The Perth Declaration For The Defence Of Christianity In Australia

THE PERTH DECLARATION

FOR THE DEFENCE OF CHRISTIANITY IN AUSTRALIA

On 14-15 June 2019, at Sheridan College in Perth, Western Australia, we the undersigned either presented or introduced presenters at the
conference ‘Religious Freedom at the Crossroads: The Rise of Anti-Christian Sentiment in the West’.

We gathered over a common concern about various forms of attacks on religious freedoms generally, and Christianity in particular. We noted the deteriorating circumstances of Christians both internationally and in Australia. Internationally, Christians face increasing violence and persecution. In Australia, there is growing anti-Christian sentiment, which is evident in certain parts of the public and private sectors. 

Increasingly, Australian Christians avoid speaking publicly about matters involving their faith because they fear any or all of the following:

– Internet outrage campaigns

– Social media censorship.

– Complaints to public authorities under anti-discrimination laws.

– Being subject to disciplinary proceedings and/or dismissal by their employers.

We believe that Australians must now ensure that their fundamental freedoms are maintained. Critical among these freedoms are those of thought, belief, religion, conscience, expression, and association. These freedoms are vital to a truly free and democratic society.

We support the freedom of Christians to peacefully organise and to speak according to their faith.

We support the freedom of Christians to peacefully challenge any and all ideas or actions, be those ideas or actions religious or secular.

We support the freedom of others to peacefully challenge the ideas or actions of Christians, and we welcome those challenges.

We support the idea that peaceful challenges to ideas or actions include intense and searching criticism.

We reject the idea – one increasingly fashionable but always wrong – that such peaceful challenges to ideas or actions constitute ‘hate speech’ or violence.

In light of the foregoing, we support the following measures:

– Laws that protect the fundamental freedoms of thought, belief, religion, conscience, expression, and association.

– Reform of anti-discrimination laws to better protect these fundamental freedoms.

– Legal challenges against laws and other government action that unduly interfere with these fundamental freedoms.

– Legal challenges against actions taken by those in the private sector who unduly interfere with these fundamental freedoms.

We call upon State, Territory and Commonwealth governments to undertake law reform. We also call upon every concerned Australian to support
such reforms, as well as support legal challenges to defend fundamental freedoms. Pursuing these measures will defend the fundamental freedoms not only of every Australian Christian but of every Australian.

Perth/WA, 6th August 2019

 

AUGUSTO ZIMMERMANN

Professor and Head of Law, Sheridan College

President, Western Australian Legal Theory Association

WILLIAM WAGNER

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Cooley Law School

President & CEO, Salt & Light Global

MARTYN ILES

Managing Director, Australian Christian Lobby

JOHN STEENHOF

Managing Director, Human Rights Law Alliance

THE HON. JOHN GILMOUR QC

Barrister, Quayside Chambers

Judge of the Federal Court of Australia (2016-2018)

DARREN SOUTH

Founder and CEO, The Southern Justice International

ASHLEY SAUNDERS

CEO, Barnabas Fund Australia

JOSHUA FORRESTER

Editor, The Western Australian Jurist

CHRISTOPHER BROHIER

Barrister,
Elizabeth Mews Chambers

Founder, Wilberforce Foundation

JOHNNY SAKR

PhD Researcher, The University of Southern Queensland

TIM HOUWELING

Director, Cornerstone Legal

STEVE HEATHCOTE

Steve Heathcote Barrister & Solicitor

ROBERT BALZOLA

Partner, Robert Balzola & Associates

ROCCO LOIACONO

Senior Law Lecturer, Curtin University

ASHA TOWERS

Former NSW President, NCC (2017-2019)

PATRICK BYRNE

President, National Civil Council

ANDREA TOKAJI

Lecturer, Alphacrucis College

Lecturer, Excelsia College

HEATH HARLEY-BELLEMORE

Solicitor and Vice-President, Western Australian Legal Theory Association

PETER ABETZ

WA Director, Australian Christian Lobby

Former Member of the WA Legislative Assembly (2008 to 2017)

THE HON. CHARLES SMITH MLC

Member for the East Metropolitan Region in the WA Legislative Council

THE HON. MICHAEL SUTHERLAND

Former Speaker of the WA Legislative Assembly

(2008 to 2017)

THE HON. AARON STONEHOUSE MLC

Leader of the Liberal Democrats WA;

Member for South Metropolitan Region

THE HON. NICK GOIRAN MLC

Shadow WA Minister for Child Protection; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence

 

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Dr Augusto Zimmermann LLB (Hon.), LLM cum laude, PhD (Mon.)
Professor and Head of Law, Sheridan College, Perth/WA
Professor of Law (adjunct), The University of Notre Dame Australia School of Law, Sydney
President, Western Australian Legal Theory Association (WALTA)
Editor-in-Chief, The Western Australian Jurist
Commissioner, Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (2012-2017)

SHERIDAN COLLEGE
Unit 18, 7 Aberdeen Street, Perth WA 6000
Phone:
+61 457 241 748

The Perth Declaration for the Defence of Christianity in Australia – Final.pdf
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Date-stamped: Perth/WA, 6th August 2019 | Article Title: The Perth Declaration for the Defence of Christianity in Australia  | Article Link: walta.net.au

 

Christians challenge Costello’s advice to ‘suck it up’

Reverend Tim Costello

Church leaders have hit out at Baptist minister and former World Vision head Tim Costello for “raucously” telling Christians who want religious freedom laws because they feel persecuted to “suck it up” and “calm down”.

Reverend Costello, who is now a senior fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity, drew fire for his comments, which downplayed the experience of Australian Christians in the context of the government’s investigation into religious freedom laws and Israel Folau’s sacking over homophobic Instagram posts referencing the Bible.

“I don’t think there is a risk of persecution — Christians need to calm down,” Reverend Costello said in an interview published on The Guardian website yesterday.

“I would say to Christians if you want to see persecution, let me take you to places where there is persecution of Christians and other religious groups — let me take you to Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and I will show you ­persecution. And if they read their Bibles, Jesus said the world will hate you and misunderstand you for follow­ing me, but to go on followin­g, loving, serving — so I would say, just suck it up.

“Jesus didn’t go around demand­ing legislation to protect his rights. Jesus didn’t advocate for freedom-of-religion legislation.”

A spokesman for the Centre for Public Christianity said Reverend Costello had been “trying to take a bit of the heat out of the ­discussion”.

But Bruce Meller, a minister and assembly clerk of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, called the piece a “strid­ent, raucous overstatement”. “The fact he says it shows that he doesn’t think other Christians are agreeing with him,” Reverend Meller said.

He said that while Reverend Costello was right to recognise the experience of Christians overseas, “negative discrimination is defin­itely being experienced here” and Australian Christians should be encouraged to speak up in the public debate around religiou­s freedom laws. “This is the most important issue we face at the moment, and not just for Christians,’’ he said. “The climate has changed dramatically, and it is that change to which Christians are reacting.

“The atrocious assault on the Muslim community in Christchurch saw an outpouring of grief that was right and appropriate. But when 300 Christians were blown up in Sri Lanka shortly afterward­s, the response was very muted by comparison. Christians are right to react to things like that … They are also entitle­d to speak up when societal pressure becomes increasingly hostile.’’

Michael Kellahan, executive director of Christian think tank Freedom for Faith, said while he understood the point Reverend Costello was trying to make by comparing Christians in Australia with those overseas, Christians needed to “beware of the speed at which things can change”.

“If Australia wants to be able to speak with credibility to places without freedoms we need to show that we take freedom for all people seriously here,” Mr Kellahan said. “I don’t think a comment like ‘suck it up’ stands well … there will probably be Christians who are disappointed to hear that.

“This is a time when all Australians need to stop throwing in quick-catch headlines and think about constructive ways to live together well. If Tim Costello wants to be part of that, we’d welcome that. But suggesting Christians shouldn’t be interested in religious freedoms protection is not a contributio­n to make.’’

Date-stamped: 2019 July 10 - Time-stamped: 12:00 am - By Elias Visontay  - Article Title: Christians slam Costello’s advice to ‘suck it up’  - Article Link: theaustralian.com.au