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Monday, 19 November 2018 15:22

12 More Consequences of Redefining Marriage

Just over a year ago, during Australia's debate about changing the millenia-old meaning of marriage, I wrote an article called, "55 Consequences of Redefining Marriage". Unlike most of my articles, which are read by only a few hundred people, this one has been read by over 12,000, with several thousand shares. This is evidence of just how concerned ordinary people are about homosexual unions being called 'marriage' and the massive repercussions that has for everyone. That article was a simple list of 55 examples of discriminatory laws, legal challenges, policies and persecutions taken from 13 countries where same-sex 'marriage' has been legalised. Now, twelve months on from that day when Australians learned that the majority of their conferes had voted to redefine marriage, it seems like a good time to revisit the topic. How many of those consequences have come to pass in this country? Were our fears unfounded?

Published in Religious Freedom

This is the first part of a series of articles written by Neil Foster about the Ruddock Review's leaked contents. The subsequent articles can be accessed at Neil website, here.  

A media outlet here in Australia has released what it says are the 20 recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock. The Report itself was delivered to the Government in May 2018, but has not officially been released. Apparently the Government is planning to release the Report at the same time as announcing its official response. The main issue which has generated controversy during the last week, in which there was a selective leaking of some of the recommendations, were proposals dealing with the rights of religious schools to take into account the sexual orientation of students in certain areas. The changes proposed were not radical changes to the existing law, but were presented as such when first publicised. In this post I want to briefly set these recommendations in context and offer my preliminary response.
Published in Religious Freedom

Yesterday I wrote about the victory of Colorado cake-maker Jack Phillips. While I still stand with that piece, the only thing I regret was the title I ran with – in haste. I had to dash out, so I quickly changed a more innocuous headline to a more eye-catching one. [Read this story here on Bill's website.] However, anyone reading the piece instead of just going by the title would have seen that this win was hardly an end-all and be-all decision by America’s highest court.

Published in Religious Freedom

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 U. S. ____ (2018) (June 4, 2018), the US Supreme Court by 7-2 overturned previous decisions against a Christian cake maker, Jack Phillips, who had declined to make a wedding cake for a same sex wedding. While the basis of the decision of the majority is fairly narrow, the outcome is clearly correct, and even in the narrow reasons offered by Justice Kennedy, there are a number of important affirmations which support religious freedom.

Published in Religious Freedom

The recent decision of the England and Wales Court of Appeal in Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564 (22 March 2018) upholds what was in effect disciplinary action taken against a Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Canon Jeremy Pemberton, on account of his entering into a same-sex marriage. The decision is a sensible one which upholds the religious freedom of the Anglican church to operate in accordance with its fundamental religious beliefs.

Published in Religious Freedom
Wednesday, 14 March 2018 22:38

Signs of the Times

I think one of the issues with the recent revision of marriage is that many people found it hard to understand how the meaning of words can change change so quickly.

Words are seemingly increasingly fluid today - much like gender is regarded in certain circles. ‘Equality’ and ‘marriage’ were the two key words to undergo revision in 2017 in Australia, and it is no mistake that Yes groups connected these words in simple slogans with the overall aim of promoting ‘love’ to help stimulate revision.

Love is Love?

For example, take the University of Sydney advertising campaign in 2017 that was presumably linked in to the marriage debate: “Unlearn Love”.

The meaning could be taken several ways, but I am sure that the university was not saying that the love of two men is not love. I believe they were saying that married love is not what you always thought it was, and that now the new idea is to challenge the status quo and develop new ideas and ways of expression.

I always find it helpful in this new era of re-defining words to ask people when they say anyone can be married to ask them what marriage is and gently probe their response. Usually most people have a restriction on who can marry (not-with standing that most pro Yes Marriage voters would not have even been aware of the restrictions in Section 23 of the Marriage Act).

There is also a lack of definition when one probes the meaning of the word ‘love’ today. Perhaps defining ‘love’ is now too difficult or exclusionary? It is much easier to say, ‘Love is love’, and to sing about it than think about what it means. Perhaps those of us in the church could help the wider society learn more about the types of love mentioned in the bible? We need to be reminded of some of the hard sayings of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5: 43-44)

   

Marriage and Gender

Newtown in inner-city Sydney was one of the few local areas that had a significant number of local businesses and groups involved in publicly supporting the Yes vote. Among hundreds of signs and slogans in Newtown, this sign about gender was the clearest in its revisionist context. The move away from the understanding of marriage as a natural biological union from which children are produced and nurtured centres marriage on a form of romantic love where individual fulfilment is the key to that love. Sameness is promoted rather than complementarity. It reminds me of the part in Seinfeld where Jerry in contemplating marriage realised what he was looking for all along – himself.

Ridicule of Belief

I am wondering if understanding of, or even basic awareness of the deepness of belief for people of faith could become increasingly rare in wider society? I know that Newtown is a rarefied context, but is the issue broader?

On the day of the marriage survey announcement a mural was proudly unveiled on the back of the Botany View Hotel in Newtown, Sydney.

Presumably the designer Scott Marsh had in mind an exemption from the Additional Safeguards Act that was in place during the marriage survey up until and including 15 November 2017, namely that part that mentioned “a communication communicated solely for genuine satirical, academic or artistic purposes; or” (Division 1, Subdivision A, Section 6, 4 (b) Marriage Law Survey Additional Safeguards Act 2017) as Marsh chose to celebrate the day by denigrating two prominent Catholic figures as well as the Catholic faith. Tony Abbot was illustrated wearing a bridal dress and tiara along with an allusion to performing a sexual act with the straw in the bottle of wine, as well as being depicted placing his hand down the pants of a buffed up Cardinal George Pell who was depicted as a lifeguard wearing a rainbow swimsuit. Not unexpectedly, this mural prompted considerable reaction. Within 24 hours the mural had been splashed with white paint and then later painted over with black paint, with some wording left (The Happy Ending). Groups representing differing viewpoints converged, including (mainly Maronite) Christians who wanted to pray and witness to their faith. This development led to a local police presence, albeit to ‘keep the peace’ between the different groups. In the days following people added to the black canvas with a wide range of insults, swearwords as well as blasphemous comments and praiseworthy comments about Jesus. This whole saga continued for several weeks, with regular blackening out, though by February 2018 the graffiti language decreased markedly as activists presumably have moved onto to other causes.

One intriguing aspect from some of my discussions around the area was that while people were very upset at the perceived ‘vandalism’ of the mural, some could not understand that the mural had been offensive in the first place.

 

True Rainbows

I have been able to capture some lovely images of natural rainbows in Newtown. One was in 2009, and one in February 2018. These rainbows always provide a measure of hope and help me to continue to reflect on a holy and living God, our creator and redeemer.

Published in Marriage
Tuesday, 23 January 2018 10:45

The Changing Face of Marriage

It is my pleasure to join a wonderful group to help Australians think about and hopefully challenge some of the trends in this seemingly modern society.

I thought I would start with some comments about marriage, given it was the dominant issue for public policy discussion in 2017 (even if most Australians did not realise the public policy implications).

It is sobering to reflect how quickly one of the fundamental aspects of marriage moved from ‘naturally assumed’ to incidental.

There have been a number of “wedding industry” religious freedom cases arising in the United States and the UK over the last few years. On 28 December 2017 the Oregon Court of Appeals, in Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (CA Or; Dec 28, 2017, — P.3d —-, 2017 WL 6613356; 289 Or App 507 (2017)upheld a $135,000 fine levied on the Kleins, wedding cake makers, for declining to make a cake for the wedding of Rachel and Laurel Bowmen-Cryer. The case is another example of religious freedom (and, arguably, freedom of speech) being over-ridden in the name of “dignitary harm” to same-sex couples. It is a good example of the issues being presented to the current Ruddock Inquiry into Religious Freedom being conducted in Australia at the moment.

Published in Religious Freedom
Saturday, 30 December 2017 13:22

Our Top Ten Posts of 2017

2017 was a landmark year for Australians, and for Victorians in particular. In fact, it was a triumph for the cultural revolution and its minions. Marriage was redefined and Christians endured an unprecedented attack on their faith, which is not openly scorned in the public square. the Catholic Church in particular was targeted, as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse became a witch hunt designed to humiliate Catholics, while failing to offer true healing to victims of abuse. Queensland and New South Wales managed to stave off the decriminalisation of abortion, while Victoria legalised assisted killing. The incidence of violent crime is rising, particularly among immigrants who refuse to assimilate. Our two major parties are almost indistinguishable in their policies and both incapable of leading our country into the future. But one great result has risen in response to this tidal wave of immorality and persecution: Christians are banding together, getting involved and becoming emboldened to fight evil head-on.

Sunday, 17 December 2017 21:45

Same-Sex Marriage: Good for the IVF Industry

What do you call a couple with an over-abundance of eggs and a conspicuous absence of sperm? Well, you or I might call this couple 'lesbians', but to the IVF industry, there's a more marketing-savvy term. Their category is 'socially infertile', and it's a growing market for artificial reproductive  technology. IVF providers are just leaping at the chance to provide gay couples with designer babies. In fact, Sydney company, IVF Australia, is so enamoured of homosexual couples, that it has sponsored the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras since 2012.  

Published in IVF & Surrogacy
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