Win or lose the marriage debate (and I think we are in with a real chance of winning), the need for continued and bold Christian witness in the public policy discourse will not go away.
That is why ACL has assembled a world-class line-up of speakers for our national conference and it is why we have called it Embolden.Read more
I flew in to Adelaide yesterday for marriage speaking engagements and, importantly, for tonight’s South Australian launch of the Coalition for Marriage.Read more
But one of the big consequences of any possible change in the definition of marriage – homosexual sex education in schools – is already proving a major distraction from the government's election agenda.
Hardly a week goes by without revelations of a new program designed to teach children that their gender is fluid or that they might be same-sex attracted.
It seems that children are never too young to be inducted into the bright new world of rainbow sexual concepts.
An avalanche of homosexual and transgender material is flooding into the curriculum from high school to pre-school – all without parents' knowledge.
This rainbow sexual indoctrination is even starting before pre-school. Day care centre workers are being taught to see the toddlers in their care as sexual beings.
A new manual produced by Early Childhood Australia (ECA) for early childhood educators mentions masturbation 21 times in 36 pages.
ECA's "start early" program resource also examines cross-dressing, thanks to funding from the Baird Government in New South Wales.
Encouraging child care workers to see toddlers as sexual beings is creepy.
And in Victoria, a Melbourne University academic, Kylie Smith, wants pre-schoolers taught about gay marriage and the idea that their gender is fluid, not biological.
These controversial ideas which are contested by leading feminists and paediatricians are all being implemented with state and federal government funding.
The Safe Schools Coalition of Australia resource, The Gender Fairy story book, tells four-year-olds that "…only you know whether you are a boy or a girl. No one can tell you." Not your teacher and certainly not your mummy or daddy.
Junior high brings more teaching on masturbation and the introduction of anal sex to the classroom through the Victorian Government's Building Respectful Relationships program.
Guides for sexualising role-playing exercises advise teachers on how to "de-role" children to help them avoid falling into "a state of distress or disassociation" which the program author obviously considered a real risk.
The Safe Schools Hub, a website funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, now hosts controversial Safe School Coalition resources.
These resources tell schools to allow boys identifying as girls to use the girls' toilets and provide schools with step by step guides on "Supporting a Student to Affirm or Transition Gender Identity at School."
Imagine an 18-year-old man identifying as a girl using the same toilets, showers and change rooms as your 13-year-old daughter. This scenario is now envisaged via a Turnbull Government-funded website.
Special facilities for transgender students are okay, the Safe Schools hub says, but they should never stop a student from using the toilet facility of their "gender identity" as this would be demeaning.
The Safe Schools hub also encourages schools to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia.
There is no international day against bullying over body image – the most rampant form of bullying in schools by a long way.
The Safe Schools Coalition is far from "gutted", as many thought it was after the review of it by University of Western Australia Emeritus Professor Bill Louden.
The Andrews Government in Victoria has point blank refused to abide by the recommendations of the Louden review to prune Safe Schools.
The pre-Louden version of Safe Schools will be compulsory in Victorian public high schools by 2018.
Premier Andrews labels anyone who questions his rainbow programs as "bigots".
In Queensland the Palaszczuk Government has refused a Right to Information request from ACL to release the secret list of schools running the Safe Schools program.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham's insistence that Safe Schools be transparent for parents is being ignored, making him look weak in the face of rainbow activists.
Never mind that research shows that up to 80 per cent of girls and 90 per cent of boys struggling with gender identity issues will be entirely comfortable with their biological gender by the time they get through puberty.
Never mind that 10 years after a sex change operation, a person is 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the non-transgendered population.
Never mind that hospitals like John Hopkins in the United States now no longer perform gender reassignment surgery because it was found not to be helpful.
None of this information features in the resources.
Bigot, homophobe and hater are the bullying words deployed against anyone asking questions. They protect these programs making politicians and the community too scared to challenge them.
Queensland-style secrecy is the other enabler.
Any government program that relies on slurs and secrecy for its currency, should sound warning bells and pique journalists' curiosity.
Now a coalition of rainbow groups is calling on Australia's corporate sector to sign a letter of endorsement of Safe Schools.
The leader of one of these groups, Rodney Chiang-Cruise, took to social media after Mr Turnbull ordered the review of Safe Schools to label the Prime Minister a "C…t".
Apart from aligning their brands with dubious company, does corporate Australia really want to declare war on the biological gender of Australia's children?
Rainbow politics is taking captains of industry and politicians down a very strange path.
Most Australians would prefer to let boys be boys and girls be girls and get on with arguing about the economy.
Originally published in Online Opinion
Given Australia is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, it is deeply disappointing that tonight’s budget sees Australia’s overseas aid cut to the lowest in our history.
We are spending just 22 cents per $100 of national income to help the world’s poor.
There is no quarrel with the idea that countries, like families, need to live within their means.
But most of us have mortgages and yet still manage to sponsor a child through child sponsorship and give to our local church’s mission programs helping the poor in developing countries.
Just as we are encouraged to be generous as individuals, so too should our nation.
ACL will use the election campaign period to encourage both sides of politics to begin re-building our aid program.
It remains a great shame to both sides of politics that they walked away from the Millennium Development Goal promise to increase aid to 0.7 per cent of GNI.
For release: Tuesday 15th July 2014
A more nuanced debate about changing the definition of marriage is needed, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
Polling showing support for legislative change fails to ask people about the knock-on effects, ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said today.
"Does the polling ask people if they are comfortable with children being taken from their biological mother or father.
"Are Australians happy for fellow citizens who believe in man-woman marriage to be sued in the courts or driven from their jobs because of their beliefs, as is now happening in other jurisdictions?"
Mr Shelton said it was all well and good to mount emotional arguments about love as Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyohjelm did yesterday.
"But if as a country we decide to support changing the definition of marriage can we all look in the eyes of a child and tell her that she cannot be raised by her biological mother.
"Are we really happy for dissenters to face legal sanction, as has occurred in Colorado, Washington State and New Mexico in the United States?
"We must ask how these consequences improve liberty.
Mr Shelton said Senator Leyonhjelm wanted to deregulate marriage.
"Does that mean he would support 'marriage equality' for 'throuples'? Where does this end?
“There are countries which allow other definitions of marriage such as child marriage and polygamy.
"Should we deregulate these as well? So many questions, so little debate.
"The debate Australia has been having about changing the definition of marriage has been very shallow.
"We need to be careful that we don't get caught up in a popular culture wave that leaves our nation, and most importantly children, with unintended consequences," Mr Shelton said.
ACL supported the removal of discrimination against same-sex couples in 2008 but like the then Labor Government, stopped short at changing the definition of marriage.
Polling conducted for ACL by JWS Research after the last election showed that same-sex marriage was a low order issue for voters.
One of the great parliamentary champions for families and the Judeo-Christian ethic, Ron Boswell (left), will leave the Senate next Thursday after 31 years.
His retirement will leave a big hole as he is a rare breed of principled public leader.
It is hard not to like the big man from Queensland.
He can be feisty in a debate but he has a heart of gold.
I know this because I had the privilege of working for him briefly as a staffer for eight months before I joined ACL.
ACL is of course non-party partisan but I hope you will indulge me because honour is due here.
I will have something to say in next week's blog about the good people from Labor who are leaving the Senate when their terms also end on June 30th.
But Ron has been a unique character.
Fiercely loyal to his beloved National party, having been mentored by former Queensland premier the late Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, Ron is someone who had genuine respect from his political opponents.
This was evidenced by the large number of Labor and even Greens members (his most fearsome sparring partners) who were in the Senate chamber for his valedictory speech on Tuesday.
One of the few parliamentarians unashamed to stand up for the human rights of the unborn, he showed that causes unpopular with the media and political elites could be championed without jettisoning political credibility.
When the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development said in 2008 that Medicare funding of abortion was needed because the birth of disabled babies would be a drain on the disability services budget, Ron went to the defence of the defenceless.
In a speech to the Senate, he said this was reminiscent of the "Hitler regime". It is hard to argue with that.
His Liberal Senate colleague, Alan Eggleston, resigned his membership of the PGP&D in protest to the group’s submission. Senator Eggleston, who also retires next week, was born with a condition that has left him short statured. He too will be missed.
Ron was a tireless champion for marriage and family and of course small business and primary industries.
I dropped by his Senate office an hour before his speech. "There'll be something in it for you guys", he said referring to the Christian constituency.
And in typical style Ron didn't disappoint.
There was hardly a dry eye when he told how much he missed his late son Stephen and then went on to say how he drew strength from God.
"In the Senate, I have always sought guidance and help from my God, and I acknowledge He has always had a guiding hand on my career. In the parliament of Australia, in the assembly of His people, I have always received constant help, and I offer my thanks."
I don't think Ron would mind me saying this, but I'd sometimes walk into his office and find him reading his Good News Bible, a permanent fixture on his desk.
He finished his speech quoting St Paul.
"My time of departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight. I have run the race. I have kept the faith.’ Thank you very much. God bless and goodbye."
ACL is very grateful for parliamentarians like Ron Boswell. We wish him and Leita all God's blessings for their future.
A transcript and Youtube clip of Senator Boswell's speech is available here.
It's not talked about nearly enough, but Australia's crisis in child well being should be higher on the national political agenda.
It has been almost three years since the ACL-commissioned For Kids’ Sake research was launched at Parliament House in Canberra.
A meta-analysis, it shone a bright light on the crisis.
Here is a reminder of just some of its findings:
- The number of children in out of home care because it is too dangerous to live at home doubled in a decade to 35,000
- More than a quarter of young people aged 16-24 years have a mental disorder compared with one in five (20 per cent) in the general population
- Self-harm for teenage girls 12-14 years of age leading to hospitalisation is six times the rate for boys
- There was an increase from 28 per cent to 38 per cent in female school students experiencing unwanted sex between 2002 and 2008
- There was a doubling in the rate of hospitalisation for alcohol intoxication for women aged 15-24 between 1998 and 2006.
ACL is working to keep the welfare of kids front and centre of the political debate.
On Monday night in Brisbane, ACL's Queensland director Wendy Francis hosted a panel of experts and state parliamentarians to discuss the crisis in a lively Q&A format.
The panel included State Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland child safety minister Tracy Davis, Bravehearts' Hetty Johnston and the Centre for Independent Studies' Dr Jeremy Sammut.
The audience included a number of people involved in foster care and advocates of adoption.
The reluctance of governments to allow kids in the care system to be adopted generated spirited debate.
According to Dr Sammut, no government wants to be accused of creating another stolen generation and this meant that kids with abusive parents remained in limbo for too long, as did their foster carers.
Other jurisdictions have a pathway to what is known as 'open adoption' so that kids with abusive parents could be given permanent living arrangements and foster carers certainty.
Clearly this is a win for both, but it is controversial.
In the United States there are 50,000 adoptions per year of kids from abusive situations. If we followed this in Australia it could potentially take 5,000 kids out of the care system and into permanent homes each year.
Breaking what seems to be an anti-adoption culture needs to be explored.
But so too does strengthening couple relationships.
The Federal Minister for Community Services, Kevin Andrews, has been subject to unfair ridicule for proposing vouchers for couples to pursue relationship counselling.
If those of us who are married or in a relationship are honest, we will all admit that we need to work on it because romantic feelings, while wonderful, are not enough to sustain us.
It stands to reason that if couple relationships are strengthened, children benefit.
Children benefit from permanency in their living arrangements and especially from the permanency of the relationship of their biological parents.
That is why when a couple make the commitment of marriage, they are not just benefitting themselves, they are providing unfathomable benefit to any children they produce but also a massive social and economic benefit to society.
Our modern approach to relationships, marriage and sex has become so self-centred that we have forgotten these basics.
Political correctness stops us from talking about this.
Meanwhile we wonder why we have a crisis in child well being.
Unless our political discourse gives us permission to talk about strengthening marriage, the endless cycle of state government inquiries into our failing child protection systems will continue.
We’ve made good progress, even in the face of opposition to the values of human flourishing, we seek to promote:
- Together we reached an estimated 10,000 viewers with our exclusive pre-election webcast video messages from then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott;
- We’ve upheld the dignity of the aged and infirm by contributing to the defeat of euthanasia laws in Tasmania;
- We achieved bi-partisan agreement in Queensland that action is needed to protect kids from sexualised outdoor advertising;
- We secured an election promise from the Tasmanian Premier to reintroduce the right of Christian schools to hire staff in keeping with their beliefs; and
- And we helped organise the Victorian March for the Babies, the largest pro-life march in Australia, which was attended by as many as 4,000 people.
However, it’s clear that this is no time to rest on our laurels.
We must continue to take every opportunity to bring Christian principles into government and public policy discussion.
We must be the voice for values our nation desperately needs – because we live at a time when decisions are being made that directly affect the culture our children are part of and will have to contend with.
So, as the end of the financial year approaches, please be mindful of how you can help strengthen this voice through your support to ensure we can step into the opportunities that lie ahead.
Please pray for us as we seek to bring Christian influence to our nation.
There is a desperate need for public respect to be restored to our political class.
Their work on our behalf is too important to be traduced.
The Abbott Government looks set to break its promise about no new taxes with the so-called deficit levy.
Financial responsibility is of course vital and our generation must not be leaving a burden for the next.
The small target strategy of political campaigning means that both sides approach elections by trying to be as small a target as possible.
In the last campaign, this meant that the Coalition made promises about reigning in government expenditure with the unrealistic expectation that this could be done without cuts to key areas or tax rises.
With the budget approaching next week, this is exposed.
An election promise that was broken last week with little media fanfare was on overseas aid.
Both Labor and the Coalition have for years been crab-walking away from its Millennium Development Goal promise to raise our overseas aid to 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015.
But before the election, the Coalition promised to raise aid to 0.5 per cent of GNI, although it could not say when it would get there.
Last week it was announced that aid would be de-coupled from GNI and capped at $5 billion.
This means that our generosity to the world’s poor cannot grow as our nation’s prosperity grows. It is a breach of an election promise.
All of us make commitments at times that we need to retract because of changed circumstances sometimes beyond our control.
But this should be accompanied by repentance and humility.
Parliamentarians are trapped by a merciless ‘gotcha’ style of journalism and public discourse which leaves little room for these concepts.
The apathy of most people towards politics also facilitates this unreal discourse.
And when it comes to an issue like aid – designed to help people overseas in extreme poverty – our preoccupation with our own prosperity means a promise like this can be breached with very little political consequence.
Labor’s seemingly unwillingness to pursue the Government on this suggests it is complicit in the decision to scale back our aid promise. It certainly deferred billions of dollars of promised aid in the past two budgets.
Principled public leadership is hard but we must find a way to see it restored in our political culture.
This should be a priority of all involved in public life. The next generation will thank us if we achieve it.
Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. In this interview with the ACL's Katherine Spackman he discusses the Commission of Audit's recommendations to save the government $70 billion dollars a year. The independent commission was announced by the government after last year’s federal election and tasked it with making recommendations to achieve a one per cent budget surplus by 2023-24.