Like millions of others, I was deeply disturbed by the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on 25 May. Not only America but Britain and Australia have erupted in mass mayhem, led by the Black Lives Matter movement founded in 2013.
 

Floyd was 1.93 m tall and weighed 100 kg. His friends called him a “gentle giant”. He was a keen basketballer and rapper, using the stage name “Big Floyd”.  After a stint in jail for armed robbery and home invasion his life changed – he became involved in the Christian ministry Resurrection Houston.  He was known for decades as a mentor to a generation of young men and a “person of peace” – but things seemed to have gone wrong during the COVID pandemic. His autopsy showed the presence of drugs.

Floyd’s death follows another tragic death at the hands of Minneapolis police. The Australian-born woman Justine Damond was fatally shot on 15 July 2017 by a Somali-American police officer. She had phoned the police to report the possible assault on a woman in an alley behind her house.
 

Why did the killing of a black man by a white cop provoke protests and riots, when the killing of a white woman by a black cop didn’t?  The answer, of course, is the widespread belief that blacks are unfairly targeted by police due to racial hatred.  But what are the facts?

US homicide records show that, in the general population, there are more murders of whites by blacks than the reverse.  In 2016, for example, over twice as many whites (533) were killed by blacks as blacks (243) killed by whites.  

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found no racial differences in the use of lethal force by US police. It said: “On the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.”

However, there are big differences in crime rates between the white and black US subcultures.  In 2016, African-Americans became murder victims at the rate of 71 per million, compared with 15 whites per million. That is, blacks were 4.7 times as likely to be killed as whites. But most of these killings occur within the racial groups. Whites were killed by other whites in 82% of cases and blacks were killed by blacks in 90% of cases.

The Black Lives Matter campaign is motivated by a common myth, that police unfairly target blacks. But the situation is far more complex. 

US attorney and radio host Larry Elder believes the underlying cause of much crime is fatherlessness.  A large proportion of African-Americans are raised in fatherless homes. Lacking male role models who are strong yet caring and protective, boys often turn to crime gang leaders to provide their missing father figures.

These days, those who promote stable marriage and families are mocked in the media, or worse. But out of love for our neighbours, we in FamilyVoice intend to keep on doing it.
 
Peter Downie - National Director

floyd protest photo

“You must not blaspheme God or curse a ruler of your people.” Exodus 22:28

​As violent protests and hatred for police spillover from the USA to the Western world, many hidden agitators are seeking to violently overthrow governments.

They claim that destruction of property, and many lives taken, are necessary to awaken the world to ‘systemic racism’ that supposedly disregards that “blacks lives matter”.

It appears that several officers have been charged in connection to George Floyd’s alleged murder in police custody. Since his death, over 4000 Americans have been arrested, hundreds are injured and dozens killed or murdered.

Peaceful protests in Australia openly flouted COVID-19 fines that shut down businesses and churches, citing deaths in custody.

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, indigenous people represent 28% of 43,000 prisoners, and yet 18.5% of the 1829 deaths in custody (from 1979-2018) were indigenous people, which indicates that police are more watchful of indigenous prisoners.

Few Americans are reflecting on the consequences of 60% of African-American children growing up without a father. This cultural shift to majority fatherless homes starting in the 1960s led to generational disadvantage, according to African-American talk radio host Larry Elder.

It is ironic that socialist agitators want to tear apart the Christian-founded structures of the very countries that millions of ethnically-diverse immigrants have flocked to, searching for a life free from corruption and conflict.

Celebrities and the Western press, including ABC Australia, have encouraged donations to ‘The Bail Project’ that bails out violent protestors, and have published uncritical ‘analysis’ of violent rhetoric from terrorist group ANTIFA.

Sadly, those behind these riots seek to sweep aside the Western world’s Christian-based self-sacrificial love, generosity, honesty, and impartiality — only to replace it with a fictional utopian society based on non-Christian principles.

​What makes us human and enables us to live at peace is how much we reflect the nature of our Heavenly Father who made us.

God showers love and blessing on our world and has paid for the reconciliation of all people to Himself through Jesus. He offers His life and forgiveness as a free gift to all, including evil kings.

Our striving as Christians is to reveal “God’s image” by the Holy Spirit — His nature to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who cure you, pray for those who mistreat you”. In doing so, we are being “sons of your Father in heaven” (see Matthew 5).

Regardless of the moral fibre of the Queen, the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, the President, state governors or premiers, God’s word asks us to present prayer and thanks on behalf of kings and all in authority (1 Timothy 2:2).

As Australia approaches the Queen’s birthday on June 8, it is perhaps timely to thank God for the Christian Christmas proclamations that Queen Elizabeth has made to Commonwealth nations.

In regard to your parents, your teachers, your boss, and your Prime Minister, God asks us to respect and honour their God-delegated authority.

“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the king​” and we should “commend those who do right “ (see 1 Peter 2 & Romans 13).

In democratic societies, God asks us to respect our leaders, while keeping them accountable through constructive rebuke.

Let us take up Paul’s challenge to Timothy to “pray on behalf of all people”, including all political leaders “since God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Let us work tirelessly to strengthen our institutions through prayer and action, to punish evildoers and praise those who do right.

We must not forget that the Enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy and remake society in his image.

 
Pavlou
 
I recently wrote about Queensland University student Drew Pavlou.  He was in deep trouble, facing expulsion from the university for speaking out against what is happening in China. 
 
Last year, Drew Pavlou and 15 of his fellow students organised a pro-Hong Kong democracy protest, calling for an end to Queensland University’s close ties with the Chinese government. Twenty percent of the university’s students are from China, and the university relies on the high fees they pay.

Drew Pavlou’s protest was peaceful, but he was attacked by several big men in dark glasses – punched in the mouth and knocked to the ground. He also received hundreds of death threats. Yet Brisbane’s Chinese Consul-General issued a statement praising the Chinese thugs’ “patriotic fervour”. 
 
Disturbingly, Queensland University does not seem to have taken action against those who attacked Pavlou. Rather, it charged him with 11 offences – many of them trivial – and ordered him to attend a disciplinary hearing on 20 May. 
 
The result was announced last Friday. Drew has been suspended from the university for two years. 
 
He had been a top student and was due to graduate with a BA at the end of this year. His suspension has put an end to that – all because he spoke out in favour of democracy in a university that is supposed to promote freedom of speech.
 
That fundamental freedom is probably more at risk in Australia today than ever before. Last year, Rugby Australia sacked Israel Folau for quoting Bible teaching in an Instagram post. While he was able to settle out of court with the help of a top lawyer, he did not get his job back.

Last year Dr Peter Ridd, a physics professor at Townsville’s James Cook University, publicly questioned the quality of Great Barrier Reef research by some of his colleagues. Instead of checking whether Ridd’s claim was correct, the university sacked him.
 
A Federal Court judge found that Dr Ridd had been unfairly dismissed and awarded compensation – but the university is currently appealing that decision. His future, and freedom of speech in Australian universities, hangs in the balance.

Israel Folau has a strong Christian faith. I do not know whether that is true for Drew Pavlou or Dr Ridd, but all three are made in the image of God. Like the rest of us, they should be able to speak their views as long as they do not defame or threaten violence – whether or not we agree with them.

Not only is the right to speak about politics or science at stake, so is the freedom to share the gospel.
 
Peter Downie - National Director, FamilyVoice Australia

Rev Ade Omooba MBE one of the claimants in the letter 4

Prominent UK churches have demanded that the government urgently revise lockdown laws that discriminate against churches.

The letter of demand sent to the government argues that the restrictions against churches are unlawful and unnecessary, and discriminate against them in the official ‘exit-strategy’.

The church leaders warn that they will pursue legal action if the government fails to prioritise religious freedom.

The letter states that “churches have been given the most unfavourable treatment possible.”

“Churches have been placed in the bottom category of the most dangerous and least important services, subjected to severest restrictions for the longest period of time.

“Those restrictions are imposed by means of formal legislation with a criminal sanction; unlike many other organisations and individuals, churches are not trusted to follow advice.”

The letter argues that the government’s forced closure of all churches is disproportionate, interfering with Article 9 of the European Declaration of Human Rights (freedom of belief and religion).

According to the eleven high profile church leaders, the government should recognise the importance of churches and church ministries to society and allow churches to open up earlier than at the very last stage of the easing of restrictions.

Pastor Ade Omooba MBE, one of the claimants in the letter, said: “It cannot be right that at present it is lawful to go to a bike shop, B&Q, visit a chiropractor or dry cleaner, and not be allowed to receive Holy Communion or engage in silent prayer in a church. Churches have traditionally been at the centre of the communities, able to offer counsel, prayer and comfort at times of national crisis. They are at the heart of our communities helping to combat mental health problems, addictions, risk of suicide, domestic violence, poverty and risk.

“Churches deliver an essential service to the community. The government should not be putting churches as the lowest priority services for re-opening from the lockdown. We look forward to the response from the government to this letter and hope that we can engage with the government to see church ministry prioritised as we start to exit the lockdown.”

The UK letter signatories, many of whom lead churches in some of the most deprived communities in the UK, include:

  • Rev Ade Omooba MBE and Dr David Muir, Co-Chairs of the National Church Leaders Forum, A Black Christian Voice;
  • David Hathaway, President, Eurovision Mission to Europe;
  • Revd Dr Brad Norman, Salvation For The Nations Intl. Churches
  • Chris Demetriou, Senior Pastor, Cornerstone
  • Bishop Lovel Bent, Presiding Bishop, Connections Trust
  • Pastor Sunday Okenwa, Regional Overseer, Deeper Christian Life Ministry
  • Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, President, Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue
  • Canon Yaqub Masih MBE, Secretary General, UK Asian Christians; Secretary General &
    Founder, New Horizons
  • Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Senior Pastor, Kingsway International Christian Centre
  • Bishop Alfred Williams, Presiding Bishop, Christ Faith Tabernacle International Churches
  • Dennis Greenidge, Senior Pastor, Worldwide Mission Fellowship.

In the USA, the Alliance Defending Freedom has launched actions in a number of states against measures targeting churches.

“Singling out churches for special punishment while allowing others to have greater freedom isn’t just illogical, it’s clearly unconstitutional,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker.

black wooden church budakirkja PK352CR 2

A legal group has filed a lawsuit against the Governor of Washington over his COVID-19 order which penalises meetings of churches but allows marijuana and alcohol shops to operate.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Washington-based Christ’s Church of Mt Spokane, says the church does not have the staff or money to live-stream services.

The ADF is seeking an immediate halt to enforcement of the order which labels churches as “COVID-19 ‘superspreader’ events” and restricts church gatherings to fifty persons or a quarter of church capacity, whichever is less. Under the Governor’s plan restaurants can open at 50% capacity but churches are restricted to 25% or fifty persons, whichever is less.

“While responding to crises can be difficult, this case doesn’t need to be,” said ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner.

“The same Washingtonians who can be trusted to comply with social-distancing and other health guidelines in secular settings can also be trusted in religious settings.

“The Constitution simply doesn’t permit Gov. Inslee to assume the worst when people meet to worship but assume the best when those same people go to work, do some shopping, eat at a restaurant, or go about the rest of their daily lives.”

The church plans to adopt strict health and safety protocols, including encouraging the wearing of masks, spacing, and the use of hand sanitizer.

“Singling out churches for special punishment while allowing others to have greater freedom isn’t just illogical, it’s clearly unconstitutional,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker.

“Gov. Inslee has called cannabis retailers and breweries essential but prohibits pastors from ministering in-person to their congregations—a strategy that poses obvious constitutional problems. We support government leaders’ efforts to prioritize the public’s health and safety, but people of faith should be free to assemble if other groups are free to assemble.”