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The Canberra Declaration

Jul 23, 2010

Today in Canberra an important document is being launched. It is a national declaration about the Judeo-Christian foundations which have made the West and Australia free, prosperous and democratic. It proceeds from previous declarations, such as the Manhattan Declaration, and it reiterates some of the core truths enunciated there.

Given that the Federal election is to be held in just a few weeks, it is vital that Australians are reminded of these truths. This is a very important point in Australia’s history, and there are very real spiritual realities behind, and spiritual consequences of, the politic choices we soon will make.

This document, drafted by a number of concerned Christian leaders from various backgrounds, directs us to some of the key issues and values facing not just this nation, but all nations. The values listed here are very much under threat, and need to be vigorously and courageously championed.

How Australia votes at this upcoming election will in large measure determine if these values and social goods prevail, or are further weakened and undermined. We, the authors of this document, commend it to you for your prayerful consideration and support.

There is an official website where this Canberra Declaration is found, and where individuals can sign up, indicating their support and affirmation of its content and emphases: www.canberradeclaration.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=3

The Canberra Declaration

The Preamble to the Australian Constitution contains the words, “Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God”. As Australian citizens we continue to declare that we too put our trust in Almighty God.

For centuries, to speak of Western civilisation was to speak of Christian civilisation. The two were in many ways synonymous. The values that we have cherished and sought to strengthen are in large measure founded on the Judeo-Christian belief system. The many freedoms, advantages, opportunities, values and liberties which characterise the West owe much to the growth of Christianity with its inherent belief in the dignity of the human person as created in the image of God and the code of behaviour that flows from this belief.

The Canberra Declaration follows on from the 2009 Manhattan Declaration and the 2010 Westminster Declaration. It declares that when Christian values are respected and allowed freedom of expression, not just confined to so-called sacred spaces but in the public arena as well, society is richer and more healthy.

We wish to emphasise three areas that demand particular attention in our contemporary Australian society, namely religious freedom, marriage and the family, and the sanctity of human life. Were we to undermine any one of these values, the social fabric of our nation would be seriously weakened, to our personal and collective detriment.

Religious Freedom

Religious freedom includes freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. The importance of these freedoms is shown in countries where they are threatened or absent. Police states and totalitarian nations inevitably begin with the curtailment of basic liberties, including religious freedom and the right to speak one’s mind and conscience. This includes the right to change one’s religious beliefs.

We affirm the basic necessity of freedom of conscience, having the liberty to speak publicly about one’s faith and beliefs, and having the right to practise the religion of one’s choice. If these freedoms are removed – even in the name of supposed benefits – the prized values of democracy and liberty are seriously undermined.

In Australia today these freedoms are being restricted by laws which, although appearing positive on first reading, have the potential to lead to unintended and unacceptable consequences. These laws include anti-discrimination legislation, hate crime laws and legislation on religious and sexual vilification – each of which may be interpreted in a way that effectively works as a barrier to religious freedom and freedom of speech.

Thus the signers of this declaration affirm the fundamental right of Australians to religious freedom and freedom of speech, and we oppose legislation which denies such freedoms. We likewise oppose laws subjugating our nation to foreign powers and instrumentalities which restrict these freedoms.

Marriage and Family

Another vital package of values and social benefits is the long-standing institution of the natural family resulting from marriage between a man and a woman – as affirmed by the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act: “…the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

No other social institution has done so much good for people and for nations. Yet marriage is being undermined, to the detriment of children, individuals, and society itself.

Lifelong marriage between a man and a woman guarantees children their biological birthright to a mother and a father and has a proven track record of providing them with protection, education, welfare, support and nurture. No other arrangement has improved upon the benefits of marriage.

In the face of competing alternatives and moves to redefine marriage, we affirm the importance and social utility of marriage between a man and a woman and the families formed thereby.

Human Life

The third important set of values revolves around the sanctity of human life which is being undermined in much of the Western world, through abortion, euthanasia, and some of the new reproductive technologies.

We believe that all human life, being made in the image of God, has intrinsic and equal value from conception to life’s natural end.

The very heart of a humane and civilised society is based on the way it treats its most vulnerable and innocent members including the unborn and the disabled. We therefore insist on the right of all persons, including those who are vulnerable or dependent, to protection from conception to natural death. We will support, protect, and be advocates for such people, since to do anything less is to weaken our humanity and despise our personhood.

We will not comply with any directive that compels us to participate in or facilitate abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that involves the intentional taking of innocent human life.

Conclusion

Religious freedom, marriage and family, and the sacredness of human life have provided the foundations enabling Western democratic societies to flourish. We erode these foundations at our peril.

The faith which is at the heart of many of the values and strengths underpinning the Australian nation now compels us to speak up in their defence.

For the future of this nation, and for our children’s future, we call upon all like-minded citizens to support and sign this declaration.

[1073 words]

35 Responses to The Canberra Declaration

  • Our nation was founded in prayer on the Judeo-Christian principles and values. Back to the beginnings, well said Bill.
    We don’t water down what is right, true and Bible based.
    Where are more people to stand and support for what is right?
    Thanks Bill for your continual strong Bible based articles.
    Judith Bond

  • Dear Bill,
    I read your blog, often with profit, but I was disappointed when I looked up ‘The Canberra Declaration’ website, and particularly the details of the conference being held in Canberra.
    With it references to ‘anointed teaching’ (I thought Jesus was the Anointed One), and ‘ the restoration of the Tabernacle of David, the Treasury of David and the Throne of David’ in the conference progam, and ‘to align ourselves with God’s purposes for Israel so that Australia as a nation is not fighting against her in the battle of Armegeddon but with Israel even though that means not aligning ourselves with the nations. To spare Australia from that judgement.’
    I thought, ‘O no… another pentecostal/dispensational front movement.’
    Sorry, can’t get on board with this one, brother.
    Pete Gadsby

  • Thanks Pete

    I have had nothing to do with the website, and I still have not found there all the things you are referring to. But it seems those items are at most links to other groups who have supported this. There will be all sorts of diverse groups and individuals signing on to this. One need not agree with all of them in every detail to sign the Declaration. That is all I am interested in promoting here. I would think most believers would concur with this Declaration.

    And given that Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists and all sorts of other groups have been involved in the production of this Declaration, it really is unfitting to suggest that this is all just “another pentecostal/dispensational front movement”. So I would ask that you reconsider, and focus on what the Declaration itself says, not all the many and diverse groups that have and will sign up to this.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • This is an excellent document, Bill. It is great to see men and women of God rise up in this nation and take an affirmative stand such as this.
    Samia Sedhom

  • This is a Declaration of Hope. Thank you Bill and all who worked with you on it. God bless.
    Anthony McGregor

  • Peter – you are confusing the programme for the 24-7 Generation Fire conference with the Canberra Declaration gathering. The 24-7 is one of the links on the Canberra Declaration website because they support the declaration, but when you follow that link it takes you to their own events, not that of the declaration. Check it out. Generation Fire events are NOT the Canberra Declaration. I disagree with their theology in these areas too, but they are Christian brothers, and their support of the declaration should not deter us from doing so.
    Ed Sherman

  • Pete, there is a theory that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. I don’t agree with a lot of Roman Catholic teaching, or Pentecostal for that matter, but there are many practical issues for which I will stand side by side with either or both. As for the central tenet of Christianity, John 3:16, we are surely in accord. As for issues of morality and ethics, I sorely wish that the “other protestant denominations” were as visible and vocal as our RC brethren.

    Just my 2 penneth worth,
    Kev Downes

  • A very big personal thank you for your organisation and leadership in helping with this document Bill.

    This Labor/Greens “Moving forward” dirty deal is a stupefying encore to “Yes we can” . . . destroy your country.

    Martin Snigg

  • Peter could I suggest that this Canberra Declaration is too important to use it for taking up doctrinal issues that cause division. The Church has been much aligned and weakened by such dogma. Doctrinal issues can and should be discussed where possible in an atmosphere of Christian love and respect but now is the time to show the government that we are one in mind and spirit on the issues presented so well in this declaration.
    Keith Lewis

  • Thank you Bill and all involved with the Canberra Declaration. So simple and easy to understand. Please let it be published widely so that we reach as many people as possible! Thank God for truth!
    Caronne Vella

  • “The Canberra Declaration” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The Manhattan Declaration” or “The Westminster Declaration”.

    Sorry, but someone had to say it!

    Jereth Kok

  • I got an e-mail about the site from another Christian friend and when I visited the site there was nowhere for me to sign up. I’ll have another look.
    Anna Cook

  • May God bless you Bill in the war that is being waged against our nations. I pray that Australian Christians will not be indifferent to the significance of this declaration.

    David Skinner, UK

  • As Christians I think that when looking at issues we should consider the following extract….

    It was during the fiercest dogmatic controversies and the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War, that a prophetic voice whispered to future generations the watchword of Christian peacemakers, which was unheeded in a century of intolerance, and forgotten in a century of indifference, but resounds with increased force in a century of revival and re-union:

    “IN ESSENTIALS UNITY, IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY, IN ALL THINGS CHARITY. (Rupertus Meldeneus)

    (excerpt from: http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/augustine/quote.html)

    David Stanfield

  • Unless you have been thrown out of your country of birth like I have, one cannot grasp the horror of left wing socialism. My christian friend mocked me and said ‘oh your are from Europe no wonder you are against the left!’ I was shocked at his scorn as he loves the leftists. Left wing socialism in any form, is always the back door into a socialist, controlling, Godless, tyrannical government. Hitler started off improving the economy but his godlessness led him to despise the value of human life. The ‘lefts’ say they are for the people; the greens say they are for the animals; let’s have a government that acknowledges the architect of the universe and the personal love of a personal God.
    Ilona Sturla

  • Gday bill
    The wufoo link didn’t work for me as I tried to sign up. I’ll phone them and report it. As usual, well done!
    Terry Darmody

  • Thanks Terry

    Yes the website has been worked on today – it was being updated and revised, so at times the sign-up link has not been working. Apologies for that. It now seems to be working fine.

    As this is a brand new website, it is still under construction, but we are getting there. Thanks for your patience and support.

    And in just three days, nearly 700 people have already signed the Declaration. Please keep alerting others to it.

    Given the very real importance of the upcoming Federal election on August 21, we need to disseminate this document far and wide. Thanks every one for all your support and encouragement.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Signed it!
    Steve Davis

  • Very true Ilona but will it ever come?
    Dennis Newland

  • Dear Bill I would like to draw your attention to a program that I watched last night. Lateline ABC 1 10.35.pm There was a young women on the program who spoke about Islam and the Moslem peoples. She was very interesting and I found that she made a great deal of sence with the issue of Moslem Womanhood. She professed to be an atheist and still made a lot of sence when talking about various religions. I don’t know if you would be able to get a replay or blog of this program but I think you might find it worth a look.Her Name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Thank you Bill for the great work that you do with regard to issues of the governing of our great nation. God Bless you in your endeavours for Our Lord.
    Tichey Pat White

  • Thanks Tichey

    Yes Hirsi Ali is an important voice, and her views on immigration and refugees are worth listening to. Although an atheist, she has written some important critiques of Islam, including her 2008 volume, Infidel, and her brand new volume Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations (2010).

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I agree!
    Hazel Haines

  • ““The Canberra Declaration” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The Manhattan Declaration” or “The Westminster Declaration” (Jereth Kok, here) – Oh? Why ever not? It’s right and proper that Australians express their opposition to the cultural meltdown, atheism, amoralism, and rising Culture of Death that threatens all of us, in the West; never mind how it “rings”!
    John Thomas, UK

  • Thanks John

    I think (I hope) that he was just trying to insert a bit of humour here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Maybe I was being a bit over-sensitive, Bill, sorry; sadly, we do have people (I think there’s one somewhere here) who, because of some difference of emphasis in their ecclesiastical tradition/viewpoint, won’t support an initiative; in these times, we need to stand together in a very strong, decisive way … if the trumpet makes a clear sound, we’ll all prepare for battle …
    John Thomas, UK

  • I support this declaration.
    Marie Harris

  • I strongly support this declaration.
    Hazel Carter

  • John – I think the content of the declaration is really good.

    But “Canberra”?

    I just don’t see how a declaration can have much teeth when it is named after a totally dead city in the middle of nowhere, with no culture, no class, no history… Contrived out of nothing and built on an empty paddock simply because Sydney and Melbourne weren’t able to decide who’s better!

    Jereth Kok

  • I have been out of the loop for a while so I am just catching up on some reading hence the lateness of this comment.

    It is amazing that the only thing the church seems to learn from history is that it doesn’t learn from history. Here we are in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil and someone has the temerity to say “enough is enough, let’s get together amd make a stand.”

    Unity is strength, but oh no, someone has to start nitpicking over words or whether some people are doctrinally correct. Talk about you in your small corner and I in mine.

    If you open your eyes you will see that it is not about you (or me), it is about the Kingdom of God and the fact that we have feebly capitulated to the biggest thief of all time, Satan.

    Jesus defeated Satan at Calvary, made an open show of him and put him in his place. You would not think so the way the church cringes before every onslaught from him and exacerbating the situation by argueing amongst themselves.

    Jesus is the King of Kings, not satan so its incumbent on all of us to make that very clear. Let’s put aside petty arguments and tribal infighting and stand UNITED for Christ the King, whom we serve.

    Father forgive me for I know what I am doing and I don’t resile from a single word of it.

    Roger Marks

  • I wholeheartedly support this declaration. There’s a great song I have been learning that says “its time we took the lampshades off”, and it certainly is. So long as the voice of those that promote godless ways is louder than the voice of those standing up for righteousness and truth we won’t see any change.

    Let the church of our majestic Lord Jesus Christ stand up and be counted and shine the light of God on our generation!

    “The generation of the upright shall be blessed” even though they probably don’t realise why.

    David Sampson

  • Thanks David

    And the 9000th person has just signed it! Let’s make it well over 10,000 before the election and send our politicians a clear message.
    http://www.canberradeclaration.org.au/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thank you Bill, for this vital and timely Declaration.
    ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity!’ Believers in our Lord Jesus, focus on the things that unify us in our great Nation and support this wonderful Declaration!
    Jo Parker

  • Hi……I was just wondering where we can have a look at these documents that they are trying to pass in government.

    If we have all the information at hand it makes a stronger case when we present it to other Christians.

    Monica Turnbull

  • Thanks Monica

    It depends on what documents you are referring to. If you mean legislation, documents, declarations, bills and proposed laws which are anti-faith, anti-family and anti-life, there would be thousands of them. They would come in many levels: council, state and territory, federally, internationally, from the UN, etc. etc.

    This website tries to monitor and warn about many such documents, bills and laws.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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