Category : Australia / NZ

Archbp Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

The Sex Discrimination Act was introduced by the Hawke Government and, regrettably, relegated religious freedom to the unsatisfactory category of an exemption. In other words, it legislated the rights of schools to discriminate. This was never asked for by church leaders and has always been considered by us as tantamount to marginalising religious freedom. Worse, it placed us in the invidious position of being described as those who discriminate against students and staff, rather than being put positively, where a school had the right to employ staff who were committed to the Christian ethos of the school. A fundamental community expectation recognises the rights of organisations to hire staff who uphold their values. You wouldn’t expect the Liberal Party to hire a communist any more than the Labor Party would hire someone who was anti-union.

In 1984, the categories for the exemptions were ‘sex, marital status and pregnancy’. However, in 2013, the Gillard Government decided to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex and relationship status’ as new protected attributes. There was good reason for inserting these new areas of prohibited discrimination in the body of the Act, but the way it was done was inept. The fact that the Sex Discrimination Act has, on average, been amended by Parliament once every year for over thirty years, speaks volumes.

So when the Heads of our Anglican Schools wrote their Open Letter, the subject at hand–stated quite clearly–was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordance with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all students….

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(The Australian) Archbishop Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

…when the heads of our Anglica­n schools wrote their open letter, the subject at hand — stated quite clearly — was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordan­ce with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all ­students.

However, the publication of the open letter has poured a vat of vitrio­l upon the heads of some of the most respected schools in the country. Reaction to gossip across social media has galvanised signatures on petitions for a cause with which the heads of schools are in fundamental agreement.

The open letter’s reference to retaining the exemptions (for exampl­e, allowing single-sex schools to enrol only students of one sex) was in response to a bill from the Australian Greens, which sought to delete the entire section. Besides, for 35 years this has not been an issue in the public sphere, despite our own criticism of the lack of a positive protection for religious freedom. Yet any fair reading will reveal that the thrust of the letter was to advance the case for protecting religious freedom for Anglican schools in particular, and across the educational sector as a whole, including schools of different faiths and those of no faith.

I commend the heads for their courage in sending this message to the members of federal parliament. I also commend them for their resilience in the face of such stringent opposition and mis­understanding from some alumni of their schools, who have simply missed the point. Given the misleading nature of the “exemptions” regime, I can understand their confusion, but the landscape of Anglican education has not changed. Anglican schools neither discriminate against gay students nor do they want the right to do so.

The heads want the parliament to provide positive protection for religious freedom. When the presen­t vacuum is filled — not by rumour and misinformation but by the release of the Ruddock report — we can finally leave behind our broken mess of exemptions and move toward the positive protecti­on of religious freedom.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Church use policy passes in the Diocese of Sydney

“It arose in the context of the same-sex marriage debates last year, and the realisation that the changing legal landscape had put our Anglican institutions at risk of anti-discrimination complaints and other adverse action.” Bishop Stead said.

The Bishop admitted the policy was a ‘clunky’ way to handle the problem.

“The core problem is that there is almost no positive protection for freedom of religion in Australian law. Instead, what little protection there is comes from carve-outs – exemptions – in anti-discrimination legislation. Exemptions are the wrong way to deal with this – it is a sledge-hammer to crack a peanut. However, it seems that there is no political appetite for a proper fix, and it seems we are stuck with clunky exemptions. And this policy and ordinance is the – also somewhat clunky – way to address this. “

“To rely on existing anti-discrimination exemptions, a religious institution must demonstrate that its actions conform to the ‘doctrines, tenets or beliefs of that religion’. To ensure that the courts know what “our doctrines, tenets or beliefs” are, we need a clear articulation of our doctrines.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ABC Aus.) Michael Jensen–Sydney has always been a gambler’s town, but it’s a game for mugs

What was and is needed is a description of the deeper causes of this cultural addiction to luck — which is reality a deep-rooted theology of luck.

The Anzac could see that he might be dismembered at any minute. Luck might be against him. Why not see if the universe might turn his way a little?

The farmer on the land knows that hard work might yield no result, if bushfire, drought or flood prevailed. Why not bet on a different outcome, since it was all a gamble anyhow?

The factory worker’s routine was grinding her down and for all her labour brought meagre rewards. Who knows if a quick return for a small investment wasn’t just around the corner?

But there’s an alternative way of telling the story. It’s the story not of luck, but of blessing.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture

(The Age) Productivity Commission to examine mental health spending in wake of Australian suicide crisis

The Productivity Commission will undertake a major inquiry into the role of mental health in the economy as the Morrison government looks to extract better value from the $9 billion a year spent on mental wellbeing.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt have asked the commission to examine “whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money”, as well as how to improve economic and social participation for people struggling with their mental health.

Four million Australians deal with a chronic or episodic mental health issue each year, and one in five people affected by mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma, Mr Hunt said.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(Newsroom) New Zealand Anglican Bishops are Divided on Assisted Suicide

The eight top Anglican bishops of New Zealand have come out against David Seymour’s proposed euthanasia bill but three other bishops have voiced their support.

The two very different submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill are a sign of the differences of opinion within the country’s second largest church and among its 450,000 adherents.

The eight bishops, the church’s top leaders, have told Parliament’s Justice select committee that more money should be put into palliative care and helping families looking after the terminally ill, rather than allowing euthanasia or assisted dying.

The submission – by the bishops of Dunedin, Christchurch, Waiapu, Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Te Waipounamu and Waikato/Taranaki – is one of 35,000 to the committee and among thousands made public this month.

But three other bishops – two former bishops, John Bluck and David Coles, and Assistant bishop of Auckland, Jim White – have published a contrary opinion saying for some people with a terminal illness, assisted dying “is a good and moral choice”.

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Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

David Ould–The Australian diocese of Wangratta pushes ahead with same-sex blessings

The Diocese of Wangaratta, at it’s recent synod, passed the following motion,

That this Synod:

a) acknowledges the widespread national and local support for the recent changes to Australian marriage laws, to include same-sex couples

b) commends the pastoral value of the Bishop authorising a Form of Blessing for optional use in the Diocese of Wangaratta alongside, or in addition to, a wedding conducted by a civil celebrant, and

c) requests that the Bishop of Wangaratta ensure opportunity for the clergy and laity of the Diocese to engage in further discussion as part of the process leading to the potential Diocesan provision for blessing of civil marriages.

Moved: Archdeacon Clarence Bester

Seconded: Ven Dr John Davis

The motion was passed overwhelmingly on the voices. A number of observations can immediately be made:

  1. The motion comes from the leadership of the diocese, presented by an Archdeacon and the former Vicar General of the Diocese.
  2. The sentiment of the motion is in clear contradiction to a number of motions at the 2017 General Synod and position established in the more recent Bishops’ Agreement which Bishop Parkes of Wangaratta agreed to….

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(David Ould) Melbourne Anglican Church and Clergy take part in Same-Sex Wedding

It is now evident that the wedding was planned in order to avoid breaking the letter of each denomination’s law while clearly violating their spirit. The Baptist Union of Victoria prohibits its ministers from conducting same-sex weddings but has no equivalent prohibition on its buildings. The Anglican Church prohibits both minister and building. Thus we have the use of a baptist building, with Anglican ministers who are not technically officiating at the wedding although they clearly take a significant part in it (Rev. Moore essentially conducted the service). Finally a former baptist signs the paperwork.

It is a clear challenge to the teaching, doctrine and good order of at least 2 major denominations.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(David Ould) Australian Anglican Bishops agree it is ‘not appropriate’ to allow Same-Sex ‘Marriages’

The doctrine of this Church is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. If we as a Church are to change this doctrine to permit same-sex marriage, the appropriate mechanism is through the framework of the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishops should give leadership in demonstrating trust in this framework as the way to move forward together, recognising that this will require care, persistence and generosity. The bishops commit to working together to manifest and maintain unity, as we together discern the truth….

In light of this Church’s doctrine of marriage, it is not appropriate for church buildings and halls, and chapels owned by Anglican schools and other Anglican organisations to be used as venues for same-sex marriages.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SA) Ruth Lukabyo–Youth Revival: The impact of the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade on young people

Dad was not the only young person whose life was transformed that day. In fact, a statistical analysis of the Sydney Crusade demonstrates that 60% of those who signed the decision card were under the age of 21. The age most highly represented was 12-15 years at 28%, followed by 16-21 years at 19%. Many call the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade a revival, but it was not only a revival, it was a youth revival.

Apart from the work of the Spirit, why did the Crusade have such a marked impact upon youth? Graham’s message was a traditional gospel message of the sinfulness of people and their need for forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This was not new.

What was new was the way it was communicated and Graham’s focus on young people. Youth nights were organised which were full of energy and infectious enthusiasm and were perhaps the most fruitful of the Crusade meetings. Associate evangelists spent hours at secondary schools, speaking at assemblies and lunch hour meetings. Graham spoke at Sydney University outside the Great Hall to a crowd of 4,000 students. Even at the main Crusade meetings, Graham would address young people separately and call them to dedicate themselves to Christ.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Congratulations to Roger Federer for winning the Australian Open+his 20th Grand Slam Final

Posted in Australia / NZ, History, Men, Sports

(ABC) In Australia Same-sex marriage signed into law by Governor-General, first weddings to happen from January 9

Same-sex couples who have already married overseas will have their relationships recognised in Australia from midnight tonight.

After the drama and excitement of the same-sex marriage bill passing the House of Representatives chamber yesterday, the Governor-General signed off on it this morning.

Attorney-General George Brandis said couples had to give a month’s notice of their intention to marry, so the first same-sex weddings will be able to happen from January 9.

Senator Brandis said he became quite emotional when the bill passed and the public galleries erupted with cheers and singing.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(The Australian) Euthanasia laws passed in Victoria’s upper house

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

Visibly emotional government MPs including Jaala Pulford, Jaclyn Symes, Cesar Melhem all embraced in the wake of the vote, which occurred in front of a packed public gallery where pro-euthanasia advocates including Andrew Denton, Dr Sally Cockburn sat alongside pro-life campaigners including Australian Christian Lobby Victorian chief executive Dan Flynn.

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

The scheme, which is expected to come into play by 2019 will grant terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months the ability to choose when they die.

The government has not yet released details on the lethal formula that will be given to patients, but has drafted the plan in which the drugs will be issued to patients in a locked box to which only they have the key.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

(The Tablet) Outcome of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite will not end fight

Fr Frank Brennan, CEO of Catholic Social Services, wrote on the Jesuit-operated Eureka Street website on 9 November that wrote that with the return rate of the survey “a very credible 78.5 per cent” (compared with Ireland, where 60.5 per cent of eligible voters turned out to vote for same-sex marriage), the Australian vote in favour of Parliament legislating for same-sex marriage was likely to be even higher than the 62 per cent of Irish voters who in 2015 supported a change to the Irish Constitution recognising same-sex marriage.

“After Wednesday’s announcement, let’s hope we hear from some of our Catholic bishops repeating the sentiments of Archbishop Dermot Martin after the 2015 Irish vote: ‘The Church needs a reality check right across the board, to look at the things we are doing well and look at the areas where we need to say, ‘Have we drifted away completely from young people?’

“Wednesday will be a day of celebration for those wanting a ‘Yes’ vote,” Fr Brennan wrote. “It should also be a day when we Australians recommit ourselves to respect for all citizens, especially those whose beliefs differ significantly from our own. Our politicians led us into this divisive campaign. Now they need to lead us out of it with considered and timely legislation and a commitment to better protection of human rights for all.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, speaks on the outcome of the postal survey on same-sex marriage in Australia

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology