Helping Christians to make a difference
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Helping Christian families to make a difference
5 Nov 2014
The Victorian state election will be held on 29 November 2014.
During the next three weeks we will send a number of E-News emails focusing on the Victorian election. It is vital that we carefully consider our vote – and our preferences.
These emails will cover
- Information about the election process (in this email)
- KEY ISSUES for Christians – abortion law, religious ‘employment test’, Safe Schools Coalition, etc
- Christian Values Checklist
- Finding out about Party polices and candidate positions
- Other election surveys – eg the Survey published by FamilyVoice
- Preferential voting – how your preferences work / making your vote count /Group Voting Tickets
At this election, it is vital that we carefully consider HOW we vote. Voting for a smaller party FIRST will let the BIG PARTIES know that you are UNHAPPY with their performance on moral issues...
The Liberal government removed the ‘inherent requirement’ employment test for religious organisations from the Equal Opportunity Act that had been introduced by Labor – but Labor has PROMISED to RE-INTRODUCE that section!
Meanwhile, the Liberal/Coalition government has refused to change ANY part of the Abortion Law Reform Act, including the ‘doctors’ conscience clause (Section 8).
The three small Christian Parties – Australian Christians, Democratic Labour Party and Rise Up Australia Party – have signed a “public assurance of cooperation”, in which they undertook to work together to direct their respective voting preferences according to shared values rather than personal strategic advantage. If people vote for these parties FIRST, or a party like Family First, etc, before allocating preferences to the major parties, some of them could actually get seats in the Legislative Council. See more on that in this News Weekly article – and in our forthcoming email on ‘Preferences’.
The Christian Values Checklist will be published next week – allowing two weekends for it to be distributed at churches or shared with friends.
The Checklist compares the positions of a number of political parties on a range of moral issues.
The election process
Victoria has two Houses of Parliament – the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.
Each voter has one Member in the Legislative Assembly.
Voters have five Members in the Legislative Council (Victoria is divided into eight regions, each with five Members).
It has information on enrolment, voting centre locations, candidate applications, Postal voting, early voting centres (available from 17 - 28 November).,
They mention that an ‘Easy Vote Guide’ will be published: “From Monday 17 November onwards, an EasyVote Guide, with your voting details, local voting centre locations and information on voting options and how to vote, will be sent to everyone on the State electoral roll as at the close of roll.”
The CLOSING DATE for enrolling to vote – or altering your enrolment details is TUESDAY 11 November – click here for details.
In the lead-up to the election, the details of all candidates will be posted on the VEC website. You can use that information, once published, to contact YOUR candidates about their views on issues! More on that in the coming weeks…
The VEC states, “For the 2014 State election, nominations open on Wednesday, 5 November 2014, and close 12 noon on Friday, 14 November 2014.”
So the candidates’ details, along with the ballot paper order, will only be published online AFTER that time.
Voting in the Legislative Assembly
You will receive a ballot paper at the polling booth with the names of all candidates in your electorate – you must allocate a number to all candidates, in the order of your preference.
Voting in the Legislative Council
CORRECTED - 6/11/2014
You will receive a ballot paper at the polling booth with the names of all candidates in your electorate – you can either vote ABOVE the line OR BELOW the line.
BELOW THE LINE - If you vote BELOW the line, and choose your own preferences, you must allocate a number to AT LEAST FIVE candidates, in the order of your preference. If none of those candidates are elected, your vote will 'expire'... This is OPTIONAL PREFERENTIAL voting.
You CAN number ALL candidates if you wish.
ABOVE the LINE - Alternatively, you can place a ‘1’ ABOVE the line for the PARTY of your choice, and the preferences will be distributed according to the ‘Group Voting Ticket’ lodged with the VEC by that party. More on that in another email…
The five candidates who end up the highest number of votes, after preferences are distributed, will be elected for each region.
More on preferences and ‘Group Voting Tickets’ prior to the election.
3 Nov 2014
During 2014, a number of parents with sick children have actively campaigned for cannabis to be legal for medical use – including the use of ‘cannabis oil’ for children with seizures.
In NSW, people with terminal illness have lobbied for cannabis to be decriminalised for ‘medical use’.
In response to this lobbying and media campaign, various political leaders have made statements – and decisions – regarding a ‘trial’ of so-called ‘medical’ or ‘medicinal’ marijuana’.
With the Victorian election imminent, this is one of the issues we need to be aware of!
Of course, there are widely varying views on what such a trial might include – with some advocating for a trial of fully-tested cannabis ‘medicines’, whilst others want the actual cannabis plant to be legalised!
The Australian Medical Association has been very clear that they do NOT support any trial or legalisation of the ‘raw plant’ or cannabis based products or oils.
We agree that any trial should only be about medical products – NOT the cannabis plant itself. In a similar way, heroin is illegal because of its narcotic and addictive properties – but the opium poppy is also used to produce the medical drug morphine.
This is another example of 'hard cases make bad laws' - where compassion is used as an argument to change laws.
This BRIEFING provides an overview of the ‘campaign’ – and the political responses made during 2014…
The media ‘campaign’ for the acceptance of cannabis for ‘medical purposes’
Throughout 2014, families with disabled children who have been using ‘medical marijuana’ (cannabis oil) have been campaigning for legalisation of medical marijuana. And the man who was producing the ‘cannabis oil’, Tony Bower, was sent to prison in NSW…
The first case reported was that of nine-year old Tara O’Connell (reports Jan 2014 – June 2014). In July 2014 a Victorian family was investigated for giving their disabled three year old son a ‘cannabis oil’ product’. The police found out about the mother, Cassie Batten, after she appeared on Channel Seven's Sunday Night program advocating for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes and saying they had been using “Mullaways Cannabinoid Tincture.” Other media interviews followed as the couple campaigned for the legalisation of ‘medical marijuana’.
There was so much controversy that Victoria Police even issued a statement on Facebook (21 July) about the treatment of the couple!
The Age reported, “The supplier of the cannabis oil, Kempsey, NSW-based Tony Bower, last month served six weeks of a 12-month jail sentence for supplying the tinctures before being released on appeal.”
In August, the Victorian Department of Human Services investigated the couple – the parents told the media they feared the state would take away their son. On 24 August, the DHS initiated a ‘home inspection’ related to the treatment of the son.
Victoria – Labor and Liberal respond to the issue
That media report coincided with an announcement by Labor Opposition leader Daniel Andrews that he would try and legalise ‘medical marijuana’ if elected. He said that he would refer the matter to the Victorian Law Reform Commission.
Not everyone was supportive - the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association warned about the problems, and called for ‘further research into the administration of medical cannabis amid concerns about the potential impact on lungs and psychosis’.
The mother used the media opportunity to call on Liberal Premier to legalise medical marijuana (24 August). Liberal Health Minister David Davis refused to respond, saying that ‘drug approval was a matter for the Therapeutic Goods Administration’.
But just four days later, on 28 August, Health Minister David Davis announced that the Liberal government would support a ‘clinical trial of medical cannabis’ and consider removing a prohibition on the "cultivation of narcotic plants for therapeutic purposes in the context of approved clinical trials". The support for ‘cultivation of plants’ is a concern, since the professional bodies are extremely concerned, as we are, about the use of the raw plant for any purpose.
In September 2014, Mr Davis introduced a Bill to make it easier to conduct such a trial – researchers would have to only apply for a ‘group’ of participants, not apply for each individual. He gave "in principle" support for Victorians to part of an international trial of Epidiolex, a cannabis-based pharmaceutical being tested in children with epilepsy overseas. Mr Davis again said ‘he would also consider removing a prohibition on the growing of cannabis plants for therapeutic purposes in approved clinical trials’.
Of course, that wasn’t enough for drug activist Alex Wodak. He called the plan “Nonsense” and said, “We want medicinal cannabis now”!
Of course, the use of cannabis is a long-term campaign for Alex Wodak.
He was one of the authors in a 2013 article in the Medical Journal of Australia, which called for the use of ‘medicinal cannabis’. (Read article). The article deals with pharmaceutical products, but for activists such as Alex Wodak, this is often a 'first step' in further decriminalising the drug.
New South Wales – trial of ‘medical marijuana’
In NSW, a parliamentary committee investigated the use of ‘medical marijuana and recommended its use for “selected conditions”.
Back in May, Premier Mike Baird said he might support a bill to ‘decriminalise cannabis’ for ‘medicinal purposes’ – with a private member’s Bill being proposed by a Nationals MP, Kevin Anderson, who has a constituent who is terminally ill and wants to legally use cannabis for pain relief.
In September, Mr Baird announced that a Working Group would be set up, led by himself, to ‘devise’ how a trial would be conducted. The group will report back to the NSW government by the end of the year. The group will look at issues of ‘supply and distribution’.
So does that include actual marijuana plants as well as ‘medicinal manufactured products?
Mr Baird apparently noted that the trial will consider both pharmaceutical products and ‘crude’ marijuana.
Mr Baird also said that new guidelines would be drawn up so that terminally ill patients using cannabis for medical reasons would not be charged!
Fred Nile expressed concern about the negative health impacts of marijuana, noting comments made by Professor Nicholas Talley, President of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, who said, “The legalisation of medicinal cannabis is an emotionally-charged issue. In recent weeks we have seen the political landscape shifting rapidly as moves to legalise medicinal cannabis in Australia gain momentum. But do we have enough evidence on both its potential long-term adverse effects and the short-term health benefits to fully inform our decisions? I believe the answer to that question is no.” Professor Talley supported a formal clinical trial in order to properly assess the effect of cannabis-based pharmaceutical products (source).
COAG Meeting agreement on a trial – Oct 14
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting came to an agreement on support for a trial of ‘medical marijuana’ on 14 October.
Since then the ACT has said it will participate, and the Victorian government is working on supporting a trial. The Victorian government announced they have appointed an “expert advisory committee”, chaired by Monash University Professor John McNeil which was due to meet a couple of weeks ago - so they didn't wait until after the election to implement their previous announcements!
Other states are considering their support for a trial
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has said the Queensland government will "look with interest" at the NSW trial. Importantly, he specified just what he is prepared to support: "But I stress it is about products that have been probably manufactured from extracts of the active ingredients in marijuana done properly under proper clinical trials under medical supervision."
It is important to draw a distinction between ‘medicinal cannabis’ (using pharmaceutical products) and ‘cannabis used for medical purposes’. The latter could even include people growing their own cannabis plants, which most medical groups contend has harmful effects!
- Police question pregnant mother over cannabis treatment for disabled son, The Age, 10/7/2014.
- Parents face questions over marijuana oil treatment for sick child, Herald Sun, 19/8/2014.
- Family faces DHS home inspection for using cannabis oil to treat ill son, Herald Sun, 24/8/2014.
- AMA cautious on cannabis plan, The Australian, 25/8/2014.
- Victorian government medicinal marijuana trials plan described as 'nonsense' by expert, The Age, 28/8/2014.
- Bill to remove barriers for medical marijuana trials in Victoria, The Age, 15/9/2014.
- NSW Premier Mike Baird open to supporting bill to decriminalise medical marijuana, SMH, 30/5/2014.
- NSW medical cannabis trial could expand interstate after COAG deal flags 'nationwide approach', ABC, 14/10/2014.
- Medicinal cannabis clinical trial to begin in NSW, SMH, 16/10/2014.
- NSW to run trial of medical marijuana for terminally ill patients, ABC AM, 15/10/2014.
- Qld backs NSW medical cannabis trial, The Australian, 14/10/2014.
Labor leader Bill Shorten used his speech at the Australian Christian Lobby’s conference last weekend to lecture Christians on what their views should be on homosexual ‘marriage’.He told the audience that he supports full ‘marriage equality’ for homosexuals.
Link to the speech is BELOW.
Of course, the fact that Bill Shorten supports homosexual ‘marriage’ wasn’t a surprise, though some media reports trumpeted the news as though this was a new revelation from Bill Shorten (eg SMH).
Bill Shorten voted FOR same-sex ‘marriage’ when the issue was debated in the House of Representatives in 2012.
[Click here for ABC’s report of the vote.]
Bill Shorten has long supported homosexual rights – when he was running for the Labor leadership, he even suggested that there should be a QUOTA system in order to get more homosexual politicians! (source)
It was more about him going to a group that had opposing views and telling them exactly what he thought!
Homosexual rights groups have been campaigning for months to get Bill Shorten to use his speech to berate the ACL conference attendees, and leadership, about their opposition to homosexual ‘marriage’.
Back in July, when it was revealed Bill Shorten was to be the ‘Keynote Speaker’, Australian Marriage Equality launched a campaign to ‘persuade’ Bill Shorten to make this a central theme of his speech! In the week leading up to the conference, the homosexual media reported that Bill Shorten would use his speech to express support for ‘marriage equality’! Of course, after the speech AME was VERY happy to issue a media release about his ‘powerful statement of support’!
In the week before the conference, homosexual activists campaigned against the Hyatt Hotel for having the ACL conference at their hotel – they showed no ‘tolerance’ for other views being expressed. Although the Hyatt continued to host the event, the Hyatt expressed support for homosexual rights, even forming a ‘Working Relationship’ with homosexual group Australian Marriage Equality and hosting a ‘Gaycrash party’ (source)!
Of course, the homosexuals want FULL acceptance – even though ACL had supported the changing of Commonwealth laws to give rights to homosexual couples, and have supported ‘Relationship Registers’ for homosexuals, that wasn’t enough – homosexuals want support for marriage and adoption as well.
In choosing speakers to address our supporters, we’ve always chosen speakers for our Dinner who are ‘on side’ and will encourage Christians to stand firm! Having Bill Shorten as the ‘Keynote Speaker’, when his support for homosexual ‘marriage’ is well-known, was always going to be problematic.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the speech was the fact that Bill Shorten emphasised his ‘Christian faith’ – as well as his support for ‘marriage equality, saying, “I believe in God and I believe in marriage equality” and "I'm a Christian and a supporter of marriage equality under the law."
If you haven’t heard him speak about his Christian faith before, you’re not alone – we hadn’t heard him speak about it either!
He said, “I think I’m like many Australians, I don’t usually talk publically about my faith – and I shall not make a habit of it.”
Bill Shorten mentioned he had spoken to his priest, who suggested he “begin with something from the scriptures.”
So what Bible reading did he choose?
One that we at Salt Shakers are very familiar with!
Matthew 5 – the Beatitudes. But he stopped BEFORE he got to the verse about being blessed when you are persecuted (v 10)!
And of course, he didn’t get to the section on being salt and light (v 13-16).
And did you know that the Sermon on the Mount is all about love and tolerance?
Bill Shorten said, “In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares the universal love, tolerance and service that underpins his Gospel which is the core of the Christian message….”
He continued, “Judge not, Jesus tells us: For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
It’s not surprising that he cited this one – it’s another verse that is often taken out of context.
Then for good measure, Shorten added, “And above all, he tells us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.”
Mr Shorten went on to talk about tolerance:
“Sometimes people describe modern, multicultural, multi-faith Australia as ‘tolerant’. But the society we have built beneath the Southern Cross goes beyond that. We do not just ‘tolerate’ difference, we celebrate it.”
He said, “And no faith, no religion, no set of beliefs should ever be used as an instrument of division or exclusion….”
Mr Shorten went on to talk about Christians speaking against ‘blended families’ like his own – but didn’t mention that in his case, whilst he was married to Deborah Beale he had an affair with the daughter of the then Governor-General. After she became pregnant, Bill Shorten divorced his wife and married Chloe (Bill Shorten's Keynote Speech to the Australian Christian Lobby). He didn’t mention that the Catholic Church which he said he belongs to doesn’t support adultery or divorce - or homosexual ‘marriage’!
Edited (31/10/2014): Bill Shorten told Neil Mitchell in November 2012 that he was no longer a Catholic. It seems that he now considers himself an Anglican - St Thomas' in Moonee Ponds, which Bill Shorten mentioned in his speech in having spoken to his local priest, is a Anglican Church. Bill Shorten married Chloe Bryce at St Thomas' in 2009 (source).
But the Anglican Church doesn't support any of those things either...
But it was in his promotion of same-sex ‘marriage’ that he became very critical of Christians who do not support it…
“When I see people hiding behind the bible to insult and demonise people based on who they love…I cannot stay silent. I do not agree.
When I hear people allege that ‘God tells them’ that marriage equality is the first step on the road to polygamy and bigamy and bestiality…I cannot stay silent. I do not agree.
These prejudices do not reflect the Christian values I believe in. They paint the accusers as people who would rather judge than understand. People all too willing to cast the first stone.
And it sends a broader message, it feeds a perception that Church and faith are somehow incompatible with modern families, with modern life, with modern Australia. And I reject that….”
All of that was said before he even got to the heading in his speech, “Marriage Equality”.
Under that heading, he said,
“Friends, if we can agree on these things, if we agree that our duty is to help the vulnerable, to speak up for the powerless, to gather in those who feel marginalised and excluded - I wonder how we can continue to draw a line based on who people love?
How can compassion, charity, love, recognition and endorsement continue to be restricted to heterosexual Australia and the nuclear family?
I believe in God and I believe in marriage equality under the civil law of the Commonwealth of Australia.”
Although he acknowledged that many in his audience would not support his view on ‘marriage equality’, he called on people to support change to the Marriage Act despite their religious views:
“Whatever our religious views about marriage, and whatever our social views about how best to raise and educate children, we have to change this law which discriminates against adult couples on the basis of who they love.”
In Bill Shorten’s eyes, everything comes down to ‘not discriminating’ - and being ‘tolerant’ and ‘accepting’!
His interpretation of the Bible passages he quotes does not match the Biblical account.
Watch / Read Bill Shorten’s speech:
A round up of the week's news - well, some of it at least....
Click here to read the News Update:
In August 2012, following the publication of Mark Regnerus’ study on parenting by various types of families, which showed children in homosexual families don’t do as well as those in married two parent biological families, Robert Lopez wrote an article about his own negative experience of growing up with two mothers.
In his article, Robert didn’t even mention homosexual ‘marriage’ – though he has since spoken out against that. He is not totally opposed to homosexual rights – in an article published yesterday, Robert says he supports civil unions and foster care by homosexuals. But none of that stopped homosexual activists from targeting him.
Robert is an academic, an Associate Professor of English and Classics in California. You’d think that academic integrity would allow for freedom of thought and expression. That’s what Robert thought, too.
In this revealing article, Robert writes about how he was targeted by homosexual activists after his initial article was published – and the apalling personal and professional consequences.
If you were in any doubt as to what some of these activists are doing and saying about anyone who opposes them, you won’t be after you read Robert’s account.
As James White, of Alpha and Omega Ministries, said on Facebook about this article,
“Homosexualism has become a militant, life-consuming, truth-suppressing crusade, and there is a clear theological reason for it: those who suppress God's truth are encouraged when others join them in so doing…. So even if a person is not themselves consumed with homosexual lust, they wish to promote the destruction of anyone who would say anything whatsoever in the way of righteousness on the matter for in so doing they provide cover for their own sinful rebellion against God.
Sin loves company, as Paul reminded us in Romans 1:32. It is a lesson, I believe, that homosexualism is the movement that is being used to attack the last vestiges of Christian influence and morality in Western culture---not a movement based upon heterosexual adultery, for example, or a movement supporting theft or anger or whatever else---but a movement built around the most fundamental twisting of the human identity. For the one with eyes trained in inspired writ, there is much to be seen here.”
Read Robert’s story of being ‘targeted’…
Robert Oscar Lopez, First Things, 21/10/2014
I am a professor of English and Classics at Cal State-Northridge, where I began teaching in 2008 after earning my doctorate in English and MA in Classics from SUNY. I specialize in American literature and published a scholarly study of American writers and conservatism in 2011.
On August 6, 2012, I published an essay in Public Discourse, entitled “Growing Up with Two Moms.” It described my life growing up with a lesbian mother and her partner. Discussion of same-sex parenting until that point generally treated the children of gay parents as extensions of gay adults. Whatever was good for gay adults was presumed to benefit children they raised. No serious consideration was given to divergence between the children’s interests and the interests of gay adults who wanted and loved them.
My point was this:
Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.
Inside, however, I was confused.
There were loving things about my childhood, but it was hard. That is all I wanted to say. I didn’t argue anything about gay marriage or even gay adoption. Eventually I did come to voice support for traditional marriage laws, but here I only spoke out of my own experience.
The same day, I received an email from someone named Scott “Rose” Rosenzweig, the first of more than a dozen. His message went to my Cal State account and was copied to colleagues and administrators, saying among other things,
Recently, CSUN’s Lopez published a gay-bashing essay about the Regnerus study, on the website of the Witherspoon Institute, which funded the Regnerus study; for reference, Lopez’s politicized gay-bashing is here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/08/6065
Because Lopez very substantially misrepresents what the published Regnerus study says, it is especially disturbing that he was in communication with Regnerus—who did not follow American Sociological Association Code of Ethics guidelines for communicating with the public about sociology. It is especially disturbing to note that as per Lopez’s admission, Regnerus ***first*** contacted Lopez, having seen some of his gay-bashing comments online.
Note how this distorts my essay from personal reminiscence to “gay-bashing,” an inflammatory charge on a college campus, the first in a relentless twenty-six months of harassment. . .
Read the rest of Robert's story - click here.