Category Archives: Government

Government issues

Journalist is out of biblical depth

 

By Spencer D Gear PhD

 

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(photo Israel Folau courtesy The South African)

 

I came across this excellent secular article by Harry Richardson in The Pickering Post, ‘Israel Sparks a Holy War’, 21 April 2019

I consider it to be an excellent well constructed defence of Folau from a secular source. In the article, he makes it obvious he is not supportive of supernatural Christianity.
I’d like to pick up on one of Richardson’s comments: Nowhere in the Bible does it say that equality is a virtue. Tolerance, inclusiveness and diversity don’t get a mention either‘.

How does this statement line up with biblical content?

  • If equality is not a virtue, how do we interpret Adam & Eve being made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) and after the Fall, human beings were still said to be in God’s image (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7) and likeness of God (James 3:9). Does that mean the Bible teaches equality by all of us being made in God’s image?

For an explanation of the meaning of human beings being made in God’s image, see: ‘What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God (imago dei)?’ (Got Questions 2019)

  • What about the warning against prejudice/favouritism in James 2 (NLT)?
  • Equality as a virtue is taught in Rom 2:11, ‘For God does not show favoritism’. Human beings demonstrate inequality but God doesn’t.
  • As for tolerance, it is a Christian virtue. As a foundation for life and the nations, it is the belief that the truth will come out eventually. This is a Christian understanding of tolerance: ‘Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love’ (Eph 4:2). In fact, the Christian advocates much more than tolerance. We are told to love our neighbours and our enemies (Mark 12:31; Luke 6:27-36);
  • Is inclusiveness a biblical virtue? Yes it is (see Gal 3:28 for believers). What about for unbelievers? See Mark 2:15-17 (NLT).
  • Diversity is promoted in the multiplicity of gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12; Eph 4:11-12; Rom 12:6-8).

I think Richardson should take a couple Bible courses such as ‘Introduction to the New Testament’ and ‘Survey of the Bible’. He doesn’t know his Bible well enough to make an informed comment like he has made.

 

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 July 2019.

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They say one thing and do another: Politicians break promises

Religious freedom after 2019 Australian election

By Spencer Gear PhD

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Why are religious freedom, free speech, freedom of conscience and association, and a free press so important to the Australian democracy? If these freedoms are restricted, democracy totters with the threat of collapsing.

Democracy means rule by the people. There are several guiding principles that act as the foundation of a democracy, such as rule of law, protected rights and freedoms, free and fair elections, and accountability and transparency of government officials. Citizens have a responsibility to uphold and support these principles.[1]

Since Truth Challenge is an evangelical Christian website, I need to ask: Is democratic government supported by Scripture? I have not seen any recommendation of democracy being the ideal or biblical form of government. However, Christianity and democracy are compatible, as has been demonstrated by the world democracies such as the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and France. However, a Christian world view does not make democracy a requirement.

Two fundamentals have been succinctly stated by Jonathan Leeman:

Broadly speaking, two basic kinds of government show up in the Bible: those who knew they were under God and those who thought they were God or were equal to God. The first kind protected God’s people. The second kind attacked them. The first knew they were servants (Rom. 13). The second didn’t and so acted like divine impostors and beasts (Ps. 2; Rev. 13, 17:1–6).[2]

While the Bible does not command, ‘Thou shalt support democracy and oppose any government that is a dictatorship’, it does provide guiding principles for the Judeo-Christian world view and government.

clip_image004For the Old Testament Jews, the government was theocratic, where God himself directed the government through his servants the prophets who were submissive to the heavenly King until the Jews cried out for a human king to govern them (see 1 Samuel 8:6-9 NLT).

The theocracy began with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12-13.

clip_image004[1]Christians are to collaborate with governments, no matter what the variety, as God raises governments and causes them to fall (Romans 13:1-7 NLT).

clip_image005However, if the laws of human government conflict with Scripture (see Acts 5:29 NLT), Christians must obey God rather than human laws. So there is a division between human government and a person’s spiritual beliefs.

I recommend this short article, Is democracy a Christian form of government? (Got Questions).

This article focusses on religious freedom as it seems to be the one under most attack by the left-wing ideologues[3] in Australia.

A. What is freedom of religion?

I found this to be a concise description:

Religious freedom protects people’s right to live, speak, and act according to their beliefs peacefully and publicly. It protects their ability to be themselves at work, in class, and at social activities. Religious freedom is more than the “freedom to worship” at a synagogue, church, or mosque. It makes sure they don’t have to go against their core values and beliefs in order to conform to culture or government (What you need to know about religious freedom).[4]

As I write, these freedoms are under threat in Australia as we have seen in,

clip_image007The professional rugby union player, Israel Folau’s, Christian comments on his personal Instagram account that saw his $4 million contract terminated. See my assessment: Israel Folau: When diversity means censorship.

clip_image009See the ABC News, Brisbane, Qld article, Anti-abortion activists lose High Court challenge to laws banning protests outside [abortion] clinics. ‘The case involved Kathleen Clubb, who was convicted after trying to hand a pamphlet to a couple outside an east Melbourne clinic in 2016 and Graham Preston, who faced three charges for his protests in Hobart in 2014 and 2015’.

https://i0.wp.com/catholicleader.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/pd-preston.jpg

Voice for unborn: Graham Preston (photograph courtesy Catholic Leader).[5]

Graham, not known to me personally, would be one of the bravest and overt defenders of the life of the unborn.

clip_image013Campbell Markham is pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Hobart, Tasmania. In an Opinion piece for The Mercury (Hobart), he wrote:

LAST month [July 2017], the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner accepted a complaint made against my church.

The allegations included things that I wrote on my blog in 2011 in defence of marriage.

I bear no hard feelings whatsoever towards the complainant or the Commissioner.

The problem is the Act itself, which prohibits “any conduct which offends” another person on the basis of thirteen attributes.

There’s no doubt that the Commission would have to call Jesus Christ himself to account, if he taught in our streets today.

Jesus did not hold back when it came to exposing human evil, and statements like the following would have exposed him to prosecution:

“From within, out of the heart of human beings, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Are Jesus’ words provocative, are they upsetting?

Deliberately so. Are Jesus’ words unkind?

Quite the opposite.

His tender love for lost and suffering humanity motivated every word.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”[6]

clip_image015A complaint was made that Tasmanian Roman Catholic ‘Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference be investigated over the booklet, Don’t Mess With Marriage, which was distributed in June [2015]to about 12,000 Tasmanian families whose children attend Catholic schools’. Martine Delaney, a Greens’candidate for the federal seat of Franklin and homosexual marriage advocate (she calls it ‘marriage equality’), delivered her complaint to the office of Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner.

She claimed: ‘This booklet says same-sex partners don’t deserve equal recognition, same-sex-attracted people are not ‘whole’ people and the children of same-sex partners are not ‘healthy’. “By spreading this message, the church does immeasurable harm to the wellbeing of same-sex couples and their families across Tasmania and the nation.”

clip_image017In addition to the complaint against Campbell Markham at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Hobart, there also has been a complaint against David Gee, an evangelist for Cornerstone who works a day a week for them and is funded for another one-and-a-half days by Operation 513, a street preaching group. He is a veterinarian.

Gee sets up a table in Hobart’s street, making the Bibles available, and handing out tracts. The table often becomes a place for conversation. “He also does street preaching,” says Markham. “That’s what people don’t like.”

The complainant has been hanging around Gee’s preaching places for years. “He is an atheist, who says he feels offended and insulted by what has been written and said.”[7]

clip_image019Independent and Roman Catholic Schools are uncertain of the government’s intrusion into preventing hiring of teachers and enrolling students sympathetic to the school’s values. Or, will government force independent and Catholic schools to hire people of any value system and enrol students who have values opposed to those promoted by these schools.

Israel Folau’s clash with Rugby Australia ‘over his fundamentalist religious social media posts’ motivated ‘nine prominent Christians to send letters about the protection of religious freedom to Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten’. These people included leaders from Presbyterian, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist and Apostolic churches, as well as a number of religious school leaders.

The letters were worded differently for each political leader but both letters ‘flagged a range of issues, with protection of religious belief and free speech at the forefront’.

Each letter began:

“In recent years the protections to be accorded to religious freedom, and the related freedoms of conscience, speech and association, have come under increasing focus within Australia.”

“We write to invite you to provide clarification on a range of key issues that are important to the preservation of these freedoms in our country”.

Reverend Dr Hedley Fihaki, a Uniting Church minister and the national chair of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, said he was worried the Wallaby’s case could set “a dangerous precedent”.

“Scripture is the book the whole church is based on, so if we are not free to teach from that, not just in the private but particularly in the public domain, it is a dangerous precedent,” Dr Fihaki told the ABC.

“From the Bible, from the holy scriptures, that’s the Old and New Testament”.[8]

Anna Patty, in writing for The Age, pointed out some of the apprehension of religious leaders:

The letter to Mr Shorten details concerns that Labor Party policies do not go far enough to protect religious freedom and have the potential to impact on the free expression of traditional views of sexuality and marriage. It asks Labor for an assurance that religious institutions will continue to be able to hold such views and defend them in public….

The Liberal Party has committed to introducing a Commonwealth Religious Discrimination Act, but the religious leaders asked the Prime Minister to go further by protecting believers in associations including churches, mosques, charities, schools and corporations.[9]

B. My assessment of some of the post-election Australian issues after the 18 May 2019 election

clip_image021 On 14 May 2019, before the Australian election on 18 May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was reported as saying:

“There is no more fundamental right than the right to decide what you believe or do not believe. That means Australians of faith should be free to hold and practise that faith without fear of discrimination against them.… And that is why my government is committed to providing Australians of religious belief with protections equivalent to those guaranteed in relation to other protected attributes under Commonwealth anti-discrimination law (Christian leaders say religious freedom was among issues that influenced voters, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 2019).

clip_image023“Graeme Irwin chair of the Australian Association of Christian Schools said governments needed to recognise there are “a lot of highly intelligent people of religious persuasion who believe there should be freedom in this area.

“They do not want to discriminate against other segments of the community but also do not want to be discriminated against for holding their beliefs”, he said (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 2019).

clip_image025  Behind the scenes, some Coalition MPs are advocating “stronger religious freedom laws after the party received strong backing from religious voters at the election. Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is pushing for religious beliefs to be exempt from employment contracts, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald report” (SBS News, Religious discrimination laws get closer, 31 May 2019).

clip_image027Before the election, “the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has also been tasked with examining five Ruddock review recommendations relating to discrimination against LGBT staff and students of religious schools” (The Guardian Australia, 1 June 2019). The Government announced this new ALRC review to include, ‘an inquiry into the framework of religious exemptions in Commonwealth, State and Territory anti-discrimination legislation’.

The ALRC is due to report on its findings on 10 April 2020.

clip_image029  What were those Ruddock recommendations? See: Recommendations for further CONSULTATION AND LEGAL consideration.

clip_image031  Christians must not leave it to the post-election Coalition government to guarantee freedom of religion for students and staff in Christian schools and organisations. Evidence now comes to light of a softening of the preservation of religious freedom.

On 5 June 2019, The Guardian Australia reported Australian attorney-general, Christian Porter, stating that a basic bill will be brought to Parliament to prevent discrimination, rather than a broader bill that allows religious opinions to be expressed that may breach codes of conduct [thinking of the Israel Folau case].

This will dissatisfy backbench MPs who sought to protect religious freedom.

It satisfies a Liberal Party, homosexual MP, Tim Wilson who “backed the more limited form of a religious discrimination act which he said would not be ‘overly controversial’ but is ‘quite different from a religious freedom act’” (Coalition to rule out conservative demands for ‘religious freedom’ law, The Guardian Australia, 5 June 2019).

clip_image033 There you have the current controversial problem for Christian schools, churches and organisations with this proposed Coalition government Law, RULED OUT … ‘RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’.

clip_image035  Would the Coalition consider it satisfactory for people who vote for Labor or the Greens to work in their electorate offices and in the State and National Coalition headquarters without espousing Coalition values? Or, will the Coalition discriminate and choose only Liberal Party supporters? Will the Coalition government discriminate against Christian schools from employing Christian staff but NOT discriminate against the kind of staff employed by the Coalition?

The same applies to independent and Catholic schools and organisations. They need to employ staff members who agree with their values, just as the Labor, Greens, Coalition, Katter, and other parties do.

C. Conclusion

Immediately before the Australian election on 18 May 2019, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, stated it was a fundamental right of Australians that they should be able to believe and practise those beliefs without fear of discrimination.

Now that commitment seems to be broken with the Attorney –General, Christian Porter, stating that the basic bill to be brought to Parliament will not be broad enough to allow religious opinions expressed that may breach codes of conduct.

Will this refusal to have a broad Bill mean that Catholic and independent schools will not be able to exclude teachers, staff and students who do not support the values of the schools?

Will this law extend to all political parties who will not be able to exclude staff who disagree with some of that party’s policies? Will street preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be closed down?

Seems to me we have another example of broken promises by the Coalition government.

I eagerly wait to see the Australian government’s new legislation & law for religious freedom to determine if it broke its promises.

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D.   Notes


[1] Student Vote Ontario Activity Resource n.d. Lesson 4: Democratic Principles. Available at: http://civix.ca/resources/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/ON-Secondary-Lesson-4.pdf (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[2] Jonathan Leeman 2018. The Two Kinds of Government That Show Up in the Bible. Christianity Today (online), 20 April. Available at: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may/how-nations-rage-jonathan-leeman.html (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[3] ‘Generally, the left-wing is characterized by an emphasis on “ideas such as Liberty, equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform and internationalism”, while the right-wing is characterized by an emphasis on “notions such as authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction and nationalism”’ (Wikipedia 2019. Left-right political spectrum (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left%E2%80%93right_political_spectrum#cite_ref-14. Accesses 8 June 2019).

[4] Heritage.org, 1 December 2019. Available at: https://www.heritage.org/what-you-need-know-about-religious-freedom/what-you-need-know-about-religious-freedom (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[5] ‘Graham Preston facing arrest if he continues his pro-life activism for the unborn in Queensland’, 21 November 2018. Available at: http://catholicleader.com.au/news/graham-preston-facing-arrest-if-he-continues-his-pro-life-activism-for-the-unborn-in-queensland (Accessed 7 June 2019).

[6] Campbell Markham 2017. We are all losers when the right to free expression is muzzled. The Mercury, 7 August. Available at: https://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/we-are-all-losers-when-the-right-to-free-expression-is-muzzled/news-story/da33da4483b51dfdebc3951a96196fd2 (Accessed 7 June 2019).

[7] John Sandeman 2017. Pastor, street preacher face Anti-Discrimination complaint. Eternity, 31 July. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/pastor-street-preacher-face-anti-discrimination-complaint/ (Accessed 7 June 2019).

[8] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Israel Folau’s case prompts Australian religious leaders to pen letters to Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-11/israel-folau-religious-leaders-send-letter-to-shorten-morrison/11104094 (Accessed 8 June 2019).

[9] Anna Patty 2019. Christian leaders challenge major parties on commitment to religious freedom. The Age (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/federal-election-2019/christian-leaders-challenge-major-parties-on-commitment-to-religious-freedom-20190508-p51lgo.html (Accessed 8 June 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 June 2019.

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God and elections

The God factor cannot be measured in elections

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(image courtesy Dreamstime.com)

The headline told it all: ‘Nation’s most influential pollster can’t explain election disaster’ in Australia (Hartcher 2019).

1. Pollsters did not predict result.

David Briggs is the man behind well-knowing polling organisations such as Newspoll, which is published by Rupert Murdoch’s, The Australian, according to Hartcher.

YouGov Galaxy polls were conducted by his organisation as was the exit poll of the election for Channel 9.

On the day of the election, 18 May, ‘the exclusive YouGov Galaxy poll of more than 3300 voters in 33 separate booths showed Labor ahead of the Coalition 52-48 on a two party preferred basis’ (Wright 2019).

The Ipsos poll was in harmony with this result. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on election day:

Labor has gained a crucial lead over the Coalition in key mainland states at the end of the federal election campaign, securing an edge in NSW and Victoria and a swing in its favour in Queensland.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten goes into the final day of campaigning with a boost in the Labor vote in most states compared to the narrow outcome at the last election, with a significant lead of 53 to 47 per cent in Victoria (Crowe 2019).

2. The ‘miracle’ victory for Coalition

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(Photo courtesy ABC News: Marco Catalano)

The Guardian Australia had the headline: Scott Morrison credits ‘quiet Australians’ for ‘miracle’ election victory (Murphy & Martin 2019). These are taken from the Prime Minister’s own words when he thanked the voters for this shock election win. Labor, is seems, lost an unlosable election.

“I have always believed in miracles,” the Prime Minister said firmly sometime after midnight on election night, as he claimed victory. “I am standing with the three biggest miracles in my life” he added. “And tonight we have been delivered another one.”

These were the words of our Pentecostal PM who had heard his faith mocked or disparaged during the campaign (Sandeman 2019).

In what sense was it a miracle? Yes it was in this sense: ‘A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences’ for the Coalition government (Oxford Living Dictionary). However, I don’t see it as ‘an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency’ (OED) like Jesus’ resurrection.

The God factor was included in ScoMo’s blessing on the Shorten couple and exhorting God to bless Australia?

2.1     Why can’t the God factor be measured?

Firstly, he is spirit and not flesh and blood (John 4:24), so

Secondly, how his direct work is conducted is not seen by human beings, satellites or any other devices. We can see the results of his miraculous actions in the world if there are signs and wonders. We know he sustains the world – keeps it going: ‘He [Christ] existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.’ (Col 1:17).

A question was asked on Quora: ‘Why is God invisible?’ Angie Neik’s response was:

God is always present in the spiritual realm, but He is hidden in the physical realm.

If God was visible in the physical realm, people would do what they do with everything they put their hands on:

– measure it
– weigh it
– find the physical specifications
– and chemical properties
– describe it by those terms
– classify it by same terms
– file it away in a compartment
– forget about it
– thinking that they know all there is to know about it
– and move on to the next big thing
– so they can repeat the process

Maybe that is the very reason that so many of those standing by with rulers, scales, notebooks, pencils, calculators, etc. in hand, find it so aggravating that so much of humanity believe in a being that can’t be defined by those limited dimensions we live in.

Thirdly, that means God’s actions in causing an upset in the 2019 Australian federal election win by the Coalition were by the unseen God who acted in answer to prayers of many people across Australia.

And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him (1 John 5:14-15 NET).

3. Public scoffing about prayer and fasting

On the evening of Monday, 27 May 2019, I viewed ABC TV’s premier program, Q&A. This question came from a woman in the audience:

Ruth McKie asked: The Liberal Party just won the unwinnable election that even the secular press was calling a miracle and a miracle it was. Unbeknown to them there was a massive groundswell of united prayer and fasting that went out across our nation, from small groups to the large denominations; the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime. Israel Folau’s sacking may have acted as a catalyst for some. It was over parents’ rights and the loss of religious freedoms. What is the Liberal party going to do to address these issues?[1]

The Age’s response to this question was headlined, Q&A recap: Panel goes to hell and back in religious freedom debate (McMahon 2019).

His beefs with McKie’s questions included:

clip_image005 It ran ’for roughly a quarter of the total running time’

clip_image005[1] ‘Ruth McKie, who had apparently recovered from weeks of fasting to offer some thoughts on the election result’. This is a pathetic insult to a woman who offered other details that could have contributed to the outcome of the election. McMahon didn’t treat her contribution in an acceptable way. He effectively sneered at what he inferred she had been doing.

clip_image005[2] ‘The “secular press”? Pray tell, what is that?’ McMahon is a journalist and he gave this kind of insulting, ignorant response. Doesn’t he want to own up to the secular nature of his own media organisation? His comment demonstrated how secular it is. Secular means, ‘Not connected with religious or spiritual matters’ (Oxford Living Dictionaries 2019. s.v. secular).

I found that comment to be journalistic one-upmanship and a dumbing down of Christian believers who prayed and fasted for this election.

McMahon’s cynical attack continued against McKie:

clip_image005[3]‘”Prayer and fasting”? The analysts and the pollsters missed it: it was the starving and the prayers wot won it – even if Liberal panellist Tim Wilson didn’t really want to go there’.

Note the sarcastic way McMahon concluded his article,

clip_image005[4]‘Or perhaps we could just fast and pray.”

That’s one truth you missed, Neil McMahon, and so did the pollsters. Based on your antagonism towards Ruth McKie’s questions and her raising the issue of prayer, fasting and the secular press, the importance of these matters zoomed right past you. You didn’t pursue the meaning of the impact of these disciplines on the course of the election and the nation.

You acted like a secular journalist writing for the secular press that is not interested in getting to the heart of what drives the evangelical Christian faith and the Almighty God who is sovereign over the nations, including Australia.

Of course I respond as an evangelical Christian. See ‘Why I am a Christian’.

4. How does a poll measure God’s influence in elections?

One of the activities of God in relation to the universe is His sovereignty.

Sovereignty is God’s control over His creation, dealing with His governance over it. Sovereignty is God’s rule over all reality…. [It is] God’s right to control all, but also as His actual sovereign dominion over all things (Geisler 2003:2.536).

The biblical basis for such conclusions includes:

clip_image007Heb 1:3: God the Son is ‘sustaining all things by his powerful word’.

clip_image007[1]Prov 21:1: ‘The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases’ (NLT).

clip_image007[2]Dan 4:17: ‘For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to anyone he chooses—even to the lowliest of people.”

clip_image008Rev 19:16. God is the sovereign over sovereigns, including over Australia, because he is the ‘King of all kings and Lord of all lords’.

To confirm the specifics of what happens in any nation, including the surprising win for the Coalition on 18 May 2019, the Lord has told us in Christian Scripture why this has happened.

‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God’ (Romans 13:1 NIV).

I am not convinced that any pollster could ever measure the God, prayer and fasting factors in the elections of any nation’s political representatives.

5. Conclusion

ScoMo’s leading the Australian Coalition to victory was described by him as a ‘miracle’, thanks to the ‘quiet Australians’.

In spite of the commentary by some cynical journalists, it was a victory by the Lord God Almighty, King of kings and Lord of Lords. This is what we saw on 18 May 2019:

[God] controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars (Dan 2:21).

I don’t expect any pollster in the world will discover how to measure God’s sovereign activity in a nation. Measuring the immeasurable is like measuring all of the dimensions of the universe.

Mr Briggs, I understand as a businessman you want to offer an excellent product – conducting reliable polls. You got it wrong this time and your clients got it wrong, including the Labor Party. Welcome to the world of imperfect humanity!

The better result, in my view, would be for you to submit to the Lord God Almighty, the King of kings and Lord of lord and seek His salvation.

Accept that it’s not possible to get it right all the time when we know God has ‘the whole world in His hands’ – even the outcome of Australian elections.

6. Works consulted

Crowe, D 2019. Labor gains a crucial lead over the Coalition in key mainland states: Ipsos poll. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 18 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/labor-gains-a-crucial-lead-over-the-coalition-in-key-mainland-states-ipsos-poll-20190517-p51olv.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).

Geisler, N 2003. Systematic theology, vol 2: God, creation. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.

Hartcher, P 2019. Nation’s most influential pollster can’t explain election disaster. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 28 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/nation-s-most-influential-pollster-can-t-explain-election-disaster-20190527-p51rhc.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).

McMahon, N 2019. Q&A recap: Panel goes to hell and back in religious freedom debate, The Canberra Times (originally in The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), 28 May. Available at: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6185473/qa-recap-panel-goes-to-hell-and-back-in-religious-freedom-debate/ (Accessed 28 May 2019).

Murphy K & Martin S 2019. Scott Morrison credits ‘quiet Australians’ for ‘miracle’ election victory. The Guardian Australia (online), 19 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/19/scott-morrison-credits-the-quiet-australians-for-miracle-election-victory (Accessed 28 May 2019).

Sandeman, J 2019. Yes! I believe in miracles. Eternity (online), 19 May. Available at: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/yes-i-believe-in-miracles/ (Accessed 28 May 2019).

Wright, S 2019. Labor in box seat for victory as Liberal vote falls, exit poll shows. The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/labor-in-box-seat-for-victory-as-liberal-vote-falls-exit-poll-shows-20190518-p51ord.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).

7.   Notes


[1] Available from: https://www.abc.net.au/qanda/2019-27-05/11130358 (Accessed 28 May 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 May 2019.

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Australia is in deep trouble: Droughts, floods and fires

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This title page points to five articles following that need to be read consecutively to see the message unfold.

1. Get to the heart of the BIG drought, fires and floods

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(photo courtesy WordPress at The University of Melbourne)

We can’t make it rain. But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet” the government said in a statement’.[1]

2. Pointing towards a solution: Australian disasters

But there’s not much we can do about it.”

3. Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

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(image courtesy Pinterest)

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(image courtesy http://100abortionphotos.com/#64)

They are only examples of two bits and pieces (euthanasia, abortion) in Australia. The bigger picture is what Francis A Schaeffer described as the inevitable consequences that follow for any nation that follows this world view:

Those who hold the material-energy, chance concept of reality, whether they are Marxist or non-Marxist, not only do not know the truth of the final reality, God, they do not know who Man is. Their concept of Man is what Man is not, just as their concept of the final reality is what final reality is not. Since their concept of Man is mistaken, their concept of society and of law is mistaken, and they have no sufficient base for either society or law.

They have reduced Man to even less than his natural finiteness by seeing him only as a complex arrangement of molecules, made complex by blind chance. Instead of seeing him as something great who is significant even in his sinning, they see Man in his essence only as an intrinsically competitive animal, that has no other basic operating principle than natural selection brought about by the strongest, the fittest, ending on top. And they see Man as acting in this way both individually and collectively as society (Francis A Schaeffer 1981:25-26).[2]

4. This deep-seated problem brings ruin to the outback and to the Australian nation

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(image courtesy Askideas.com)

The Australian Constitution of 1900 begins:

WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established.[3]

Where is God in the media, marketplace of ideas, government and education? Labelling Australia as a ‘secular’ (nonreligious) nation demonstrates how secularists don’t understand the consequences of a secular-humanist world view. We see the consequences in Australia today.

5. The path Australia treads to ruin

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(image courtesy www.afain.net)

6.  Notes


[1] Stephanie Bedo 2018. Australia’s crippling drought crisis: Overcoming past mistakes to save ourselves for the future. news.com.au (online), 6 August. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/australias-crippling-drought-crisis-overcoming-past-mistakes-to-save-ourselves-for-the-future/news-story/136436de96fee5f33809de8d607f413c (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[2] Francis A Schaeffer 1981. A Christian Manifesto. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books. The chapter from which this citation is drawn, ‘The Abolition of Truth and Morality’ is available from The Highway at: https://www.the-highway.com/articleOct01.html (Accessed 28 May 2019).

[3] Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/preamble (Accessed 6 November 2018).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 May 2019.

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This deep-seated problem brings ruin to the outback and to the Australian nation

By Spencer D Gear PhD

If this is not fixed, the rot will continue to infest Australia. The politically correct, left-wing agitators will blame it on ‘climate change’. Insurance Business Australia had this headline on its website:

Climate change-driven flood risk could make Townsville homes “uninsurable”[1]

The reasons for the disasters in Australia are much more detailed than that.

The late Francis Schaeffer, evangelical theologian, philosopher and pastor who founded the L’Abri Community in Switzerland, warned of the ‘spiritual collapse of the West’.[2]

Is Australia on a national ‘Airbus’ path to destruction?

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(The Airbus A380, photo courtesy Wikipedia)[3]

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(Aeroméxico Connect Embraer 190AR plane crash Durango, Mexico, 31 July, 2018, photo courtesy 1001crash.com)[4]

The following are only a few examples that point to where Australia is heading.

1. The diseases in the churches of Australia

You heard me correctly. This nation’s problems, including the droughts, fires and floods, will not be rectified until the churches – the Christians – are brought back to health. Healing for this land will start with the churches returning to their first love.

National repentance begins with God’s people who have sinned. How do I know? The Scriptures teach us. There is a direct link between the health of the people of God

and the shape of a nation’s culture.

clip_image006’If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land’ (2 Chron 7:14 NLT).

While this is an OT passage dealing with God’s people among the Israelites, the principle can be applied to any nation: If any nation is going to be restored from whatever is afflicting it (e.g. drought and floods in Australia in 2019), God’s people must humbly seek God in prayer AND turn from their wicked ways.

clip_image007This OT message of the need for God’s people to repent is found in the NT at 1 Peter 4:14-17 (NIRV),

14 Suppose people say bad things about you because you believe in Christ. Then you are blessed, because God’s Spirit rests on you. He is the Spirit of glory. 15 If you suffer, it shouldn’t be because you are a murderer. It shouldn’t be because you are a thief or someone who does evil things. It shouldn’t be because you interfere with other people’s business. 16 But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, praise God because you are known by the name of Christ. 17 

IT IS TIME FOR JUDGMENT TO BEGIN WITH THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD. AND SINCE IT BEGINS WITH US, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T OBEY GOD’S GOOD NEWS?

Which wicked ways are in the churches?

clip_image009 Do I need to remind you of the child sexual abuse in churches and church institutions uncovered in the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse report of 2017? Don’t forget some of the church cover-ups. This was atrocious behaviour. See:

  •  The Report into Anglican Diocese of Newcastle released, 7 December 2017[5]
  •  The Report into Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne released, 5 December 2017[6]

clip_image010 I know of one evangelical Christian church that has had 3 pastors who committed adultery. In 2 other churches I know of adultery happening – a pastor’s adultery with a church member.

As a long-term family counsellor, I know from clients that adultery is almost always accompanied by lies and deceit, all of which break God’s laws.

clip_image010[1] We could go down the list of the other commands in the 10 commandments and New Testament and find sinful violations in churches.

  • What about denominations[7] and churches[8] that now ordain homosexuals and marry homosexuals when Scriptures clearly proclaim heterosexuality in both OT (Gen 2:24) and in the words of Jesus, ‘a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Matt 19:5).
  • I haven’t dealt with some churches’ support of euthanasia, murder of children in the womb through abortion, claiming that miracles cannot take place, and challenging the authority of Scripture, concluding it cannot be trusted as a book of truthful documents.
  • Jesus’ warning: ‘’Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act….’ (Matt 7:15-16a).
  • I’m thinking of other teachings like the prosperity ‘gospel’ and the preachers who claim there is no hell.
  • Gossip in the churches. Prov 20:19 (NLT) states: ‘A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers’.
  • A return to ministry to the orphans, widows, elderly, homeless, the poor and other needy people. All denominations need to do it. I thank God for the Salvos, but ALL churches need to minister to those in need. Some do it through the social services division of the denomination. What about the local church taking this need on board? I know of some local churches that distribute food hampers to the needy, including children who go to school having had no breakfast.
  • The local church should be a defender and provider of hope for the hopeless and needy.
  • Where are the local churches that stand against the immorality flooding the nation? Our voices must not be silenced.

James 1:27: ‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you’.

Prov 14:31: ‘Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him’.

clip_image009[1] But there’s more and this has to do with what is preached from the pulpit. There are preachers who don’t believe the Bible and its miracles. They destroy the biblical message with their historical-critical methods.

They deny the virgin birth of Jesus, redefine his bodily resurrection to make an apparition or fable, and reject literal interpretation and replace with modernist and postmodernist interpretations. If you want to see which churches are preaching these kinds of doctrines, go along to your local mainline church that has dwindling numbers of older people.

clip_image010[2] For the ruin of Australia to be stopped in its tracks, the solution starts with the churches and individuals in the churches repenting of their sins and returning to their first love of God.

2. This is the call to Australia as a nation.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov 14:34 NASB). To put it another way,

clip_image012 ‘Righteousness raises a people to greatness; to pursue wrong degrades a nation’ (REB). Or,

clip_image012[1] ‘Doing what is right lifts people up. But sin brings judgment to any nation’ (NIRV).

clip_image013 ‘Doing what is right makes a nation great. But sin will bring disgrace to any people’ (IEB).[9]

‘Doing what is right’ does not refer to what people think is right, but to God’s standard of right, called righteousness and justice.

This verse does NOT state, ‘Righteousness exalts the Israelite nation, but sin is a disgrace to the Jews’. It is a proverb of God’s will for ALL nations, without exception. Israel is not excluded, but neither is Australia.

In measuring the greatness of Australia, we can be tempted to consider the area of land in the country, the population of 25 million, whether it has a strong defence force, democracy, the intellectual vigour of the culture, how civilised the nation is, its wealth, natural resources, technology and history.[10]

God has a very different set of standards. This is what represents true greatness for any country. The most important criterion is its relationship to God. Are Australian laws and the people’s actions directed by God’s will?

This is God’s standard: His righteousness, his justice.

Where do we find that standard? It’s in the book of Scripture!

2.1 Laws and practices that are righteous

This is the most searching test for all policies legislated at federal, state, territory and local government levels that will lead to success by the Australian people.

What righteousness will exalt Australia? The proverb is not addressing material things that will make any nation great, but it is language of morality as the rest of the verse indicates with its converse, ‘Sin is a disgrace to any people’.

A similar message for any nation is given in Proverbs 16:12b, ‘a throne [of a king] is established through righteousness’ (NIV).

What ethical legislation will make Australia great? These are but a few examples:

  • Human beings are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27), so they must not be treated like animals.
  • Are we caring for the persecuted, widows, orphans, poor and homeless people among us and overseas?
  • Respect life from conception to natural death. Leave conception to God and the union of two people (that can include IVF) and do not end life prematurely.
  • The human family consists of mother, father and children. Let all legislation pursue this end.
  • Do not murder children in the womb or murder for any other reason through euthanasia and assisted suicide.
  • We must address sexuality issues from God’s standards about marriage, divorce, defacto relationships, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc.

2.1.1 Wait a minute!

You might say, ‘That’s a terribly narrow view of society and culture. That’s Christian indoctrination to say following God’s law makes a nation great’.

How does the Australian Constitution of 1900 begin?

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(image Constitution of Australia Coat of Arms, courtesy of KissPNG)

WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established.[11]

So, calling on the Almighty God of the Judeo-Christian world view is relying on the foundation of our nation.

Is following human-created laws regarding life and death, democracy, law and order, crime and punishment preferred to God’s ways?

All of us support one-way principles in many areas of life.

clip_image017 In Australia, we drive one-way on one-side of the road (unless otherwise indicated). Driving on the left-hand side of the road is a one-way example.

clip_image018 When we use the Google search engine on the Internet, we are narrow-minded. We accept the one-way Google algorithm that makes it such a powerful search engine.

clip_image018[1] Hit a cricket ball into the air or kick a football into the air. It doesn’t keep going and going into space. It comes back to earth because of the one-way pressure on it called gravity. That’s gravity that God has created on earth.

clip_image018[2] God’s one way is for all people to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen so both people and plants can coexist. It is God’s one-way principle for survival on the earth.

clip_image019 The Muslims do it in praying 5 times a day to Allah and facing Mecca and these are the 5 Pillars of Islam for a follower of Islam.

clip_image019[1] See Exclusivity Claims of Major World Religions (Christian Apologetics Alliance)

clip_image019[2] See Point of Exclusion (Ravi Zacharias)

What will put Australia on a pedestal? It will not come from secular, government legislation. It will be when it legislates holistically according to God’s standards of justice and righteousness.

What will devastate Australia? Proverbs 14:34 gives the second part what wrecks any nation.

2.2 ‘Sin is a disgrace to any people’

What sins have been legislated by Australia to make them LEGAL for people to practise? What sins are legal in Australia that the Scriptures call a ‘disgrace’ and sins against God?

The KJV and NKJV translate ‘disgrace’ as ‘a wicked thing’. Remember these wicked things are sins – immoral actions by people against God – and all approved by the Australian nation, i.e. the parliaments and councils.

Which Australian legislation is against God’s laws?

clip_image021 We should not commit fornication / sexual immorality (1 Cor 10:8) – but we call it prostitution, defacto relationships, and sex outside of marriage;

clip_image022 We murder unborn babies in the name of abortion. God says ‘You shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13; Matt 5:21).

In the three decades from 1984-2014, when abortion was illegal in Queensland, Medicare statistics reported that there were 388,220 alleged ‘legal’ abortions in this State[12] (Johnston 2015). When we consider the number of abortions across Australia in the last century, that makes Hitler’s massacre of 10 million Jews and other persecuted people in the World War 2 look like a blip on the radar.

Reporting for abortions is incomplete; reported abortions include only Medicare abortions, and these figures are incomplete for 2010-2011. Abortion figures are for calendar years, some figures are interpolated from fiscal year figures (Johnston 2015).

What would the number of abortions be in Queensland in a given year if 100% of them were statistically recorded?

There is no gentle way to describe what is happening in Queensland than to say we already have a catastrophic, destructive, devastating annihilation of human life in the womb. In defiance of the law, abortions continued to take place before abortion was decriminalised, with federal government financial assistance through Medicare.

‘Abortion [was] legalised in Queensland after historic vote in Parliament’, 18 October 2018.[13]

clip_image023 Murdering adult human beings through euthanasia and assisted suicide in Victoria (Ex 20:13; Matt 5:21) and having inquiries into similar legislation in Queensland and Western Australia;

clip_image023[1] No fault, easy divorce (endorsing adultery in many cases) – Ex 20:14; Matt 5:27;

clip_image021[1] God’s standard, according to both OT and Jesus, is: ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5; Eph 5:31). What has Australia done? It legalised same-sex marriage, a sin which is ‘a disgrace to any people’ and 1 Cor 6:9-11 (NIV) puts it among the sins that prevent people from entering the kingdom of God.

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[14] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And THAT IS WHAT SOME OF YOU WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Note that God does not speak of a sexual orientation of homosexuality caused by genetics but of sexual behaviour (wrongdoers): sexual immorality, adulterers, and homosexual men. This behaviour is included among other ‘wrongdoers’ such as: idolaters, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers.

God’s view is that ‘some of you were’ idolaters, thieves and adulterers, but change is possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There is a resistance to this teaching in secular Australia. I refer you to the article, ‘”Treatments” as torture: gay conversion therapy’s deep roots in Australia’, The Conversation, 3 May 2018.[15] This article also appeared on ABC News, Brisbane Qld.[16]

There is another issue that has to be addressed with God’s standards in Australia and that is freedom of religion. Will ALL Australians be able to meet openly and preach from the Bible, Qur’an, Hindu Bhagavad Gita and Agamas, Humanist Manifesto, or will there be censorship of some topics?

clip_image021[2] There must not be discrimination against certain people, including God’s people. God says, ‘If you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law’ (James 2:9).

They are only a few examples of the immoral decisions Australian governments have made that bring disgrace on the nation.

Note: This is a 5-part series of which this is the 2nd part. It is connected to the next article: Pointing Towards a Solution

3.   Notes


[1] Mina Martin 2019. Insurance Business Australia (online). Climate change-driven flood risk could make Townsville homes “uninsurable”, 21 February. Available at: https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/au/news/breaking-news/climate-changedriven-flood-risk-could-make-townsville-homes-uninsurable-159513.aspx (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[2] In Charles Colson with Ellen Santilli Vaughn 1999, Against the Night. London: Hodder & Stoughton [Servant Publications, USA], p. 10.

[3] Photo courtesy Wikipedia (2019. s.v. Airbus). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[4] Available at: https://www.1001crash.com/index-page-description-accident-Aeromexico_ERJ190-lg-2-crash-398-aeromexico-connect-embraer-190ar-mexico-durango.html (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[5] Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse 2017. Available at: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/media-releases/report-anglican-diocese-newcastle-released (Accessed 15 August 2018).

[6] Ibid. Available at: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/media-releases/report-catholic-archdiocese-melbourne-released (Accessed 15 August 2018).

[7] ‘Same-sex couples will be allowed to get married in the Uniting Church of Australia after the denomination’s national body agreed to now wording.

‘The church agreed to adopt an additional belief statement on marriage on Friday night [13 July 2018] at Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne’s southeast during a seven-day triennial assembly.

‘“Marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life,” the new additional statement reads.

‘Ministers will be able to conduct same-sex marriages in the coming months if they wish, but individual ministers can also refuse to do so, the assembly ruled (Sunday Mail, 15 July 2018, p. 27). Similar information is available from The Uniting Church in Australia Assembly at: https://assembly.uca.org.au/news/item/2852-pastoral-letter-from-the-president-on-marriage-and-same-gender-relationships (Accessed 15 August 2018).

[8] ‘Anglicans in Perth have voted to have same-sex relationships recognised … by a two-thirds majority [of the synod]’ (ABC News Brisbane, Qld), 7 October 2013. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-07/anglicans-in-perth-vote-to-recognise-same-sex-marriages/5002762 (Accessed 18 August 2018).

ABC Gippsland (Victoria, Australia) reported: ‘The Anglican Bishop of Gippsland has defended his decision to appoint an openly gay priest to a local parish, saying he has acted appropriately.

‘Bishop John McIntyre, says his decision to appoint Reverend David Head, who formerly held a position within a Melbourne parish, to the parish of Heyfield is in line with the policy of his diocese’, 27 February 2012, Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/02/27/3440628.htm?site=gippsland (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[9] IEB = The International English Bible 2014-2015, Proverbs. Available at: https://www.iebible.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/20-Proverbs-demo.pdf (Accessed 14 August 2018).

[10] Some suggestions by C F Keil & E Delitzsch n d: Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, vol 6. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (vol 6, p. 314).

[11] Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/preamble (Accessed 6 November 2018).

[12] These are my calculations from the data available from Johnston, W R 2015. Historical abortion statistics, Queensland (Australia) [online]. Available at: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/australia/ab-aust-qld.html (Accessed 29 August 2018).

[13] Allyson Horn 2018. Abortion legalised in Queensland after historic vote in Parliament. ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 18 October. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-17/abortion-legal-in-queensland-after-historic-vote/10382538 (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[14] The NIV footnote is: ‘The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts’.

[15] Marguerite Johnson & James Bennett 2018. ‘Treatments’ as torture: gay conversion therapy’s deep roots in Australia. The Conversation (online), 3 May. Available at: https://theconversation.com/treatments-as-torture-gay-conversion-therapys-deep-roots-in-australia-95588 (Accessed 2 October 2018).

[16] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-03/gay-conversion-therapy-australia-exorcism-lgbtiq-bible/9721992 (Accessed 2 October 2018).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 May 2019.

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Pointing Towards a Solution

Australia’s droughts, floods & fires

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(photo NSW drought, courtesy The Land)

1. “But there’s not much we can do about it.[1]

Really? In my view, there is one word too many in that statement. Which single word needs to be removed?

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Get rid of ‘not’. There IS something we can do if we are God-fearing people.

2. Something fundamental is missing in the mass media and Australian government analyses!

What should we add to the excellent ABC News: Rural (2018) headline?

The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us’

That’s a cry for city cousins to dig deep to help people during the big drought. I’m 100% behind that cry for help and have given to the drought appeal. But there’s an essential component absent from that plea.

I ask some essential questions that I hope will open you to what we Australians can do about the drought, floods and fires. I’m not talking only of food and water for the animals and financial and mental health support for the farmers and their families.

I warn you. What I’m about to say is not politically correct news and there could be journalists in the mass media who will scoff at my analysis of the cause and solution of the drought crisis.

One drought-stricken farmer said, ‘I’m sick of this damn drought’ (ABC News: Rural 2018).

That comment leads …

2.1 Towards a solution: Who or what sends and stops the rain?

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(Kenthurst Rotary fundraiser helping Aussie farmers, photo courtesy galstoncommunity.com.au)

Is the rain generated by some NASA space agency lab? Can we create rain to meet the needs in Aramac and Charleville in Qld and Broken Hill and Nyngan in NSW? Will cloud seeding do it when there are few clouds?

Is it global warming that stops the rain from falling in outback Australia and causes the regular droughts?

That misses the point: Who creates the clouds and blue skies in the first place and who continues to keep them going day after day?

The gifts of clouds and rain are made for the benefit of good and bad people. Water is essential to all of life. This view of the origin of rain comes from the Judeo-Christian world view on which the Australian nation was built from 1788 onwards..

It is a clear sign of God’s mercy when he sends rain. He and He alone sends the rain. Damning the drought is really damning God for not doing what we damned well want him to do. We don’t like settling for what God wants.

But wait a minute!

clip_image008_thumb1(image courtesy Pinterest)[2]

This is how Jesus Christ put it:

‘Then you will be children of your Father who is in heaven. He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t (Matthew 5:45 NIRV).

I smiled when I read how Baron Charles Bowen, a British judge of the 19th century, put it:

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.
[3]

God Almighty sends the sun and the rain – and so the drought and the flood – on BOTH moral and immoral people – those who do right and those who don’t.. Where is God in what has become a secular Australian society? Secular means non-religious and worldly. In Australia, it tends towards meaning godless.[4]

How long is it since you fell to your knees and confessed that you have sinned against God in so many ways, one of which is your failure to seek him diligently every day to send rain? Have you pleaded for God’s forgiveness for all of Australia’s wrongs committed?

This is not a word only for those suffering drought in the outback. It is for the whole nation.

Where are the prayer meetings in towns or suburbs to cry out to God for rain? Are you praying in your homes daily for God to open the skies with drought-breaking rain?

I haven’t heard the current Prime Minister call for a day or week of Prayer and Repentance for Australia.

Where are these kinds of mass media headlines?

Related image“Drought brings farmers to their knees”

Related image

The call to Australians to pray for the drought to break”

Related image

Australia must repent of its moral depravity”

Related image

Godliness exalts a nation”

Related image

Drought and Australia’s spiritual condition”

On 6 September 2018, The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

“It’s great to see it raining here in Albury today,” [Prime Minister Scott Morrison] said, roaming the stage with a hand-held microphone.

“I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country. And I do pray for that rain.

“And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that.”

And in case there were those in the audience who weren’t God-fearing, Morrison included them, too.

“It all starts with the individual. I love Australia. Who loves Australia? Everyone. We all love Australia … Do we love all Australians? We’ve got to,” said Scott Morrison in his first major address as prime minister.

“And everyone else who doesn’t like to do that, you just say, ‘Good on you, guys. You go well’. Think good thoughts for them. Or whatever you do”.[5]

The Sydney Morning Herald’s article title was:

Scott Morrison’s Sermon on the Murray. Love: It’s for Australians’

Our PM encouraged those who believed in the power of prayer to PRAY for rain for the farmers. For others, ‘Good on you, guys. You go well’. Think good thoughts for them. Or whatever you do”.[6]

Then came this Opinion piece from ABC Religion & Ethics by Byron Smith (14 September 2018).[7]

Faith without works: Why the Prime Minister’s call to pray for rain is offensive’

Why is the call to prayer for rain ‘offensive’? Byron Smith gave 3 reasons:

clip_image012_thumb1Firstly: Atheists. It’s an offensive gesture from national leader because it’s talking to the ‘sky fairy, embracing and promoting irrational superstition’. Some responded with ‘angry mockery’.

clip_image012_thumb2Secondly, ‘As a Christian’, Byron Smith found the comment offensive because of ‘the profound disconnect between his professed prayers and the pro-coal – and thus anti-farmer – agenda of his government’.

clip_image012_thumbThirdly, ‘When the government Morrison leads has spent many years doing little or nothing about the root causes of the warming that is worsening such extreme weather, then inviting the nation to pray in response is somewhat galling. The Coalition does not have a climate policy’.

Dr Byron Smith is currently Assistant Pastor at St. George’s Anglican Church, Paddington NSW in the Evangelical Anglican Diocese of Sysney.

Let’s not kid ourselves about the ‘root causes’ of the drought. It’s beyond the global warming issues to something more profound. Bryson Smith should know this as he’s a minister in the evangelical Anglican diocese of Sydney NSW.

How many of you can remember as far back as April 2007?

There you might have seen this headline in The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 2007:

Pray for rain, urges [John] Howard’

clip_image014_thumb1

(John Howard photo, courtesy pinterest)[9]

2.1.1 ‘Pray for rain’[8]

This article reported:

Prime Minister John Howard has urged Australians to pray for rain as hard-hit agricultural regions face zero water allocations due to drought.

Mr Howard warned last week that farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin faced having no water for the coming irrigation year unless heavy rain fell in the next six to eight weeks.

On Sunday he said he intended to meet irrigators over coming weeks to discuss the grim situation.

Meanwhile, he encouraged people to seek divine intervention.

“It’s very serious, it’s unprecedented in my lifetime and I really feel very deeply for the people affected,” Mr Howard told ABC Television.

“So we should all, literally and without any irony, pray for rain over the next six to eight weeks.”

Why isn’t Scott Morrison calling on local ministers’ associations across the nation to organise churches in every suburb and town to pray for drought-breaking rain?

2.1.2 South African political response to drought

Colin Newman[10] of South Africa recalled that after his Christian conversion in 1977, South Africa experienced severe drought. The President called for a National Day of repentance and humiliation before God.

As a new Christian he was impressed with the masses of people who poured from workplaces to fill churches during lunch hours. Churches overflowed with people, praying for God to break the drought. However, these people poured out their prayers to God for repentance. When the rains came a few days later he was awestruck by God’s response to these prayers.

In 2012, Newman said since that time there have been serious droughts over 15 years but none of the previous three Presidents of South Africa called the people to prayer and repentance (Newman 2012).

Note: This is a 5-part series of which this is the 3rd part. It is connected to the next article:Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

3. Notes


[1] ABC News: Rural (2018).

[2] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/381680137141097167 (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[3] In Brandreth, G 2013. Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations. Oxford University Press, p. 314. This citation is available HERE.

[4] Oxford Dictionaries Online (2019. s.v. secular) gives the meaning as, ‘Not connected with religious or spiritual matters’. Collins Dictionary (2019. s.v. secular) provides the meaning ‘to describe things that have no connection with religion’. To gain an understanding of how some secular Australians think and the values they esteem, see the policies and aims of The Secular Party of Australia at: https://www.secular.org.au/ (Accessed 8 January 2019).

[5] Tony Wright 2018. Scott Morrison’s Sermon on the Murray. Love: it’s for Australians. WA Today (online), 6 September. Available at: https://www.watoday.com.au/politics/federal/scott-morrison-s-sermon-on-the-murray-love-it-s-for-australians-20180906-p5026m.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed (Accessed 27 February 2019).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Byron Smith 2018. Faith without works: Why the Prime Minister’s call to pray for rain is offensive. ABC Religion & Ethics (online, 14 September. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/religion/why-it-was-offensive-for-the-prime-minister-to-call-for-prayer/10245992 (Accessed 2 November 2018).

[8] The Sydney Morning Herald 2007. Pray for rain, urges Howard (online), 22 April. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/pray-for-rain-urges-howard-20070422-gdpyx1.html (Accessed 6 January 2019).

[9] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/291959988324555653 (Accessed 6 January 2019).

[10] Colin Newman 2012. Droughts, Tsunami’s and God. Frontline Fellowship (online), 29 May. Available at: http://www.frontline.org.za/index.php?option=com_multicategories&view=article&id=910:droughts-tsunamis-and-god&catid=24:political-social-issues-cat (Accessed 18 August 2018).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 26 May 2019.

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Connection between spiritual condition of the nation and disasters

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie

Category 4 severe tropical cyclone (Aus scale)

Category 4 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)

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(Debbie shortly after peak intensity approaching Queensland, Australia on 28 March 2017, image courtesy Wikipedia)

“I kept the rain from falling when your crops needed it the most.

I sent rain on one town but withheld it from another. Rain fell on one field, while another field withered away.

People staggered from town to town looking for water, but there was never enough.

But still you would not return to me, says the Lord”.

Could there be a link between a nation’s disasters and its spiritual condition before the Lord God Almighty?

Here are a few examples from Scripture that demonstrate the pattern:

1. Amos 4:6-9, 12 (NLT)

“I [the Sovereign Lord] brought hunger to every city
and famine to every town.
But still you would not return to me,”
says the LORD.

7 “I kept the rain from falling
when your crops needed it the most.
I sent rain on one town
but withheld it from another.
Rain fell on one field,
while another field withered away.
8 People staggered from town to town looking for water,
but there was never enough.
But still you would not return to me,”

says the Lord.

9 “I struck your farms and vineyards with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured all your fig and olive trees.
But still you would not return to me,”

says the Lord
….

12 “Therefore, I will bring upon you all the disasters I have announced.
Prepare to meet your God in judgment, you people of Israel!”

That was an instance from another nation of the core of the problem – the link between a nation’s spiritual condition and God’s sending drought. There IS A SOLUTION. Repent of our sins against God, Australia, and return to Him in confession and repentance.

The prophet Joel provided another case in point:

2. Joel 2:11-13

There is ‘a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance’ (Eccl 3:4). I hope you have been doing lots of crying and grieving over the state of Australia and for God to open the heavens and send rain. Please grieve with the farming families in drought.

But here is another statement about the core problem …

… The day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing.
Who can possibly survive?

12 That is why the LORD says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.

Originally, this was a warning to Israel, but the same principle applies to Australia. The day of the Lord’s punishment is terrible. Droughts, cyclones, bush fires, earthquakes (remember Newcastle NSW, 28 December1989 and the earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale)[1] and tsunamis are devastating in their impacts.

Through Joel the prophet, the message to Israel and by inference to Australia to stop this drought is that no human being can break it by causing the rain to fall. Only the Lord God Almighty can do that. He shouts to all Aussies:

TURN TO ME NOW WHILE THERE IS TIME. GIVE ME YOUR HEARTS. COME WITH FASTING, WEEPING, AND MOURNING.… RETURN TO THE LORD YOUR GOD FOR HE IS MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE’.

3. We have the same kind of message from Jesus

Every catastrophe is the Holy God’s merciful call to people to repent of their sinful ways. The Gospel of Luke records:

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God (Luke 13:1-3 NLT).

In verses 4-5 of Luke 13 we read: ‘And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU WILL PERISH TOO’.

4. Does this sound like Australia in the twenty-first century?

The Scriptures are adamant:

You should know … that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.

3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT).

There is a direct connection between Australia’s moral and spiritual condition and disasters – the drought, floods, fires and other catastrophes. I do NOT equate one disaster with one type of moral disaster from God. That’s God’s business to do the connecting. I know clearly from Scripture that there is an association between the nation’s spiritual conditions and disasters that come (see the above examples.

5. More disasters

(a) The Townsville floods 2019

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A general view of the flooded Townsville suburb of Idalia. Photograph: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images[2]

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GOOD CAUSE: Sunshine Coast residents have donated to Townsville flood victims in the throes of cleaning up. AAP/DAN PELED[3]

clip_image006(1) How much rain was received?

According to Higgins’ Storm Chasing, ‘Townsville has broken its 6 day, 7 day, 8 day, 9 day, 10 day, 11 day and 12 day accumulative records from this event. A final 12 day total of 1391.4mm has been observed [in February 2019]’.[4]

The Bureau of Meteorology made this statement about the Townsville flood on 15 February 2019 (reported by ABC News, Brisbane, Qld):

It is difficult to oversell the amount of rain that has fallen in north Queensland. Places like Paluma, Woolshed, and Upper Bluewater got over two metres of rain in 12 days.[5]

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(2) Estimated cost of Townsville flood damage.

Qld Premier, Ms Annastasia Palaszczuk,  said … ‘the state budget is estimated to take a hit of at least $1.5 billion after catastrophic bushfires and floods ravaged Queensland over the last three months’.[6]

(b) North-West Queensland: From drought to flooding and cattle disaster

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Rachael Anderson of Eddington station[7] says she has lost about 2,000 cattle, roughly half the herd. Photograph: Rachael Anderson[8]

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Grazier David Batt and volunteer Ash Travers line up carcasses for a mass burial. Supplied: Max Batt.[9]

(1) According to ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, ‘An estimate is that the floods have ‘killed as many as 500,000 animals across Queensland’s north and central-west’.[10]

(c) Fires in Victoria

In February 2019, Victorian fire authorities were bracing for hot and windy weather on Sunday [10 Feb] as they continue to fight fires which are threatening lives and properties in parts of the state.

ABC News, Brisbane, Qld provided this Victorian fire photo on 1 and 2 February 2019:

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Photo: The bushfire was burning in a westerly direction towards Moe-Walhalla Road. Photo supplied: Jimmy Lia, 1 February 2019[11]

6. I must give two warnings.

6.1 First warning

Don’t bother coming to the Trinitarian, Lord God Almighty in prayer if you don’t believe He exists. If you are an atheist, agnostic, humanist, sceptic, or secular person, you are wasting your time seeking help from the God in whom you do not believe.

How do I know? Scripture says: ‘It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6).

If you don’t believe in the existence of God, it would be like going to McDonald’s to buy a hammer and shovel. Don’t waste your time in praying to the God you don’t believe in.

If you are struggling with knowing if God exists, see these articles online:

clip_image016 Evidence for the existence of God

clip_image016[1] God reveals Himself in nature to everyone

clip_image016[2] Does God send cyclones?

6.2 Second warning

Forget about praying for rain if you want what God does not want for you. Scripture places this boundary around our praying: ‘Here is what we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer. If we ask anything in keeping with what he wants, he hears us. If we know that God hears what we ask for, we know that we have it (1 John 5:14-15).

If it is God’s will to send rain to the outback NOW, He will send it when we pray. He may have a greater lesson to teach us. Have Australian people repented of the sins of the nation and changed its immoral laws to agree with God’s laws? Have individuals repented and sought God’s forgiveness.

If God doesn’t send rain, what could be other blockages in Australia that are causing God to say, ‘No, not yet’?

If God sends a deluge of rain that we rightly label as disaster, God’s ways are the same. He will not tolerate Australia’s wicked ways. What I’m saying applies across this sinful world and to all countries. I’m focussing on Australia because we live here.

Note: This is a 5-part series of which this is the 4th part. It is connected to the next article: The path Australia treads to ruin

7.  Notes


[1] See Emily Verdouw 2013. On this day: Newcastle earthquake strikes. Australian Geographic (online), 7 November. Available at: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/on-this-day/2013/11/on-this-day-newcastle-earthquake-strikes/ (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[2] The Guardian Australia 2019. Flood waters inundate Townsville homes as army called in – in pictures (online), 5 February. Photograph: Andrew Rankin/AAP. .Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2019/feb/05/floodwaters-inundate-townsville-homes-as-army-called-in-in-pictures (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[3] Chloe Lyons 2019. Donations pile up for Townsville flood appeal. Sunshine Coast Daily (online), 11 February. Available at: https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/donations-pile-up-for-townsville-flood-appeal/3644239/ (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[4] Higgins Storm Chasing 2019. Ridiculous Rainfall Accumulations Up To Day 12 Of The Townsville Floods (online). Available at: https://higginsstormchasing.com/ridiculous-rainfall-accumulations-up-to-day-12-of-the-townsville-floods/ (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[5] ABC Weather by Kate Doyle 2019. North Queensland rains trigger BOM special climate statement (online), 15 February 2019. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-15/queensland-floods-special-climate-statement/10816184 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[6] Talissa Siganto and staff 2019. ABC News, Brisbane, Qld. ‘Summer of disasters’ reveals the cost of climate change for Queensland taxpayers (online), 19 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-19/climate-change-and-the-cost-of-qlds-summer-of-disasters/10826122 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[7] Eddington station is located 20km west of Julia Creek in outback NW Qld, Australia. See: https://www.jimpolamarketing.com.au/blog/eddington-station-20km-west-of-julia-creek (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[8] Ben Smee 2019. Up to 500,000 drought-stressed cattle killed in Queensland floods. The Guardian Australia(online), 11 February. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/11/up-to-500000-drought-stressed-cattle-killed-in-queensland-floods (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[9] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Burying cattle killed in the Queensland floods (online), 21 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-21/burying-cattle-killed-in-the-queensland-floods/10834282 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[10] Steven Schubert and Ben Deacon 2019. ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, (online), Drought-hit Channel Country cattle producers welcome floodwater from weather system that devastated neighbours, 23 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-23/cattle-producers-welcome-floodwater-that-devastated-neighbours/10843080 (Accessed 23 February 2019).

[11] ABC News, Brisbane Qld 2019. Tanjil South bushfire, 1 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-01/tanjil-south-bushfire-1/10772776 (Accessed 27 March 2019). The entry on 2 February 2019 was from ABC News, Brisbane. Watch and Act warning issued for Grantville fire as authorities prepare for worsening conditions (online). Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-02/fires-continue-to-burn-in-victoria-as-conditions-set-to-worsen/10773678 (Accessed 27 March 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 May 2019.

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The path Australia treads to ruin

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(The bushfire in Bunyip State Park, Victoria, Australia. Picture: Ionee Reid. Source: Supplied, courtesy news.com.au)[1]

If we want to deal with the devastation of Australia’s drought and other catastrophes, we need to start with a clean up of the churches and a call to repentance by the nation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s voice has been silent about this core issue that associates Australia’s spiritual condition with the drought, floods, fires and other crises.

1. A core issue

Why hasn’t the PM called the nation to HUMILITY, PRAYER AND REPENTANCE for our sins and for God to send rain to break the drought?

We need leadership from the Prime Minister to call for a Day of Repentance and Prayer for rain. Step up to the mark Mr Morrison and lead the way! What an example it would be to see a Christian Prime Minister, ScoMo, and many MPs in local churches praying as they repent and ask God to heal the land and send rain.

This also means reversing the ungodly legislation that is a ‘disgrace’ to the people and the nation.

Other nations have called their people to repent in times of disaster.

1.1 Great Britain did it during World War 2

King George VI had called the people of Great Britain to National Days of Prayer and Repentance four times [during World War 2].  Yet, his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in [66][2] years as the Queen of England, has not once called for [a] National Day of Prayer. The last time Britain had a National Day of Prayer was during the Second World War (Newman 2012).

1.2 South Africans called to prayer during drought

South Africa’s Colin Newman related what happened in South Africa after his conversion to Christ in 1977. The President called for a National Day of Repentance and Humiliation before God. As a new Christian he was impressed with the masses of people in central Cape Town who filled the churches to overflowing. It was a time of intense, earnest heart searching prayers of repentance.

The rains came a couple days later and he was awe struck Newman 2012).

1.3 Zambia’s national day of prayer

clip_image004(map of southern Africa courtesy Biofocuscommunicatie)

Since Zambia officially was declared a Christian nation in 1991,[3] its President has called the nation to days of prayer during drought, and the nation has also celebrated National Days of Thanksgiving when God graciously answered their prayers with rain (Newman 2012).

Could you imagine this kind of statement appearing in any mass media outlet in Australia in a capital city or elsewhere?

“Our [Zambian] identity is established in the Lord Jesus Christ. The values, principles and ethics which we embrace as a people reflect the person of Jesus Christ.

“Love, dignity, integrity, honest, hard work, patriotism among others are the hallmark of who we are as a people,” she said.

That’s from the Lusaka Times 2016. Zambia commemorated its 25th anniversary of the declaration as a Christian Nation (online), 29 December.[4] Lusaka is the capital and largest city in Zambia, with a population of about 1.7 million people.[5]

1.4 Alabama, USA

With parts of Alabama [USA] suffering an exceptional drought, Gov. Bob Riley [was] turning to God for help and asking other Alabamians to join him in praying for rain.

Riley issued a proclamation Thursday declaring June 30 [2007] through July 7 as “Days of Prayer for Rain” and asked citizens to pray individually and in their houses of worship.

“Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty. This drought is without question a time of great difficulty for our farmers and for communities across our state,” Riley said in a statement.[6]

I know I’ll be criticised, especially by the media, for reminding you and our communities that droughts provide us with a reminder that human beings and government cannot control the creation of when rain comes or when the heavens are closed. Surely this drought reminds us we depend on a Higher Power – the Lord God – who sends the rain and stops the rain.

3. Call to action

clip_image006(James Edmund Allen 1938, prayer for rain, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Australia’s Brian Pickering explained:

It was back in 2006 when Australia experienced a severe drought. God called for Australia to repent following national prayer to end a severe drought. God is still waiting according to the leader of the Australian Prayer Network, Brian Pickering.

God Is Still Waiting for Australia to Repent.[7]

I add: God is still waiting for Australian legislation to be determined by God’s standards. Quit this human morality and practise God’s justice in ALL legislation.

How could my headline be changed to reflect what Australia can do about the BIG drought?

The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us Lord God Almighty. We repent of our sins against You. Lord, encourage Aussies please, please to dig deep and send material help to the farmers’.

Prime Minster, Scott Morrison, and church leaders: Australia needs your leadership to call all God-fearing people to pray for an end to the drought.

Why should God break the drought when ‘righteousness exalts a nation’ and Australia legislates laws that are a disgrace, i.e. promoting wicked, immoral behaviour?

We can take action as a nation by repenting of our sins, returning to God, and legislating God’s righteousness. That will mean cancelling legislation that violates God’s commands of righteousness.

3.1 Expect mass media attacks

3.1.1 The ABC

There was an opinion piece in ABC Religion & Ethics by Bryon Smith. It was titled: ‘Faith without works: Why the Prime Minister’s call to pray for rain is offensive’ (Smith 2018).

It was a response to Morrison’s speech in Albury: ‘It’s great to see it raining here in Albury today. I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country. And I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that’.

Byron Smith found fault with this statement:

For many Christians, this was a small but encouraging gesture: the nation’s most prominent public official acknowledging that rain is a blessing we receive as gift, an expression of our dependence upon a whole network of creaturely relationships overseen by a Creator.

BUT …

for many atheists, it was a small but offensive gesture: the national leader talking to a sky fairy, embracing and promoting irrational superstition. Some responded on social media with angry mockery, warning of theocracy or taking the opportunity to criticise Morrison’s particular brand of Christianity.

As a Christian, I found Morrison’s comment to be offensive. But not because a Prime Minister speaks publicly of prayer or is open about his Christian beliefs.

Rather, what I find truly offensive is the profound disconnect between his professed prayers and the pro-coal – and thus anti-farmer – agenda of his government. To pray when facing a crisis like widespread drought is not the problem. But when the government Morrison leads has spent many years doing little or nothing about the root causes of the warming that is worsening such extreme weather, then inviting the nation to pray in response is somewhat galling (Smith 2018).

So, according to Smith, prayer is unacceptable until the government gets its act together over global warming.

Byron, who sends the rain and who withholds it? You’ve left the Lord God out of your equation, even though you say you speak ‘as a Christian’. Is God’s intervention that far down your priority list?

3.1.2 Pray for Rain

On 22 April 2007, The Sydney Morning Herald had this headline:[8]

Pray for rain, urges [John] Howard’

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(photograph John Howard courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The report stated:

Prime Minister John Howard has urged Australians to pray for rain as hard-hit agricultural regions face zero water allocations due to drought.

Mr Howard warned last week that farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin faced having no water for the coming irrigation year unless heavy rain fell in the next six to eight weeks.

On Sunday he said he intended to meet irrigators over coming weeks to discuss the grim situation.

Meanwhile, he encouraged people to seek divine intervention.

“It’s very serious, it’s unprecedented in my lifetime and I really feel very deeply for the people affected,” Mr Howard told ABC Television.

“So we should all, literally and without any irony, pray for rain over the next six to eight weeks”

What was the result?

3.1.3 It rained

God held off the drought-breaking rains until 2010-11. The headline in ABC News, 14 April 2010, was:

Flood rain reaches Murray-Darling Basin

Chrissy Arthur, ABC News, Brisbane, Qld: Posted 14 Apr 2010, 7:47am:[9]

A river expert says water from the Paroo River in south-west Queensland is flowing into the Darling River in New South Wales for the first time in 20 years.

There were record floods in the Paroo River last month (March 2010) and authorities say that is providing a boost for the Murray-Darling Basin.

clip_image010(No way through to Glenorchy, where the Wimmera River has flooded houses, sheds and farm properties. At Ashens, just north of Glenorchy, in the Wimmera region of NW Victoria, crops are under water. Photo courtesy Laura Poole)’[10]

Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, got it right on one point I’ve stressed in this series of articles:

‘“We can’t make it rain. But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet” the government said in a statement’.[11]

He didn’t give any hint as to whom or what can cause it to rain. God Almighty has his reasons for delaying the rain, sending cyclones, allowing fires. Some of these include:

  • The link between a nation’s morality and God’s judgment.
  • ‘‘Righteousness raises a people to greatness; to pursue wrong degrades a nation’ (Prov 14:34 REB).
  • Ungodly legislation and practices in Australia are a disgrace to the nation and lead to Australia’s doom.
  • Only God sends the rain and withholds it.
  • Godless, secular Australia refuses to bow the knee to the Lord God Almighty.
  • We want his blessings of rain without the commitment to Him. We deserve what we get.
  • When will local, State and national leaders call the nation to prayer to break the drought and stop other disasters?

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(image courtesy Pinterest)

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(photo courtesy North Queensland Register)[12]

4.  Note

[1] Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/heatwave-prompts-serious-health-alert-and-fire-bans/news-story/45600fce2e3251bf4838a19c0b9e4578 (Accessed 25 May 2019).

[2] She began her reign in 1952 and the coronation was in 1953. As of 2018 she has reigned 66 years and was aged 92 in 2018.

[3] Lusakatimes.com 2016. Zambia commemorates 25th anniversary of the declaration as a Christian Nation (online), 29 December. Available at: https://www.lusakatimes.com/2016/12/29/zambia-commemorates-25th-anniversary-declaration-christian-nation/ (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[4] Available at: https://www.lusakatimes.com/2016/12/29/zambia-commemorates-25th-anniversary-declaration-christian-nation/ (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[5] Wikipedia (2018. s.v. Lusaka).

[6] Phillip Rawls 2007 (Associated Press writer). Riley calling for statewide prayer for rain. The Decatur Daily (online), 29 June. Available at: http://archive.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/070629/rain.shtml (Accessed 6 November 2018).

[7] Vision Christian Radio 2018. God is still waiting for Australia to repent (online). Available at: https://vision.org.au/radio/2016/09/15/god-still-waiting-australia-repent/ (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[8] Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/pray-for-rain-urges-howard-20070422-gdpyx1.html (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[9] Chrissy Arthur 2010. Flood rain reaches Murray-Darling Basin. ABC News Brisbane, Qld. (online), 14 April. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-14/flood-rain-reaches-murray-darling-basin/395022 (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[10] ABC Rural and News reporters 2010. Drought breaks at last, as Victoria floods (online), 5 September. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/site-archive/rural/news/content/201009/s3002960.htm (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[11] Stephanie Bedo 2018. Australia’s crippling drought crisis: Overcoming past mistakes to save ourselves for the future. news.com.au (online), 6 August. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/australias-crippling-drought-crisis-overcoming-past-mistakes-to-save-ourselves-for-the-future/news-story/136436de96fee5f33809de8d607f413c (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[12] North Queensland Register is based in Townsville City, Qld, Australia. Available at: https://www.northqueenslandregister.com.au/contact-us/ (Accessed 4 April 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 May 2019.

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Israel Folau: When diversity means censorship

By Spencer D Gear PhD

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(photo Israel Folau, courtesy France 24)

A blogger stated: ‘Folau is not being persecuted for his beliefs but for using his position within Rugby Union and Rugby Union owned and operated venues for propagating hate speach (sic)’.[1]

Where did he get the idea that Folau used his position in Rugby Australia’s (RA) ‘owned and operated venues for propagating hate speech’? Can he prove this statement? Folau made the post in his personal Instagram account and not from an RA venue?

ASICS, one of Folau’s sponsors, dropped his sponsorship, stating (according to The Age): ‘While Israel Folau is entitled to his personal views, some of those expressed in recent social media posts are not aligned with those of ASICS. As such, our partnership with Israel has become untenable and he will no longer represent ASICS as a brand ambassador’.[2]

Only a few days before the 2019 Australian federal election, the Folau issue and what he said led to a ‘spat’ between PM Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, according to the Fairfax Canberra Times:

Mr Morrison accused Mr Shorten of a “cheap shot” over the question on Tuesday and made it clear he did not believe that gay people would go to hell, one day after giving a less direct answer to the question….

“No, I do not believe that,” Mr Morrison said in a statement….

The matter of personal belief arose on Monday when a journalist put the following question to Mr Morrison: “What’s your belief, do gay people go to hell?”

Mr Morrison replied: “I support the law of the country and I always don’t mix my religion with politics and my faith with politics”….

[Mr Shorten said], “I cannot believe that the Prime Minister has not immediately said that gay people will not go to hell.

When Mr Shorten was asked if he believed gay people would go to hell, he said: “No, I don’t believe gay people, because they’re gay, will go to hell. I don’t need a law to tell me that. I don’t believe it”.[3]

1. They were religious statements

clip_image004Photo: The image Folau posted on Instagram was accompanied by direct scripture quotes. (Supplied: @izzyfolau)[4]

That is an image of the Instagram statement made by champion Rugby Union player, Israel Folau, that has gotten him into the hullabaloo with RA, some rugby players, and especially the mass media.

Folau is an evangelical Christian born in Minto, NSW to Tongan parents. Minto is 38 km south-west of the Sydney CBD, in the local government area of the City of Campbelltown.

It is claimed the Wallabies fullback ‘refused to delete his controversial Instagram post to save his rugby career during his code-of-conduct hearing with Rugby Australia’[5]. He recently signed a contract that was worth $4 million over four years.

The Anglican bishop of Grafton, the Rt Rev Dr Murray Harvey disagrees with Pogi: He “branded the religious statements of Australian rugby union player Israel Folau as hate speech”.

1.1 Folau’s quote from Scripture

What Folau said was essentially straight from the Bible:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practise homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV).

He did not state it on the rugby field but in a public post on his personal Instagram account, a public medium outside of rugby. Why have the media taken ONE sin from the list – homosexuality – and excluded all of the others mentioned in Folau’s post and in the Christian Scriptures?

1.2 Where have the other sinners gone?

I haven’t read of the sexually immoral or idolaters kicking a stink about what Folau wrote. The adulterers, thieves, and greedy have been strangely silent. As for the drunks and swindlers, they have zipped their lips.

clip_image006 (image courtesy Clipart Library)

Thieves, atheists and idolaters, from my observation, have gone hush-hush in this chain of events.

1.2.1 Verbal abusers and profane language

What about revilers? That’s not a common word today. In English, synonyms include abuser, knocker [informal], rubbisher, slanderer, bad-mouth, curse and swear at.[6]

A reviler is a person who uses words to damage, control, or insult someone’s character or reputation. Today we would call a reviler a verbal abuser. Reviler is a multi-purpose word that is used in the Bible to describe all manner of verbal sin, such as slander, angry outbursts, and foul language.[7]

The NIV translates ‘revilers’ as ‘slanderers’ and the NLT provides the meaning of ‘abusive’.

To swear, slander, verbally abuse, have angry outbursts, and use blankety blank language is such a normal part of Aussie conversation that the folks who commit these sins laugh them off as, ‘She’ll be right mate. You’re a fuddy-duddy old square who needs to lighten up if you object’.[8]

In the NT Greek, a ‘reviler’ is loidoros (singular), ‘reviler, abusive person’, as in 1 Cor 5:11 and 6:10.[9] First Peter 3:9 (ERV) uses a variation of this word that gets to the heart of the meaning,

‘Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult[10] anyone to pay them back for insulting you.[11] But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing.

However, FindLaw Australia confirmed:

In a day and age where swearing has become so commonplace, that most people wouldn’t even flinch when someone drops a swear word, it’s remarkable to think that Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria all have laws regulating offensive language. The issue has received some prominence lately when a football player fronted court for offensive language. So if someone is about to go on a verbal blue streak in public, be careful, you may be in breach of the law….

Not only are the penalties for offensive language similar in Queensland and Victoria, but the definitions as well. Generally speaking, offensive language is considered as:

• disorderly
• offensive
• threatening
• indecent, and
• violent.[12]

While Folau has been crushed by RA, the mass and social media in raising the issue of homosexuals going to hell, why have all these other sins been overlooked and only one sin has been reefed out of the list?

1.3 Able to express offensive opinions

In his assessment of the Folau situation, Akos Balogh[13] has raised the issue of how all people ought to be able to express offensive opinions. He drew attention to some comments from the homosexual community’s gay activist, Dawn Grace-Cohen, who wrote for Fairfax:

We all need to skill up to create a new world where everyone gets a fair go. When we are not demanding compliance with our own view, many Australians habitually attack a person with an alternative view, rather than countering with a reasoned argument….

We mock rather than debate. We use slut-shaming or racist, ageist and sexist slurs. We don’t listen for the grain of truth in the opposition’s perspective because we cannot bear the discomfort of there being no easy answer….

Then let him [Folau] keep his job, with considerable support laid on to help him explore what inclusion means.[14]

clip_image008(Photograph Israel Folau, courtesy familyvoice.com.au)

It is Balogh’s view that Australia needs a new conversation about real ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘tolerance’ in the workplace, especially. This call is urgent because it is not long since RA could have argued that its actions regarding Folau would have been easy to argue as RA “didn’t show enough ‘tolerance’ or ‘inclusiveness’ towards Folau’s ‘diverse’ religious viewpoint”.

Instead, “‘inclusivity’ has now come to mean ‘anyone who doesn’t agree with us is excluded’, and ‘tolerance’ means ‘you must not criticise certain people or practices’. ‘Diversity’ refers to anything except viewpoint diversity”.[15]

What type of public square[16] do Australians want? (1) The ‘sacred public square’ where one religion is preferred over all others; (2) The ‘naked public square’ which removes all religion; and (3) the ‘civil public square

where people of all faiths and none, are free to enter into public life on the basis of their faith (or lack of it). The crucial qualifier in this model is that they do so within an agreed framework of what is just and fair for everybody else too. A good understanding of rights, responsibilities and respect are essential qualities for such a model to work. The Israel Folau case would test such a framework.[17]

With the Folau case, it is Balogh’s observation that Australia is moving to ‘the naked public square’.

2. Media promotion of homosexuality: Liberalising attitudes

Take a read of these headlines and the content of the articles:

clip_image010Gay rugby union club Sydney Convicts condemns ‘offensive’ Folau social media post” (ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 7 May 2019).

clip_image011NRL rule out Folau return over ‘disrespectful’ anti-gay posts’ (SBS News, 12 April 2019).

clip_image011[1]Israel Folau launches another anti-gay social media blitz’ (ESPN, 11 April 2019).

clip_image011[2]Australian rugby star Israel Folau shares more vile anti-LGBT social media posts’ (Attitude Newsletter, 10 April 2019).

It is politically correct to promote homosexuality in the current Australian political, mass media, social media and everyday environment. To declare homosexuality a sin calls for an immediate labelling of the person as homophobic, which many times is an Ad Hominem (Circumstantial) logical fallacy.

It is erroneous reasoning because it suggests Folau’s argument is biased by his predisposition that unforgiven homosexuals and other sinners go to hell. This is an invalid argument as it does not logically argue the case for homosexuality making a person homophobic.

The consequence of homophobic accusations is that there is a ‘coming out’ by prominent people such as Senator Penny Wong, retired Senator Bob Brown, rising Australian tennis star Casey Dellacqua, and Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce.

Phillip Ayoub and Jeremiah Garretson in their research reached the conclusion that

researchers, advocates, and policymakers, and producers should take into account how cultural contact through media can shape opinions and values, even across national borders. Television, film, radio and the Internet remain powerful socializing mechanisms through which younger generations come into contact with previously invisible minorities.[18]

This confirms the power of the mass media in promoting social change. I see it regularly when I view TV news and current affairs.

Homosexuals and gay supporters were outed when Australia voted for homosexual marriage. According to the Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department (2017), ‘From 9 December 2017, sex or gender no longer affects the right to marry under Australian law and same-sex marriage became legal in Australia’.[19]

This is how the House of Representatives looked after the ‘marriage equality’ (homosexual marriage) vote:

clip_image013Photo: Nationals MPs David Littleproud and Keith Pitt (left) were among just four MPs to vote no on the same-sex marriage bill. (ABC News: Marco Catalano)[20]

It became evident this was not an issue of diversity or tolerance but of censorship. The other sins in Folau’s post have been censored by the media to highlight Folau’s alleged homophobia.

The ‘progressive’ and trendy left of politics and media have bulldozed this pro-homosexual agenda into the public square. People like this writer will be regarded – falsely – as homophobic because of my support for biblical Christianity’s views on who will enter God’s kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-11).

2.1 Support for Folau

Eternal destinies as articulated in the Bible are not ‘hate speech’ but God-breathed truthfulness (2 Tim 3:16-17).

Some of Folau’s teammates from Polynesia have come out in support of him. News.com.au reported on how his supporters have responded:

clip_image015

(Rebels and Reds players unite in prayer.Source:FOX SPORTS)

Australian Super Rugby players from the Melbourne Rebels and the Queensland Reds have huddled for a post-match prayer amid reports of anger among the game’s Christians over the handling of the Israel Folau social media furore.

Wallabies fullback Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, moved a step closer to being sacked by Rugby Australia this week after he was found to have committed a “high-level” code of conduct breach for a post that said hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others.

The case has upset a number of Folau’s Wallabies teammates who share his religious beliefs, with Reds prop Taniela Tupou writing that RA “might as well sack…all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world.”[21]

2.2 Negative language about Folau’s beliefs

Notice the uncomplimentary language used in the news.com.au story when it described Folau as ‘a fundamentalist Christian’. A century ago, that would have been a compliment, describing those who adhered to the fundamentals of the Christian faith – its core values – like those articulated in The Nicene Creed:

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.

In the twenty-first century, it’s a negative term designed to denigrate a certain group of Evangelical Christians. Matt Thompson in writing for The Atlantic stated that ‘today, “fundamentalism” is often applied as a pejorative, used almost interchangeably with words such as “extremism”’.[22]

Thompson cited Larry Eskridge, a scholar of American religion at Wheaton College: “Casually invoked to describe anyone who seems to hold some sort of vaguely-perceived traditional religious belief—be they a Bible Baptist TV preacher, a Hasidic rabbi, a Mormon housewife, or a soldier of the Islamic Jihad—the word [fundamentalism] has become so overused as to be nearly useless”.[23]

2.3 Satire on Izzy and Rugby Australia

Satire is ‘the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues’ (Oxford Living Dictionaries 2019. s.v. satire) [OLD].

Synonyms include mockery, ridicule, derision, scorn, caricature, irony, and sarcasm (OLD).

One of the finest pieces of satire I’ve read in recent years is in this article by Akos Balogh, ‘Dear Izzy, If Only You Had Behaved Like An Elite Athlete’ (See your world through a Christian lens, 20 May 2019).

I’ve sent a link to this article to Rugby Australia.

2.4 Disappointment with PM Scott Morrison’s pussyfooting on homosexuals and hell.

This point is worth an article in itself. How is it possible for a declared Pentecostal Christian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to say what is reported in The Guardian?[24]

Scott Morrison has claimed he now supports same-sex marriage because it has allowed people to “get on with their lives” and he “always supports the law of the country”.

Morrison made the claim at a press conference in Perth, brushing off questions about whether his personal views have changed since his vocal opposition to marriage equality during the marriage law postal survey in 2017.

Morrison, a Pentecostal Christian who attends the Horizons’ church, said he doesn’t “mix [his] religion with politics” and evaded a question about whether gay people go to hell, an apparent reference to the controversy surrounding rugby player Israel Folau….

Asked on Monday if he still opposes same-sex marriage, Morrison replied: “It’s law and I am glad that the change has now been made and we and people can get on with their lives, that’s what I am happy about. I always support the law of the country.”

How is it that a Christian who opposed homosexual marriage now supports it because it is law and he ‘always supports the law of the country’?

That was conveyed in the AAP report in The Canberra Times:

Scott Morrison says he supports the law of the country but wouldn’t say if his personal opposition to same-sex marriage has changed since it was legalised….

Mr Morrison abstained from voting for marriage equality when it passed the House of Representatives in 2018, and he voted “no” in the national survey.

When asked if he is still personally opposed to same-sex marriage, the prime minister replied: “It’s law. And I’m glad that the change has now been made and people can get on with their lives. That’s what I’m happy about.”

When pressed on whether his opinions have changed, he told reporters in Perth: “I always support the law of the country.”[25]

It’s not surprising that this is Bill Shorten’s view: ‘I don’t think if you’re gay you’re going to go to hell. I don’t know if hell exists actually. But I don’t think, if it does, that being gay is what sends you there’.[26] That’s in light of the ALP’s policy #319 (p. 191). See also, ‘Labor Party agrees to maintain conscience vote on same-sex marriage for next two terms of government’ (ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, 2015).

This is Bill Shorten’s and the ALP’s ideology and not biblical theology speaking.

2.4.1 When laws of God conflict with laws of the nation

ScoMo, how can you support the ungodly law supporting homosexuality in Australia when God opposes such sinners (along with other unrighteous people) entering the kingdom of God (Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11)? There is contradiction by you in your beliefs. You have violated the law of non-contradiction:

clip_image016(image courtesy YouTube)

In your work as Prime Minister, do you ever face a situation where the laws of God clash with the laws of the country? In that circumstance, the law of non-contradiction can be violated. Something cannot be both A (a law of God) and non-A (a law of the country) at the same time and in the same sense for the people of God and not become contradictory.

Here’s the clash of values you don’t seem to have comprehended, Mr Morrison:

A: God’s law is that those who practise homosexuality and other sins are ‘abandoned’ by God ‘to their shameful desires’ (Rom 1:24-32) and sinners, including homosexuals, ‘will not inherit the Kingdom of God’ (1 Cor 6:9-11).

But you now support, not A, but

Non-A: Now you agree with Australian law that conflicts with God’s law when you ‘now support same-sex marriage because it has allowed people to “get on with their lives” and [you] “always support the law of the country”’.

(a) Let Acts 5:29 guide you

According to Acts 5:17-32, the Christian apostles were thrown into a public prison by the Jewish authorities because the apostles performed ‘many miraculous signs and wonders among the people’ (v. 12). During the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison and let the apostles out to go to the Temple to ‘give the people this message of life’ (v. 20).

Not surprisingly, the captain of the Temple guard was sent by the Jewish leaders to arrest the apostles, but non-violently (v. 26). The high priest said to the apostles:

“We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s [Jesus’] name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” (v. 29)

What was the response? ‘Sorry for the horrible mistakes we made. Will you please forgive us for violating your Jewish laws? We are ashamed of what we did’. That is NOT what they retorted.

‘But Peter and the apostles replied,

“We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29).

(b) My disappointment with ScoMo’s compromise

I consider this is compromise by ScoMo from what he said when he was federal treasurer. Before the same-sex marriage plebiscite, he supported traditional marriage and voted ‘no’ in his personal approach to homosexual marriage. ‘It is OK to say “no”. It is OK to say “yes”, but make sure you have your say’ was what he said.[27]

ScoMo could have shown political and Christian leadership in maintaining consistency (even though it may cost him votes) in his world view. His views are not integrated and holistic. He did not view sexuality through God’s lens.

He could have done it without reference to the Scriptures by demonstrating the consequences of homosexual behaviour. One of the most viewed articles on my homepage, ‘Truth Challenge’, on a daily basis is:

clip_image017 The dangers of anal sex and fisting, see also

clip_image017[1] A Christian discussion of homosexuality & sexuality

clip_image017[2] Queen Elizabeth II and Jesus silent on homosexuality

clip_image017[3] Tolerance, homosexuality and not inheriting the Kingdom of God

clip_image017[4] Genetic cause of homosexuality?

clip_image017[5]Please do not support same-sex marriage

clip_image017[6]Why politicians should not support ‘marriage equality’

3. Other assessments

One of the finest assessment’s I’ve heard of this Folau vs Rugby Australia saga is by Sydney talk-back host and top-rating radio king, 2GB’s Alan Jones, who stated that Rugby Australia is on ‘the wrong side of common sense”.

The new One Nation politician (former Labor Leader), Mark Latham, supported Folau in Latham’s inaugural speech to the NSW Upper House:

“I stand with Israel Folau,” the NSW One National leader told parliament.

“In his own private time away from his job playing football, he’s a preacher at his community church and naturally, he quotes the Bible.

“How did our state and our nation ever come to this? Those claiming outrage have fabricated their position solely for the purpose of censorship. This is not an argument about diversity.”

Australians shouldn’t have to fear being sacked for stating their religious beliefs, Mr Latham said.

“No Australian should be fearful of proclaiming four of the most glorious words of our civilisation: I am a Christian.”[28]

Latham added that Folau ‘believes, as millions of people have believed for thousands of years that sinners go to hell…. Yet for his beliefs, his Christianity, he is not allowed to play rugby, to chase the pigskin around the park’.

“How did our State and our nation ever come to this?” [29]

The Spiked website considers Folau is “the Aussie rugby player … being punished for his Christian beliefs”.

ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 15 April 2019 reported Folau

‘would be prepared to walk away from rugby union. “I live for God now,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it.

“In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first”’.

3.1 Temptation to accept peace offering

Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports reported on 13 May 2019 that Folau considered the ‘peace offering’ from Rugby Australia (RA) ‘to resurrect his playing career’ as ‘the work of Satan’. Folau indicated being tempted by the ‘opportunity’ but considered it ‘the work of Satan’. He gave these details in a Sydney church talk.

Wide World of Sports joined in the chorus of labelling him ‘the fundamentalist Christian’ who ‘committed a high-level code of conduct breach for an Instagram post that said hell was the destiny for ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers’ and others.

Folau’s language about the work of Satan and the RA offer was:

“Potentially I could get terminated, which means that there’s no more playing contract and therefore no more finances or money coming in,” he said from the lectern.

“It would be the first time it has happened to me in my life.

“All the materialistic things I have been able to have over the last number of years are slowly being taken away from me.

It’s understood Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer would have been allowed to resume playing again had he agreed to take down his latest controversial post.

“There have been many opportunities to potentially make the situation a little bit easier. I could go back and play the game, get everything back to the way it used to be,” Folau said.

“The way Satan works is he offers you stuff that could look good to the eye and makes you feel comfortable, and if you follow that path all the worries and troubles will go away.

“[But] it is always the will of God that comes first.” [30]

4. Threat to freedom of religion?

Several religious leaders have been so concerned over what happened to Folau that the ABC News reported:

Israel Folau’s clash with RA ‘over his fundamentalist religious social media posts’ motivated ‘nine prominent Christians to send letters about the protection of religious freedom to Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten’. These people included leaders from Presbyterian, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist and Apostolic churches, as well as a number of religious school leaders.

clip_image019 (image courtesy YA-webdesign)

The letters were worded differently for each political leader but both letters ‘flagged a range of issues, with protection of religious belief and free speech at the forefront’.

Each letter began:

“In recent years the protections to be accorded to religious freedom, and the related freedoms of conscience, speech and association, have come under increasing focus within Australia.”

“We write to invite you to provide clarification on a range of key issues that are important to the preservation of these freedoms in our country”.

Reverend Dr Hedley Fihaki, a Uniting Church minister and the national chair of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, said he was worried the Wallaby’s case could set “a dangerous precedent”.

“Scripture is the book the whole church is based on, so if we are not free to teach from that, not just in the private but particularly in the public domain, it is a dangerous precedent,” Dr Fihaki told the ABC.

“From the Bible, from the holy scriptures, that’s the Old and New Testament”.[31]

Anna Patty, in writing for The Age, pointed out some of the apprehension of religious leaders:

The letter to Mr Shorten details concerns that Labor Party policies do not go far enough to protect religious freedom and have the potential to impact on the free expression of traditional views of sexuality and marriage. It asks Labor for an assurance that religious institutions will continue to be able to hold such views and defend them in public….

The Liberal Party has committed to introducing a Commonwealth Religious Discrimination Act, but the religious leaders asked the Prime Minister to go further by protecting believers in associations including churches, mosques, charities, schools and corporations.[32]

4.1 Folau case points to destruction of Western culture?

Peter FitzSimons (Peter F), writing for The Age, challenges ‘Six of the worst fallacies surrounding the Israel Folau case. One of these is: ‘This is the end of Western civilisation as we know it. Uh, no. This is Western civilisation evolving, and saying that while publicly marginalising a group used to be acceptable, and even a part of the law of the land, it is no longer acceptable’.[33]

What is the truth? Is Peter F on target or is he promoting a view that minimises the sins of Australia.

Jude 1:7 (NRSV) reminds us of what awaits those who practise immorality, including ‘unnatural lust’:

‘Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire’.

4.1.1 Morality according to secularism

Peter F is taking off on the wrong runway. He wants morality to be decided by the evolution of acceptance of a previously ‘marginalised’ group (of homosexuals).

This is secular thinking that is not in harmony with the Lord God’s plan for the universe. Peter F’s world and life view causes him to be blind to the moral degradation happening in Australia.

What is God’s way of thinking regarding sinful behaviour and eternal issues? It is straight out of the Israel Folau handbook, Scripture:

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NET).

Not only does sinful behaviour have eternal consequences, but sinful thinking has the same destiny. See Matt 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (NET).

Remember what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? Billy Graham made this pointed observation:

Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).[34]

4.1.2 The immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah

Surely this also can be applied to Australia.

clip_image021 See my article: Can Australia be turned around?

What does it mean ‘they were haughty and did detestable things’? Other dynamic equivalence translations help clear up the meaning:

  • ‘Sodom and her daughters became too proud and began to do terrible things in front of me. So I punished them’ (ERV);
  • ‘They thought they were better than everyone else, and they did things I hate. And so I destroyed them’ (CEV);
  • ‘They were very proud. They did many things that were evil in my eyes. I hated those things. So I got rid of Sodom and her daughters, just as you have seen’ (NIRV);
  • ‘She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen’ (NLT);

What was the detestable, terrible, evil sin committed in Sodom & Gomorrah?

Genesis 19 reveals it.

Before they [the two angels] retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. 5 They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”[35] [36]

6 So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. 7 “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection” (Gen 19:4-8 NLT).

Therefore, the men of Sodom, both young and old, wanted to have sexual relations with other men (the two angels). That’s what the text states.

However, some scholars want to make this encounter of the men of Sodom with the male angels as an example of selfishness or being inhospitable when compared with Ezek 16:48-50 (NLT):

As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, Sodom and her daughters were never as wicked as you and your daughters. 49 Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. 50 She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.

One scholar who takes the hospitality view is homosexual clergyman, Rev Dr Patrick S Cheng:

The true sin of the Sodomites as described in the Bible has nothing to do with same-sex acts per se. Rather, the ancient Sodomites were punished by God for far greater sins: for attempted gang rape, for mob violence, and for turning their backs on strangers and the needy who were in their midst. In other words, the real sin of Sodom was radical inhospitality. And, ironically, it is often anti-gay Christians who are most guilty of this sin today….

So, who are the real Sodomites today? Who are the people who turn their backs on the strangers and the least among us? Ironically, I believe that anti-gay Christians are often the ones who are most guilty of committing the true sin of Sodom….

The bottom line is that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus Christ ever condemn LGBT people. However, Jesus does expressly condemn people who turn their backs on strangers and on those who are the neediest among us [Matt 25:43].[37]

For Dr Cheng, ‘the true sin of Sodom: radical inhospitality’.

Dr Cheng supports his lifestyle this way but he’s not promoting a biblical view of the sin of Sodom according to Genesis 19 and other portions of Scripture:

Yale University historian, John Boswell, concluded that Sodom was destroyed because:

(1) The Sodomites were destroyed for the general wickedness which had prompted the Lord to send angels to the city to investigate in the first place; (2) the city was destroyed because the people of Sodom had tried to rape the angels; (3) the city was destroyed because the men of Sodom had tried to engage in homosexual intercourse with the angels…; (4) the city was destroyed for inhospitable treatment of visitors sent from the Lord.[38]

(a) Ezekiel drew attention to Sodom’s problem[39]

‘She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen’ (Ezek 16:50 NLT). So, she was proud, which infers she did selfish things, thus making it an inhospitable city.

However, the bigger picture is that Sodom’s sin also was homosexuality. We know this from a few biblical facts:

clip_image023 Examine the context of Genesis 19 and we find that 19:8 reveals the perversion was sexual sin of men with men.

clip_image023[1] Since there was ‘pride’ or selfishness in Sodom, according to Ezek 16:50, the sin of homosexuality can be included as ‘sexual sins are a form of selfishness, since they are the satisfaction of fleshly passions’.[40] Ezekiel 16 confronts Jerusalem and ‘her daughters’ with their detestable sins.

clip_image023[2] Sodom ‘committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen’ (Ezek 16:50). By calling Sodom’s sins ‘detestable’ this is an indication it was sexual. The same Hebrew word is used in Leviticus 18:22 (NLT) where it describes homosexual sins, ‘Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin’.

clip_image023[3] According to the Collins Dictionary, sodomy in English ‘is anal sexual intercourse’ (2019. s.v. sodomy). This is a homosexual act. Its origin is from an Old Testament ‘city destroyed by God for its wickedness that, with Gomorrah, traditionally typifies depravity (Genesis 19:24)…. this city [was seen as] representing homosexuality’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. Sodom).

clip_image023[4] Jude verse 7 in the NT states: ‘Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example[41] by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire’ (NRSV).

Jude 7 associates the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with ‘sexual immorality’ and pursuing ‘unnatural lust’. The Greek states, apelthousai hopisw sarkos heteras (transliterated) and is translated as ‘went after other flesh’ (unnatural lust) which Thayer is careful to note ‘is used of those who are on a search for persons with whom they can gratify their lust’.[42]

Therefore, we have every biblical reason to understand the sin of homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah led to

(b) Sodom and Gomorrah’s punishment

This was God’s punishment for these two cities:

Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:24-26 NLT).

Why did God wipe out Sodom & Gomorrah?

‘So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard”’ (Gen 18:20-21).

‘And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake” (Gen 18:26).

‘For we (the angels) are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it’ (Gen 19:13).

Therefore, Greg Koukl concludes:

Piecing together the biblical evidence gives us a picture of Sodom’s offense. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was some kind of activity—a grave, ongoing, lawless, sensuous activity—that Lot saw and heard and that tormented him as he witnessed it day after day. It was an activity in which the inhabitants indulged the flesh in corrupt desires by going after strange flesh, ultimately bringing upon them the most extensive judgment anywhere in the Bible outside of the book of Revelation.[43]

There is enough contextual information and biblical data elsewhere to indicate Sodom & Gomorrah’s sins were homosexuality and other sensual sins. Further insight is gained from 2 Peter 2:6-8 (NLT):

God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. 8 Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.

It was not God turning these cities into ashes as punishment for occasional sin, but for wickedness ‘day after day’.

I say it again, based on Ruth Graham’s words: “If God doesn’t punish Australia, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

5. Folau’s punishment

A three-person independent panel’s decision in the RA vs Folau controversy decided Folau’s $4 million, 4-year contract should be terminated because of his anti-gay social media post on 10 April 2019.

Folau’s response was:

“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love.

“I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.

“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression. The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word. Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.

“I would like to thank my wife Maria for her love and encouragement to stay true to our beliefs. We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, players, fans and the wider community.

“Thank you also to those who have spoken out in my defence, some of whom do not share my beliefs but have defended my right to express them”.[44]

What are Folau’s next moves? After the announcement of this punishment, Folau had 72 hours to challenge the decision, which he did not take up.

He also could take the decision to court to stop RA from terminating his contract. It could eventually be heard in the NSW Supreme Court or the Federal Court.[45]

At the time of concluding this article, Fairfax newspapers reported that Folau had had discussions with a leading Melbourne workplace relations’ lawyer, Stuart Wood QC, but it was too early to say Wood had been ‘engaged’ as a lawyer to represent Folau in this contractual controversy.[46]

Another option for him is to appeal his case with the Fair Work Commission, for unlawful dismissal on religious grounds. He has until 10 June to commence that process.[47]

6. Conclusion

While RA has found Folau guilty of committing a “high-level” code of conduct breach for his personal Instagram post, he had his 4-year contract terminated and is deliberating over future options.

My own views are that Folau has not been included in the actual understanding of diversity and tolerance by Rugby Australia.

clip_image025 Diversity means:

  • ‘a range of things which are very different from each other’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. diversity).
  • ‘the fact that there are many different ideas or opinions about something’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. diversity).

Therefore, diversity means that Folau’s Christian values need to be accepted among the range of different ideas, values and opinions in Australia. Instead, Folau has been censored from expressing his values (one of the diverse views) of the destiny of a whole range of sinners, from God’s perspective. Any country accepting diversity will agree with Folau’s right to express his Christian views.

clip_image025[1] As for tolerance, it means:

  • ‘the quality of allowing other people to say and do as they like, even if you do not agree or approve of it’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. tolerance).
  • a ‘willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. tolerance).

Based on these two definitions, Folau has not been afforded tolerance towards his Christian views. RA has failed the tolerance test.

Therefore, what has happened by the RA actions in relation to Folau? It has closed down any opportunity for RA to implement fully the values of diversity and tolerance in the Rugby Union fraternity.

So Folau has been the victim of censorship of his values and an attack on free speech which affects his freedom of religion.

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(courtesy Clipart Library)

7.   Notes


[1] On Line Opinion 2019. Fairies at the bottom of the garden : Comments (online).

Posted by Pogi, Friday, 10 May 2019 3:37:48 PM. Available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=20266&page=0 (Accessed 13 May 2019).

[2] Tom Decent 2019. Sponsor abandons Folau as Farr-Jones claims star has not breached deal. The Age (online), 8 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-dumped-by-sponsor-asics-20190508-p51lcy.html (Accessed 17 May 2019).

[3] David Crowe 2019. Morrison accuses Shorten of taking a ‘cheap shot’ over gays going to hell. The Canberra Times (online), 14 May. Available at: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6123617/morrison-accuses-shorten-of-taking-a-cheap-shot-over-gays-going-to-hell/?cs=14350 (Accessed 17 May 2017).

[4] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Israel Folau’s case prompts Australian religious leaders to pen letters to Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-11/israel-folau-religious-leaders-send-letter-to-shorten-morrison/11104094 (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[5] Ben Francis 2019. Rugby: Israel Folau refused to delete controversial Instagram post to save Wallabies career – report. Newshub (online), 10 May. Available at: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/sport/2019/05/rugby-israel-folau-refused-to-delete-controversial-instagram-post-to-save-wallabies-career-report.html (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[6] Collins Dictionary (2019 s.v. revile).

[7] Got Questions Ministries 2019. What is a reviler in the Bible? (online) Available at: https://www.gotquestions.org/reviler-in-the-Bible.html (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[8] Suggested by Urban Dictionary (1999-2019. s.v. fuddy duddy).

[9] Bauer, W; Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House), p. 480.

[10] The Greek noun in this verse is loidoria.

[11] The ESV translates ‘insult’ as ‘reviling’; the NASB, NET and NIV as ‘insult’; and the NRSV as ‘abuse’.

[12] FindLaw 2019. Swearing in Public is Against the Law (Really) [online]. Available at: https://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/4251/swearing-in-public-is-against-the-law-really.aspx (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[13] Akos Balogh 2019. 4 Urgent Conversations Australians Need To Have After Folau. See Your World through a Christian Lens (online). Available at: http://akosbalogh.com/2019/05/15/4-urgent-conversations-australians-need-to-have-after-folau/ (Accessed 16 May 2019).

[14] Dawn Grace-Cohen 2019. Silencing Folau with queer fascism betrays our gay marriage victory. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 4 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/silencing-folau-with-queer-fascism-betrays-our-gay-marriage-victory-20190503-p51jsk.html (Accessed 16 May 2019).

[15] Balogh 2019, with help from Simon Smart of the Centre for Public Christianity and Christian author and social commentator, Os Guinness.

[16] ‘Public square’ means ‘the sphere of public opinion’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2019. s.v. public square).

[17] In Balogh 2019.

[18] Phillip Ayoub and Jeremiah Garretson 2018. How the Media Has Helped Change Public Views about Lesbian and Gay People. Scholars’ Strategy Network (online), 24 May. Available at: https://scholars.org/brief/how-media-has-helped-change-public-views-about-lesbian-and-gay-people (Accessed 14 May 2019).

[19] Marriage equality in Australia 2017. Available at: https://www.ag.gov.au/marriageequality (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[20] David Lipson 2017. Same-sex marriage and the defining image that almost wasn’t. ABC News, Brisbane Qld (online), 11 December. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-11/same-sex-marriage-the-lone-voice-of-david-littleproud/9246370 (Accessed 11 May 2019). According to this ABC News report, ‘Just four MPs voted against same-sex marriage in the chamber: Mr Littleproud and Mr Pitt, along with Liberal MP Russell Broadbent and crossbencher Bob Katter’.

[21] News.com.au 2019. Super Rugby players in huge public show of support for Israel Folau (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/rugby/super-rugby-players-in-huge-public-show-of-support-for-israel-folau/news-story/f13197aa1688febc7d3d8246500869f2 (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[22] Matt Thompson 2015. The Origins of ‘Fundamentalism’, The Atlantic, 30 June. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/06/the-origins-of-fundamentalism/397238/ (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[23] Ibid.

[24] Paul Karp 2019. Scott Morrison claims he now backs same-sex marriage – but dodges question on hell. The Guardian Australia (online), 13 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/13/scott-morrison-claims-he-now-backs-same-sex-marriage-but-dodges-question-on-hell (Accessed 18 May 2019).

[25] AAP 2019. Gay marriage is the law: PM Morrison. The Canberra Times (online), 13 May. Available at: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6122212/gay-marriage-is-the-law-pm-morrison/?cs=14231 (Accessed 18 May 2019).

[26] Paul Karp 2019.

[27] Staff writers 2017. Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison reveals he is voting ‘no’ in same-sex marriage plebiscite. News.com.au [from 7.30], 31 August. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/federal-treasurer-scott-morrison-reveals-he-is-voting-no-in-samesex-marriage-plebiscite/news-story/d7be152a9ef873e777dcb653af478a20 (Accessed 18 May 2019).

[28] Tom Rabe 2019. I stand with Israel Folau: Mark Latham. Mandurah Mail (online), 8 May. Available at: https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/6114327/i-stand-with-israel-folau-mark-latham/?cs=9397 (Accessed 11 May 2019).

[29] Ibid.

[30] AAP 2019. Israel Folau reveals RA settlement rejection, saying ‘temptation’ is ‘Satan’s work’, Channel 9 Wide World of Sports, 13 May. Available at: https://wwos.nine.com.au/rugby/folau-stands-firm-after-ra-peace-offering/6f3f392f-ecf2-4375-a998-85ac54e5b1c8 (Accessed 13 May 2019).

[31] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Israel Folau’s case prompts Australian religious leaders to pen letters to Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-11/israel-folau-religious-leaders-send-letter-to-shorten-morrison/11104094 (Accessed 13 May 2019).

[32] Anna Patty 2019. Christian leaders challenge major parties on commitment to religious freedom. The Age (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/federal-election-2019/christian-leaders-challenge-major-parties-on-commitment-to-religious-freedom-20190508-p51lgo.html (Accessed 13 May 2019).

[33] Peter FitzSimons 2019. Six of the worst fallacies surrounding the Israel Folau case. The Age, 8 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/sport/six-of-the-worst-fallacies-surrounding-the-israel-folau-case-20190508-p51let.html (Accessed 13 May 2019).

[34] Billy Graham 2012. Billy Graham: ‘My Heart Aches for America’, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (online), 12 July. Available at: https://billygraham.org/story/billy-graham-my-heart-aches-for-america/ (Accessed 13 May 2019).

[35] Other translations such as the KJV, LEB (the LEB has the footnote, ‘Hebrew idiom for sexual intercourse’, cf Gen 4:1), NKJV, NRSV, ESV and RSV translate ‘have sex with them’ as ‘we may know them’.

[36] The NIV translates also as ‘have sex with them’, as does the ERV, NET, CEV, CSB, GNB, ISV, NABRE, and NASB (‘may have relations with them’).

[37] Rev Patrick S Cheng PhD 2011. What Was the Real Sin of Sodom? HuffPost (online), 25 May. Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-was-the-real-sin-of_b_543996?guccounter=1 (Accessed 17 May 2019).

[38] John Boswell 1980. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 93, cited in Greg Koukl 2013. What Was the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Stand to Reason (online), 8 March. Available at: https://www.str.org/articles/what-was-the-sin-of-sodom-and-gomorrah (Accessed 17 May 2019).

[39] The following points are from Norman Geisler & Thomas Howe 1992. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, p. 285.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Lenski considers ‘example’ should be translated as ‘indication or sign’ (R C H Lenski 1966. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude, vol 11. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, p. 625).

[42] Joseph Henry Thayer 1886/1962. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, pp. 569-570. This is a Lexicon prepared by Carl Ludwig Wilibald Grimm, Joseph Henry Thayer, and Christian Gottlob Wilke.

[43] Koukl op cit.

[44] Georgina Robinson 2019. Folau ‘saddened’ by sacking, considering his options. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 17 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-set-to-be-sacked-by-rugby-australia-20190514-p51n2g.html (Accessed 23 May 2019).

[45] Ibid.

[46] Samantha Hutchinson, Tom Decent & Adrian Proszenko 2019. Folau turns to top silk as Rugby Australia case heads for legal stoush. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 21 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-turns-to-top-silk-as-rugby-australia-case-heads-for-legal-stoush-20190521-p51psc.html (Accessed 23 May 2019).

[47] Ibid.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 May 2019.

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Sleeper cells and Australian election victory

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published as ‘Sleeper cells and Australian election victory’ in On Line Opinion (21 May 2019).


Related image

(Photo Scott Morrison family, courtesy frasercoastchronicle.com.au)

The Prime Minister gave credit to ‘quiet Australians‘ for his shock election victory on 18 May 2019. Pollsters predicted a Labor win. They got it wrong – very wrong.

Who could the ‘quiet Australians’ be? I’m not thinking of the ones mentioned by Morrison: Those with hopes of getting jobs, apprenticeships, and starting businesses. There are those with personal aspirations to form a family, buy a house, labour to provide for kids, and to save for retirement.

They sure were ones who spoke at the ballot box, after viewing the policies of the two major parties.

The forgotten quiet ones

Remember Morrison’s statements about dealing with the drought? He was in Albury, the birth place of the Liberal Party in September 2018, addressing the Liberal Party: ‘I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that’. Were these among the quiet ones?

Was it a ‘miracle’?

Morrison said he ‘always believed in miracles‘ as he gave his victory speech at Liberal HQ on the evening of 18 May 2019. He added: ‘I would like to wish [Bill Shorten] and Chloe, and his family all the best, and God’s blessing’, concluding with, ‘We are an amazing country of amazing people. God bless Australia’.

Was it a ‘miracle‘ win, as ScoMo labelled it?

Yes it was in this sense: ‘A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences’ for the Coalition government (Oxford English Dictionary). However, I don’t see it as ‘an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency’ (OED) like Jesus’ resurrection.

The God factor was included in ScoMo’s blessing on the Shorten couple and exhorting God to bless Australia? Do we deserve blessing or his chastisement?

The sleeper cells I’m thinking of were not highlighted in the mass media coverage. They weren’t mentioned in what I heard and read after the voting.

God’s people, some of them elderly, distributed leaflets house-to-house about Labor’s extreme abortion agenda in public hospitals. I know of a couple in their 70s who did this and thought it might be a waste of time. It wasn’t.

The call to prayer

One not-so-quiet Australian was tennis great and pastor of Victory Life Centre, Perth, Margaret Court. In addition to praying through the election campaign period, Margaret and other Christian leaders called Australians to:

Image result for photograph Margaret Court public domain (photo courtesy Blue Mountains Gazette)

gather in praise and worship on the evening of Friday 17 May, on the eve of our election day. Encourage the people in your networks to get together and hold a combined church praise and worship night to declare that God is on the throne in our nation. ‘Your Kingdom Come! Your will be done by us in Australia, as in heaven’.

She previously wrote to ScoMo:

God impressed on my heart – that once the election date was announced, we should stand together and call 21 days of Pray[er] & Fasting. Through the Bible, Prayer and Fasting has (sic) impacted the course of history and adjusted the spiritual course of Nations. I’m reminded of – ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Let our united prayer be: ‘Thank you Father that the righteous rule in our Nation of Australia, in Jesus Name. Amen’.

On 15 April 2019, the Australian Prayer Network began 30 days of prayer for the nation and the 2019 election. This prayer included ‘asking God’s forgiveness for where we have in the past failed to collectively pray for our national leaders and Government’.

These are some of the ‘quiet Australians’ who were praying and acting behind the scene, seeking God’s action for his intervention in the government of the nation.

Freedom of religion

The agenda of the ALP and the Greens threatened freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Only 5 days out from the election, The Catholic Weekly, warned: ‘ALP-Greens win would be a disaster for Catholics‘. Why?

The ALP policy pamphlet A Fair Go for LGBTIQ Australianssigned by Bill Shorten does not equivocate when it states ‘A Shorten Labor Government will amend the Sex Discrimination Act to remove the exemptions that permit religious schools to discriminate against students and staff on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity’….

There is also no doubt what the Greens Party intends to do if it forms an alliance with an incoming ALP Government. Its policy also denies religious freedom when it states, ‘The Greens will protect LGBTIQ+ rights in law, through a Charter of Rights and by legislating to remove religious exemptions in federal and state anti-discrimination laws’.

After the election, this led The Age (20 May 2019) to report that ‘Christian leaders say religious freedom was among factors that influenced voters‘.

Before the election (8 May), Martyn Isles, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) confirmed the:

Image result for images religious freedom(image courtesy Eternity News)

…ALP’s legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus [stated] a Shorten government would remove important legal protections for religious schools.

‘This is out of step with what Tanya Plibersek said last week when she seemed to show a willingness to support religious schools’ right to teach their values, and employ staff that faithfully represent those values,’ commented Mr Iles. Religious freedom for schools remains a critical issue for millions of Australians, and so far, it has been sidelined from the election campaign’, he stated.

Labor and the Greens should have seen this coming. They were warned before the election, ‘Parents of Christian school students urged to vote for religious freedom‘. SBS reported 329 Christian schools had sent a pamphlet to parents whose children attended those schools. Mark Spencer, Christian Schools Australia national executive officer, told SBS News, ‘We have to be very careful, we’ve provided the policy information and it’s really up to parents to work out which parties are going to protect their values’.

Mr Spencer said this was an unprecedented move and ‘we have certainly ramped it up a lot because this issue is so important to us’.

SBS reported on the alarm by Christian schools last year of proposed change ‘to the Sex Discrimination Act to prevent religious schools being able to expel students or sack staff on the basis of their sexuality’.

If ‘millions of Australians’ were concerned about this, the ALP and the Greens should have seen it coming and so deserve to lose because of policies that discriminated against religious values.

Who brings a government to power?

In the New Testament, Romans 13:1 states ‘Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God’.

It is God who raises governments and tears others down. If the values of governments clash with God’s law, Christians need to pursue what Peter and the apostles did: ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority’ (Acts 5:29).

These could be some of the sleeper cell issues that led to defeat in Labor’s unlosable election.

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 May 2019.

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