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Monday, September 20, 2004

How to Vote - For God!

Pastor Brian Houston from the Assemblies of God church is one of the many crackpots trying to play down claims that the "Church" is trying to persuade members to vote Family First.

"But as far as I am aware there is no instruction on how Assemblies of God is to vote," Pastor Houston said.

Well one bit of Google later and we have this gentle nudge from the Queensland branch of AOG:

By now you would be aware that Pastor John Lewis will be standing for the Senate at the next Federal election. Furthermore, a number of good Christian people have nominated for Lower House seats. I spoke last week with Brigadier Jim Wallace (from the Australian Christian Lobby) concerning a number of issues and proposed laws currently being prepared for presentation in our Federal Parliament. As ministers of the Gospel, we must have a genuine sense of responsibility as we watch our social fabric deteriorate. We all need to handle political issues wisely, and though we have no right to tell our people how to vote, I urge you to:
1. Call your people to pray leading up to this next election.
2. Be aware of what each candidate stands for. Where necessary, meet with them prior to the election.
3. Encourage your people to vote for men and women who will stand for righteous values – not just play some party line.

So in essence:
1. By the way one of our Pastors is standing for the Senate as an FF candidate
2. We will not mention any other politcal party before we:
a) Point out that while we don't tell you how to vote
b) We will suggest you vote for someone you can meet (at a recital perhaps?)
c) Discourage you from voting for a major party, and tell you to vote for a Chistian.

mmm...I know, I'll vote Family First!

This sort of ministering is commonplace in most churches, and has gone on for years. It is much less forefull than the sort of politicing you'll find in unions and some other "non-political" organisations.

The quote you've got does not say "vote for Family First" at all - there are a number of other Christian minor parties, plus active Christians in the major parties that direct party moral policy rather than follow it.
This sort of ministering may have gone on for years, but that does not excuse it. As for unions telling people how do vote, well they don't imply that it is a religious obligation, or at its worst level a sin, to obey or disobey them.

The quote I have used does not explicitly say "Vote Family First", but you have got to be kidding, or very naive, if you think it doesn't imply it very very strongly.
Just cut out the middle man and vote for Howard, the preferences will flow there anyway...
I thought that sectarian politics was a thing of the 50's. Here we go again.Just like the U.S- exporting not Mickey Mouse and Coke(cola), its Bushs' evangelist "born again" crap. The 50's if people lived through them, were not about the "commies" under the bed. It was SEX etc waking up and nobody wanted to recognise the fact. Purity reigned in the form of every form of censorship while the real evils that beset society remained unchecked in all its cloak of piousness. Family Last, I say- to all such ilk!
The emergence of the Family First party, which repeatedly denies that it's a Christian party is interesting considering its birth inside the most aggressively proselytizing denomination in Australia.

I understand that it is a political reality that minor parties often stand candidates in lower house seats with little chance of success. Often it's a matter of principle. Sometimes it might be to tip someone else over the line. The degree to which this is occurring in F.F has reached plague proportions. In my opinion it represents a parody of the electoral process, and is cynically ignoring the need for candidates to live or come from a certain area to have any legitimacy.

I will confine my example to NSW, but I predict that this pattern is being matched around Australia.

Family First is standing 23 candidates for lower house seats in NSW. Eleven of those candidates come from one Church alone. "Hawkesbury Church" (formerly the "Hawkesbury Christian Centre") is an "Assemblies of God" church based in Windsor and is lead by Pastor Ian Woods. Ian is the NSW President of the Assemblies of God and is also on the National Executive of that movement. Joan Woods is his wife and co-senior minister at the Church and is the NSW lead senate candidate. Ivan Herald, who is billed #2 on the senate ticket calls himself a "marriage counsellor" is in fact also an AOG pastor like Joan Woods.

Of these eleven lower house candidates, only one lives in the electorate he is standing for. Of the remainder, they are all purely token, living in the Hawkesbury, many kilometers from the electorates they are standing in. Five are on the paid staff of the Church and another two are not only on staff but are members of Joan Woods' immediate family. All are Pastors. The others are members of the church. None have ever had political inclinations before or have ever stood for public office locally. Most assuredly, none of them are standing because of an affinity for the electorates in question or the concerns of the people living in those places.

Of interest, some of these seats may be being targeted for their sensitivity as marginals. Greenway, for example has a Liberal candidate (Louise Markus) who is also a prominent member of an Assemblies of God Church. The presence of a "Family First" candidate, clothed in a secular vocabulary really ought to declare he is an AOG Pastor before asking his voters to cast preferences to the Liberals. If FF are polling 4% then that's definitely the margin between success and defeat in all those seats.

Similarly, voters in Calare deserve to know that their F.F candidate comes from Sydney and may just be there because the seat is held by an independent, Peter Andren who took it from the Libs. F.F candidates are also standing in marginals such as Lindsay and Parramatta- held by the Liberal party by wafer thin margins.

The most cogent question is "if there is already a well known Christian 'brand name' in politics in the shape of the Christian Democrats, why Family First?"
First lets see where the answer *isn't*. If the purpose of F.F is to create a "benign" Christian brand name, it would require a willful avoidance of the fact that the Christian Democrats have already moved a long way down that road. Plenty of us remember when the CDP was called the "Festival of Light", a loony name if ever there was one. Fred Nile's pronouncements on moral issues are well known, but perhaps became secondary to his reputation as a hard working, detail-minded Parliamentarian over two decades in the NSW parliament. The CDP name is quite saleable, sharing the name of a party that held power in Germany for many years (although, admittedly, sharing little by way of connection).

No, my educated opinion is that Family First is an attempt to ensure that the religious conservative vote, which is already extremely powerful in the United States, once it organises and flourishes in Australia, is firmly under the control of the Assemblies of God (or the slightly wider umbrella it also goes by, the "Australian Christian Churches"). The CDP has long relied on support from AOG Churches, but was most certainly never under the sway of its leaders (people like prominent minister Brian Houston of Hillsong). Family First is an attempted end-run to create a brand that has a broad enough appeal to (maybe) appeal to voters who are not thinking of their religious faith first and foremost when in the polling booth (perhaps the kind of people who send their children to non-government Christian Schools for the quality of moral teaching but who are themselves not churchgoers), but which is simultaneously familiar enough to the Church crowd (via a lot of nudge-nudge, wink-wink behind the "We're not a Christian party" quotes) to stitch them up as well.

Make no mistake, despite assurances of having an ecumenical board, Family First is overwhelmingly a branch of one specific, and rather autocratic Church movement, the Assemblies of God. Their policies were not drafted by party branches, but by Pastors. Any attempt at debate about the merits of those policies are likely to be rebuffed by claims of a lack of respect for the spiritual authority of our Church leaders. Certainly no way to run a Government.
Now that is what you call a comment on a blog. Thanks!
The more people that know about Family First, the better. They might look like a cute and benign freckle on a child's innocent face, but they are actually a malignant cancer on the face of democracy.
Masquerade parties - the trickery of branding political parties
[blatant self promotion acknowledged]
OK all you "knockers". So far theres been nothing but shallow unintelligent knocking of the Family First Party. How many of you have actually DONE something (other than mouth off or demonstrate) about what you believe would offer real solutions to some of our social problems? How many of you have counselled people, cared for people, given of your own time and or money to help someone in need, set up drug rehab programs, prostitution rehab programs, family break-up help, or any other benevolant function which actually really helps someone? I notice nobody has actually found grounds to knock the vision and goals of the Family First Party. How about an intelligent discussion on topics which will have a real (positive) impact on Australia's social health?
keep religion out of politics...there is no place for it be it christian jew islam....politics is for running the country for everyone regardless of religion...let people practice their own religious beliefs at home...not into gay marriage then dont do it, not into abortion hey have as many kids as you want but dont dare try and stop other people from making their own choice.....church and state - never together.
If you look at the rest of this and other blogs, you will see plenty of discussions from diverse points of view on social health. But this topic is purely to "knock" churches are abusing their power over people by telling them to vote a particular way.
Family First goes all fire and brimstone on Crikey

Family First has sent through the following response to an item in the morning sealed section:

"I wish to place on record my regret at the provision of a link, posted on your site, that assists in the circulation of certain defamatory statements.

The author of these statements, was previously employed by the Australian Assemblies of God national office around 10 years ago whilst I was Chairman of the National Executive

After his employment with the Assemblies of God finished, he published defamatory statements about a number of Members of the Executive including myself.

He was requested to stop circulating those statements but he refused and we were left with no alternative but to take legal action.

Those defamed then sued him and sought an injunction preventing distribution of the defamatory statements. The injunction was granted.

I wish to express my disappointment at the hurtful and defamatory tactics of those involved in this matter. It is a low point for democracy and civilised political discourse."

Dr Matt Burnet
Federal Secretary
Family First Party
I have been involved in various Churches in NSW and QLD for 20 years and have NEVER heard a particular church tell it's congegation how to vote. I have, however heard plenty of churches advise it's congregations of sometimes deviate and "quiet unpublicized" policies of various parties, simply to inform them of what is going on behind the scenes. I cannot see a problem with that as long as the information given is factual, which in my experiences it always has been. Family First has made repeated public statements that it is not out to "Christianize" the nation, and that it will stand in parliament to represent the Australian family, regardless of religion or race.
Then there's the other Dorhauer, John, who is listed with the commission as 'pastor' and whose contact number is also the Hawkesbury church.

In fact, 11 or 12 of the candidates running under the Family First banner in NSW are connected to the Hawkesbury Church, according to church sources, substantially corroborated through Joan Woods (after confirming 10, she refused to continue to speak about the relgious affiliations of others). And almost all the rest of the 24 candidates the suddenly-powerful party is putting up in NSW also are members of the Assemblies of God.

Mrs Woods concedes that almost all the Family First candidates are AOG adherents. She concedes many of them have only been in politics for a few weeks and many don't even live in the seats they are standing for.

I'm a Christian but I am against confessional parties. My take on this party here http://dogfightatbankstown.typepad.com/blog/2004/09/south_australia.html. And the more I have been looking and ferretting out, the worse it gets. I'm putting them last.

P.S. Expect the cry of 'defamation' very often from the FF cronies. It seems common place within pentecostal churches, in the form of 'touch not the Lord's anointed.'
I'm a Christian but I am against confessional parties. My take on this party here http://dogfightatbankstown.typepad.com/blog/2004/09/south_australia.html. And the more I have been looking and ferretting out, the worse it gets. I'm putting them last.

P.S. Expect the cry of 'defamation' very often from the FF cronies. It seems common place within pentecostal churches, in the form of 'touch not the Lord's anointed.'
It is interesting to note that the AoG in the USA seems to be against churches setting up political parties. At http://ag.org/top/beliefs/contemporary_issues/issues_09_government.cfm they say, inter alia, "...when the church has become involved in partisan politics, the outcome has been disastrous for both the kingdom of God and the system of government it promoted or attacked."
People seem to assume that congregations are sheep who will vote for whoever they are told by the leadership. I am a Christian and also an independent thinker and not a conservative voter. I, like most Christians, take Christian material, especially church newsletters with a pinch of salt. Having said that I do understand Christians' desire to motivate their vote and raise their voice in a world were Islam is actively campaigning for its own ends. We all have voices to be heard, these Christians are raising theirs in very peaceful and generally inoffensive way, give them a chance to say what they need to say you don’t have to agree. Despite what you say a good chunk of legislation has moral implications and governs such thing as sexual behaviour, marriage and the family unit, it always has. (eg carnal knowledge legislation). This is not only true accross History but every culture. This is not always a bad thing, but where this regulation should stop and finnish is a matter of debate. Let the debate rage on, but demeaning legitimate voices in the debate is wrong either way. Yes, we are sheep with a shepherd but our shepherd is Jesus, not some zealot who edits church newsletters, we do posses some active grey matter.
It is not suprising that Pastor Brian will not say that AoG is push FF, As you may know the Liberal candidate for Greenway is a paid "community worker" for the Hillsong Church at Norwest. Pastor Brian
is National President of the Assemblies of God in Australia".

Even when the AOG site (http://www.aogaustralia.com.au/) is functioning it is actually quite hard to figure out what the AOG in Australia actually teaches.

However, judging by the books and DVDs on sale at Hillsong (around $25 to $40 a pop) Pastor Brian's
theology is primarily devoted to ensuring that no one pays too much attention to any bible teaching that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a
needle than it is for a rich man to enter the gates the gates of heaven. It's sort of like a pop version
of Calvin's idea that the rich are God's elect. Otherwise you have to assume that they follow broadly speaking the AOG USA beliefs as AOG Australia is affiliated with them.

The World Christian Database (http://www.worldchristiandatabase.org) gives the AOG membership as 200 000 (but round figure memberships are as dodgy as rugby league attendances in Melbourne). This figure should be compared with 3,045,802 "non-religionists", athiests at 347,017 and Buddhists at 424,839.

Among the Assembly of God's teachings:
- Homosexuality is evil and causes disease;
- Christians should not make friends with non-Christians;
- people should avoid all "sexually suggestive forms of media and entertainment";
- speaking in tongues is a necessary component of salvation; Jesus isn't just coming, he's coming to
take over the world; mixed-gender dancing leads to evil and should be avoided; and
- government and laws should be predicated on the teachings of the Christian bible.
Neat. That's the first solid evidence I've seen for people being told how to vote from the AoG pulpit. Thankyou for sharing.
omgoodness to the anon poster 2 post above me

"dont make friends with non christians" WHERE did you pull that one out of... cleary your @$$."

i know some AGOians (im not "one" myself) and they have non christian friends. ive been to a few services; they dont expound any "non christian" friends teaching (?)

either way, good posts before, i agree with the majority of things said
Thanks for visiting my blog Flute. I just thought you were drawing a fairly long bow in some conclusions about 'what they said means this'. I didn't say I disagreed entirely... It's just a long bow :)

My friend I blogged about actually asked me if I could spare a few hours on election day, I think it was to stand near a polling station and accost passers-by, as all those people tend to do. I was thinking about doing it, but have happily returned to my position of flat refusal to subscribe to any one specific party.
Hi All,
The following is from an article in the Sunshine Coast Daily 26 Sept. 2004 (very pro conservative Newspaper) and don't post all their articles ,Maroochydore Qld (seat of Fisher) current sitting Liberal MP the infamous Peter Slipper.

Headline: "Parishioner upset at mix of politics and religion"

Article:Get politics out of my church. That was the call by a disgruntled Nambour parishioner yesterday after a campaigner for a political party interrupted a pentecostal church service to appeal for financial donations and volunteers.

The parishioner, who declined to be named, said he was angered when a volunteer for the fledgling FAmily First party was allowed to make a 15 minute political advertisement mid way through a recent Nambour Assembly of God service.

It then goes on to explain that it the party was formed in Sth Aust. 3 years ago and has close ties with the Assemblies of God church- Its founder was a member of the church and six of the party's seven board executive members are also Assembly parishioners.

Further to the article: But the man, a regular at the church for 20 years, said the mix of politics and religion was an insult.

"She got up waffled on about how this guy in Adelaide got into the Senate and then asked for money" the man said.

"I think it is wrong. I don't believe politics and religion should be mixed. " I think they're using the church."

The woman who made the appeal, a parishioner who also declined to be named, defended her action and the party's link with the church.

"Churches should be involved in politics." she said.

One of the Sunshine Coast candidates, Ron Hill, admitted the party was doing everything it could to get its message out, including speaking to church congregations.

Mr Hill, who is contesting Fisher, said he had spoken at a number of church services in Caloundra, Buderim, and Maroochydore.

He added his party would not have to resort to such measures if "the media acknowledged there were more than two parties".(they only acknowledge one the Liberal Party)

"Candidates will go anywhere they can to get in front of people and speak about their cause," he said.
Well, Well, what hypocrits this party is "Family Value eh!!" the Family First party is giving it's preferences to Peter Slipper!!
my God, this is the man who was reported in the Newspapers when he got a bit tired and emotional on a Qantas flight argued with the crew and they refused to let him back on the plane, somewhere up north and he had to charter a flight back. This same man locked himself in the HANDICAPPED persons toilet (he is NOT handicapped) in parliament house -had to call security on his mobile to come and let him out -he was also discovered in the toilet by the ALP shadow minister for Veteran's Affairs (who IS handicapped) it was reported that Mr Slipper tried to open the door by pushing and pulling the door, could not work out that it was a sliding door -tired and emotional again apparently.
You see, the bottom line is, their greed for power takes second place to their Christian Family Values!!!!!
Great news, the church is rising out of the pulpits and doing something that will benefit this nation.

Long live the families of the future.
Which is why the FFP are being so open:

ANDREA MASON: Well, obviously, people will have their view, but I think our record in the South Australian Parliament is what needs to be considered and we've gone out not as a Christian party. We are saying we're not a Christian party, but we've gone out on a platform to say that we're a party for families and we're doing that in South Australia and we'll continue to do that if elected into the Federal Parliament.

More like "duck under the pulpit" if you ask me.
I notice that many people on this list are suggesting that religion and politics don't mix, but I haven't heard anyone suggesting that Imran Khan should keep out of politics.
Khan (while obviously not being an Aussie politician) is passionate about his Islamic faith, which happens to be just as (if not more) evangelical than any of the AOG churches which have produced Family First candidates.

Further, no-one has asked any of the other candidates if they are religious, or if they intend to push for legalisation of things which they personally engage in, such as drugs or homosexuality (like the Greens and the Democrats).

Perhaps everyone should stop posturing and admit that they are scared to realise the religious minority isn't so minor as they thought, but have the potential to make a difference in our nation. Personally, I'm rapt! Finally, I can vote for someone with morals, credibility and integrity! Waa hoo!!
Hey, I am only to willing to admit to being scared screamingly shitless of these schizotypals. I would not describe them as religious as that is a complete insult to your average person of any faith. Vote for someone with "morals, credibility and integrity"? I hope you live in Parramatta, because your preference will go straight to that other man with morals, credibility an integrity, Ross Cameron.
How sad it is to see so many people make uninformed comments and post it as 'Anonymous.' I am a member of the Family First Party and whilst I don't live in the seat of Greenway where I am standing as a candidate, I do have my work there. Yes I am a Pastor and this is posted on www.familyfirst.org.au web site. I have no reason to hide this, in fact I pastor a church in the suburb of Riverstone for the AOG. The reason I am standing is that for the past eight years I have been working with drug and alcohol affected people who have experienced family breakdowns through unhealthy and broken marriages mainly caused by poor family values. I know first hand the terrible damage caused to young people by marriage failures and abuse. For me I just want to make a difference and help people. Is it so wrong to try to protect family values through the political system just because I am a Christian? Yes I love God. Yes I am a Christian and yes I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ is real and that the Bible has answers even in today's society. This is a great country and our we have freedom to speak out. But isn't there an obligation on us to post facts, not vindictive and uninformed comments? A 'fair go' is our national character. Some comments in this forum have unfairly attacked good men and women and hidden behind 'anonymous.'
Posted by: John Dorhauer
And in the spirit of free speech and a fair go, I think that the AOG are as barmy as cack. I have had more hate mail from "Christian" maniacs than from anyone else. What are these "family values" that you lot go on about? Whose family? I have a very happy and caring atheist family and they are bloody wonderful, so what the jumping jehozaphat are you lot on about? You seek to make people in your own image, restrict people's choice, and prey on the week and vulnerable.
Here's my exhaustive take on all matters Family First. Please read

To politics is just a form of religion. People who belong to the particular party have a belief in an idiology. So what's the diff.

I don't believe that all the poor misguided Liberal voters will burn in hell for eternity. That's a big difference mate.
Isn't it funny how bitter people seem to enjoy sharing their bitterness with others.

I found no discussion of the policies of FF on this site. Maybe that is a bit too much thinking for many of those "intellectually challenged" people who believe that FF is really out to win government. Quite clearly they want to send a message to Canberra that the silent majority will be quite no longer when it comes to how our politicians act and the decisions they make.

If the gays can take over the Greens to push their agenda, why can't the Christians have a voice in the nation?

All you hypocrites rave on about free speech and freedom of choice and then try to shut up those actually doing something to make our country better.

I think its time you lot got off your collective arses and went and helped those in need instead of spending all your time typing bitter comments to post on your tin pot web page. Get over it.
Quite simply, FFP gives me the opportunity to vote for a party that actually has the same values as me.
I'm a different Anonymous from the one earlier who thinks Imaran Khan is involved in Australian politics. Imran's in Pakistan, as far as I'm aware, one state that should serve as a warning about the dangers of mixing religion and politics. I'm old enough to remember the 1950s and was Catholic enough to know what divisions and damage that sectarianism caused in AUstralia. We do not need to go down that road again.
Yes Indeed! Why cannot Christians have a voice in politics? Mind you, the last sermon I heard on politics was in Nov 1975 when our rector thought to explain why the parish vehicle was plastered with ALP stickers. And a first class sermon it was too, even if the congregation was a bit stunned.

But Family First? Isn't it a bit like motherhood? And the Assemblies of God? Are they Christian -- unless one confuses Neocon patriotism for the USA with Christianity, I sincerely doubt it. And "family values"? Isn't this the self styled 'church' that a few years ago boasted of Jimmy Swaggart, and the Bakkers and a host of other tele-evangelists, most of whom ended up in prison on fraud charges or were dismissed for sexual adventures which would make a brothel madam blush? All good family values stuff!


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