Relatives make tearful visit to Pike River Coal Mine
Families of the 29 men trapped in a New Zealand coal mine have made an emotional visit to the site as people in the tight-knit West Coast region packed churches to pray for a miracle. There has been no communication with the men since Friday's gas explosion at the Pike River colliery and district Mayor Tony Kokshoorn described the situation there as desperate. "Everyday is crucial, it's like a clock that's ticking down," he said, as frustrated rescue workers continued to wait for volatile underground conditions to ease before they can mount a search. As the families on Sunday made their first visit to the mine since the explosion, thousands of people crammed into churches in the Grey District on the West Coast of the South Island.

Liberals still oppose gay marriage, frontbencher Eric Abetz says

Liberal frontbencher Eric Abetz says his party won't be changing its opposition to gay marriage any time soon. Thousands of people marched through the streets of Melbourne yesterday calling on state MPs to support equal marriage rights for same sex couples. The protesters want their politicians, who will go to the polls later this month, to send a message to federal MPs to change the Marriage Act. Federal politicians have been urged, through a parliamentary motion moved by the Australian Greens, to discuss the issue with their electorates. Senator Abetz says marriage is a heterosexual construct which should not be altered.

Why gay conservatives worry about gay marriage - and Gillard, too

Andrew Bolt - Herald Sun
Thing is, Gillard gave her solemn word to the Australian Christian Lobby, in an interview just before the election, that she would not change the Marriage Act.    If Gillard were now to break her word, hundreds of thousands of Christians would hold her to be a liar and never trust her again. I wonder at the values of Labor Party MPs who want their leader to break her promise to the Christian community - a promise she made in the name of their party. Do vows and integrity mean so little to them? And here we get back to the weakening of the institution of marriage ...

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari stays execution of Christian woman

Indo-Asian News Service
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday stayed the execution of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy. The woman, Aasia Bibi, was given the death sentence by an additional sessions judge in Nankana Sahib district a week ago on charges of committing blasphemy under the Pakistan Penal Code. A religious leader of the local mosque, Qari Saleem, had lodged an FIR against Aasia Bibi for allegedly passing derogatory remarks against the last prophet of Muslims. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 300,000 on her. Zardari on Friday directed Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minorities, to submit a report within three days.

A same-sex union is not a marriage

Piers Akerman - The Daily Telegraph
In a week in which the Gillard Labor Government’s scandalous spending policies pushed the national debt beyond $172 billion, the ALP, Greens and Independents combined to pass what must be the most ridiculous motion of all time. Labor, and the motley crew it depends on to hold power, passed a motion requiring MPs to go out into their electorates and ask their constituents what they think of homosexual marriage.  That’s right. As the nation slides backwards  . . . . .

But let me also be just as clear in stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. That’s right - it is the practice of individuals of opposite sex joining in a recognised civil or religious bond. That is the definition of marriage. Anything else is not marriage.

Anti-Christian song is featured on Christmas CD

Mary Papadakis - Sunday Herald Sun
A Christmas CD aiming to raise funds for a Christian charity has been slammed for featuring an anti-Christian song. Faith and family groups have labelled the song, which includes the lyrics "I get freaked out by churches," and "I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus", as "disrespectful" and a "sick joke". But the executive producer of Myer's annual star-studded Spirit of Christmas CD has defended his decision to include the song, White Wine in the Sun. The song, written by atheist entertainer Tim Minchin, features alongside traditional Christmas carols such as Joy to the World and Little Drummer Boy.

Mothers demand adoption apologies

Helen Pow - The Sunday Telegraph
Mothers who were bullied into forcibly giving up their newborns before many had even cradled or seen them are demanding an apology from the NSW Government. Unethical and unlawful adoption practices were rife in Sydney hospitals, peaking between 1965 and 1975 when more than 36,000 children were taken from their single mothers under duress. The women were heavily drugged and bullied into signing adoption papers by doctors, matrons and welfare officers. Most mothers were refused the chance to see or touch their babies, the women's faces covered with pillows by nurses. Others were told incorrectly their babies had died.

Wilkie will walk if pokie deal dumped

Josh Gordon - SMH
Key independent Andrew Wilkie has warned he will withdraw his support for the Gillard government if it fails to honour a deal to introduce new technology forcing poker machine players to set binding limits on their losses. Clubs and hotels are furious, claiming the mandatory pre-commitment system demanded by Mr Wilkie will trigger industry-wide job losses and huge revenue cuts for state governments. But Mr Wilkie – who helped Labor secure a second term with an agreement to rein in the poker machine industry – said the reform was not negotiable.

Judge raps Reverend for giving anti-gay evidence

Mark Russell - The Age
A judge has criticised an Anglican Church elder for supporting the evangelical Christian Brethren church's claims that homosexuality is a sin. Reverend Peter Adam, a canon of St Paul's Cathedral, who was called as an expert witness in a recent discrimination case brought against the brethren, was also criticised for not giving impartial evidence. Suicide prevention group Way Out claimed the Brethren and its Christian Youth Camps discriminated against them by refusing to let a group of young gays stay at the church's Phillip Island camp because they were homosexuals.