Dear Friends,

We will soon launch a new module of Christians Engaging Culture on the topic of religious liberty. Here are some quick thoughts as a taster to start equipping you for conversations you might have.

Important Bible verses

Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

1 Timothy 2:1–2
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Acts 5:29
Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’

Romans 13:4
He (the earthly ruler) is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Getting to the gospel

When having a conversation about Israel Folau’s blog post, instead of focusing on his right to post it, say something like ‘I’m in that list too. I also deserve hell. I’m so thankful that Jesus paid hell for me so I can go to heaven. Do you know where you will go when you die?’

‘Religious liberty is important to me because I want everyone to have the opportunity to hear the good news about Jesus forgiving sin and offering eternal life. Have you ever had the opportunity to hear about that?’

Quick things to say

There are vegans who say things that meat-eaters might find hurtful (e.g. that they are murderers, that what they are doing is as bad as rape, etc. 1) Should a vegan be fired from their job for expressing such a ‘hurtful’ view?

Just as the Greens ought not to be required to employ a coal merchant, a Christian school ought not be required to employ an anti-Christian activist.’ – Frank Brennan

I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls.’ – Elizabeth I

On Israel Folau

There are 2 kinds of people in this world:

  1. Those who don’t care what the Bible says about their eternal destiny.
  2. Those who do care what the Bible says about their eternal destiny.

If you’re in group (1), you won’t care about Israel Folau’s post either.

If you’re in group (2), you will find his post informative.

Neither group needs to feel offended, hurt or bullied.

Have you noticed the cooling effect? People are afraid to speak for fear of losing their job. Silencing people is never a good way to advance the democratic exchange of ideas.

Does it make you feel like there are new sacred cows in our culture that you can’t speak against? Does it feel like a secular kind of blasphemy law?

‘How Israel Folau Can Help You Have Gospel Conversations’ –

Some statistics

42 – The number of years between Australia’s founding in 1788 and Roman Catholics being permitted to worship publicly (in 1820). This is not a pretty statistic, but it is illustrative of our need to be humble and acknowledge we (as Anglicans) have been on the wrong side of this argument in the past.

38.4% – The percentage of people who voted to retain the traditional view of marriage in the 2017 postal vote. Do we really want to silence the voice of so many people?

2.7 – The number of times more likely a Swedish person in a same-sex ‘marriage’ is to commit suicide than a Swedish person in an opposite-sex marriage.2 Suicide is a terrible tragedy and we need to respond with great compassion to all people who are at higher risk of it. But when suicide rates remain so high even in very ‘LGBTI+-affirming’ countries, people should not claim that restricting religious liberty is the answer. It is more complex than that.

Gerard O’Brien

PS. Rebecca McLaughlin will feature in this week’s CEC podcast.