Helping Christians to make a difference
Dealing with current Issues
Helping Christian families to make a difference
1. Living with the enemy – SBS program on same-sex ‘marriage’
SBS is currently running a series called ‘Living with the Enemy’ where they ‘match’ two lots of people with opposing views.
SBS program page and episode outlines – click here.
Of course, the first issue to be dealt with this week was homosexual ‘marriage’. Anglican minister David Ould - a conservative -was opposed by homosexual couple Gregory Storer and Michael Barnett who are “homosexual activists, atheists and engaged to be married”.
Episode 1: Same-sex ‘marriage’
In summary, the story involved the homosexual couple living at the minister’s home for 5 days and then the minister living at the homosexual couple’s home for the next five days – all condensed to 50 minutes of highly edited screen time!
In the first week the homosexual couple attended his church where he preached on marriage being between a man and a woman. At one point, one of the homosexual men said, “There is no sin, because there is no god."
During the second week, the three men flew to New Zealand, where the couple were ‘married’. After returning to Australia, the minister agreed to take part, with them, in Melbourne’s ‘Pride March’.
One of our readers commented, “Altogether, a fairly sad spectacle!”
Eternity newspaper noted that David Ould was 'brave' but asked, 'Was he foolhardy?' - for their review of the show click here.
Eternity also interviewed David Ould about WHY he decided to participate... it makes very interesting reading, as David highlights some of the discussions and challenges - but he notes that the two homosexuals didn't want to engage on the big questions. He said, "That was my great desire, to actually have conversations like 'What is your new definition of marriage? Articulate it for me. Tell me why it has the boundaries that it does.’ And on stuff like that, sadly, I actually didn’t get substantive engagement."
This comment by David about the portrayal by the MEDIA was insightful:
"The mainstream media have a narrative that’s in their head that they’re already telling before they’ve even listened to you. There was one article describing me as a ‘fundamentalist, anti-gay minister’ living with two gay guys. They could have written, accurately, ‘fundamentalist, anti-religion activists meeting with Anglican minister’. It would have been equally true, in one sense, and yet the media chooses to portray it in a certain way."
Click here for the interview with David Ould (before the program aired).
Click here for an article about David Ould's work with the marginalised.
Read Cameron’s review of the episode… Living with the Enemy: Bigotry Wrapped Up in Sugar, Cameron Spink, Resistance Thinking, 3/9/2014.
From David Ould...
David has written a number of articles on the experience and posted links on his website to a wide range of media reports about the program. He also posts the AUDIO of the sermon he gave on marriage.
Explore more - http://davidould.net/?page_id=6959
Home page of David's website - http://davidould.net/
2. Islam – Speech by Geert Wilders to the Dutch parliament
Geert Wilders is one MP who is prepared to speak out on the subject of Islam. Last week he gave a passionate speech to the Netherlands parliament…
He began by reminding the Speaker that he has been consistently saying the same thing for the past ten years and two days… about Islam.
He concludes: “The voters demand that, after ten years and two days of slumber, measures are finally taken.”
He then makes a few suggestions… the first one is “Recognize that Islam is the problem. Start the de-Islamization of the Netherlands. Less Islam.”
He then goes on to talk about extremist Islamic mosques and ideologies.
Geert concludes, “Madam Speaker, war has been declared against us. We have to strike back hard. Away with these people! Enough is enough!”
Read Geert’s speech…
Geert Wilders: "War Has Been Declared against Us", Gatestone Institute, 4/9/2014.
3. The dereliction of duty by pastors
Coach Dave Daubenmire, who runs Pass the Salt Ministries in the USA, has written a challenging article – asking where are the pastors (and churches) in the battle against the non-Christian ideologies of our time and the so-called ‘controversial issues’…
Although he writes about America, we might well ask the same thing here in Australia.
Dave writes, “Churches have become impotent because the pulpits have turned soft” and then names some pastors...
Dave writes, “If you haven't already done so, please take the time to read Pastor Chuck Baldwin's recent commentary regarding George Barna's survey that reveals the fact that 90% of America's pastors are purposefully keeping the people in the dark. (And this one that just came out today). They are concerned with hurting the growth of “their church” by talking about “controversial” issues.
Who was it that classified marriage, abortion, un-holy wars, tyrannical government, government thievery, unrighteous taxation, dishonest courts, drug legalization, deviant sexual behavior, indoctrination of children, and public filth as ”controversial” issues? The church used to be the “wave machine” on all of these issues, but alas: The salt has lost his savor.” (Now that sounds familiar to us here at SALT Shakers!)
He goes on, “Although I’m sure you’re familiar with them, I believe that the words of Charles Finney are worth repeating:
“If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible.” . . .
Read the article: AMERICA'S PASTORS AND DERELICTION OF DUTY, Dave Daubenmire, News with Views, 28/8/2014.
4. The Breakdown of Family and the Degradation of Society
An article by Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh, who runs the blog Romanian Conservative and criticises communism and ‘crony capitalism’ – instead she supports ‘free enterprise capitalism’. She lives in the USA.
This article discusses the breakdown of family and the ‘Demographic suicide of the west’, where western nations are having less then the 2.1 children per woman that is the break-even point for replacing population. She also discusses the rise in ‘non-marital births’, a problem across western nations.
Article: The Breakdown of Family and the Degradation of Society, Dr Ileana Paugh, 10/8/2014.
Have a great week ...
News from the past couple of weeks... Father's Day, chaplaincy funding, Graham Preston charges dropped, three Royal Commissions, Safe Schools in Tasmania, marriage and more...
On September 3, 1901, the Australian flag design was adopted by the Commonwealth of Australia, and the flag was first raised on that day and flown over the dome of the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne. The flag has been a symbol of Australia for the past 113 years.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott writes, "Since it was adopted 113 years ago, the Australian flag has been an enduring symbol of our nation... Wherever it is flown it reminds us of our common pride in our nation."
We're encouraged to 'fly the flag' and learn about its history and meaning on September 3, 'Australian National Flag Day'! That's TODAY!
Have you wondered how the design was chosen, or what the elements of the flag mean?
The design competition
A competition was held for the design of the Australian flag - the Commonwealth government announced the competition on 29 April 1901 - and 32,823 entries were received.
On 3 September 1901, Lady Hopetoun, wife of the Governor-General, opened a display of the entries in the competition at the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne. The Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, "announced that five entrants, who had submitted similar designs, were to share the honour of being declared the designers of Australia’s own flag." Click here for details at ANFA including names of winners.)
The Australian National Flag Association (ANFA) website has a fascinating article from The Age on 4 September 1901 about the exhibition and announcement of the winners.
[That was when the media had NEWS reports, not opinion articles!]
The Australian flag is made up of a number of elements - the Union Jack, the Southern Cross and the Commonwealth Star. Crosses are a major feature of the flag...
The Southern Cross is representative of Australia - the constellation has become a symbol of Australia. "This constellation of five stars can be seen only from the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia’s geography." (Source - It's an honour)
The Commonwealth Star - the star on the bottom left of the flag represents the federation or Commonwealth. Initially there were six points to represent the six states. In 1908, a seventh point was added to represent the Australian Territories.
More info at 'It's an honour'.
Union Jack - the Union Jack is the national flag of the United Kingdom. ANFA notes, "The ‘union’ concerns the combination of the standards of the three patron saints of the United Kingdom, that of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, St. Patrick, of Ireland, and St. George, of England. Together, they form the flag of Great Britain."
More details at ANFA
The Australian National Flag Association says, "One way to look at our national flag is to see the stars of the Southern Cross and the great seven pointed Federal Star as representing our progress while the Union Jack symbolises the principles on which that progress is based."
Australian National Flag Day
A 'day to celebrate the flag' is a more recent development...
Australian National Flag Day is an annual event - it began in 1996.
The 'It's an honour' government website states, "Australian National Flag Day, proclaimed in 1996 as a national day, celebrates the first time the flag was flown on 3 September 1901. On that day Prime Minister Edmund Barton announced the winners of a competition to design a flag for Australia. A large flag, 5.5 metres by 11 metres, was flown over the dome of the Exhibition Building in Melbourne." (Source - click here.)
How to celebrate Australian National Flag Day
- Official document form the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott - Official message for Australian National Flag Day
Official government website 'It's an honour'
It’s an honour - Australian flag
History of the flag at 'It's an Honour' - click here.
In the current climate of hostility against Christian involvement in state schools in Victoria, it is even more important that we pray for our schools, Principals, teachers, students and SRI volunteers.
In this UPDATE, we provide information about the annual Prayer Groups for Schools ‘Prayer Day’ which will be held THIS FRIDAY, 5 September, 2014.
Secondly, we provide an OVERVIEW of the changes to Special Religious Instruction (SRI) that were recently made by the Minister for Education, Hon Martin Dixon.
We welcome the changes made to MD 141 – and the revision of the Education Department’s School Policy Guide, which now states that OTHER religious activities are allowed at lunchtimes! We noted that these two NEW documents had been published in our News Update on 22 August, and promised an ‘overview of the changes’ (with reporting on the WCF last week, I didn’t get to do that then!)
1. Prayer Groups for Schools ‘Prayer Day’ – Friday 5 September
The Prayer Groups for Schools committee coordinates ‘prayer groups’ for Victorian schools. Each year they hold a ‘Prayer Day for Schools’ where representatives of the school prayer groups meet together.
It will be held this FRIDAY, 5 September at Presbyterian Ladies College in Burwood, Victoria.
The Guest Speaker is Elida Brereton, former Principal of Camberwell High School.
Elida is also on the Board of Access Ministries (SRI/Chaplaincy) and Mustard Ministries (support for Christian students in schools). Elida is a motivational speaker and featured as Principal in “Summer Heights High” (when the producer had trouble find a life-like Principal!).
10am-1pm (9.45am registration)
VENUE: Doris Daniel Theatre, Presbyterian Ladies’ College,141 Burwood Hwy, Burwood.
(Enter via Parer St, Gate 4 (Melway 60 J6)
Limited car parking in school grounds.
Parking available on Parer St and neighbouring streets.
Light Refreshments provided.
For further information contact Marilyn on (03) 9874 5764.
2. UPDATE on Special Religious Instruction in Schools (SRI)
On 22 August we reported that the Victorian Minister for Education, Hon Martin Dixon, had released a REVISED Ministerial Direction 141 (he actually released MD144 which revised MD141) and the Education Department had published a REVISED Policy Guide about SRI. We were very happy with the content of the revisions to both documents.
On Tuesday 26 August, we attended a BRIEFING for Christian leaders with the Minister for Education Martin Dixon, Attorney-General Robert Clark and MLC Andrew Ronalds. Mr Dixon explained the recent changes to SRI and his Ministerial Direction, noting that the Education Department had gone beyond their mandate in the Policy Guide – he said they are a ‘support organisation, not a policy organisation’!
Robert Clark highlighted some of the freedom of religion issues in the forthcoming election.
Education Department page ABOUT MD141 – click here.
Education Department REVISED POLICY GUIDE on SRI – click here.
There were TWO major areas of concern – the operation of SRI itself and the flawed statements about other religious activities in the Education Department’s Policy Guide. We are happy with the changes made – the actual FORM still needs to be altered to ensure that it states it is to be returned whether or not the child is to participate in SRI.
a) Other Religious Activity ALLOWED
The NEW Education Department Policy Guide has removed any 'ban' on OTHER religious activities occurring at schools at lunchtime etc. The Department had wrongly stated that other religious activities were banned ‘during school hours’ – they are only prohibited in ‘hours set aside for instruction’ (as identified in our original Briefing).
The new Policy Guide includes a section titled, "Other Religious Activity" that has been totally revised.
It states that schools “must not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect” but goes on to state, “This does not prohibit the voluntary activities of students outside the school program as they are not part of the curriculum provided by the State.”
- Students can meet in groups with ‘facilitators’
In addition, the Policy Guide states that students can 'meet in groups which promote a particular religion, such as prayer groups, youth groups, clubs, information sessions, or workshops', and they can advertise such groups. They can also have “outside speakers or facilitators” for these groups!
- Students can distribute Bibles, music, books…
The Ministerial Direction specifically states (9 -2) that students can bring "religious materials" to school and distribute them.
The Policy Guide clarifies that this can be Bibles, religious books, music, DVDs etc.
b) Changes to SRI
The Minister, Martin Dixon, has made significant changes to the original MD 141 about the actual operation of SRI. This has addressed some of the concerns of those working in SRI…
Many of the changes have greatly improved the operation of SRI in schools.
The one area still to be changed is the actual FORM – we believe that parents should have to return the form and note whether their child will or will not be doing SRI.
See section BELOW…
Some of the changes:
The form needs to be changed…
We believe that parents should have to return the form and note whether their child will or will not be doing SRI.
The revised MD141 states, that
“A principal who offers special religious instruction in a school must obtain written advice from all parents of students at the school regarding whether their child is to participate or not participate in special religious instruction.”
That seems to indicate that the form MUST be returned, regardless of whether the students are doing SRI or not.
The CURRENT FORM only has a box to tick ‘Yes’ to indicate that the child will be doing SRI. The form states, “If you do not return this form, your child will not participate in SRI”.
This is totally contradictory to the Ministerial Direction.
The Ministerial Direction does state that, if the form isn’t returned in a reasonable time frame, then the child won’t do SRI. This covers forms not returned after some time…
This is acceptable only if the schools and the Department have a form that MUST be returned in the first instance.
Having spoken to the Minister and his Chief of Staff, we understand that changes are being made to the CONSENT FORM, for which we are grateful.
A new FORM is expected to be prepared in the coming months....
We will continue to monitor this situation.