Australian Christian Lobby vows to mobilise new army
AUSTRALIA'S Christian lobby has vowed to mobilise a volunteer army to stand up on moral issues ranging from abortion to teachings on sexuality in schools in wake of the $2.2 million wave of support for Israel Folau.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles told a crowd of about 200 on the Sunshine Coast last night that the 'political temperature' in Australia had changed and politicians were now eager to appease the concerns of Christians.
More than a dozen church leaders met with the lawyer and political activist at Maroochydore RSL ahead of a packed forum where issues ranging from 'Safe Schools' to freedom of speech were raised.
Mr Iles said the case of Israel Folau losing his job for sharing scriptures on social media was one of about "70 to 75 cases" in Australia involving Christians losing jobs, accreditation, the right to look after foster children or do home care, because of their opposition to homosexuality or transgender.
He was greeted by 'amen' after 'amen' as he talked about relationship programs in schools 'destroying lives' by creating confusion around sexuality among teens. He said there had been a "1000% increase in hormonal treatment" for teens wanting to change their gender.
Mr Iles was equally vehement on the rights of pro lifers saying they were fighting against "mass murder" with an estimated 80,000 abortions in Australia each year.
He said the West had turned morality on its head 'calling what is good evil and what is evil good', citing the champagne celebrations for NSW abortion laws, which initially included allowing gender selection as a reason for termination.
'We are pursuing a course in the West that is anti God.''
Australia's most outspoken Christian told of a High Court battle to protect the right of a woman and others who offered counselling to young women going to an abortion clinic - action he claimed had saved the lives of 300 unborn children.
The High Court in April ruled safety buffer zones protecting women from harassment outside abortion clinics in Victoria and Tasmania are valid.
One of the activists, Kathleen Clubb, a mother of 13, was convicted of breaching Victorian law in 2016 and fined $5000 after handing a pamphlet to a couple outside the East Melbourne clinic, within the safe access zone.
The other, Queenslander John Preston, was convicted of three breaches of Tasmanian law in 2014 and 2015 and fined $3000.
Mr Iles said Christians had to stand up for their rights.
He gave one example where foster parents who wanted to raise children in a home with Christian values were denied that right because of the way they had answered questions on sexuality. They were considered to be 'unsafe' as parents.
"I hit this hard because we need to wake up."
He said young people were looking for moral leadership but were being told they could be anybody or anything, including male or female.
"Our young people are the most depressed and anxious we have ever raised because we are feeding them rubbish."
When asked whether Israel Folau's comments were 'homophobic', Mr Isles defended the former rugby star.
Mr Iles said Mr Folau was only doing what he had been doing for some time - sharing his Christian viewpoint on social media.
"Of course the sin he committed here is the word homosexual appeared in it amidst a range of sins that put us all in hell.'And that became the story."
"Here's the thing, when your day comes, when you're in the media, everybody will suddenly be able to do it better than you do. Everyone will have an opinion on how you could have nuanced yourself or just change this.
"Life doesn't work that way. If you can't talk about your faith like a footballer then we're all in big trouble."
He said anybody who knew Folau knew he was a humble guy who was motivated by love, not hate, in sharing his faith.
But he said the Christian message was now offensive' to the world, even though most of our institutions and laws had been built on Christian principles found in the Bible.
Mr Iles said Christians could choose to "do a Peter' (who denied Christ) and say 'he's not with us' and 'we're better' or use the Folau controversy for good.
"You can see it as an opportunity to say: Well let me tell you about the gospel. Let me tell you about what the Bible says about sin, about judgment, about salvation, about Christ.''
"I'm grateful that Israel stood firm because it gave endless opportunities to do that.''
He said he had been stunned by the number of people who had came up to Folau while he was with him and thanked him for making a stand.
"I'm certainly not prepared to criticise Israel. I have a great deal of respect for him.''
Mr Iles also warned Christians about 'being superficial' and patronising them with nice words in their attempts to win people over.
"If you understand these are people, if you understand these are people to be won and saved, if you have the heart of Christ, which is a heart of compassion, who was moved with compassion… if that's your motive in what you do, and it's not to prove your own rightness, if it's not to have a political argument and smash the opposition, if it not any of those self-centred motives, but it is a right motive, I tell you it will reek out of you.''
Mr Iles said he believed the political landscape in Australia resulting in Scott Morrison's election as PM had changed because Christians had prayed, had voted, and because of Israel Folau.
"Something has changed in the last 12 months.''
"That is the unifying theme that all of the electorates that fell to the PM had strong Christian constituencies.''
"The top 20 most religious seats in the country swung to the Coalition at more than double the rate of the rest. There was a faith element in that election.
"Also what happened was Israel Folau happened.''
"Don't underestimate the surprise of everybody when $2.2 million was raised, $200,000 which was 'accidentally raised', all in the space of 48 hours and showed absolutely no signs of abating.
"That blew the minds of people.
"There was a change in attitude of people in the media to me.
"The first time around (Sunrise host) Kochie was beating me around the head and telling me the Bible was a load of tripe. The next time around he's send a limo around to my hotel to pick me up, I got a cooked breakfast…''
'I'll tell you the conversation on religious freedom changed in a night.''
He said Christians across Australia were standing up on issues like abortion, citing a rally in Sydney where thousands of pro lifers gathered.
Australian Christian Lobby 'activists'
"Next year we are using what God has given us - which is people right this country from coast to coast, rural, cities, to build a grassroots volunteer army that are trained and are ready to go any time.
The volunteers will be called ACL activists.
"These people can have calls to action regularly on the issues of the time."
Action will range from petition signing to telephone canvassing to knocking on doors.
"We won't just be like GetUp who are active during elections, we will be a voice for truth in our electorates across the country all year, every year."
Mr Iles said the strongest growth in his following on social media was among 18 to 30 year olds who were looking to answers to the big questions of life and spirituality.
"Young people are craving clarity and they are craving authority.''
He said while there were those who advocated a separation between church and state and a secular society, Australia's great institutions - from government to the law- were built on Christian foundations
"Now we are saying church and state should be separated
"That's a problem because God owns the system."
He said our schools and universities had become infiltrated by 'Marxists' who were pushing a no God agenda.
Mr Iles said Christians needed to be vigilant because even as programs like Safe Schools were discontinued because of political fallout, new ones under different names would pop up.
He said even those outside the church hated the idea of their children being told stuff they did not believe on issues like transgender.
Christians school movements need to hold line on being able to teach Christian values.
He said if they were coerced into teaching things against what they believed they should threaten to shut down, adding the public system would never cope with the huge numbers of students that would have to be looked after.
Monday night's forum was put on the Sunshine Coast Christian Network, which came out in support of Folau and has vowed to take a stand on Christian values on the Coast.
The author attended the forum in a private capacity and was the moderator of the event, asking questions of Martyn Iles, including those from the audience and wider community.