage, Citizen Link, 26/3/2014.
World Vision Reverses Decision on Gay Married Employees: We Made a Mistake, Christian Post, 26/3/2014.
Original article at Christianity Today - includes interview with Richard Stearns:
World Vision: Why We're Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages, Christianity Today, 24/3/2014.
Article by Peter Jones: WORLDly reVISIONing
Article by Franklin Graham: Franklin Graham Statement on World Vision, BGEA, 24/3/2014.
Draft Letter to World Vision from Christian leaders - click here.
Some comments about World Vision USA (and Australia) - and laws and theology
World Vision in the USA only employs Christians (source) and had a policy of requiring employees to follow a code of abstinence for singles and faithfulness within heterosexual marriage. Thus World Vision USA required particular conduct as defined by the Bible.
World Vision tried to escape the controversy by claiming they were not a church and didn't have to make a theological decision. When Richard Stearns was interviewed by Christianity Today he said it was because World Vision now has staff from more than 50 denominations — a handful of which have sanctioned same-sex marriages or unions in recent years - that they faced the question, "What do we do about someone who applies for a job at World Vision who is in a legal same-sex marriage that may have been sanctioned and performed by their church? Do we deny them employment? Under our old conduct policy, that would have been a violation. The new policy will not exclude someone from employment if they are in a legal same-sex marriage."
As well as the theological issue, there is the legal predicament. Washington State, where World Vision USA headquarters is located, has legalised same-sex 'marriage' - as have 17 states in the USA.
That raises the question, "Are the practices of Christian organisations influenced by the LAWS being passed?" We've seen many Christians in the UK brought to court because of that country's Equality Law.
We're not immune from those pressures in Australia. In Victoria, the previous Labor government REMOVED exemptions for religious schools and organisations relating to employment - including the attribute of sexual orientation - thankfully, they were RESTORED by the current Liberal government. In the end, we have to be prepared to stand against laws that oppose Biblical teaching.
Mr Stearns said the policy decision was not made on legal grounds - "We're not doing this for any legal reasons," he said. "If we wanted to, we would fight another battle on this all the way to the Supreme Court."
[Note - they had previously fought a legal case on faith-based hiring practices.]
Some of you have asked about World Vision Australia and their position on this issue.
Our response is that we don't know what it is. They operate separately to the other branches of World Vision.
Some of you have said you have now written to them to ask.
But it didn't take homosexual activist Rodney Croome long to call on the Australian branch of World Vision to adopt 'non-discriminatory employment practices' and recognise same-sex 'marriages'! (source)