Armageddon – Part 2: Lessons from the Cold War and the Birth of Cold War II

This is the second of a three-part series inspired by the novel Armageddon by Leon Uris (1963). A remarkable, fictional story based on actual history, from the American perspective, of the end of WWII in Germany with particular focus on the administration of Berlin.

If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!
But passion and party blind our eyes,
and the light which experience gives us
is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834)

The Declaration of the Cold War

The Berlin Airlift was a resounding success! It was an outstanding achievement, but the Cold War was born. When we think of the Cold War, I guess most of us think of the territorial divisions that defined the ‘East’ from the ‘West’. These terms are still with us today, particular the phrases ‘Western Democracies’ and ‘Western Culture’.

We think of Russia and China as the world’s communist stronghold in the case of Russia, and the fascist dictatorship in the case of China, balanced against the western nations’ democracies. Then we think of the arms race and the nuclear threat, hence the term the ‘Cold War’, and the passionate hope and prayer that the opposing nuclear deterrents will be enough to keep either side from repeating the nuclear devastation unleashed on Japan to end World War II.

But let me take you back to the Berliners in the late 1940s. They did not really see any of these physical manifestations of communism that we recognise today. Rather, they would have sensed the psychological warfare raged against them — they were the heroes of the Cold War by their resistance against the communist agenda, their recognition of the threat and their willingness to sacrifice dearly for the prospect of freedom and liberty.

Imagine the culture of the time. Each of these points is a lesson for us today:

  1. The world that survived WWII were on food rations, crippled with grief for lost loved ones. Therefore, they could hardly ever lift their heads above the parapet and look out at other parts of the world. They were simply in survival mode and coming to terms with their own post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  2. With the trauma of WWII and the wounds still open and weeping, who could have imagined the emergence of a new enemy, especially one from within their own ranks of the Allied powers? The natural instinctive reaction would simply be one of denial. They may have seen some ‘news’, but it would not have fitted into their existing paradigm, so they could not have made any sense or order out of the events unfolding around them.
  3. The Russians had marched through eastern Europe and ‘assimilated’ nation after nation on their westward march. But they were halted in Berlin. To their surprise, they met resistance. Not so much a military resistance, but a resistance from the civilian Berliners. Their tried and tested methods sprang into action, and wave upon wave of psychological warfare was unleashed on the Berliners by the Soviets. One example will suffice. They claimed that only they could ensure the permanent defeat of the Nazi threat. They claimed that the western powers were simply a cover for the re-emergence of Nazism.
  4. The Berliners were the new frontline against the new enemy. As a people utterly devasted by defeat and slaughter, they could still see through the communist lies and propaganda. I take my hat off to the Berliners! Arguably, they were the ones who ‘won the peace’ after WWII. They were the ones who fought for the freedom of thought and liberty of allegiance.
  5. From the start of the Cold War, there was intense pressure to conform to the communist vision. Many of the western Allied soldiers’ families wanted to leave and return home. They saw that the Russians had the upper hand, therefore resistance was futile. Back in the United States, federal parliament was bitterly split. The battle for hearts and minds was fierce, and in the end was resolved by courageous leadership.

The Birth of Cold War II

I would now like to suggest that we are witnesses to the birth of the Cold War II in our day and generation.

  1. I think we are in a war, a largely psychological war, but there are military manifestations in various pockets around the world. Perhaps the seeds of this idea were sown for me by Douglas Murray’s The War on the West (2022). Murray identified the enemy of the West as being from within the West. The enemy is a traitor among one of our own, just as the Russians in the late 1940s turned on their ‘own’, their fellow Allies. I see these internal forces as just as determined to enslave us and strangle the life out of our democracy as the communists did at the height of the first Cold War.

  1. The enemy’s tactics within the Cold War II, being primarily psychological at this stage, have most certainly taken ground, as demonstrated by the fact that the majority of people still look to their governments and authorities to ‘look after them’, to subsidise their back-to-work initiatives, and to build artificial price caps on energy costs to cushion us from hyperinflation created by them. Yes, the enemy’s tactics are working in the production of a compliant, submissive populace, willing to do their master’s bidding.
  2. Today, just as in 1948, the majority of us are still traumatised from the Covid panic years and the wounds are still open and weeping in many places, though it’s remarkable that it’s so easy to forget some of the pain, as we were effectively conditioned into acceptance of the pain for ‘the greater good’. Therefore, how can we expect people to put their heads above the parapet and look out across the nations of the world to identify a new threat; surely, we have had enough troubles in recent times, we are not looking for another!
  3. The new frontline against Cold War II can be found all around the world. We are connected digitally in contrast to the tangible community that the Berliners knew in the aftermath of WWII. Yes, the new frontlines are drawn by those people who can see the threat and are prepared to take a stand against it. In this context, I take my hat off to the thousands who have lost their jobs as a result of their stand, and to the thousands whose families and communities have been shattered by division and breakdown in relationships, and to the thousands who have literally lost their lives already in Cold War II.
  4. The battle lines are drawn today between those who recognise the threat of Cold War II and those who don’t. The latter can’t see that there is anything to fear — they simply say, ‘We are all in this together, we must make sacrifices for the common good when called to do so.’ I find that the division is largely one of silence and an unwillingness to name the elephant in the room. This is in stark contrast to 1948, when heated debates were common.

I do not see a new ‘Berlin Wall’ being built, but I do see the new ‘prisoner-of-war-camps’ being commissioned all around the world, to corral agitators, protesters, and rebels. There seem to be all the hallmarks of ‘walls’ around these camps to keep the renegades in; in contrast to the Berlin Wall’s design to keep their own in, preventing them from defecting to freedom.

Whichever way we look at it, division and segregation can never spell freedom and liberty of thought and allegiance. Openness, tolerance, and mutual respect are the qualities of a community I want to leave as a legacy for my children. These characteristics are all built upon personal responsibility and small government, as opposed to the abrogation of responsibility to big governments and global big businesses.

The Cold War II’s Agenda

I have reflected deeply on the nature of this agenda. I believe the mastermind to be the devil and his angels. His fingerprints are all over it:

Therefore, Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10: 7-11)

I believe there are many ‘diversionary tactics’ that distract, divide, dilute and dilute our attention. But if we look at the devil’s core values, stealing, murder and destruction, this will help us identify the true nature of his agenda. This is in direct contrast with Jesus’ agenda to bring life and life to the full. It is interesting that Jesus is the ‘gate’, not the devil. It is Jesus that decides who may come in and go out, and who may find pasture.

Who is the devil using to outwork his agenda? First of all, stealing. Sadly, I suspect there will be much more overt manifestations of theft to come, but so far, we have seen soaring fuel prices and artificial scarcity of sources of energy, resulting in inflation fuelled by planned irresponsible government spending over the past three years. So, the first agent of the devil’s agenda, national governments, in perfect harmony across the world.

Secondly, murder. The perpetrating and legitimisation of abortion, the murder of infants:

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. (Leviticus 20: 1-2)

Yes, child sacrifice has been known for thousands of years, but God plainly abhors it, and notice He holds ‘the people’ responsible for its eradication. I believe we are responsible for allowing the practice of and legitimisation of abortion. So, in this context, our governments who have sanctioned the practice and our healthcare system that carry out the practice are responsible, but we have not stopped them.

Further, evidence of murder would be the administration of un-tested, unsafe, and ineffective medication resulting in sudden adult death syndrome (SADS), increased numbers of miscarriages and the potential for future infertility. All these measures being the responsibility of the global pharmaceutical industry and our healthcare systems overseen by our national governments. This strategy of the devil has been working very well at depopulating the world, with the immediate focus being the western nations.

Thirdly, destruction. War meets this criterion and is the most obvious evidence of the work of the devil. But destruction can be evidenced in a wide array of phenomena. I would illustrate this with wildfires. It seems to me that many wildfires have been fuelled by Green agendas that have left forests untended for too long, resulting in dangerous levels of tinder for fires to consume.

I also note that some catastrophic floods have been exacerbated by the cessation of preventative dredging of tidal estuaries and the indiscriminate land clearing that has denuded the landscape of vegetation, that would otherwise have captured sufficient rainfall and lessened the destructive floods. In these instances, the responsibility for the destruction would again be the Green agendas that have failed to recognise the biodiversity of different habitats. Then in turn, Green agendas have been incorporated into ‘both sides’ of politics, who in turn bear the responsibility for the destruction.

Here I have sought to illustrate the work of the devil under the three headings of stealing, murder and destruction. Naturally, this is a gross simplification of the nature of the fallen world — in reality it is much more complex; but I have found this rationale a helpful vehicle to seek to understand the nature of Cold War II.

We Ignore Cold War II at Our Peril

Just as in the days of the first Cold War, many could not see it at first. There were intense debates on how best to respond. Let us learn the lessons from history and not be caught out in Cold War II. I believe that the writing is on the wall for us all to read.


Photo by Pixabay.

Thank the Source

Treaty Now

The Cambridge Dictionary states that “treaty” is “a written agreement between two or more countries, formally approved and signed by their leaders”.

The Collins English Dictionary says, “A treaty is a written agreement between countries in which they agree to do a particular thing or to help each other.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “treaty” as “an agreement or arrangement made by negotiation.”  Specifically, the word refers to “a contract in writing between two or more political authorities (such as states or sovereigns) formally signed by representatives duly authorised and usually ratified by the lawmaking authority of the state”.  A secondary meaning is “a document in which such a contract is set down”.

Regardless of which dictionary you consult, the primary usage of the word “treaty” is in the context of international agreements.

“Treaty” in the Bible

The Israelites were forbidden to make treaties, or more accurately, to “make covenant”, with the Canaanites (Exodus 34:12).  This was because of the risk of religious apostasy and moral contamination that would thereby be involved.

However, Israel was situated in the midst of other nations.  Treaty arrangements of some sort with their neighbours were from time to time inevitable.

After the rise of the Israelite monarchy, treaties were common. David and Solomon had friendly relations with Hiram, king of Tyre. King Asa of Judah, to rid himself of the hostile approaches of King Baasha of Israel, entered into a league with Ben-hadad of Syria, which the prophet Hanani denounced (2 Chronicles 16:1-3). Ahab entered into a similar compact with Ben-hadad’s son and successor, and set him at liberty when he was his prisoner of war (1 Kings 20:34).

At a later time, Jehoshaphat joined Ahab in an expedition against Ben-hadad II to Ramoth-gilead in which Ahab lost his life (1 Kings 22). Then, with the rise of the ‘mega-empires’, the kings of Israel and Judah entered into treaties to resist their advances and to preserve their own independence. Sometimes with Syria and neighbouring states against the terrible Assyrian power, and sometimes with Egypt against Assyria or Babylon, Israel and Judah made treaties. The prophets spoke against such alliances (Isaiah 31:1; Jeremiah 27:3).

But take note! These arrangements, whether called “covenants” or “treaties”, were with other nations.  The Kingdom of Israel, and then the later divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, created international alliances formalised as “covenants” or “treaties”.

There is never any use of the word “treaty” to refer to a formal agreement between people groups within the nation.

Modern Distortion

Canada has adopted a distortion of the word “treaty”.

Because Canada recognises its indigenous peoples as “First Nations”, the Canadian Government has made treaties with the descendants of those ‘nations’.

So, in Canada, “treaty” also refers to “any of the formal agreements between Indian bands and the federal government by which the Indians surrender their land rights in return for various forms of aid”.

Of course, this is an example of ‘wanting your cake and eating it too’. If those so-called “First Nations” have not been, and are not, Canadians, then Canada could make treaties with them. But if they have enjoyed the rights and privileges of being Canadian citizens — voted in Canadian elections, served in the Canadian institutions of authority, accessed Canadian welfare benefits, and such like — then they are Canadians.

And no treaties were necessary!

And the treaties did not, of themselves, improve the lives of the descendants of those so-called “First Nations” peoples. Only God-answers can do that!

Blunt Honesty

The same call for “Treaty” is being made in our country. From Yothu Yindi’s 1991 Tribal Voice album to a screaming Senator Lidia Thorpe, the demand is for “Treaty Now”.

And the 2017 “Uluru Statement from the Heart” says, in part:

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle.  It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

The Voice to Parliament is not the end-game. It’s one step. Then there’s “a process of agreement-making” — in other words, a treaty — and “truth-telling”.

And notice the implicit assumption … the “First Nations” peoples and “the people of Australia” are two separate groups.

If the Aboriginal people are not Australians, why are Australian taxpayers putting billions of dollars each year into welfare and development projects in Aboriginal communities? Why are we allowing Aboriginal people to vote in Australian elections (and thereby giving them a voice to our parliaments)?

On the other hand, if the Aboriginal people are Australians, why is there an illogical demand for “Treaty Now”?  We should simply acknowledge that we are already ONE nation!

And we should be putting the God-answers in place to solve our problems!


Photo by Tara Winstead.

Thank the Source

The Project’s Persecution of Christians Shows the Bible Is True

By Samuel Hartwich

The vulgar joke by queer comedian Reuben Kaye on Channel Ten’s The Project has once again raised this issue: Why is Christianity the target of jokes, ridicule and even outright persecution? While at the same time, other faiths are not treated with the same disrespect?

Why the disparity?

According to the Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, in his Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians, 80% of all religious persecution is directed against Christians. Yes, that’s 80%! Yet statically, just over 30% of the world’s population is regarded as Christian. This vast disproportionality between the rate of religious persecution versus the number of adherents is a startling fact. How can it be that Christians are the target of just so much religious persecution?

There are of course many varied and legitimate reasons that could explain this phenomenon.

Meek and Mild

Sky News host Paul Murray — a self-professed atheist — in an opinion piece puts forth the reason Christians are “soft targets” is because they won’t riot in the streets or turn violent.

Indeed, Jesus taught His disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Christians may tune out of the program, write letters of protest and call for an apology. But a joke, crassly spoken, will rarely elicit a more severe response than that.

Murray then comments about Reuben Kaye and his willingness to target other religions in this way:

“Let’s see what his reaction would be, and to his ‘bravery’, if he decides to do just a few words about Mohammad, maybe a costume or two. See what the reaction would be.”

As Murray wholeheartedly agrees, there is no room at any time to target people from any religion. “[A]nyone who uses their faith to repeat that hate on somebody from any community, well they are not going to get a champion in me.” And few would disagree with his comments here.

But is the fact that Christians are “soft targets” enough to explain the disparity?


Jesus taught that there was a deeper, fundamental spiritual reality behind the disproportionality. The night before He faced his own violent death, He prepared His disciples with these prophetic words:

“If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you…
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18, 20)

And as John would later write, “We know that… the whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

It’s uncomfortable and flies in the face of modern society’s secular and naturalistic worldview. Nevertheless, Jesus and His disciple John point the finger at the condition of the sinful human heart and the evil supernatural realm as the real reason for the disparity.

This understood, the 80% statistic is actually an encouragement. It’s yet another reason to trust the Bible’s words: the situation is exactly as predicted. If the Bible really is what it claims to be ­– the very inspired words of the Creator God Himself (e.g. 2 Tim 3:16) — then isn’t the 80% statistic precisely what we would expect? It’s just as Jesus Himself said, “See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matt 24:25)


Let’s consider the alternative explanation. Let’s say that Jesus was simply an obscure, deluded individual who thought of himself as Messiah and God incarnate.

What is the chance that such a crackpot could accurately and pinpointedly predict the religious persecution lay-of-the-land some 2000 years later? How could someone so deludedly wrong predict something so accurately right?

It beggars all rational belief.

It is difficult and confronting. But disciples of Jesus are taught to consider themselves “blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.” (Matt 5:11–12)

We can now add another reason to rejoice. The ‘80% statistic’ confirms the Bible is true. Our Christian faith handed down to us through Scripture confirms the words of Jesus our Saviour, the One Whom we love.

This should ultimately encourage us, galvanise us and keep us pressing on — no matter the cost and no matter our circumstances.

Just as Jesus said: “I have told you these things to keep you from stumbling.” (John 16:1)

May The Project’s disdain for Jesus further strengthen the righteous to be as bold as lions! (Proverbs 28:1)


Photo by Tofin Photography Creations.

Thank the Source

The True Beauty of Esther

Welcome to this year’s reflection on Purim.

Purim begins Monday night, 6th March, 2023 until nightfall Tuesday, 7th March 2023. In Jerusalem, Shushan Purim is celebrated on 8th March (Shabbat permitting).

In the Jewish Bible, we read of the story of Queen Esther in the Ketuvim (writings).  Queen Esther is a Jewish girl who becomes the queen of King Xerxes of Persia. She walked an unusual path, and her faith and courage were used by God to save her Jewish people from annihilation.

Date of Writing: The Book of Esther was likely written between 460 and 350 B.C.

You may wish to view my previous articles for more background on Esther: (1)(2)

Purim is still celebrated today in Israel and the diaspora. It commemorates the time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination through Esther.

Part of the celebrations includes dressing up in costumes, performing plays and even beauty contests.

When the Megillah (Book of Esther) is read, noisemakers (e.g. groggers) are used by many to blot out the sound of Haman’s name. Food is also a big part of the celebration with Hamantaschen, triangle-shaped pastries to represent Haman’s ears or Haman’s pockets. Also, food gifts are given.

The theme of this story and many other Jewish stories has developed into this saying: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!” And so it is for Purim, a celebration with traditions of its own, including food.


To give you a brief background to the Book of Esther, we find that Jerusalem had fallen to Babylon and the Jews were exiled, around 605 BC. Babylon had been taken over by the powerful Persian Empire in 539 BC. Daniel survived the transition to the new empire, maintaining his administrative role (Daniel 6:28).

By the time of King Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes in Esther, Daniel was gone and Haman had become the Prime Minister of Persia (Esther 3:1).

Let me introduce you to Queen Esther.

Esther’s name

Hadassah (Myrtle) was her Jewish name, but she assumed the name Esther to hide her Jewish identity. The three-letter root of Esther in Hebrew is s-t-r (סתר‎), “hide, conceal”. The passive infinitive is (לְהִסָּ֫תֶר‎), “to be hidden”.

As we know, Esther’s true name and identity were hidden, but also God’s name is not mentioned in the text, yet His work is evident throughout the story.

Esther’s qualities

  • Youth/Beauty

The scripture declares that she was young and beautiful — these were the conditions of the search made for the new queen for King Xerxes. Ahasuerus is evidently to be identified with Xerxes.

Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: Esther 2:2 (CJB)

… The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking… Esther 2:7 (CSB)

  • Wisdom/Humility

She was wise inasmuch as she listened to Mordecai and learnt what she had to do. There was favour and grace from God upon her life, but she also received the favour of the King.

Wisdom and humility go hand in hand.
The discipline of wisdom is fear of Adonai,
so before being honoured, a person must be humble.
~ Proverbs 15:33 (CJB)

Esther displayed wisdom when she gave her banquets to prepare the way for her requests to the King.

One could say that humility is dependence on the Lord and respecting others, while godly wisdom gives one the ability to discern and choose the best course of action.

When the Lord blesses a person with looks, wealth and His favour, it is not for the person’s benefit, but for the Father’s purposes.

Esther was loyal to Mordechai her cousin who acted as her father, and also to her non-Jewish husband. She moved with poise, based on her principles in the difficult circumstances of her day, and did not act irrationally but stayed the course to see a marvellous victory for her people.

At the time of Purim, we remember Esther’s courage in saving her people in Persia 2000 years ago, even though the circumstances were extreme.

When one fasts, there is a concept that we are untethering ourselves from earthly things and tethering ourselves to the Lord and heavenly realms. The Book of Esther does not specifically mention prayer, but it may be implied.

Esther trusted the Lord in her fasting and as a result, the King extended to her his golden sceptre.

Subsequently, we also see that the law of the Medes and Persians was altered to allow the Jewish people to defend themselves against the evil plans that had been put into place by Haman.

The Bible talks about when we fast, not if we fast.

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance.
For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.
Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” ~ Matthew 6:16

Fasting is the lifestyle of the believer awaiting the return of the Bridegroom —

“But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them,
and then they will fast in those days.” ~ Mark 2:20 (NKJV)

  • Jewish Culture

In the Jewish writings, Esther is called a Heroine, a Prophetess and yes, she was a stand-alone Queen. We can glean much from her life to enable us to stand against difficult odds, keep our eyes on the Lord and see Him break through our obstacles in His own inimitable way.

In fact, we, as Bible-believing Christians, have it within our ability to stand with the Father’s Beloved Chosen people to assist them through prayer, giving and going to the Holy Land to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. All are valid ways of supporting His Beloved Chosen People.

Now Esther was the daughter of Abihail, the uncle from whom Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter. And when it was her turn to go to the king, she did not ask for anything except what Hegai, the king’s trusted official in charge of the harem, had advised. And Esther found favour in the eyes of everyone who saw her.
~ Esther 2:15 (BSB)

Her life and identity were hidden. It was as if she was the Lord’s secret agent in this perilous setting. The Lord’s solutions come through a man — or a woman in this instance. The Father always has someone through whom He can bring solutions.

The King offered her up to half of his kingdom. Some people throw money at problems, but in this case, money was not going to solve the problem of the Jews being annihilated — something more strategic was needed.

Once Haman was out of the picture, the King, although unable to annul a formal royal decree, instead adds to it, permitting the Jews to join together and destroy any and all of those seeking to kill them. (Esther 8:1–14)

The King spoke to Esther and Mordechai, who then called the secretaries — new letters were issued:

The letters said that the king had granted the Jews in every city the right “to assemble and defend their lives by destroying, killing, and exterminating any forces of any people or province that would attack them, their little ones or their women or would try to seize their goods as plunder.
~ Esther 8:11 (CJB)

The shift had begun and —

“And the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword,
and with slaughter and destruction,
and did as they wished to those who hated them.”
~ Esther 9:5

They needed to be able to fight for themselves, save themselves, and be given some rights to stand up and defend themselves.

At the same time as Purim today invites lighthearted fun, the battle became serious as the Jews killed 75,000 who were standing against them, causing others to feign Jewishness.

Behind the Scenes

Even though God’s name does not appear in the Book of Esther, we can see His work behind the scenes.

Miracles did take place — the Lord’s hand was at work throughout these days of His people in Persia.

Time to Take Action

I believe prayer is always the first step before doing a work for the Lord. At this time, we can pray for Israel and her national security.

Perhaps you are being challenged to view the plight of the Father’s Beloved Chosen People differently in this season. The approaching nuclear capability of Iran, their enemy is one of the greatest threats to the existence of Israel at this time. May we pray that Iran will not reach this nuclear capability, as their stated aim is to annihilate the nation of Israel.

You are welcome to join Celebrate Israel with our Zoom calls as we pray for the nation of Israel each month.
Or you may wish to contact me for further information

Soon after my conversion experience, I had a special moment when I heard a message stating,
“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

This message has stayed with me all my life and brought me to the place in which I now find myself, praying for and serving His Beloved Chosen People. May it be your moment as well.


Thank You, Lord, for bringing each one of us to a moment of realisation
of how we can pray for and bless Your Beloved Chosen People. Amen.


Painting: François-Léon Benouville, “Esther” (1844)/Wikimedia Commons

Thank the Source

Reflections on the Asbury Revival

I’ve been following the proceedings at Asbury University over the past week or so. First, there was the excellent coverage by a few other writers here at the Daily Declaration. Then I discovered a number of videos posted by certain people who attended, as well as some critics, most of those being people who weren’t there, and from opponents of anything with even a whiff of the Charismatic.

So a few days ago, I felt the Lord was impressing on me the importance of discovering what it was that acted as the catalyst for this.

For those unaware of what’s happened, a small number of students felt compelled to stay behind after their regular midweek chapel service, and ended up on their knees at the front of the chapel, praying and sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit in an unusually powerful way.

Then others who had left got wind of what was happening and hurried back to the chapel and joined the prayer and worship that had eventuated, and continued unabated 24/7 until the university leadership felt it necessary to step in and organise meetings at particular times of the day so that students who were involved in activities like leading worship could get back to their regular round of lectures.


To find out, I realised that I needed to watch the sermon which preceded this, because God was telling me that in that sermon were the seeds that were now sprouting.

But before we start, most people use the term “revival” to describe what’s happening. In my opinion, it has become a term that is so lacking in definition, as it’s applied to anything out of the ordinary. Instead, I propose the term used by Dr Barry Chant in this Canberra Declaration interview: “divine visitation”.

The first thing I noticed was that the preacher’s tone was devoid of histrionics of any kind, or anything that could be accused of being emotional manipulation. It is a truly ordinary sermon in the sense that it’s no different in tone or style to that in your average mainstream denominational service on any given Sunday.

In fact, the preacher himself thought so little of it that he texted his wife after to say that he’d preached a “stinker”!

So here are the excerpts from his sermon that I felt were significant in light of what happened after the meeting officially ended, and is still ongoing.

The sermon was a commentary on Romans 12:9-21:

“Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practising hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (NASB)

True Love

The first point he drew was that this is “about love and becoming love”. He then asked the question, “Do you love me?” He explained it this way: “The problem with the word ‘love’ is that everyone says it or does it, but without Christ abiding in your spirit, receiving and giving, it’s actually not love. It’s wrong.”

He then noted the fact that there are 30 commands in those 13 verses. He challenged his hearers to weigh up how well they are loving those around them based on those commands. He also expanded that challenge to even consider how they love those who persecute them.

He said, “This is ‘agape’ love”.

He then contrasted that with love that is not genuine, which he described as “radically poor love… it should not even be called love”. He was referring here to any form of abuse carried out by people we may know, or particularly by loved ones.

In the light of what we’ve witnessed following this sermon, and the outpouring of love, with people prostrated before the altar, praying for others, and such fulsome glorifying of God through worship and witness, I see the rest of the sermon reflected in what continued after the meeting ended, and what I believe is at the heart of what God is doing there:

“I am happy to sit here and pray with people. If you have experienced that kind of love, there are leaders on campus who will stay in these seats and pray for you. If you need to hear the voice of God, the Father in Heaven, Who will never love you that way, Who is perfect in love, gentle and kind — you come up here and you experience His love. Don’t waste this opportunity.”

Then he broke off his sermon and prayed into that:

“Jesus, if there are people in this room that feel the weight of that perverted thing that one person called love, would you just alleviate that weight right now. Holy Spirit, would you just move through these rows and love on these people. Jesus, there are people who have experienced hypocritical love in the Church. Holy Spirit, move through these rows and alleviate that. Heal them, Jesus. Show them Your true self. Would they be bold and courageous to ask for further healing and further prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

He then referred to the verse, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”, and in relation to this, he said,

“Christian communities aren’t great at this. Rejoicing with those who rejoice feels like, ‘you can’t be prideful’. But what about celebrating one another… celebrating each other’s gifts? What about weeping with those who weep? Do you journey with them? Do you tarry with them?”

From what I’ve seen, this is one of the most significant markers of this visitation, where random groups of people have gathered around others to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”, whatever the need may be.

In finishing, he said,

“You cannot love until you are loved by Jesus. The only way we can love is as in 1 John 4:7-21. So I want to say, ‘Stop striving… You’ve got to love because you’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God. You have been loved. You have to continually put yourself before Jesus and be loved by Him so you can love others… we must become love in action.

What is the purpose of your love? Who or what are you becoming through this expression of love? Some of us need to sit in the love of God. Some of us need to taste and see and experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Because if you want to become love, if you really want to become love in action, you start by prostrating yourself before the love of God. If you want to become love in action, you have to experience the love of God.

Asbury, the world needs this kind of love. They need a bunch of Christians experiencing the love of God so they can pour out the love of God. Not through their own efforts, and not through their own knowledge, but because they are filled with His love… Become the love of God by experiencing the love of God.”

Again, the one distinctive above all in what has occurred after this sermon is the testimony of the Holy Spirit shedding abroad the Father’s love in such a gentle manner through the ministry of others, through those involved being “love in action”, becoming the love of God. But it appears that the first action was that they “prostrated themselves” before God at the front in prayer, worship and repentance. It was from this being a priority that the prayer groups then started, which had the effect of expanding this outpouring of love and intimacy.

Seeking God’s Face

And from my own perspective, as one who has experienced first-hand the power of the Holy Spirit in previous revivals, such as the overflow from Toronto in the ’90s, with the attendant power manifestations, there is something refreshing and fulfilling in what’s happening here.

And it’s because so many of us became enamoured by the manifestations of power in those revivals, which were in many quarters treated almost like a Charismatic parlour game, that I believe this is the reason why God withdrew His hand then. In that visitation, the power that was unleashed in the Body of Christ was meant to be used to draw those outside the church. Its purpose was to release things like prophetic ministry to the lost, healing and other signs and wonders, for revival to break out in the wider culture. This is, after all, the ultimate purpose of revival. It’s not for our benefit.

In fact, I recall a prophecy by the Canadian prophet Stacey Campbell at the time, where she spoke of the Father who would come home from trips away with gifts for His children, and after a while the children, when they would greet His homecoming, would rush to see what was in His hands instead of embracing Him. So the Father stopped bringing them gifts when He came home. She said the Father was saying, “Seek my face, not My hands”.

So in that respect, I believe that what is happening now is the Father responding to a group of believers who “seek His face”. And this is now spreading to other campuses in an ever-widening arc, with Asbury at the centre, and in the same spirit. If I knew nothing else about this 24/7 meeting, this alone would be enough for me to believe that God is moving to bring about a revival that impacts the broader culture through this kind of devotional intimacy.

In this respect, I’m reminded of the passage in the Song of Solomon 5, where the Beloved Bride is awakened from sleep by the King, and goes out in the streets to search for Him. When she’s accosted by the nightwatchmen who ask her, “What kind of beloved is your beloved, O most beautiful among women?”, she gives witness to His excellence and His beauty: “My beloved is dazzling and reddish, outstanding among ten thousand… He is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend”. (Song 5:10, 16 NASB)

This finds a parallel in 1 Peter 2:9:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

Here is the purpose of the kind of deep intimacy being preached in this sermon and subsequently manifested in the meetings. It’s that we tell the world about the excellencies of our Beloved, and our own journey from the darkness in which those in the world are still enmeshed, where they work so hard to find fulfilment that’s not possible to find in the fleeting pleasures of this life.

In his closing prayer, he prayed, “Do a new thing in our midst. Revive us by Your love.” I’m sure that anyone with an impartial mind who watched any of the worship videos from the past week or so would agree that the Holy Spirit has honoured that prayer request.

Last year I wrote three articles on revival (1) (2) (3), where I noted:

“God never uses the same kind of circumstances, and no two revival outpourings are similar. The one common denominator in all of them is a burning desire among God’s people to see God bring transformation to the whole culture.”


“This “burning desire” is actually the consequence of an alignment of our heart’s desire with God’s. So we need to understand that this involves two seemingly opposite manifestations. First, God’s grief, longing and mourning for those who don’t know Christ. Second, God’s passion and joy showered down on His beloved as a means of facilitating the first. We need to experience both.”

I believe it is the second that we are seeing in action at Asbury now. We wait to see when and how the first is addressed, so that it can move from divine visitation to a full-blown revival of the culture.

But beyond that, I feel it’s necessary to return briefly to the issue of those critical of this move of God, as there appears to be no shortage of those who, for whatever reason, believe all kinds of weird and wonderful things about this, but especially for those whose narrow theology simply doesn’t allow God to work in this way.

Whether it’s an opposition to women leading (for which I found the best refutation I’ve ever seen was in an article here by Trinity Westlake) or the source of the worship music, because it was from churches like Bethel, Elevation and Hillsong, or even Christians spreading vicious rumours that the leadership had been infiltrated by LGBTQI+ advocates, is irrelevant.

This kind of divisive, and even malicious and dishonest, commentary from people who at best visited to “rubber neck” or to confirm their own theological biases, or at worst hadn’t been there and were just repeating things others had said, should be roundly condemned.

There is no theological viewpoint that can instruct the Holy Spirit on how He can or cannot move within His Body. And there is definitely no theological viewpoint that allows for the spreading of slanderous rumours. Even going to the extreme that if it were true that there were people leading this with unresolved sin of any kind in their lives, it is wrong to call it out from a distance, as is being done by these rumour-mongers. In fact, they’re displaying the same form of abusive “radically poor love” that was referred to in the sermon.

Again, we can only hope that in time this visitation continues to produce the fruit that comes from the kind of gentle intimacy and passion that’s been the hallmark so far, and in this way, the critics are silenced.

Two things we should all be doing in the meantime. First, watch and pray. And second, be jealous for the same experience of deep love and intimacy that’s on display at Asbury.

That’s how visitation grows and becomes revival.


Photo: Relevant Magazine

Thank the Source

Revival and the Healing of Australia

Years ago, while travelling to our friends’ cattle property in Central Queensland, Fiona and I were struck by how dry and barren the countryside looked.

We imagined the wild animals constantly searching for water in that unforgiving environment.


Desperate Need

Without a doubt, our nation has experienced a desert-like environment when it comes to the sweet flow of God’s Spirit. And like those animals in the Callide Valley, so many people have desperately searched for a water source to quench their thirst and impart life.

Not knowing any better, many have hoped for relief in Satan’s paltry offerings.

They have sought satisfaction in empty entertainment, alluring drugs and alcohol, soul-destroying sexual pursuits, and ever-demanding materialism — all of which are cruel mirages that promise so much and deliver only emptiness.

revival needed

There is only one thing that truly satisfies the thirsty soul, and that is the presence of God.

Promising Signs

Today the countryside in Central Queensland looks very different. Barren fields have been replaced by green pastures, following significantly increased rainfall over the past twelve months or so.

Previously near-empty dams are now full. Residents in South-East Queensland are even being “encouraged to make the most of high water supply levels” by way of a $55 discount on their water bills.

Perhaps this significant change we are witnessing in the natural environment is an imminent sign of what is about to happen spiritually in this nation.

“But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.”
~ 1 Corinthians 15:46

On the back of cruel politico-pharma tyranny and medical segregation, social breakdown and imminent economic upheaval, there are signs that refreshing rains are coming and revival is set to break out in the churches.

Sweet Rivers of Revival

As evil increases and the world system fails, people become increasingly desperate for life-giving water and Divine intervention. History teaches us that they turn to God and look to the church.

Great Southland Revival

Responsibility falls heavily on the church at this time, and that is why we must have revival.

Our church meetings may be the last roll of the dice for many burnt-out, disillusioned travellers. It is essential that we are the life-giving oases that they are desperately seeking.

Our church gatherings must be refreshing springs. Our assemblies must be reservoirs of the living water that can transform dying souls into brand-new men and women!

Jesus Christ must be seen and heard in all that we do. He must not be hidden behind fancy trappings or empty religion.

We must have the presence of God in our meetings.

On the last day, that great day of the feast,
Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
~ John 7:37-38

Witnesses to His Power

There are incredible flow-on effects when just one life is mightily touched and transformed by the power of God. There is no greater witness to the life-transforming power of God, than the person who has just experienced it.

Jesus shared living water with a woman He met at a well and she went and brought the rest of the town back to get some!

woman at the well

From that city, many of the Samaritans believed in Him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me all the things that I have done.”
~ John 4:39

Flow Mighty River, Flow

There is a mighty rushing river about to flow in this nation. It will come like a flash flood and it will come out of the church. It is the sweet Spirit of God — the yoke-destroying anointing that terrifies Satan to his core.

Satan remembers being exposed by the anointing when our Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth and defeated him at the Cross. And he remembers his oppressive kingdom being plundered when the early church flowed in that same anointing.

All through church history, the devil has been broadsided when the church is revived and the anointing flows through God’s people in great measure.

There is a River of Life that makes the lame to walk and the blind to see, that opens prison doors, and sets the captives free. And that River is about to flow out of us corporately — in a mighty way — for the healing of the nation.


Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?

I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The beasts of the field shall honour Me, the dragons and the owls:
because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to My people, My chosen.

This people I have formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise.

~ Isaiah 43:19-21


Images: Thiago Silva/Pexels; Patrick Kavanagh/Wikimedia Commons; BLM/Wikimedia Commons; Jim Padgett/Wikimedia Commons; Leo Rivas/Unsplash

Thank the Source

Successful Religious Discrimination Claim in Foster-Carer Case

Just before Christmas, a significant religious discrimination decision was handed down in the Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal. In HORDYK and WANSLEA FAMILY SERVICES INC [2022] WASAT 117 (23 December 2022), the Tribunal held that Mr and Mrs Hordyk had been indirectly discriminated against on the ground of their religious beliefs, when told by Wanslea Family Services that they were not suitable to be appointed as foster carers for children between 0 and 5 years.

Their rejection came after they told Wanslea that as Christians who took the Bible seriously, “in the event that a foster child who had been placed in their care was found kissing a child of the same sex at school, they would tell the child that they were loved but that the behaviour was sinful and needed to be resisted” (from para [4]).

Wanslea then terminated the process for assessment, and marked their application “assessed to not meet competencies”. The Tribunal found that these actions amounted to unlawful discrimination, and ordered payment of a modest award of damages ($3000 each) and removal of the annotation on the file. The decision is an important affirmation of the rights of religious freedom.

The Facts

The Hordyks are evangelical Christians attending the Free Reformed Church of Australia (FRCA). They (and their church generally) are committed to the truth of the Bible, including its teaching that homosexual activity is contrary to God’s will for humanity. They have three young children of their own, and offered to provide short-term foster care for children between birth and 5 years of age, as a service to the community.

Wanslea is a community group contracted to the State government to provide foster carers. Part of their role is to assess applications from those who volunteer for the role. In the assessment process, they became aware of the Hordyks’ views about homosexual activity being sinful. The Tribunal commented:

During the assessment process, the Hordyks revealed, in answer to specific questions asked of them, that they held the view that the Seventh Commandment in the Old Testament of the Bible requires sexual relationships to take place only between a man and woman who are married and that other expressions of human sexuality are sinful. The Hordyks believe that same-sex relationships are sinful and that people who feel same-sex attraction must fight the sin in order to live in conformity with the Commandments.

They informed Wanslea that, as a result of their beliefs, in the event that a foster child who had been placed in their care was found kissing a child of the same sex at school, they would tell the child that they were loved but that the behaviour was sinful and needed to be resisted. The Hordyks said they would have to end the placement of a foster child who continued to behave in that way. They qualified that statement by saying that they would not terminate the placement immediately but could not foster that child in the long term.

Para [4]

These comments led to Wanslea refusing their application and, as noted, marking their file to say that they did not meet the “competencies” needed for foster parents. It was not suggested that there were any other matters of concern — the views about homosexual activity clearly formed the reason for the refusal. It is also worth noting that the Hordyks had specially asked that they only be allocated children up to the age of five (the age of their oldest child.) They conceded that in light of the policies of Wanslea, they would not be suitable foster parents for older children who had clearly formed their views on sexual orientation.

In defending their decision, Wanslea asserted that it could not limit the age of children allocated to foster parents — that for an application to be successful, a couple must be able to meet the relevant competencies for children of all ages. But the Tribunal concluded that in fact, this assertion was false; that there were a number of examples of foster parents being approved who would only be allocated children of a certain age:

We do not accept the evidence given by Wanslea’s witnesses that they approve only foster care applicants who they consider are capable of providing both a physically and emotionally safe environment for children of any age, and for every type of care. That evidence is not borne out of an examination of Wanslea’s List, the Department’s Foster Carer Directory itself and other evidence given by Wanslea’s staff.

Para [128]

Sadly this was not the only example the Tribunal referred to where officers of Wanslea had given evidence that could not be believed. (See, for example, at [50]: “Ms Murray’s evidence was avoidant, defensive and crafted to cast events and decisions in the most favourable light for Wanslea.”)

For example, officers continued to assert that their decision not to approve the application was not based on the Hordyks’ religious beliefs, when it was apparent that in fact, this was the case — see eg [156]. At one stage it was even asserted that Wanslea had “no views” on LBTGQI issues; the Tribunal rejected this claim:

Ms Murray’s evidence that Wanslea had no views on SOGI or LGBTQI+ issues was at odds, with the evidence to which we have referred above, which we find clearly established that Wanslea had a very clear view about the validity of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Para [318]

Legal Issues

Western Australian law has detailed guidelines for decision-making in relation to children at risk, which are reviewed by the Tribunal. It also has legislation, the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA) (“EOA 1984”), section 62 of which forbids discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the basis of (among other things) “religious conviction”:

62 .         Goods, services and facilities 

It is unlawful for a person who, whether for payment or not, provides goods or services, or makes facilities available, to discriminate against another person on the ground of the other person’s religious or political conviction —

(a)         by refusing to provide the other person with those goods or services or to make those facilities available to the other person; or

(b)         in the terms or conditions on which the first-mentioned person provides the other person with those goods or services or makes those facilities available to the other person; or

(c)         in the manner in which the first-mentioned person provides the other person with those goods or services or makes those facilities available to the other person

Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA) s 62

Discrimination is defined in the legislation (section 53) to include both “direct” religious discrimination (where religion is clearly a ground for decision-making), and also “indirect” discrimination (where a condition or requirement is imposed which, on its face, seems not to be based on religion, but which will have a significantly more serious detrimental impact on religious believers than on other members of the community).

The Hordyks alleged that they had been discriminated against on the basis of their religious convictions, when Wanslea refused to provide the service of approving them for appointment as foster parents, or by adding a “term or condition” to the assessment process which required them not to hold their religious views about homosexual activity. This involved the Tribunal needing to decide (1) whether the act of approving applicants as foster parents was the provision of a “service”; (2) whether the denial of approval for the Hordyks was directly or indirectly based on their religious convictions; (3) if this was “indirect” discrimination, whether this decision was “reasonable”. (There were some other issues in the case, which I have not noted here; they were also resolved in favour of the Hordyks.)

(1) Was foster parent approval a “service”?

The Tribunal had to decide this as a preliminary question. The High Court has previously ruled that not every approval provided by a government body is a “service”: see IW v City of Perth [1997] HCA 30; 191 CLR 1.

In this case, however, the Tribunal ruled that Wanslea were providing a “service”. The definition of that term in the EOA 1984, included the following:

(e)         services of the kind provided by a government (other than the assessment of an application for suitability for adoptive parenthood, or the placement of a child for adoption or with a view to the child’s adoption, under the Adoption Act 1994), a government or public authority or a local government body.

EOA 1984, s 4(1), definition of “services”

Approval of foster parents was pretty clearly the sort of service provided by the government (though here it had been “outsourced” to a community agency). In addition, though the Tribunal did not place a lot of weight on this, the explicit exclusion of decisions relating to formal adoptions, seemed to imply that these decisions might, if not excluded, be regarded as “services”; and this was consistent with the view that similar (though not identical) decisions about child placement with foster carers would also be “services”. Perhaps most importantly, a decision of the NSW Supreme Court some years ago, Director General, Department of Community Services v MM [2003] NSWSC 1241 , had reached the conclusion in very similar circumstances that foster parent decisions by a government body were “services” (see the Tribunal’s discussion in the Hordyk case at [209]-[216]).

(2) Was the refusal based on religious convictions?

Had the refusal to appoint the Hordyks been based on their religious views? The Tribunal held that it had been. They gave a brief comment on the nature of “religion” under Australian law (see [246]-[249], citing the key decision of the High Court in Church of the New Faith v Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax (Vic) (1983) 154 CLR 120), although there was no real doubt that the church the Hordyks belonged to was a part of the Christian religion. They also cited an important UK decision, R (Williamson and Ors) v Secretary of State for Education and Employment [2005] UKHL 15 (“Williamson“), where Lord Bingham had made the important points that:

First, the genuineness of a claimant’s professed belief is a question of fact. A claim of a religious conviction must be made in good faith and not be capricious or fictitious. Second, it is not the role of the court to judge the ‘validity’ of an asserted belief against the orthodox teachings of the religion in question or the extent to which it conforms with others who share the religion. Third, religious beliefs are intensely personal and can vary between individuals. Finally, objective factors, such as source material, can be used, at most, to assist in determining whether a professed belief is genuinely held.

Williamson, at [22], as summarised at [251] in Hordyk.

There was an attempt by Wanslea here to argue that, as not all Christian churches took the view that homosexual activity was sinful, then the views held by the Hordyks were not relevantly “religious”. Following the Williamson approach, the Tribunal rejected this. The evidence that was led established that these views were held by the church to which the Hordyks belonged, and were genuinely held by them personally. They concluded at [296]-[297]:

[296] We, therefore, find that the Hordyks’ belief in relation to the sinfulness of homosexuality is a genuinely held religious conviction.
[297] Even if their religious conviction in relation to homosexuality was not in conformity with the teaching of the FRCA… we would find that the Hordyks’ view as to the meaning of the Seventh Commandment is a religious conviction. In doing so, we respectfully adopt the reasoning expressed in Williamson as set out to the effect that the Hordyks do not have to establish that their views conform to orthodox teachings accepted by adherents to the FRCA in order for them to amount to religious convictions

Wanslea tried to mount an argument (which to be frank is hard to follow) that the Hordyks’ views on homosexual activity were not actually based on their religious convictions but on a “rigidity” of thinking. The Tribunal concluded:

[304] As we have noted, an individual’s religious belief need not accord with the orthodox views of their religion or of others who profess to be of the same religion. We conclude that the Hordyks’ foreshadowed response to a school-aged foster child acting on same-sex attraction, as expressed in their answer to the Case Study, was a manifestation of their religious conviction.

[305] Furthermore, we reject Wanslea’s submission for the following additional reasons. First, it was never put to the Hordyks in cross-­examination that their ‘rigidity’ was the result of something other than their religious beliefs. Second, the documentary evidence established that Wanslea’s witnesses accepted that the response the Hordyks gave to the Case Study reflected their religious beliefs. In our view, it was disingenuous of Wanslea to try to cast a different light upon the conduct of its staff by describing the Hordyks’ response as evidence of ‘rigidity’. As we have already found, it was also disingenuous of Wanslea to try to discredit the Hordyks’ reasons for their response by pointing to their pre-marital sexual activities as demonstrating flexibility in their adherence to their religious convictions.

This last point unfortunately should be noted. In the course of the trial, it emerged that the Hordyks’ first child was born before they were married. At [113] the Tribunal notes that they both regarded their sex before marriage as sinful, they had repented, and been accepted into the church. Wanslea seems to have brought this fact out in an attempt to somehow argue that the Hordyks were “flexible” in their views on sexual matters, and hence were not able to teach any foster child about sexual sin:

Wanslea endeavoured to characterise this evidence as demonstrating that Mr and Mrs Hordyk do not adhere to the teachings of the FRCA in all situations and are willing to adapt their practices to suit their circumstances when it suits them. We reject that characterisation of the evidence. On the contrary, we accept Mrs Hordyk’s explanation that she has been taught, and genuinely believes, that all people are inherently sinful and have sinful desires and must fight against sin and that she regards [the pre-]marital sexual relationship she had with her husband as sinful. She believes that she has repented of that sin and ‘learned to move forward in a life that is pleasing to God’.

Para [114]

I regard this litigation tactic as tasteless and inappropriate. But I mention it because it seems to capture a feature of the secular discourse in this area. The idea that one could sin, and come to realise that sin, repent, and receive forgiveness, seeking thereafter to reject that sin, seemed hard for Wanslea to accept. That the Hordyks had previously sinned, does not mean that they cannot now teach their children (and those in their care) to avoid that sin. It is good to see that the Tribunal saw this clearly.

(3) Was the refusal “reasonable”?

An important feature of a claim for “indirect religious discrimination” is that a condition is imposed which is detrimental to believers, and in the circumstances, the imposition of that condition is not “reasonable”. Here the Tribunal found that there was a:

requirement or condition imposed by Wanslea on the Hordyks to the effect that in order for their application to progress to assessment, they would be required to accept that if approved as foster carers, they would affirm all sexual orientations and gender identities of any foster child

Para [319]

After careful examination of expert evidence, the Tribunal accepted that this condition could not be complied with by the Hordyks due to their religious commitments (see [333]), and also that this condition was one that “substantially more people who do not share the same religion as the Hordyks can comply with… than those who do share the Hordyks’ religious conviction” ([377]).

The final element which needed to be addressed was the “reasonableness” of the condition. The Hordyks argued that a less restrictive condition could have been imposed, such as allowing them to foster children up to an age at which the children would realistically be aware of sexual issues. Evidence accepted by the Tribunal from Dr Diana Kenny, formerly Professor of Psychology at Sydney University, an expert on infant and child development, was that:

the proportion of children in the age range 0 – 5 years for whom issues of sexual orientation would arise would be a fraction very close to 0

Para [404]

The Tribunal ruled that

it was not reasonable to assess the Hordyks’ competency to provide care for children from newborn to 18 years of age, and thus to impose the requirement or condition that they be willing to affirm the sexual orientation and identity of all children under 18 years of age.

Para [428]

The Tribunal concluded that as a result there had been unlawful discrimination, in that some accommodation could have been made:

We find that Wanslea could reasonably have accommodated the Hordyks’ religious convictions by assessing their suitability to be foster carers for children under the age of two years, on an emergency, respite or short-term basis

Para [451]


The final orders made were that there had been unlawful religious discrimination, and that a modest award of $3000 each should be made to each of the Hordyks, along with an order that the records be changed to show that their application was withdrawn, rather than being denied due to a lack of competence.

In my view, these are the very least orders that should have been made. At this point, I find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with someone whose comments on religious freedom issues I have always found invaluable. Stephen McAlpine commented on this decision on 26 December, and while I agree with most of what he says, I do not agree with his attack on the damages award as one for “hurt feelings”.

I think this is probably because, as someone who teaches Torts to law students, I regularly come across awards for “non-economic loss”, which are very similar to the sort of award being made here. While the common law does not give a separate “head of damages” for upset or hurt feelings, it does recognise that if a distinct wrong of some sort has been committed (for example bodily injury or serious economic loss), then an award for “non-economic loss” encompassing these other matters is appropriate.

It seems to me arguable that the “distinct wrong” here is the act of discrimination. If no amount of money were awarded, the signal that might be sent is that it does not really matter. It would probably be preferable if the discrimination law allowed a compensation award based on the mere fact of discrimination, but since it does not, then an award recognising the harm to feelings and reputation seems the next best thing.

In discussing this issue, the Tribunal quoted a previous decision of the Western Australian Court of Appeal, Airflite Pty Ltd v Goyal [2003] WASCA 45, where Pullin J said at [44]:

Awards should not be minimal, because this would tend to trivialise or diminish respect for the public policy to which the anti-discrimination legislation gave effect. Compensable loss would include injury to feelings or humiliation.

My own view is that this is a very modest award, and one that at least gives some “bite” to the other orders. It will hopefully be a salutary warning to government agencies that religious convictions really matter, and need to be accommodated in decision-making.


Originally published at Law and Religion Australia. Photo by Kindel Media.

Thank the Source

What My Son’s Soccer Taught Me About the Gender Revolution

The question hit me with fresh force as I read it:

‘What gender is your child?’

I had read and answered similar questions before, at least about my gender. But this question from my son’s local soccer club about his gender gave the following options:

‘Male’, ‘female’, ‘prefer not to say’, or ‘gender fluid’.

Gender fluid. 

For a local soccer club (not to mention Football Australia) to ask whether your child is ‘gender-fluid’ made me realise something: the transgender revolution is not something out there amongst inner-city secular progressives who accept gender ideology. It’s now affecting everyone, including my children. Sure, we haven’t, as a family, signed onto the (trans)gender revolution. But our culture has, and in a big way.

Cultural Change

Just think about it: Five years ago, for a soccer club to ask if your child is gender fluid would have raised parental eyebrows. And ten years ago, such a question would have been unthinkable (most of us then didn’t even have a category for ‘gender fluid’).

But today, most soccer mums and dads shrug their shoulders and move on.

And across our culture, the number of gender non-conforming children has skyrocketed. Writing about the British Tavistock Centre and its Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), author Hannah Barnes writes:

‘Since 2007 [GIDS] had grown from a small team that saw 50 young people each year to a nationally commissioned service treating thousands.’

And just as disturbingly, the people presenting at the clinic had changed:

‘Whereas most of the literature on gender non-conforming children was about boys who had a life-long sense of gender incongruence, GIDS’s waiting room was overpopulated with teenage girls whose distress around their gender had only started in adolescence.’

It’s the cultural sea we’re swimming in.

While these changes raise urgent questions — such as why the sudden increase in gender non-conforming adolescent girls? and how we care well for gender non-conforming people (especially children)?, my question is more basic:

How did such a moral revolution happen so quickly? 

It’s made me think of the various steps of moral revolutions outlined by English writer and thinker Theo Hobson. In his view, for a full moral reversal — a moral revolution — to take place, three conditions much be met:

1) What Was Condemned Must Be Celebrated

Until around 20 years ago, the Biblical (and historical) view of marriage as between one man and one woman was widely celebrated.

Heterosexuality was the norm, and there were only two genders (aligned with our sex). Anything outside that was seen as being outside the norm.

But today, homosexuality and gender fluidity aren’t merely tolerated as equal views: they are actively celebrated and promoted — even to schoolchildren. From Wear It Purple days to the mass marketing of Pride Week, all LGBTIQ identities are honoured and held up as good, true and beautiful.

2) What Was Celebrated Must Now Be Condemned

The Biblical understanding of marriage and gender is now condemned as oppressive and harmful.

Teaching these values to children is increasingly considered suspect, as the recent Australian Law Reform Commission Report argues. If you haven’t heard, the Federal Government tasked the Australian Law Reform Commission Report to report on religious schools and how to handle religious freedom. Its recent report argues for removing religious freedom protection for religious schools.

As Neil Foster, an Associate Professor of Law and expert on religious freedom, points out:

‘[The Report] effectively recommends the removal of protections enjoyed by religious educational institutions which have been designed to safeguard the ability of these organisations to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs. The “fences” protecting these bodies from being forced to conform to majority views on sexual behaviour and identity (and hence losing their distinctiveness as religious bodies) are to be knocked down, the ALRC says.’

 If the ALRC had its way, religious schools will no longer be allowed to be… religious. At least not when sexuality and gender are concerned.

What was celebrated must now be condemned — culturally and, increasingly, legally.

3) Those Who Will Not Join in Celebrating the Moral Revolution Must Be Condemned

The transgender moral revolution doesn’t believe in ‘live and let live’ disagreement.

You must be condemned if you have the audacity to raise some basic questions about the moral revolution. Just ask J.K. Rowling.

She was cancelled for raising the concern a few years ago that ‘trans-women’ (i.e. biological males identifying as women) are different from biological women.

But it’s not just celebrities and public figures that face cancellation if they speak up. Any parent who dares raise questions about why their daughter has to play against biological boys in a girls-only soccer competition will not be popular with the likes of The ABC or The Age.

Any religious leader who promotes Biblical sexuality is at risk of attack.

And if you’re an employee who doesn’t wear purple on said days, the questions from colleagues and HR will soon come, if they’re not already coming.

What Might Be Next?

While it’s impossible to know what’s next in the moral revolution, there are signs that it has overreached, at least regarding gender ideology. Like all revolutions that try and overturn God’s good creation order (communism, anyone?), reality has a way of pushing back and making itself known.

Many medical practitioners are raising questions about the ethics of carte blanche gender-affirming care. Regarding gender ideology, ‘de-transitioners’ — those that have transitioned but now regret it, are making their voices known. Some sporting bodies are pushing back against rules that allow biological males to compete against females. And even the secular-left newspapers like The New York Times have run articles questioning gender-affirming therapies of trans kids (earning the ire of LGBTIQ activists, in line with point #3, above).

Those are encouraging signs. But, on the other hand, perhaps this revolution has a long way to go before it burns itself out.


Originally published at Photo by Dominika Roseclay.

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