Thank you for praying and acting to protect Christian values in Australia.

Three weeks ago Good News Update 140 highlighted the importance of holding a national plebiscite in regard to redefining marriage. 
Last week a huge spanner was thrown into the works.  The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission signalled their intention to mount a test case against the Catholic Church which could have wide national implications for religious freedom and public debate before the marriage plebiscite.  
A National Test Case

On Friday 13 November 2015, an article entitled 'Catholic Bishops Called to Answer in Anti-Discrimination Test Case' appeared in The Australian.  The next day The Weekend Australian reported "The Catholic Church and other opponents of same-sex marriage fear being gagged ahead of the national plebiscite after an anti-discrimination commissioner found bishops have a case to answer over an anti-gay marriage booklet." 

Archbishop Julian Porteous
The threatened test case is based on a complaint by Hobart Greens political candidate, Martine Delaney, against Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteus. Delaney, who comes from a Catholic family, identifies as a transgender female, and lives with a female partner, felt "offended and humiliated" by the circulation of a booklet to the parents of Catholic school students. This booklet, published and distributed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference, explains the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage. So Delaney also complained about the Conference, which represents all Catholic bishops in Australia. 

Also supporting a national test case is homosexual lobbyist, Rodney Croome, national convenor of  Australian Marriage Equality, who has called for the prosecution of the Catholic bishops and has urged people to complain to the Commission.

Section 17(1) of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 in Tasmania makes it an offense for a person to engage "in any conduct which offends, humiliates, initimidates, insults or ridicules another person".  

Written 5 years ago, the Canberra Declaration pointed to the dangers of such anti-discrimination laws with these words,    

"We affirm the basic necessity ... to speak publicly about one's faith and beliefs ...  
In Australia today these freedoms are being restricted by ... anti-discrimination legislation, hate crime laws and legislation on religious and sexual vilification - each of which may be interpreted in a way that effectively works as a barrier to religious freedom and freedom of speech."

Ironically, laws which are supposed to protect citizens from intimidation have the potential to do exactly the opposite.   This may even be the intention of the Anti-Discrimination Commission in threatening to prosecute Catholic bishops with the possibility of being dragged before tribunals. Such a national test case could quash
a fair and robust debate on the redefinition of marriage in the lead up to the plebiscite.

Salt Shakers state in their prayer points, "the homosexual lobby don't want a debate and they don't want a plebiscite, and they will do all they can to intimidate anyone who dares stand against their agenda - but we must stand."
The Booklet

The 18-page 'Don't Mess with Marriage'  booklet was produced by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference  to also "explain the position of the Catholic faithful to the wider community". The stated wish of the Catholic bishops was to "engage with this debate" on marriage.
The opening lines of the booklet calls for every person, regardless on their view on marriage, to be treated with respect. It concludes by encouraging Christians "to present the truth about marriage, family and sexuality ... charitably and lovingly." This pastoral letter is a balanced and respectful exercise of freedom of speech.
The booklet includes 15 real life examples from around the world of the consequences of redefining marriage. These describe how Christians are being 'threatened', 'prosecuted', 'vilified' and 'pressured' for holding to the view of marriage as between a man and a woman.
We encourage you to read the booklet 'Don't Mess with Marriage'  for yourself and share it as widely as you can (on social media, by email or in printed form).
If a booklet like this ends up being banned from the public square when marriage between a man and a woman is still the law of the land, what can we expect if the law is changed?
It's  Time to Act 

This test case poses a serious threat to our religious freedoms.  Without these we cannot have a fair and robust debate on marriage before a plebiscite.  
  1. Pray for wisdom for Archbishop Porteus and the Catholic Bishops who were given 21 days to respond to the Anti-Discrimination Commission's findings. 
  2. Contact your federal and state parliamentary representatives urging them to say no to the intimidation of anti-discrimination laws which attempt to bully Christians into silence by threatening legal action for the exercise of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. You can use this excellent tool to help you.
  3. Go on-line and sign petitions from the
    Australian Christian Lobby and
    Australian Family Association

A Biblical Encouragement


When Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the governor of Samaria sent him an intimidating letter.  Nehemiah saw through the lies and realised that, "They were trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too week for the work, and it will not be completed." But I prayed, "now strengthen my hands."
A short while later the governors of Samaria and the Transjordan hired a false prophet to further intimidate Nehemiah . Once again Nehemiah refused to give in to fear and said, " I will not go!"This time he prayed  that God would deal with the officials and the false prophets "who have been trying to intimidate me" (Nehemiah 6:9,11,14).

Let us pray and stand strong for marriage as God intended saying NO to intimidation and YES to religious freedom.

David and Marilyn Rowsome
PS.  It's Good to be Back!

Marilyn and I thank God for Ben Pratt, Warwick and Alison Marsh and all the volunteers who worked hard in the three months we were away in Canada. For us, it was a significant time with all my family members.  


We were especially grateful to be able to attend the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC and meet so many with a similar passion to uphold Biblical values in society. You can read our report, A Week in Washington DC.  It includes an encouragement to us all from one of the writers of the Manhattan Declaration which was the model for the Canberra Declaration.


At present Warwick and Alison Marsh are on a ministry trip, including time in the USA and Israel. They will return early in December. Please pray for them.

Canberra Declaration 
phone 02 4272 9100 or 0418 225 212