christians and the human rights bill – part 3

part 3 of 4

Plaatje Christopher - Human RightsThe Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill (2012) is in draft from and currently before a Senate Inquiry.

The protections for religious organisations are largely unchanged. One exception which is causing concern is that the bill will:

Ensure that no provider of aged care services with Commonwealth funding can discriminate.  This includes religious organisations (although such providers can continue to preference people of their faith).

the consequences of being yoked

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Ah yes, the ‘don’t date non-Christians’ passage. I worry that with this one we’ve been so concerned not to date non-Christians that we haven’t thought hard about the wisdom in this passage.

When we receive public money, we’re no longer working for Christ alone but also for the state. We become indebted to the government. We’re yoked. The government, as the employer or contractor has the right to set the agenda.

Perhaps, for some services, our values and objectives are so similar to those of the government that Christian organisations can work under them. After all, many Christians do work for the government in their normal employment – public servants, teachers, nurses – and honour God with their work.

Yet I think we need to consider the implications for Christian organisations to be dependent on public money for their operation. Governments demand KPIs and love to measure things (employment outcomes, hospital beds, efficiencies) which, for Christians, are often secondary, rather than primary concerns. Yet organisations dependent on government need to compromise their priorities work to achieve these government benchmarks. Governments are uneasy about evangelism and prayer (school chaplains anyone?), whereas for many Christians these are essential activities for someone in a public Christian position. It means our hands are tied. Not to mention the public perception that Christians get a free ride on public money.

In many areas, I believe it is not in our interests to opportunistically accept cash from the government. Our values are different. We serve Jesus.

Perhaps you think I’m wrong. Perhaps you think it would be better for us to use government money while we can for the Kingdom. What I’m proposing would need  some radical generosity from Christians. Do you think that’s possible?

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