As the incoming Managing Director, it is difficult to put into words the gratitude I feel towards Lyle Shelton for his leadership and courage.
Working in close quarters with him over the last three and a half years, I’ve admired his determination, energy and boundless optimism in the face of immense opposition.
God brought Lyle to ACL at just the right time, and in the same way, he seeks to follow the Lord’s leading by stepping into the world of partisan politics. Watch this space.
We are living in a crucial time for our nation and for the Church.
Changing the definition of marriage represented a watershed moment for Australia. The consequences we forewarned will gradually emerge, and our nation is just a little bit less free than it was a few months ago.
But by the grace of God, we have come through that campaign in our strongest position to date.
We helped to shift over 1.5 million votes in 90 days. That is almost unheard of in Australia’s political history.
The ‘no’ vote was larger than the current primary vote of either major party.
We have a rapidly growing supporter base of 110,000. A huge number of you donate and volunteer.
Simply put, the infrastructure and experience we have acquired in recent times sees us in our strongest position ever.
We have seen just a glimpse of what our movement could look like when we work together. Our challenge now is to build on that momentum to transform a one-off campaign into an enduring force.
And with God’s help, I know that we can do it.
Be encouraged - there is a very large, passionate, vocal constituency who, like you, care deeply about issues concerning faith and family.
From where I sit, I don’t see the end, but a beginning.
My number one priority will be reaching out to churches, engaging with congregations, and equipping Christians to become advocates and activists for a more righteous and just Australia.
Protecting religious freedom for all Australians is at the top of the agenda.
I can tell you, from my time as Director of ACL’s Human Rights Law Alliance (HRLA), that everyday Christians are coming under fire simply for living out their faith.
In the short time since HRLA was founded, we have been involved in over 30 legal cases working to defend the rights of believers facing persecution for their faith.
These are mums and dads, sons and daughters living in Australia who are being singled out and victimised for their faith – at school, university and at work.
These chilling cases include:
- In South Australia, a university student was suspended after praying with a friend;
- In New South Wales, new church plants were threatened with eviction from rented halls because activists objected to online sermon content;
- In Tasmania, multiple clergy are being hauled before anti-discrimination bodies for teaching the Bible;
- In Victoria, medical and health professionals had their professional qualifications threatened because of their faith;
- In Western Australia, a Christian couple have been told they cannot be foster parents because of their biblical views on sexuality;
- In New South Wales, a university lecturer was subjected to investigation because of talks they had given in churches and Christian schools.
The Turnbull Government’s review of religious freedoms is an important opportunity to highlight the need for much greater protections for religious freedom – but this will only be the start of a longer, more important and profound campaign.
Together we must continue the fight for the fundamental freedom to believe and live out our faith without fear of harassment or intimidation.
This kind of freedom is at the heart of the scriptural command to pray for our government. The Apostle Paul is clear – we should pray for the ability to live godly lives in peace and for the freedom to spread the gospel (1 Tim 2:1-4).
Paul and Timothy had limited chances to complement their prayers with political action, but in a democracy we can do exactly that. This is a blessing we must not waste.
Freedom of religion must continue to be a key pillar of ACL’s work.
Our freedom to live out our beliefs is so crucial because the law is so often getting it wrong on fundamental issues. What the law now says about marriage is just one example:
- We have new laws in Victoria that will allow euthanasia, with efforts for the same in most other states.
- Australian law has long permitted the lives of countless unborn children to be extinguished in the womb.
- Policies from our education departments and government bureaucrats increasingly teach our children and society at large that male and female is a thing of the past.
ACL will continue to be your strong voice for the truth on these crucial questions of justice for our time.
Recently I was reading in Isaiah where God accuses Israel of substituting what is right for what is wrong, and what is wrong for what is right (Isa 5:20). As I consider the New Testament mandate for governments, to reward what is good and punish what is wrong (Rom 13:3), I wonder whether we are now making the same mistake that Israel made so long ago.
Are our laws punishing good? And sanctioning what is wrong?
In crucial times such as these, we must continue to be a strong voice for the values that are consistent with all that is true and good. As I have often said when speaking around the country, we must keep the light on.
This is demonstrated perhaps no more clearly than through some of these very issues.
For example, a few months ago I read a heart-breaking legal case. It concerned a 15-year-old girl who was approved for a double mastectomy because she felt like she was a boy. Her body will be permanently mutilated in the name of gender ideology.
The liberating truth for that young girl is that God made us male and female in His image. But when the truth is stifled; when the light goes out; when right is replaced by wrong … there is darkness and suffering.
You and I must continue to be a voice for values in such crucial times.
Someone must stand up, and if not us, then who?
That’s why I ask you again earnestly to pray and continue your faithful support for ACL as we enter a new, incredibly important chapter.
Meanwhile, I commit to serving you in this role to the greatest of my abilities, under God, for His glory.