Banned Sex Book to be taught in Victorian Schools

A book that has been banned in parts of the UK, USA, and by the Singapore Government is being introduced into Victorian schools, to teach radical sex theory to our children, children as young as 5 years old.

And Tango makes Three, is an example of material that our young children will be exposed to in order to re-shape their thinking about sexuality. Who would dare complain about children’s story book, with beautifully drawn pictures? Surely that is taking things too far. The book was written to deconstruct believes among children about sexual relationships, by normalising same-sex parenting.

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It is important to note that the book has been deemed inappropriate by Government and school boards across the world, and yet the Victorian Government is ensuring primary aged children will be taught from it.  Does that not at least raise questions?

Today in the Herald Sun, Victorian school teacher, Moira Deeming, has shown courage to speak publicly about her concerns over the program. She says,

“I feel that this program is bullying male students and stigmatising and stereotyping them — the absolute opposite to what it is supposed to do,”

“It really does build up stereotypes. It doesn’t tear them down.

“If I was asked to teach it, I couldn’t let it out of my mouth. I’d have to be fired.”

There are growing concerns over the Respectful Relationships curriculum, but in a series of recent rebuffs, Education Minister, James Merlino, has not offered any response to the actual concerns, he brushes them aside, accusing concerned parents and professionals for playing politics with domestic violence.  I’m sure there is a political dimension for some people, but what of many people who are not associated with any political party? And even for those who have a political interest, are their concerns automatically erroneous?

Prof Patrick Parkinson (University of Sydney) recently published a paper, which examines the Safe Schools curriculum. His findings state that Safe Schools is “dubious, ‘misleading’, and ‘containing exaggerated claims’. We know that the Victorian Government has chosen to ignore this report, amongst others submitted concerns. Respectful Relationships depends on similar research, including that of La Trobe university who have been at the centre of the Safe Schools debacle. Victorians have lost faith in the Government to write fair and accurate curriculum for our children.

Were parents consulted by the Government whether we want our children taught that they have may sex as young as 12 years of age? Were community consultations organised to see whether families were happy for their 11 year olds to write advertisements, anticipating what they would want out of a sexual partner? Was a broad section of the medical and academic community properly consulted about the particular gender theory which will be taught, while others ignored?

What is happening in Victoria right now is a Government actively taking responsibility away from parents to raise their children, and they are filling these students with theoretical views which will confuse their identity and introduce them to sexual ideologies and practices that is not age appropriate. This book is only one many examples that have been found in recent months from both the Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships material.

Parents, are you okay for the Government to insist your children be taught erroneous sex education under the guise of domestic violence? What a gross mishandling of one our nation’s most horrendous social evils. As a community leader I am aware of this issue and I have seen the damage caused by unsafe relationships. Domestic abuse is appalling and never acceptable. The Government is right to say enough is enough, but trying to fix one problem by introducing another, doesn’t help anyone. Imagine if the Government introduced curriculum encouraging sexual abstinence amongst school aged children; there would be an public outcry from some quarters, and yet we are content to allow our children to be taught Respectful Relationships?

From the top of his sandcastle, James Merlino may hold that his political ideologies are beyond reproach, but the tide always returns. My concern is for the 10,000s of children who will made susceptible as they are forced to learn material that is at times unfit and untrue.

I would urge all parents and school communities to read the material for themselves. I strongly encourage the Government to listen to these valid concerns from the community.

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Victorian Government and Birth Certificates

History cannot be changed.

This axiom used to be true, until now with the Victorian Government introducing a Bill, giving people freedom to alter their birth certificates, as much as once a year, should they feel the need.

Would you like to change your birth certificate? Perhaps the year in which you were born? What about the place of your birth? We are not yet able to make these changes, but you will be able to change the identity of your gender, should you decide that your preference no longer matches your birth gender.

Birth certificates were once sacrosanct, treated as definitive legal documents. What was once subject to facts surrounding the birth of a child, can now be repeatedly changed according to how individuals wish to reconstruct their sexual identity.

I want a pause for a moment and recognise that gender dysphoria is real, although rare. I am not without personal knowledge of Victorians who are genuinely struggling and suffering due to gender confusion, and they seek resolution and acceptance (which does not always mean being identified in ways contrary to their biological sex). I want to affirm their dignity and humanity, and would pray that they would come to know the God who loves and gives us the greatest and most fulfilling identity, of being in Christ and knowing him.

My intent is not to cause people greater consternation, but to explain that this Bill does not provide answers.

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The Bill’s scope includes transgender, gender diverse, and intersex persons.  Transgender for example, is not identical with gender dysphoria, although it’s inclusive of; trans covers a broad range of sexual expressions. The category of gender diverse technically means, well, almost anything. The point is, the Bill’s parameters are so broad as to include persons who are not suffering medically diagnosed sexual dysphoria, but include people who for many reasons wish to change their legal status.

The Government website summarises the Bill as follows:

The Victorian Government will remove barriers for trans, gender diverse and intersex Victorians seeking new birth certificates.

Delivering on another equality agenda election commitment, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 to be introduced in Parliament today removes the need for applicants to have undergone sex affirmation surgery before being able to apply for a new birth certificate.

Importantly, the Bill also ensures couples will no longer be forced to divorce if one partner wishes to apply to change the sex recorded on their birth registration.

Adults will be able to apply to alter the sex recorded on their Victorian birth registration and birth certificate.

Under the changes, an applicant will be able to nominate the sex descriptor in their birth registration as male, female or specify a gender diverse or non-binary descriptor.

The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages will be able to refuse to register an amendment descriptor that is obscene or offensive, or if it is not reasonably established as a sex descriptor.

The Bill will also introduce a new process enabling parents or a guardian to apply to alter the sex recorded on their child’s birth registration.

The process will require the child’s consent. The application must be accompanied by a supporting statement from a doctor or registered psychologist confirming the child has capacity to consent, and that the change is in the best interests of the child. Children over the age of 16 will be assumed to have capacity to consent.

Why is this Bill problematic?

The social, familial, educational, and legal implications are enormous. For example,

1. Persons will be permitted to change their birth certificate every 12 months (according to the amended Section 30A). This is not an abstract over-the-top never-going-to-happen eventuality, for why would the Government provide this known loop hole if it is not designed to be used? And why, given the significance of this point, has it not been delineated by the Government in their press releases?

2. Apart from the legal and social confusion arising from persons changing their identified gender, perhaps annually, the Government has created a back door for same sex marriage:

A married man can choose to now identify as a women on his birth certificate, without having to divorce his wife. Or a unmarried woman may change her birth certificate to male and therefore be legally free to marry a woman, and should they choose 12 months later, change back to female without needing to divorce.

3. Gender confusion exists among a small but significant number of children. Research has demonstrated that as children mature their psychology will conform to their biology, and thus grow out of their confusion. For a tiny percentage, dysphoria continues into adulthood, but this is not the norm.

It is therefore not difficult to see the problems arising when young children and parents, due to misinformation being now taught in our schools about sexuality, are told that their little boy is in fact a girl and should identify as such (there are numerous examples of this happening in Victorian primary schools at the moment). What will happen is that children will have their birth certificates altered, and be treated as a different gender, only to realise in adolescence that they are in fact what their biology says. This will result in all manner of social, legal, and personal disorientation for these children and their families.

We need to appreciate how incredibly dangerous this Bill is to the health and well being of young Victorians.

4. Biologically, even with sex-change surgery, one cannot change their gender. Changing one’s birth certificate does not alter one’s identity, and thus it will create a dissonance between one’s legal status and one’s nature.

The births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 is the latest step in a social engineering agenda that has been moving in the background for many years and is now being championed by Daniel Andrews.

There are many difficult and pastoral issues surrounding these issues, but the fact is, the now many legal and social changes that have been forced upon Victorians by the current Government will not relieve and lay aside issues surrounding sexuality, but will only heighten sexual confusion in our society.

Teaching boys and girls that are not boys and girls, and that they can choose and change their sexual identities, depending on how they are feeling for the day, is frightening and irresponsible; this is not education, and it is not responsible lawmaking.

The Bill was due for final consideration and vote in the Legislative Council earlier this month, but the Government has delayed the vote due to a lack of support by members.

Perhaps it would be helpful if the Government paused and considered the due concerns of their Parliamentary colleagues and of the broader public whom they are here to represent and serve.

Evangelical! Who me?

When is it time to lay a word to rest? When is it appropriate to find an alternative name?

Stephen McAlpine is among a growing number of Evangelicals who are admitting we have a word problem, an identity problem. The term evangelical has become synonymous with a branch of American politics, and more recently, with a key group of Donald Trump supporters. Yes, there are notable evangelical voices repudiating Donald Trump, and recent polls suggest the majority of evangelicals would no more vote for Trump than they would Kylo Ren, but it is difficult to fight a bushfire with a garden hose.

McAlpine writes,

“The “Evangelical” brand is well on the way to being trashed in the US.  Time to think of a new word to describe ourselves I reckon, not just in the US, but across the West.

If it’s true financially that “when America sneezes, the world catches cold.”, the same appears to be true of American evangelicalism. The US arm of the brand has caught a pox from which it may not recover, and that pox is at risk of spreading to us.

It’s actually worse than a pox.  It’s gangrene. It has the whiff of death about it. Exxon, Union Carbide, Enron, Lehman Brothers. Perhaps we can add the “Evangelical” brand to that sorry pile. Time perhaps to cut ourselves off from the descriptor before we start to smell. Time for a new word

As he laters explains, the problem didn’t start with the rise of Donald Trump, it goes back to the 1980s when Christians hitched their wagon with the Republican movement.

The issue is even broader than North America. In Europe many denominations continue to use evangelical, as a eulogy to the past, although their theology often bares little resemble to that of their forefathers.

In Australia, evangelical has had branding kudos, at least in Christian circles, so much so that even many anti-evangelicals embraced the word: ’we don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ but the label works for us.’ To be fair, those who were slightly more ingenuous inserted adjectives, such as ‘broad’ or ‘progressive’, as a hint of their not so evangelical beliefs. This mass branding has not helped.

Language is situational, or least in part. When I describe my Christian faith in the community I refer to myself as a Christian, and sometimes I add that rarified name, Baptist! Rarely do I use words like evangelical or reformed, not because the words are getting a bad press, but because they hold little meaning to most Australians. Within ecclesiastical conversations I am happy to speak of my evangelical and reformed convictions, as they often help to build bridges of understanding, and at other times they clarify differences. But the reality is, when I’m chatting with my neighbours, evangelical doesn’t add anything.

If using the word inside churches is sometime confusing, McAlpine is right; outside of churches and theological institutions, identifying as an evangelical is becoming a herculean challenge, largely because our media lacks nuance. While it’s been trashed in the USA, at least American media acknowledge alternative evangelical viewpoints. Here in Australia, he only time evangelicals are mentioned is when there is a sniff of hydrogen sulphide in the air. For example, our news outlets have not been reporting Al Mohler on CNN or Russell Moore in the Washington Post, as they speak out against Donald Trump.

Has evangelical become unusable in Australia?

The Age newspaper now contains dozens of references to evangelicals, and almost without exception they associate these people with right wing American politics, or with ‘extreme’ Christian ideology in Australia.

ABC’s program, Planet America, regularly refer to the evangelical vote, and especially of their alleged support for Donald Trump.

It is clear that evangelical has become a by-word for religious right wing politics. While the media are responsible for selective reporting, they can hardly be blamed for tying at least some evangelicals with Donald Trump. After all, millions of Americans identify with evangelical and with the Republican movement.

There is an important lesson for us to learn, and that is, we must not bypass theology. We must resist making our identity a political ideology or social cause, we must begin with the Gospel and work out from there.

In 1989 David Bebbington first offered his now famous quadrilateral definition of evangelical. He understands evangelicals as holding four main qualities: biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, activism. There is much to like about his quadrilateral, however I also agree with Don Carson’s reservations (read “The Gagging of God”). Carson notes that even a Jesuit priest could put his hand up to this quadrilateral definition. As such, Bebbington has perhaps done evangelicals a disservice. 


To be evangelical is nothing less than being someone who holds to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The the very word from which we get evangelical is euangelion, which means Gospel.

I agree with Carson, who in turn follows John Stott, in taking us to 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. This is far from the only Scriptural place that explicates the gospel , but it does give us one of the fullest treatments of the Gospel, and we can’t overlook Paul’s introductory remark,

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:

What is the euangelion?

that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

Both Stott and Carson summarise 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 with these 6 points: the Gospel is Christological, Biblical, Historical, theological, apostolic, and personal.

The problem is of course, people are no longer defining evangelical by the Gospel.

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While I’m in large agreement with McAlpine, I’m not giving up on evangelical just yet, because rightly understood it is a word we should cherish and defend. But should the waves of malcontent persist, and an alternative is necessary, I think I’ll begin follow in Russell Moore’s footsteps and refer to myself a Gospel Christian.

Gospel Christian has the same meaning as evangelical Christian, but without the unhealthy socio-political connotations. Interestingly, both in the United States and here in Australia, among the larger Christian networks we don’t find the Evangelical Coalition, but rather the Gospel Coalition.

Some Christians prefer to known as orthodox or classical. I warm to both of these words, although Stephen McAlpine criticises ‘orthodox’ as a group who don’t affirm the real and physical return of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I’m ignorant, but I would have thought belief in the parousia is basic to anyone claiming orthodoxy.

The reality is, many of our Christian labels are disdained. I wish it was suffice to say, I’m a Christian. After all, that’s what I am, I am a Christian. But sadly Christian is frequently associated with all manner of social ills and evils (sometimes warranted). And when I fess up to being a Baptist, I’ve more than once had to qualify it by saying, no, we’re not like the JWs or Mormons.

McAlpine suggests we call ourselves, ‘eschatological Christians’,

“Eschatological” springs to mind. If someone asks me these days I’ve taken to saying that I am an “Eschatological Christian.” Sure it’s not catchy, but it’s not toxic either. Sure I will have to spend a bit of time explaining what it is, but hey, I’ll have to spend virtually no time explaining what it is not.

“Eschatological” is more likely to elicit an eyebrow raise than a nose wrinkle.  It is more likely to raise a question than rule a line under an answer. Most importantly it will distinguish me – and us – as those whose hopes -and energies – are not grounded in the political machinations of this age, but in the politics of the age to come lived out in the church today, and overflowing in practical, loving and humble ways into the community.

“Eschatological Christian” also distinguishes orthodox Christians who actually believe that there is a parousia coming in which King Jesus will usher in a new kingdom and judge the world in righteousness, from those who view that as an outdated notion beneath our modern sensibilities. A view that won’t get them respect in the academy.

The name has a certain Fitzroy living single-origin drinking indie-rocking listening feel to it, but I am unconvinced. First of all, few people know what eschatology means,  and second, it is  defining our identity by one area of theology, rather than the whole.

What do others think? How do you describe your Christian faith? Do you identify as an evangelical?

Misappropriation and misunderstanding shouldn’t surprise us; is it not the expectation given to us by the Lord Jesus? Does not the history of the church give us multiple examples of culture trampling on or deconstructing the church? In a world that is constantly confusing and even hijacking the Christian message, and doing so for all manner of social and political ends, we though can be responsible for how we represent the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, the more faithful we are to God’s word, the more useful we will be to society. So whether we call ourselves evangelical, Gospel, orthodox, or just plain and simple Christian, let’s do it with a growing sense of clarity, humility, grace, and winsomeness, in order to display the reality of Christ and of the hope held out in his Gospel.

Nothing will Change!

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The people advocating for marriage equality in Australia are not attempting to impose their beliefs on to any church, they are simply objecting to churches imposing their definition of marriage onto the rest of us.”¹ (Jane Gilmore, Freelance writer, 18/10/16)

What happened in Ireland, and Great Britain, most of continental Europe, most of the Americas, New Zealand, Canada and all the rest?

Again.

Nothing.”² (Lisa Wilkinson, 14/10/16)

I challenge people here to demonstrate that changing the Marriage Act will lead to negative changes in religious freedom.”³ (paraphrase of a statement spoken by Mark Dreyfus at the recent Freedom For Faith Conference, 23/09/16)

It is unsurprising to hear a growing cacophony of voices dampening suggestions that changing marriage in Australia will lead to any negative consequences for society and religious freedom. To acknowledge such impact would probably weaken their position. But it is important for Australians to recognise that the argument of ‘no change’ is simply untrue.

Scott Sanders from The Geneva Push recently sat down with Mikey Ovey (Principal of Oak Hill College, London) to talk about what has been happening in the UK since same-sex marriage was legalised in 2014. It is worth taking time to listen to these 4 short videos. Keep in mind, Mike is speaking directly to the situation in the United Kingdom. There are also examples coming out of Canada and the USA which demonstrate how same sex marriage undermines not only freedom of religion, but also freedom of conscience. Al Mohler’s program, The Briefing, is a helpful resource for gauging the shifting climate in North America.

Even here in Australia, and this being prior to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, there are clear examples of how this issue is rearranging and limiting religious freedoms. For example, it is no longer possible to win preselection in the Australian Labor Party unless you agree to same-sex marriage. In recent weeks, in light of the now unlikely plebiscite, politicians across Parliament have been discussing which people and organisations will receive legal protections, should same-sex marriage be introduced. If there are no negative outcomes, why is the Government drafting legislation to protect certain groups?

Reshaping marriage means reshaping society and society’s laws and expectations, and reshaping the contour of religious freedom and practice. Lisa Wilkinson and Jane Gilmore can argue otherwise, but it is the logical flow on effect, and we are seeing this in practice around the world.

With all this talk about religious freedom one may be forgiven for thinking that this is the chief reason why Christians are arguing against changing the Marriage Act. This is not the case. Christians believe that  the Genesis paradigm for marriage is a creation mandate that is a good for all humanity, not only for Christians. Until a few years ago this view of marriage was an assumed good, but now we are aiming to persuade our fellow Aussies that it remains a good for society today. At the same time, it is imperative that we understand the kinds of changes that will issue from this watershed redefinition of marriage.

To Christians reading this, be assured, our ultimate confidence is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not in Australian law. The future of Christianity is not contingent upon any current or future legislation. No matter the socio-ethical landscape, we know God will continue his work through the Gospel and Churches will continue and people will become Christians. If God can redeem 50 million Chinese in communist China, and millions under persecuting Roman Emperors, cannot God still work in Australia? This of course includes  implications for how Christians  love and serve our gay and lesbian neighbours, whether the definition of marriage changes or not. I trust we are already making every effort to befriend and support them, and to show them the love of Christ. For we remember that we too, in all manner of ways, once defined morality and truth in ways to fit with personal inclinations, and in that moment God graciously revealed Christ to us.


1. http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/gay-marriage/opinion-the-logic-fail-of-christian-objections-to-marriage-equality/news-story/bc247a193538625138d6f86f5c7cde65

2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/lisa-wilkinson/what-will-happen-if-we-legalise-same-sex-marriage/

3. https://freedomforfaith.org.au/

“The Island of Despair”

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“When a child expresses that want to kill themselves in that environment, we believe them.”  (Gabby Sutherland, Former Specialist teacher on Nauru Island)

If it came to my attention that there were children in my local community who were self-harming, being locked-up, being denied access to clean drinking water and sanitation, would I speak up? Would it not be unethical and iniquitous of me to remain silent?

I don’t know all that is happening in Nauru and Manus Island. We hear conflicting reports, but it is difficult to ignore two recent published reports, one by the United Nations and the other by Amnesty International. It is also difficult to ignore the stories that were shared last night on Four Corners by former teaching staff on Nauru, and by children themselves, whose words had to be recorded in secret.

In today’s The Age, I read,

“Anna Neistat, Amnesty’s senior director of research who travelled to Nauru, said the report provided direct evidence of Australia’s responsibility for day-to-day decision-making, and that Australia should be held accountable for breaching the Convention Against Torture – with a remote possibility that individual government officials could be prosecuted under international law.

“It’s the intentional nature of it,” she told Fairfax Media. “The Australian government is not even hiding the fact that the key purpose of this policy is deterrence. When you set up a system that inflicts deliberate harm as a deterrence, it’s really hard to find another name for it other than torture.”

Dr Neistat, a 15-year veteran of crisis work in Syria, Yemen and Chechnya, said the Nauruan regime was particularly galling because people’s suffering was “absolutely unnecessary” and shrouded in “shocking” secrecy. “I was not prepared for what I saw, and definitely not prepared for what I heard,” she said.

Torture is a loaded word and one not to be used lightly,  sadly the growing mountain of evidence suggests there is warrant for its usage in the case of our nation’s policies towards asylum seekers.

Off shore detention was introduced by the Howard Government in 2001, and has been continued by Labor and Coalition Governments since. According to the report released yesterday by Amnesty International, there are currently there are 1,159 asylum-seekers and refugees on Nauru: 410 people reside in the Refugee Processing Centre; 749 refugees live outside of the centre. Among this number are many children who have been in detention for over 3 years.

I’m not going to pretend that I have a detailed knowledge of what is transpiring in these detention centres, and I’m not going to naively suggest I have the answers. But one thing is clear to me, we have principles given by God as to how we ought to consider the refugee, and we would do well to use these as as a starting point for framing reasonable and humanitarian policies.

I realise most Australians are quick to ditch the Bible, especially the Old Testament for in it they perceive a God who is vindictive and harsh. Yes, there are hard words spoken in the Old Testament, and also in the New Testament. The fact is, some of the most difficult words ever spoken came from the lips of Jesus Christ. Instead of shunning these words, perhaps we Aussies ought to listen to them because clearly our hearts are calloused toward many of the world’s most vulnerable people.

In the Old Testament we read,

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing”. (Deuteronomy 10:18)

In the New Testament we read,

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

If God is concerned for the world’s refugees and we are not, what does that say about us?

As Australia’s off-shore policies were developed, were there genuine concerns about people smugglers and the safety of refugees fleeing onboard unseaworthy boats? Yes.

Is there also an inherent selfishness among Australians, not wanting to share our plenty with those who have lost their homeland? Yes.

Is there a stain of racism that makes Australians apathetic towards refugees? Yes.

The first issue cannot be ignored and finding a fair solution is not without complication. But it seems to me as though there is an core problem with the way Australians look at the world. We live and work and care when we find net value for ourselves, but the notion of loving our neighbour as ourselves is being lost, and polluted by rampant individualism and self service. Maybe you may think I’m sounding just a little cynical, but is not the evidence before us?

Perhaps it is pride that’s preventing our Government from changing its policies toward asylum seekers. I don’t know the answer to that, although it seems plausible, and alternative explanations are far less laudable. Political pride is ugly, but we can no more blame our Parliamentary representatives than ourselves, for they are a reflection of Australia, and of the values and ambitions we cherish.

We did not create the conditions that led to so many people seeking refuge in our country, but we can be part of the answer and give these human beings hope and a safe place to live. Are we not the most prosperous and liveable nations on earth? Do we not have more to share than most other countries can even imagine? Are we not able to sacrifice a little for thousands who have lost so much?

Reports of poor conditions, deteriorating mental health among children, and abuses by detention officers are not new, but today we will be damning our consciences if we close eyes and hearts to these latest reports.

Would we ever intentionally put our own children in an unsafe environment, or permit the Government to do so? And should we be made aware that this is so, would we not get them out of there straight away? Is this not common sense, let alone the caring thing to do?

Same-sex marriage narrative isn’t so neat

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It wasn’t that long ago that we were listening to advocates for marriage change insist marriage wasn’t about children, and that it was misleading to use children as part of an argument for classical marriage.

For example, last year on QandA, the Federal Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, shouted down a fellow panellist for daring to connect marriage with raising children. The panellist was Katy Faust, an American blogger who was raised by two lesbians (one being her mum). She speaks affectionately about both women who raised her, she nonetheless believes children ought to have a mother and father.

“While my mother was a fantastic mother and most of what I do well as a mother myself I do because that’s how she parented me, she can’t be a father. Her partner, an incredible woman — both of these women have my heart — cannot be a father either.”

Penny Wong is also on the record, rebuffing Eric Abetz who submitted same-sex marriage would deny children the basic rights of a mother and father.

Di Natale’s and Wong’s outrage in not unique to them,  it has been mimicked by other politicians and social commentators. Indeed it has become part of the narrative: don’t bring children into the marriage conversation.

The only problem with this plot line is that SSM advocates have now found ways to use children in support of their own case. Hence, it’s anathema for one side to mention children, but it is only right and natural for children to be front and centre waving rainbow flags.

Last weekend in Melbourne at a marriage change rally, young children were organised to be on the platform and talk about their positive experiences of living with 2 mums or 2 dads. These children then featured in weekend newspapers across the nation.

Today in Canberra, Bill Shorten and Mark Dreyfus met with ‘rainbow families’ at Parliament, and the ensuing photo-op has been splashed all over social media tonight.

This dramatic shift in narrative has taken an even stranger twist today; while children from gay families were being welcomed by Mr Shorten and Mr Dreyfus, in Canberra was another woman raised by 2 lesbian mums. But for some reason, Labor representatives were not keen to meet with her, and certainly no photography and selfies for their twitter accounts. Why were some children raised by 2 mums or dads put in the political spotlight, and  24 year old Millie Fontana was refused even a casual chat?

It appears as though her story doesn’t fit with story that is being written for Australia’s history books.

In an interview in Triple J today, Millie Fontana says,

‘I’m an atheist. But our story needs to be told. It’s natural to want a mum and a dad. But when we speak, we are told we are homophobes and Christians’.

Fontana is not alone in her belief that children should have a father and mother; there are numerous similar stories of children who were raised in same-sex contexts, but for the most part these testimonies are being ignored. Why? They don’t fit into the narrative being spun by certain political and social scriptwriters. 

The changing story goes something like this: children are not relevant to this marriage debate…except now those raised by lesbian or gay parents…so long as those kids don’t believe that children should have a dad and mum. 

Millie Fontana’s testimony is especially awkward because unlike someone like Katy Faust, Fontana is an atheist and even supports same sex marriage, but she does not believe children should be denied their mum and dad.

The reality is, there are many different Australians concerned with same-sex marriage and with its consequences, and they can’t be put in a box labelled, ‘heterosexual religious bigots’. In fact, very few people can accurately be described as such, but again, that’s not the story Mr Shorten, Ms Wong, and others want Australia to believe.

I’d love to see Mr Shorten and Mr Dreyfus meet with Millie Fontana, to hear her story. More important, the Australian public ought to be aware that the SSM narrative is not so neat and tidy, and contrary to reassurances from political leaders, there are real consequences that will flow from changing the definition of marriage.

Read more of the Triple J interview with Millie Fontana

While she’s for same-sex couples marrying, she has deep concerns about what same-sex marriage would mean for family structures. Families like hers.

“Same-sex parenting is not something I’m against,” Millie told Hack. “It’s got to be done ethically. There’s no easy way of raising a child in a same-sex scenario.”

“Same-sex marriage coming in basically says we don’t need biology,” she said. “Marriage itself has been so intertwined with child reproduction, and what I want to see happen is the preservation of child rights, regardless of who gets married.”

Not knowing her dad denied her “genetic integrity”, Millie said.

All children have a right to know who they are.”

Millie didn’t meet her dad until she was 11 years old. His absence had a big impact on her life.

She’d asked her mums to meet him as a young child, and they’d said no. She started acting out and having problems at school.

“It was very hard for me to establish a stable identity,” Millie said. “It was negatively impacting my development.”

‘There was always something missing’

No one ever teased her at school, and her mums were loving and provided all she needed for a stable home life. But Millie said she still clung to the “missing gender” in her life.

“There was always something missing for me, and I can honestly say that I always wanted to know who my father was.”

Millie is against same-sex couples denying their children access to their mother or father. She’s also against single people choosing to have children, for the same reason.

Skullduggery in the Church?

Descending onto Melbourne yesterday wasn’t the gale force winds sweeping across from South Australia, but another tirade against Sydney Anglicans. I’m not sure why The Age even bothered to reproduce the article, given it has little relevance to Melbourne, but why should Sydney keep all the sensationalism to themselves?

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It is always disappointing to read of anyone being misrepresented in the media. We all know it happens, and we know it ought not, but it does. It doesn’t matter who is being misrepresented, slander is slander regardless of who is in the firing line.  In this case, it is the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. 

Author and Columnist, Elizabeth Farrelly, is careful to paint a vivid portrait of Sydney Anglicans. The language is suitably chosen to support her thesis:

“skullduggery in the church”

“What if the Pharisees are back in charge?”

“It’s not just the ongoing nightmare of institutionalised child-sex abuse and the decades-long connivance that implies. Nor even the antediluvian opposition to women preachers and same-sex marriage. Exacerbating all that is an increasingly aggressive stamping out of dissent.”

“These are voices the church now works to destroy.”

“Sydney Anglicanism’s now “cultish” atmosphere”

And on it goes.

Everyone warms to Friar Tuck and the Vicar of Dibley, and we all like to boo Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, the Bishop of Hereford, and John Ballard. Elizabeth Farrelly wants to leave readers in no doubt as to which group of clergy the Diocese of Sydney belongs.

Farrelly’s language is selected carefully in order build a case of Pharisaism against Sydney Anglicans, and to portray Keith Mascord and others as victims who lay in their wake. It is of little consequence that the allegations are as thin as the slimmest slice of swiss cheese; cheese smells.

Especially worrying is the way Farrelly so easily draws in the issue of child abuse. With such an incredibly  sensitive and serious matter, it is disingenuous and even dangerous to clump it with the topic she is primarily addressing. For example, to introduce the situation with child sexual abuses in the Newcastle Diocese as evidence of hypocrisy among Sydney Anglican is misleading and paramount to libel. Farrelly’s gotcha moment is a quote from Sydney pastor, Rev David Ould…except that his actual quote says the opposite of what she claims. He has subsequently written this response to the misquote.

It is also important to note this crucial factual error, which Farrelly’s case depend on: depends on for her chief criticism of the Diocese: contrary to what Farrelly writes, Keith Mascord was not delicensed as a priest last week. He has not been licensed since 2013. Not only that, he was recently offered a licence to minister in his local parish, but Keith declined as he was unwilling to follow his ordination vows.

When evidence is not to be found, Farrelly resorts to conjecture in order to further her case:

She says, “You might think an institution of diminishing influence would engage its internal questioners in eager debate. You might expect the church, having been built around a rocker-of-boats and tipper-of-apple carts, to know that comfortable words pattered out over tea are not the only ones to hear.”

Anyone who has studied at Moore College or attended Diocesan Synods will know that Sydney Anglicans are more willing to debate issues and have those difficult conversations than any other Christian denomination I know of in Australia. The issue is not whether the Diocese is open to serious debate, but that they have not landed in a place that Farrelly would approve of.

Also this,

“The tellers of uncomfortable truths are those we most need. People whose truths come at significant cost to themselves, whose truths are wrenched from them; they’re the heroes, the soothsayers, the prophets. But these are voices the church now works to destroy.”

Farrelly doesn’t define what she means by truth; all we know is that the Sydney Diocese don’t have it, and the dissenting voices whom she supports do have it.

In the case of Keith Mascord, we are not seeing any example of Pharisaism, but of common sense. If a builder confessed that he no longer accepted the building code, and that he would proceed to break it at several points, it would be reasonable for his licence not be renewed. Similarly, when a Christian minister explains that he can no longer abide by the beliefs of the Denomination he is licensed to, it is appropriate that he not continue.

Are Sydney Anglicans perfect? Of course not, and I suspect nearly all Sydney Anglicans would gladly put up their hand in agreement. That’s what Christians do, we confess our sins.

I’m not a Sydney-sider nor am I an Anglican, but the impression I am left with is that Elizabeth Farrelly is no supporter of the Sydney Anglicans! I don’t think anyone  is insisting that Elizabeth Farrelly like or approve of their teaching, but when it comes to reporting a story, readers deserve to be presented with the facts.


A Statement from the Sydney Diocese regarding Keith Mascord’s license can be read here