Thursday, January 28, 2021

‘Bad theology kills’: Senior cleric returns honour over Margaret Court decision

In its new guise as the Uniting church, the Methodists have undergone a rapid falling away from their traditional devotion to Bible teachings. The guy quoted below reflects that

It's hugely perverse that he calls a devotion to Bible teachings "bad theology". Surely the bad theology is anything leads you away from faith in God and his clear teachings. Consult Romans 1:27; Jude 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Mark 10:6-9; Matthew 19: 4-16; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19:4-8 if you want to read good theology. The Bible repeatedly makes clear that homosexuality is a defiance of God. Real Christians accept that

All sexual acts are voluntary. Everybody has the choice to engage in them or not

A church leader says Margaret Court’s “bad theology” is his reason for joining the growing list of Order of Australia members who are returning their awards in protest against her elevation to the country’s highest civilian honour.

A number of recipients, including retired broadcaster Kerry O’Brien and acclaimed artist Peter Kingston, have either returned or refused awards and others say theirs have been tarnished.

In this week’s Australia Day awards, Court was elevated from an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) to a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for her sporting success.

As a tennis player, she won 24 grand slam women’s singles titles, but as a Pentecostal pastor she has preached against LGBTQ rights, opposed same-sex marriage and, in 2017, compared homosexuality with Hitler and “the devil”.

The Reverend Alistair Macrae, a former president of the Uniting Church in Australia who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the church and the community, said on Wednesday that he would be handing back his award.

“As a minister and theologian, I am aware that bad theology kills people,” Mr Macrae wrote in an opinion piece for The Age.

“Bad theology underpinned the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. Bad theology supported Hitler’s racist ideology and the evil it produced. Bad theology underpinned or failed to recognise the racist assumptions behind the destructive program of colonisation not least in this land. Bad theology continues to alienate and oppress sexual minorities.”

Court has stated that her religious views are separate from her sporting career, comments which Mr Macrae argued were disingenuous for a public figure.

He pointed to high suicide rates in the LGBTQ community and stressed that Court’s views were not shared by all Christians.“If it harms people, from my perspective, it’s not from God,” he said.

Grampians cross burning spurs call for action

State and federal authorities are being urged to take further action against a right-wing extremist group that burnt a cross and chanted racist slogans at a popular Victorian tourist destination over the Australia Day weekend.

Thirty-eight members of the far right National Socialist Network burnt a cross next to Lake Bellfield at the foot of the Grampians, a ritual usually associated with the Ku Klux Clan, in central Victoria on Sunday evening. Tourists and locals heard the group chanting “white power” and Nazi slogans.

On Thursday morning, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald revealed local police and intelligence officers from Victoria Police’s Counter Terrorism Command were collecting information about the group, which hiked through the Grampians National Park on the weekend.

The group’s members also visited the tourist town at the foot of the Grampians, Halls Gap, where they engaged in anti-Semitic and other racist behaviour. At least half a dozen tourists and residents said they had reported the men to police.

Six uniformed officers from the nearby town of Stawell spoke to the group, including its leader, ex-Australian army soldier turned neo-Nazi Tom Sewell. Mr Sewell later posted online pictures of the police officers’ name badges as well as images of the neo-Nazi group posing in front of a burning cross and displaying Nazi salutes at various locations in the Grampians.

Mr Sewell has previously sought to distance his group from those that espouse violent action and there is no suggestion that the group’s members engaged in any violent acts.

When Halls Gap resident James passed the group on his mountain bike on Sunday afternoon in town, he was addressed with a Sieg Heil.

“There were 40 white males, many with skinheads, some chanting ‘white power’. That is intimidating for anyone.”

According to extremist experts, two right-wing groups, the Lads Society and Antipodean Resistance, recently helped form a new Australian extremist outfit, the National Socialist Network, which in turn helped organise the 38 young white men to assemble in the Grampians over the Australia Day weekend. Photos show some wearing army-issued boots and packs.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have identified some of the key organisers and participants of the Grampians gathering. Some show the faces of young men who would prefer to stay in the shadows — posing in their own online posts with faces covered.

The organisers were the Lads leader, Mr Sewell, raised in the middle-class suburb of Balwyn in Melbourne, and Stuart Von Moger, a security guard who has appeared at several far-right events and meetings with political figures who were unaware of his ideology. The Lads have also been accused of a failed attempt to branch-stack the NSW Young Nationals in 2018.

Mr Sewell has claimed in a social media post that the Grampians event was aimed at providing “content” for a new neo-Nazi group, the European Australian Movement.

He has the hallmarks of some far-right activists in the US, including those who stormed the Capitol three weeks ago, a move which Mr Sewell said in one online message had lessons for Australian extremists.

ASIO recently revealed that up to 40 per cent of its resources are being directed towards right-wing extremist groups.

NAPLAN ban by Queensland Teachers’ Union ruled unlawful

Queensland teachers have been told they must continue NAPLAN testing this year despite a boycott by a major union.

A plan by Queensland teachers to boycott NAPLAN testing has been given a fail grade by the Industrial Court, with teaching of the controversial test set to go ahead this year.

State school teachers in the Queensland Teachers’ Union voted almost unanimously to boycott teaching the controversial test to pupils in October last year.

However, in an internal memo circulated to all Department of Education staff on Friday, director-general Tony Cook announced the industrial dispute had been slapped down by the courts.

“The department considered the directive to be unprotected industrial action, and therefore unlawful, and sought the assistance of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to resolve the matter,” Mr Cook said.

Following an appeal by the QTU, Mr Cook said the Industrial Courts sided with the Education Department, ruling on Thursday that “the QTU … immediately cease and do not recommence.”

QTU president Cresta Richardson said the union’s executive was now considering its next steps, saying the test had been shown to have a negative impact on students’ wellbeing.

“It’s use is beyond what it was meant for,” Ms Richardson said.

“The main focus of teachers for student outcome should be on the day to date teaching, learning and assessment that students receive and the outcome of such assessments.”

In a statement, the Department of Education told The Courier-Mail the decision was now an opportunity to move forward with “fully implementing the Australian Curriculum.”

“The department accepts the decision of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission and will continue to consult with the Queensland Teachers Union on the most appropriate way forward,” a spokesman said.

Among those who welcomed the decision to resume NAPLAN was the 222-member Teachers’ Professional Association of Queensland.

The organisation’s vice-president Cameron Murray said the controversial test was a powerful tool to ensure schools weren’t missing elements of students’ learning.

“We’ve always supported NAPLAN as a measure of student progress,” Mr Murray said. “It’s a diagnostic which can tell everyone – parents, teachers, kids, the Education Department – of our progress,” he said. “I truly believe that NAPLAN allows us to identify where there’s gaps and where there’s need for support.”

Mr Murray praised teachers as skilled but said the NAPLAN system was designed to “trust but verify” student performance.

Labor set for climate change shift with architect of emissions target Mark Butler to go

Labor's long-serving climate spokesperson Mark Butler has been shifted from the portfolio as part of an Opposition reshuffle on the eve of Federal Parliament's return.
Key points:

While Mr Butler takes on responsibility for health, deputy party leader Richard Marles moves from the defence portfolio to a broad brief across national reconstruction, jobs, skills, small business and science.

Brendan O'Connor, formerly employment spokesperson moves into defence, Ed Husic slides from agriculture into the innovation portfolio, and Chris Bowen goes into climate change.

Tasmanian MP Julie Collins shifts into agriculture from her previous role for ageing, seniors and women.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the changes reflected the best choices, not the easiest choices. "This reshuffle is about Australians getting the most out of Labor," he said.

He said Mr Marles would be "leading Labor's focus" on the recovery from the pandemic.

Outspoken backbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has backed moving Mr Butler, saying that taking the long-serving climate spokesperson — a member of the more progressive left faction of the party — out of the role would send the "right message to our traditional base".

Mr Fitzgibbon, a member of the more conservative right faction who resigned from the frontbench in protest at the direction of the party, said on Thursday morning that he respected Mr Butler but the change was a "good thing". "It will send the right message to our traditional base, but it won't be enough alone," he told RN.

"We also need to recalibrate our policy and our messaging if we are to reassure our traditional base that while we are serious on taking action on climate change — meaningful action — we will do so without risk or threat to their livelihoods."

Mr Albanese said on Thursday morning Mr Fitzgibbon's comments were "wrong". "They don't reflect the overwhelming view of people in the Labor Party," he said.

"The overwhelming view of people in the Labor Party is that we need strong action on climate change, and that strong action is good for jobs, that it's good for lowering emissions, and also good for lowering energy prices."

Mr Albanese says he regards climate change "as an economic portfolio, therefore someone who has been the Treasurer of Australia is eminently qualified to fill that role". Mr Bowen was briefly Treasurer in 2013 in the last Kevin Rudd government.

In a statement, Mr Butler said "the job of every front bencher is to serve in the portfolio allocated by their leader".

"That's always been my position under the four leaders I've had the privilege of serving under Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese."

Mr Butler has been in the role since late 2013, after briefly serving as climate change minister under then-prime minister Mr Rudd. Labor has failed to defeat the Coalition in the two elections since then, a period of disagreement around the extent to which Australia should be reducing carbon emissions.

Labor took a policy of reducing carbon emissions by 45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030 to the election in 2019, compared to the Government's longstanding pledge of reducing emissions by 26 per cent in the same timeframe.

Mr Fitzgibbon suffered a massive swing against him in his Hunter Valley seat at the 2019 poll, beating the Nationals candidate by just 3 percentage points.

A One Nation candidate claimed more than 21 per cent of the vote, and the Labor MP's first preferences dropped by 14 percentage points.

This week the leader of the National Party, Michael McCormack, supported a push by his colleagues to build a new coal fired power plant in the Hunter.

Despite more than 100 countries signing up for a net zero emissions by 2050 target and many also making commitments before then, Australia is yet to make pledges beyond 2030.

The Government announced this week it had signed up to international efforts to help prepare the world for anticipated climate change.




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