CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Faith Busters

Jan 22, 2009

When it comes to wiping out biblical Christianity, who ya gonna call? Why, the government of course. They are the real faith busters. They are working bit by bit to minimise and destroy the Christian faith. And it is all being done very subtly and seductively.

Indeed, I have been warning for years now that the main way in which biblical Christians will be silenced is not by direct persecution, but by incremental legal and social changes. I have said for two decades now that the various discrimination laws, vilification legislation and equal opportunity rulings will more and more be used to squeeze the lifeblood out of evangelical Christianity.

And of course we have seen these governmental groups (human rights commissions, equal opportunity bodies, and so on) already busy at work undermining the faith. The most blatant example was the way in which the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission went after two Christian pastors.

The pair went through hell – five years of legal proceedings which cost them over a half million dollars in costs. And in the end an appeals court threw out the case, saying that the original finding of a guilty verdict was replete with numerous serious mistakes.

Yet this same body, the VHREOC, now wants even more powers to go after offenders – and Christians will surely be on top of the list. In an extremely worrying – and largely overlooked article – in the Australian on January 14, it was reported that new draconian powers are being proposed for the body.

And who do you suppose is behind all this? You got it – Victoria’s most radical social engineer, Attorney-General Rob Hulls. He has been pushing his radical, secular social activism for years, and this is just more of the same.

Here is what the Australian article says in part, “Victoria’s human rights commission would be empowered to conduct wide-ranging discrimination investigations, compel witnesses to testify and conduct searches and seizures under proposals to dramatically boost the organisation’s powers. The state Government is considering plans to overhaul the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, taking it from a complaint-driven conciliation body to a proactive discrimination-busting agency.”

“A current review into equal opportunity laws is expected to consider scrapping exemptions that allow exclusive private clubs such as the Athenaeum or Lyceum to bar male or female members. The recommendations for a major upgrade to the commission’s powers came in a review conducted by veteran social justice campaigner and former public advocate Julian Gardner on behalf of Attorney-General Rob Hulls. ‘The power to conduct an inquiry could include the power to compel the attendance of a person to provide information and/or produce documents,’ Mr Gardner’s report recommends.”

“‘These powers could be supported by the power of entry, search and seizure to obtain necessary evidence and documentation.’ The Government is considering the recommendations and is believed to be supportive of boosting the commission’s powers. It has referred the issue to a parliamentary committee, which will report in April, before it goes to state cabinet. Mr Hulls has described the state’s equal opportunity laws as ‘outmoded’, saying ‘reform in this area is long overdue’.”

This is scary stuff. Now they are going to start coming after us. VHREOC “chief executive Helen Szoke told The Australian yesterday the investigatory powers could be backed by the ability to issue enforceable undertakings. ‘The commission’s view is that what we have now is not enough for us to fulfil our charter of reducing discrimination,’ she said. ‘These are powers that other states and the national human rights commission have had for some time. (But) a good regulatory body would use its “stick” powers, as opposed to its “carrot” powers very sparingly.’ Currently the commission can act only on individual complaints and offers conciliation services to the parties, as well as performing its research and education roles.”

Let’s get a few things straight here. In a multicultural, pluralistic society we are told we should all get along and accept one another. But there has always been a double standard here. One group has always been targeted in such tolerance-promoting circumstances: biblical Christians. Who was targeted by Victoria’s notorious anti-vilification laws? Biblical Christians of course.

And notice Szoke spoke of her concern about “reducing discrimination”. That phrase covers a multitude of sins. In the secular humanist worldview (which HREOC ably represents), this usually is code for the view that Christianity is discriminatory in its beliefs and practices.

Homosexuality is a key issue here. The discrimination bodies have largely been about promoting the homosexual cause, and whenever we hear talk about discrimination and inequality, invariably the homosexual agenda is really what is in mind.

So if these changes proceed, I can see the thought police knocking on my door and that of other concerned citizens, taking away our computers and documents, to find proof of our “hatred,” “vilification,” and “discrimination”.

Indeed, at least one legal expert cited in the article could see the danger. This is how the Australian article puts it: “Melbourne QC Peter Faris likened the proposed powers to those of a crime commission, and described the changes as a blow to free speech. ‘They would have to prosecute Prince Harry,’ he said, referring to the prince’s recent ‘Paki’ jibe to an army colleague. ‘It’s a big step. They are going to need lawyers and what would amount to police to conduct raids. It’s difficult to see why it is necessary — there hasn’t been any great outbreak of criticism’.”

All around the Western world these unelected and unaccountable quasi-governmental bodies are conducting witch hunts against Christians and those who dare to oppose the homosexual agenda. Many countries now have laws against “hate speech crimes” and the like. Thus if a homosexual activist hears you publically reading from Romans 1, for example, he can accuse you of inciting violence, of promoting discrimination, and of making “hate speech”.

This approach has been steadily moving along for several decades now. It shows no signs of slowing down. Bit by bit and inch by inch basic freedoms – such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion – are being chipped away. Indeed, at this very moment the Federal Government is conducting an inquiry into freedom of religion in Australia. A careful look at what this is all about reveals that it is really concerned with freedom from religion.

It too speaks about discrimination and vilification, and its real aim, again, will be to silence those who stand up for the biblical Gospel, and those who seek to promote biblical values. So at the federal level as well as the state level, various government bodies are working overtime to slowly erode our freedoms as Christians to preach biblical truth and stand up for biblical morality.

Perhaps the only other thing more worrying than this is the incredible ignorance and apathy of the Christian community. Most believers don’t know anything about these moves, and don’t really want to either. As an example, these government inquiries are nothing new. We faced similar problems just over a decade ago. This is what I wrote back then:

“The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has just released its report, Article 18: Freedom of Religion and Belief. The report is the result of public comment made to a 1997 discussion paper called Free To Believe? At the time I strongly encouraged all of us to put in a submission. Unfortunately, the Christian community appears to be apathetic, indifferent or asleep at the wheel: the Commission received only 255 submissions, and many of these were from cults, non-Christian religions, or from groups like the Atheist Foundation of Australia, the Humanist Society of Victoria, and the Pagan Alliance. Once again it seems we are allowing anti-faith and anti-family forces to set the agenda, because we couldn’t be bothered getting involved in the debate.”

I am afraid things have not changed much in the ensuing years. I and others of course are urging all Christians to put in a submission to the current federal inquiry. Yet if anything more than a tiny fraction of one percent even does so, I will be surprised. We are allowing the secularists to slowly turn this nation into not just a post-Christian country, but an anti-Christian country.

It really is time for believers to wake up and realise what is happening all around them. The other side – including the homosexual activists and the militant secularists – are working incessantly to achieve their goals. But we, like Keith Green once sang about, can’t even get out of bed, or pry ourselves away from the TV.

The side which is most committed to its cause will prevail. And at the moment it sure does not look like the Christian community will be the winner. I will continue to warn, and act as a watchman. But we must all get involved if we want to retain basic religious freedoms in this nation, especially the freedom to proclaim the gospel without hindrance.

www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,,24910221-643,00.html

[1494 words]

19 Responses to Faith Busters

  • This leads to a possible scenario where a majority of Bible believing Christians will be either in gaol or have moved interstate, with subsequent collapse of the welfare and part of the health system in Victoria.
    There is also the fact that perhaps Christians will go back to where it all started – Home churches.
    Wayne Pelling

  • Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the continuing heads-up on these extremely important and worrying issues.

    Information on the Federal Government’s inquiry into Freedom of (from) religion in Australia can be found at:

    http://www.humanrights.gov.au/frb/frb_2008.html

    and submissions can be made to:

    [email protected]

    Mansel Rogerson, Melbourne

  • It is only a matter of time that Christians, who wish to attend their church service or mass, will have to go underground. I’ve said this to a number of people over the years and they look at me as if I were joking. But when I hark back to my childhood, I remember that a doctor who performed an abortion or referred someone to an abortionist, would be arrested and receive a prison term. Views are so skewed nowadays, many in the general public sit back and accept, a group of people in Victoria, masquerading as a government, are prepared to send a doctor to jail for not performing an abortion or referring someone to an abortionist.
    Who would have told a military person returning from the war, that in decades following, two pastors would be hauled before a court over what should been considered free speech.
    It concerns me that the battle is fought mainly by lay people, while many clergymen don’t wish to dirty their hands, even if they were smart enough to know that if they joined forces and publicly stood up to these menaces to society, they would win.
    One day they will answer before God, who will ask them why they didn’t do their jobs.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  • I agree with you Frank. When the abortion debate was occurring in parliament; when Dennis Hart and the Victorian District of the LCA and other churches, but mainly Catholics and the host of this web site, were making comments, my own Church, both as a denomination and as an assembly of God’s people failed to raise their voice. I wrote letters to the bigoted Greens MP Colleen Hartland (less) but she did not respond. In one of our Bible Study groups one of the other members said that ‘we as a church should have spoken out”!!
    Yes they and Rob Hulls will stand before a Judge who will demand an accounting.
    Wayne Pelling

  • Well said Bill and Frank. I have said on occasion that for some Christians, the first they will know of the loss of their religious freedoms, is when one day they arrive at the church to find the doors bolted by order of the government. Unfortunately by then it will be too late to object.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • When the second reading of the original Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (RRTA) was before the Victorian Parliament, the then Premier, Steve Bracks, stated, “It is surprising that Victoria is the only state which does not already have legislation of this type,” and, “This bill is closely modelled on the equivalent New South Wales legislation and its impact on freedom of expression is extremely limited.” (Victorian Hansard http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au 17 May 2001). This was simply false since ‘religious’ vilification laws did not exist in other states at that time and certainly not in New South Wales.

    This same blurring of the distinction between ‘racial’ and ‘religious’ vilification was also evident during the Parliamentary debate nearly three weeks later when Mr Pandazopoulos, the Minister assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs said in response to a comment that the laws were draconian, “How can our views be draconian when they are consistent with what applies in other states and the government has acted on their advice to improve the situation? (Victorian Hansard http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au 5 June 2001).

    Both members effectively got away with misleading Parliament – probably because of the ignorance of those opposed to the RRTA because, on the surface, it sounded reasonable and was a mere tightening of the racial vilification laws. However, the 2 Dannys’ case which was brought within three months of the law being enacted, showed just how UNreasonable this law really is!

    Of very considerable concern is the quote from Helen Szoke in Bill’s article above. She is using the same tactic as successfully employed by Bracks and Pandazopoulos by suggesting that other states and the national human rights commission have had powers her Commission is seeking “for some time.” Those readers in Victoria need to be bringing such people to account for these types of statements.

    However, those outside Victoria should be equally concerned. Whereas this law is on the Victorian statute book, there has since been a case where people in New South Wales were dragged before the Victorian tribunal and thrown into a Victorian jail for contempt when they refused to answer questions on the basis that the law only applied in Victoria.

    So, make no mistake this time, these laws ARE draconian and they can reach ALL Australians – not just those who live in Victoria.

    For ALL Australians who read this column and who care about free speech and religious freedom, it is essential we ALL make a submission in response to a call for comment on the Federal Religious Freedom Act. These are due before 31 January. A link is http://www.hreoc.gov.au/frb/index.html

    Surely the evangelical church is STILL not asleep! There will be no excuses second time round.

    Roger Birch

  • But we, like Keith Green once sang about, can’t even get out of bed, or pry ourselves away from the TV.

    It’s interesting, in a sad way, that we are also getting 15 free-to-air TV channels at around the same time as this is occurring. With the media being almost unanimously leftist, this looks to me like indoctrination and distraction at the same time.

    Natasha Sim

  • Bill,

    This comment could not be more wrong:

    “Unfortunately, the Christian community appears to be apathetic, indifferent or asleep at the wheel: the Commission received only 255 submissions, …”

    I am a part of the AD Hoc Interfaith group in Victoria that campaigned so strongly over iniquitous Victorian legislation last year and we will be putting in a submission; the State Presbyterian Churches of Qld, NSW, SA will/have put in a submission, the Presbyterian Church of Australia will be putting in a submission, the Catholic Bishops Conference, Sydney Anglicans and their national body, AOG, Baptist Union NSW, Seventh Day Adventists, Lutherans, Evangelical Alliance, Australian Christian Lobby and no doubt many others will all be putting in submissions. On complex issues like this church people look to their leaders to puut in submissions on their behalf and all of the above groups have been expending considerable effort into preparing submissions.

    The difficulty we all face is determining what to recommend to safeguard Freedom of Religion without unwelcome flow on effects. No doubt some differences of opinion will emerge.

    However the Churches are taking this enquiry very seriously. I have worked all through the summer on the Ad Hoc and PCA submissions. Through our ministers network I have encouraged members of local congregations to make submissions having offered guidelines for so doing. Here is a link to an article I wrote appearing in the Dec 08 Australian Presbyterian (scroll down to p30: http://ap.org.au/images/2008AP/AP1208.pdf)

    On one thing we are all agreed, the frb project is a very serious challenge to freedom of religion as indeed the morally bankrupt government of Victoria has proven. The churches (and obviously I don’t speak for the leadership of the UCA) take this challenge extremely seriously.

    BTW, the reason why you don’t see many submissions up on the Government website is that AHRC has agreed to one month extensions to organisations, associations, though I doubt they would do this for individuals.

    David Palmer

  • Thanks David

    But I am not wrong. Unfortunately you simply did not read carefully what I wrote. The quote you refer to comes from something I wrote over ten years ago (as the immediate context plainly states). It referred to the earlier inquiry held in the late 90s. So I am absolutely correct as to the number of submissions put in back then. I should know – I counted every one of them at the time. I was not referring to the number of submissions being put in now.

    It is good to hear of the dozen or so groups you list. But actually my point remains. There are many thousands of Christian groups and churches in Australia who should be putting in submissions, not just a handful. And individual believers should certainly be doing the same, and not just leaving it to leaders to do it on their behalf as you suggest.

    But you are quite right that this is a very worrying challenge that needs to be taken “extremely seriously”.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • My father – who was an ardent dispensationalist – felt that it was immaterial to fight against these things as they would be occurring when Christians had been Raptured. Not being of that persuasion I argued that threats of this nature to Christian faith and practice need to be met head on anywhere, anytime. It might be a sign of the Beginning of the End, or the Beginning of the End of the beginning of the End, or the End of the beginning of the End, but whatever we need to be found doing our duty.
    Wayne Pelling

  • When we first started Salt Shakers, 14 years ago, our pastor told us he expected to be jailed for his views and statements on homosexuality within 10 years.
    We’ve been closely observing things during that time, as you have, Bill and I think the time is getting closer!

    These proposed new powers for the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission bring it a lot closer!
    Doing their own investigations, making orders and enforcing them!

    Christians have already had some close calls on this. Just think of Pastor Ake Green in Sweden – sentenced to one month in prison for statements on homosexuality in a sermon [his appeal was successful and he didn’t have to serve the time].

    On Islam, we’ve just had news that Dutch MP Geert Wilders will be tried in a Netherlands court for inciting hatred because of his views on Islam, as portrayed in a film called Fitna: for example, for comparing Islam and Nazism… don’t worry about the fact that the connection he made related to a Muslim protester holding a sign “God bless Hitler’” or the historical fact that the Mufti of Jerusalem visited Hitler during WW2 and supported him.

    Melanie Phillips has an excellent article on this case, concluding that if such laws existed then, Winston Churchill would have been tried for inciting hatred – rather than lauded for bringing freedom!
    Read her article –
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3277841/a-defining-moment.thtml

    Jenny Stokes

  • Thanks Jenny

    Yes it is always a double standard here. At the recent protests against Israel in Melbournistan, the signs being carried amounted to nothing less than religious hate crimes and vilification. But was anything done about it? Did our equal rights bodies get up in arms? Did the lefties cry out? No, no and no.

    One sign for example said the Jews need more of the Nazis. See the signs here: http://picasaweb.google.com/Th3M0shP1t/Melbournistan?authkey=ZgYs9ODynX8#

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Point taken, but in the next para you also go on to say,

    “I am afraid things have not changed much in the ensuing years.”

    I think things have changed. Back in 1998 I know the PCV put in a submission to HEREOC re Art 18 but then the Government chose to shelve it just as the Federal Government shelved Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia.

    This time round we know with a change of Government, the moves to eliminate exception/exemption clauses in the Equal Opportunities Acts and general continued moral decay, we have to mobilise and the point I was earlier making needs underscoring – this time round many denominations and church leaders are committed to making submissions and approaching both sides of politics directly.

    It is good that members of churches, who I would think make up the great bulk of persons coming on to your website, should know this.

    We are going to be involved in a big fight as you rightly point out, so prayers for courage, determination, discernment for our church leaders are needed and again as you say there is still time for people to put in their one page letters. I think my AP article gives some pointers what to write as well as the Family Voice briefing note that has been floating around. The only other point to make is that people writing letters need to be polite and not aggressive.

    David Palmer

  • Victoria also has significant enclaves of cultists such as exclusive bretheren which abuse freedoms given to churches and deliberately circumvent rightful government laws, thus antagonizing secular authorities. While I would still defend the bretheren’s right to practice their version of Christianity their behavior often causes hard feelings toward legitimate, lawful Christians.

    They also see themselves as “biblical” christians but their practices are sometimes in great contradiction to the commands of Christ.

    As is often the case it is often the few bad eggs which cause the majority to suffer. I would suspect that some of the proposed law changes are aimed and at least caused
    by this body and others of a similar bent.

    Lennard Caldwell, Clifton QLD

  • Thanks Lennard

    Yes often believers can be their own worst enemies, and often we can badly misrepresent our Lord. Having said that, however, I am far less optimistic (more realistic?) than you about the ultimate motivation of many of these secular bodies and groups. Being aware of the spiritual war that we are in, we should not be surprised that there really do exist enemies of Christianity which are busily at work seeking to undermine and silence the Christian churches.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Be aware of the incremental strategy of the misotheists against Christians, since it has happened before. The Gestapo banned Dietrich Bonhoeffer “from preaching, then teaching, and finally any kind of public speaking. In 1943 he was arrested and held in prisons and concentration camps, before being executed in April 1945, with the Allies approaching and barely three weeks before the end of the Second World War in Europe” (Berlin library launches appeal to save Bonhoeffer’s papers, The Presbyterian Outlook, 15 January 2009).

    The Gay-stapo and other assorted misotheists would like nothing better than a similar silencing of biblical Christianity.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • I am seaching for an effective way to speak against the changes which you speak of. What to say to be effective, to whom… email adresses etc.
    The news scream for christians too stand up now for freedom and/or standup later at risk of death.
    Colin Wardrop

  • Thanks Colin

    This site offers plenty of suggestions for what we might do, as do other groups, such as these:
    http://www.saltshakers.org.au/
    http://www.lifeministries.org.au/
    http://www.fava.org.au/
    http://www.acl.org.au/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus… Ye shall be hated of all nations then shall the end come… there shall be a great falling away and then the man of sin shall be revealed… If you are persecuted rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Prophets and mighty men have desired to see the things you see… all scripture is written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come… greater works than these shall ye do because I go to the Father… come boldly unto the throne of grace that ye may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need… The righteous are as bold as a lion. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yolk of bondage, by love serve one another… especially those of the household of faith… comfort one another with these words. Eye has not seen nor ear heard the things that God hath prepared for those who love Him… be faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life that fadeth not away reserved in Heaven for you.

Leave a Reply