A group of Sunshine Coast Christian pastors believe it’s time for the church to take a big step into the political arena, and add its significant voice to push social initiatives that are good for all Australians.
The pastors said the church had in many ways been “absent” from the debate, but significant social pressures in recent years suggested it was now time for it to speak out more strongly of its beliefs on contentious political, social and moral issues.
“We are a sleeping giant, and now we need to be awake,” group spokesman Ps Adrian Alzino, of the History Maker Australia Church at Kawana, said.
“Up until now, the church and its pastors have been sitting back and letting things happen, but now we’re saying, ‘Hang on, we must speak up and be a positive influence for positive values’.”
Major concerns identified by the local pastors are maintaining freedom of speech and freedom of belief – for those of all faiths, including for those with no formal religious belief.
The group identified several developments that they believe impacted the freedom of speech of Christians:
- A 2016 anti-discrimination case, which was later withdrawn, against the Tasmania Catholic Church and Hobart’s Archbishop Julian Porteous, over the church’s booklet, “Don’t Mess with marriage”;
- The call in January to have Margaret Court Arena re-named in retaliation to the respected tennis-star-turned-minister’s opposition to same-sex marriage; and,
- The recent case of rugby union star Israel Folau at risk of losing his playing contract for quoting a Bible verse on his personal Instagram account.
The pastors believe Australia is fast becoming a nation that curtails all speech that espouses views that don’t align with politically-correct views and the church should stand up for its values.
“If you are on ‘the wrong side’ of the debate, there are consequences, but when a belief is disagreed with, however vehemently, it should be critiqued, not censored - that is how a mature, democratic society works,” Ps Alzino said.
“All Australians must know that they are free to express those beliefs which are part of their identity, even if they are overtly Christian.
“The church has a moral obligation and a spiritual obligation to voice what it believes in.
“It is not perfect, it is made up of imperfect people, but the church does have standards based on the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the Bible, and a message of hope for all Australians.
“It is vital now, for the good of Australia, that the traditional Christian church is more assertive on issues like freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs, and that it rolls up its sleeves to make sure its significant voice contributes to safeguarding the traditional ways of life that most Australians support.”
The pastors also intended to speak out on issues like discrimination, bullying and intimidation in society generally.
The pastors involved in the move so far are Ps Adrian Alzino (History Maker Australia Church, Kawana), Ps Patrick Chandran (Coast Alive - International Network of Churches, Maroochydore), Ps Neil Miers (Global Connexions, Buddina), Ps Lawrence Seiuli (Nambour Christian Church), and Ps Mark Green (The Range International Network of Churches, Montville, and Kawana State High School Chaplain). They are inviting other pastors to get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org