Helping Christians to make a difference
Dealing with current Issues
Helping Christian families to make a difference
After a few weeks break, we are back into looking at the issues ... which haven't stopped.
With the recent terrorist attacks in Sydney, France and the foiled attack in Belgium, the world is becoming increasingly aware of the threat from 'radical' Muslims. In the past, many leaders have proclaimed the 'Islam is peace' mantra, and some say that only a few Islamist radicals are the problem.
French President Francois Hollande said, "Those who committed these acts, these fanatics, have nothing to do with the Muslim faith." As Daniel Pipes noted, this is far from the truth - he noted that the french Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, did a bit better: "We make war … against radical Islam."
At the same time, Boko Haram, the violent Islamic group in Nigeria, carried out yet more atrocities, killing hundreds of people. We heard a lot about the Paris protests, with huge marches and global meetings of world leaders, but little about the killing of Nigerians. Some have compared the responses, saying that Nigeria needs our help (for example, see this article).
Some Islamic leaders have also spoken out against the violent attacks. But the problem is that those who are carrying out these attacks, and those who are fighting in Iraq and Syria, take their inspiration from the Qur'an and from the example of Mohammed.
Clive Kessler, emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of NSW, has written an excellent 'must read' article about the historical context of today's 'resurgent Islam' - in The Australian this week and posted on the UNSW website.
Article: Islam cannot disown jihadists driven by rage against history
A longer version, titled 'A rage against history' appeared on the ANU's New Mandala website.
What is Australia doing?
In Australia, there are an increasing number of reports about what should be done about the young Muslims who are going to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS/ISIL/'Islamic State'. Tony Abbott has joined a number of other world leaders who refuse to use the name ISIL or Islamic State because he says it is neither a state nor Islamic - he suggests using the name Daesh. The Telegraph writes, that 'Daesh' is "an acronym for al-Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa'al Sham, an Arabic version of the group's name. The term is despised by the group itself because it is a pejorative in Arabic and sounds similar to an Arabic term for treading underfoot and a separate term for a person who sows discord."
The Australian government is facing several problems - monitoring those who are 'at risk', watching those whose passports have been cancelled and dealing with those who have returned to Australia after fighting with Islamist jihadist groups overseas. The federal government has funded a package of measures to try and deal with the growing jihadist threat. In August 2014, the Abbott government announced an additional $630 million in funding to try and deal with the radicalisation of Muslim youth, including those returning from fighting in Syria. Much of this was to boost the capacity of anti-terrorism efforts by our security agencies.
The government also conducts the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programme, which includes providing Community Resilience Grants and 'Living Safe Together' grants to (Islamic) community groups to try and prevent radicalisation of Muslim youth. These grants have been provided to community groups since 2011. This year the government is providing grants worth $1 million - applications for close on 16 February. [Similar programs to try and prevent radicalisation were introduced by the Howard Coalition government!]
Australia is planning to join a summit of international leaders next month - that will address the problem of dealing with 'homegrown terrorists' (source).
Geert Wilders and other leaders made a different response . . .
One politician who is prepared to make a different and forthright response is Geert Wilders from The Netherlands - his latest messages are clear about the beliefs of Islam and the threat to the west. You can listen to his message after the Paris attacks, and his speech to the Dutch parliament on January 14, 2015.
Daniel Pipes, writing about the so-called 'far-right' parties in Europe, notes that some of the leaders of these parties are prepared to speak the truth. He notes that Marine Le Pen, of the National Front, was not invited to the President's public parade. He writes, "Le Pen was, as usual, the only French leader boldly to come out and identify their cause: "We are fighting an ideology, that of Islamist fundamentalism."
These are difficult times - as Christians, it is important that we are aware of the competing ideologies and worldviews in our society.
And it's vital that we remember that Jesus Christ provides the only solution to the violence and turmoil of this world – and that the peace He gives is not what the world sees as 'peace'. In fact, Jesus told us that we will face persecution and trouble (Matthew 5).
We need to reach out to Muslim neighbours and work colleagues in friendship. Many Muslims around the world are coming to faith in Christ - I recently read a book called 'Miraculous Movements' that has inspiring stories about the discipleship program being used by Cityteam to reach hundreds of thousands of Muslims (and others), particularly in Africa. It was compelling reading! Read some of the testimonies here - the book is available at Koorong or online.
8 Dec 2014
Catching up on four insightful articles on the issues…
1. Is Islam the problem or the solution?
Mark Durie has another insightful article that addresses this important question …
Article: Islam: solution or problem, that is the question
Mark begins, “A slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Islam is the solution”. Dean Philip Jensen recently stated in regard to the Islamic State (ISIS) that “It is time to face the truth that Islam itself is part of the problem.” Solution or problem: what is the truth about Islam?...”
2. Canada introduces Income splitting for families
The Canadian government has recently introduced ‘income splitting’ as a way of supporting single income families where the mother stays at home to raise a family.
Article: FAMILY POLICY Canada introduces income-splitting for families, John Ballantyne, News Weekly, 22/11/2014.
3. Responding on homosexual ‘marriage’
This Alliance Defending Freedom blog article gives TWO ways that we should NOT respond on this issue…
Article: Two ways we should not respond to the redefinition of marriage, 17/10/2014.
4. On gambling wins and losses
An excellent article on gambling, and the ‘science’ of winning and losing – especially on poker machines.
The authors note that gamblers have a poor understanding of probabilities – and think a ‘near miss’ is ‘almost a win’ and will often bet more and play faster to try and win.
The authors, Mark Dixon and Jacob Daar, who are from the Southern Illinois University, note that usually we AVOID behaviour that results in negative outcomes and DO activities that are rewarding. They ask why gambling on poker machines (slot machines) is different.
They highlight something that we discovered MANY years ago!
They write, “One feature present in almost every modern slot machine is the partial win or “loss disguised as a win.” Since slot machines have gone from the traditional 3-reel 1-line slot machine to the modern 5-reel video slot, often with 25 or more winning lines, near-miss outcomes have become almost unidentifiable from other losing outcomes.”
What happens is that the gambler might play ‘5 lines’ at a time – at $1 a LINE that means a bet of $5!
They might win on ONE LINE and LOSE on 4. The machine flashes “WIN 1” – but the reality is that the gambler has actually LOST on 4 lines (or $4 of the $5)!
Article: Losses disguised as wins, the science behind casino profits, The Conversation, 3/11/2014.
A round-up of NEWS from the past fortnight - marriage, election, halal, welfare, Christmas gifts and more...
This will be our FINAL News Update for 2014. I’m taking a break for a few weeks . . .
Our office will be open for a couple more weeks – it will close on 18 December and re-open on 19 January.
We pray that you will all have a joyous time at Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ!
Read the News Update:
The campaigns are over and the votes have been cast. The pre-poll and postal votes are still being counted, so the final results will not be known for some days, especially in the upper house, the Legislative Council.
The Victorian Electoral Commission has a ‘Virtual Tally Room’ that posts provisional results – this will be updated as more votes are counted. The current page shows the proportion of first preference votes (of those counted so far) that were won by each party in both Houses.
Click here for the VEC Virtual Tally Room.
The VEC Tally Room Legislative Assembly page gives details for each District.
- In most cases, ‘Early votes’ have not been counted yet.
ABC election analyst Antony Green provides an overview of the likely outcome of seats changing in the Legislative Assembly.
Click here for their current assessment of seats in the Legislative Assembly (updated regularly).
Click here for a ‘current’ view of possible seats in the Legislative Council – again this is NOT final!
Labor wins government
We all know that Labor has ‘won the election’ by winning the majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly.
As John Black, a demographer and analyst, and former Labor Senator, wrote in The Australian, “Labor didn’t win this election. Hardcore Liberal voters chucked out their own. Just as hardcore Labor voters chucked out state Labor governments during the chaotic Rudd/Gillard era.”
In the Legislative Council, the balance of power will probably be held by a number of ‘micro parties’, along with the Greens. These could include the Shooters and Fishers, the Australian Country Alliance, the DLP and even the Sex Party. As more votes are counted, these will change – the ABC has a provisional count on their website based on votes counted so far – click here.
Again, many of these seats were won at the expense of the Coalition LOSING votes.
The Nationals have lost some of their support in country areas. The District of Shepparton in the Legislative Assembly could be won by Independent Suzanna Sheed, who ran a campaign based on getting support and spending for the local area.
How do we respond?
Given the strident anti-Christian policies proposed by Labor concerning religious freedom and homosexuality, many of you will be disappointed with the election result! However, we must remember that we are only commanded to stand and be counted – we are NOT required to ‘win’. We are to be ‘salt and light’ in the community. God is in ultimate control and is sovereign. We are not privy to His ultimate plan – we just know that ‘He wins’ in the end!
We must remember that William Wilberforce was one man, a Christian, in the British parliament, and it took YEARS to change the laws regarding slavery. Meanwhile, he worked with his Christian friends to establish a huge number of societies and organisations in the COMMUNITY to improve moral values.
Some reflections on the election result:
In many senses, the Coalition LOST the election, rather than Labor WINNING it…
The Coalition in Victoria was no longer seen as a ‘conservative’ option and many voters, especially in rural areas, abandoned them. Labor leader Daniel Andrews is from the Socialist Left, with strong union connections, and lacks the charisma of other politicians. But they still won…
Christian leaders and were often hesitant – or reluctant - to speak out, even on the important moral and religious freedom issues. Some church leaders only became active in the last few days of the election campaign. Many only spoke on the one issue that would actually affect them – the right for Christian schools and religious organisations to employ Christians who share their values.
The reality, of course, is that many Christians actually support left-wing policies and parties and would support all the things we are concerned about!
Labor ran a populist campaign, focusing on jobs, education and public transport.
They worked with unions, bringing out union representatives to campaign for them, even at polling booths on election day! As one person wrote on our Facebook post, the new slogan for Victoria could be, “Victoria: the Union State”!
Labor made $24 billion of promises (source).
Labor highlighted public transport and removing level crossings and opposed the East –West link. In such a contest, public transport WON!
But the choice WASN’T one OR the other - the reality is we need BOTH, which the Coalition was actually committed to… and had already completed the removal of several level crossings! But they didn’t sell their message well…
Liberals – not conservative
The problem for the Coalition is that, under the leadership of Ted Baillieu, the Liberals had moved AWAY from their traditional and conservative values. They had moved toward the centre, or even, on some issues, to the left.
After Denis Napthine became leader, the Coalition did nothing to re-establish a conservative policy platform. The vacuum was filled by a number of small conservative parties.
When we challenged some of the Christian Liberal MPs about what the Coalition government HADN’T done, concerning moral issues like amending the abortion law or repealing the religious vilification law, they pointed out their action in repealing the equal opportunity law regarding employment by religious groups, as well as their support for SRI. They kept telling us that ‘the other side is a lot worse’!
As Andrew Bolt said, there was nothing to differentiate them from the other parties, especially Labor. He highlighted the two lost years when Ted Baillieu was leader.
Denis Napthine didn’t take action to show Liberal was different.
The Coalition didn’t lose because they were radical or right-wing’ – Andrew noted that they needed to embrace traditional ‘liberal values’ or conservative causes, but instead were too ‘meek’!
As one federal Liberal once told us, ‘The Liberal Party has never won from the LEFT’. They need to be a conservative party – we already have Labor, the Greens and now the Sex Party filling the ‘left’ end of the political spectrum
During the election campaign – and before – the Coalition was poor at SELLING their policies and achievements.
Denis Napthine’s concession speech actually highlighted more of Liberal’s achievements in fixing the financial mess and getting the state back on a better economic footing than we had seen during the election campaign.
Some commentators have talked about the influence of the Abbott government – with some noting this is a warning to the Abbott government to be clear about its message and focus on local issues. Others responded by talking about the increasing popularity of the Liberal governments of Mike Baird (NSW) and Campbell Newman (Qld). The fiasco over the flawed federal budget didn’t help, but it seems the blame for the loss of support for the Coalition lies closer to home!
Two opinion articles reflecting on the election result…
Roger Franklin, editor of Quadrant Online, has a tough, but perceptive, article about the election result. After commenting on the result, and reflecting on some of the possible factors, he writes, “The primary colours on your typical pundit’s palette will never paint the full picture of this government’s demise. For that you must look to the pointillism of countless failures of will and nous and principle.”
Professor Sinclair Davidson (Professor in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs) writes on Catallaxy Files, quoting Roger Franklin.
He concludes, “The problem with the Victorian Liberals is that they are embarrassed by their constituents – they want the votes, but don’t want to deliver. Ronald Reagan is said to have observed that you’ve got to go home with the one that brung you to the dance. Well, true – but before you go home, you’ve got to dance with the one that brung you too.
"The Victorian Liberals don’t get that. These are people who won office in 2010 promising to repeal the Charter of Human Rights and by 2014 the same people were campaigning to retain 18c. I can’t imagine why any liberally minded person could ever vote for them – the Victorian Liberals were so useless they couldn’t articulate any reason why they should remain in office either.”
28 Nov 2014
NSW Liberal Democrat Senator, David Leyonhjelm, has introduced a same-sex ‘marriage’ Bill to the federal Senate. He had previously announced his intention to put forward a Bill to legalise homosexual ‘marriage’ – but it had been anticipated he would not do so unless the Coalition Party Room agreed to a ‘conscience vote’ for Coaltion MPs.
PLEASE VOTE: Channel 9 is conducting a poll – click here to vote NO.
The question: “Do you support the latest push to legalise same sex marriage in Australia?”
The Bill, titled the Freedom to Marry Bill 2014, would allow any two people to marry regardless of "sex, sexual orientation and gender identity" (subject to the current restraints already in the Marriage Act)’.
Ironically, the subtitle of the Bill claims it is a Bill to “reduce government intervention in marriage”!
He claims that the Bill will give non-government religious and civil celebrants the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples.