God or the State: Who decides what Christians can teach?

By Norm & Bec (Saturday Church)

Many of us may be aware of the recent pushes to remove certain freedoms from religious schools to teach about sex, marriage and gender from the perspective of their faith. However, what many of us may not know is just how far reaching the recent Labor Party bill in parliament actually was.  You would be forgiven for thinking that if you didn’t have kids, or they weren’t in a Christian school that it didn’t affect you. However, the bill was aimed at all religious organisations that had, as part of its practice, ‘teaching’. For us as Christians, it included; Camps, Theological Colleges, Youth Worker training, Missionary training, Chaplaincy training, Sunday School teaching, Youth Group talks and yes, what is taught from the pulpit.

Two senators blocked the bill in early December asking for more time to consider the possible ramifications, and the bill was sent to a legislative committee. If the bill passed this committee it would be sent to the Lower House and with the Labor/Greens majority would have been passed.

Over the past summer, submissions were made to the committee by many church and Christian organisations detailing the practical ramifications of such a law. As a result, in February, an amendment was given allowing churches, mosques and temples to teach according to their faith principles. However, this amendment did not go so far as protecting training colleges (except for ordination candidates) or camps or schools or the other organisations mentioned.

One vote stopped the bill from passing.

Those close to this situation, consider this result nothing short of a miracle. This happened a brief three to four months ago and with the coming election, the political situation is about to shift once more. It is almost certain this bill will come back to be voted on again, and it is uncertain what safe guards will be given.

Gone are the days when we could take for granted our religious freedom. Now is the time to steward carefully our democratic rights as citizens. And more than anything we need to pray for our politicians, for our nation and for our faithfulness in challenging times.

Psalm 146:3-7 says this:

Do not trust in nobles [or politicians],
in man, who cannot save.
When his breath leaves him,
He returns to the ground;
On that day his plans die.

Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
The Maker of heaven and earth,
The sea and everything in them.
He remains faithful forever…

So, let’s get active, write our letters, speak to our local MPs and trust ourselves and our future to the God who is faithful forever.

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