I first met Martyn Iles in 2017 when Church And State (CAS) was in its infancy and he was still the Managing Director of the Human Rights Law Alliance (HRLA), defending religious liberty for people like me against strategic lawfare by the enemies of Christianity.
My founding partner and I sat with him in a cafe for hours, inspired by the importance of the work HRLA was doing. In February 2018 I held the first Church And State Summit, and invited Martyn to speak as it was essential that this legal ministry’s leader be a guest speaker at CAS Summits and conferences from the very first.
When Lyle Shelton was legally attacked as a target of opportunity for the mundane claim that porn industry award winning drag queens aren’t good role models for little kiddies, it was HRLA that brought Christian-funded legal cannons to the fight he was in, and defended him with overwhelming success.
The precedent which would have been set by his defeat – he would never surrender – would have been ground lost to wickedness and incalculable harm to our most innocent and defenceless citizens: little children.
Defending our culture as a platform for freely preaching the Gospel is important for God’s mission to redeem hearts of individuals and freedom from oppression in the nation.
The current leader of HRLA, my friend John Steenhoff, writes:
“When your application to become foster parents is rejected on the basis of your Christian faith, you know you need the very best legal representation to help you fight back.
So Christian couple Byron and Keira Hordyk did just that.
They engaged HRLA to help them challenge the decision by a foster agency that deemed them unsuitable because of their Biblical beliefs.
And they won.
That’s because they had lawyers who understood the issues at hand and could represent them in a skilled and expert way.
We need more lawyers like this.
More highly qualified professionals who are equipped and willing to defend people of faith.”
What we have in Australia right now is a legal system, not to be confused with a justice system. It’s fair to say Almighty God loves justice, and hates legalism, especially when it is used to oppress the marginalised and vulnerable. Surely this is what can be taken away from much of the documented interactions Jesus of Nazareth had with the law makers of Ancient Israel.
Religious liberty and the Gospel aside, I know of so many cases, trials and judgements where the winner is the person who had the most money. Even where the innocent party is vindicated, the process of obtaining justice is crushing. The judiciary is too often activist, and the parajudicial kangaroo courts run by roll-of-the-dice bureaucrats are more often worse.
Taxpayer funded anti-discrimination tribunals are certainly weaponised against unapologetically authentic Christians and even staffed by people with activist sympathies or alliances.
Justice in Australia is depressingly often reserved for the very rich.
But God put it on the hearts of great men, barristers and business leaders, to start Australia’s pre-eminent (and only) religious liberty law clinic, HRLA, and thank God for the successes they are having.
Now there is a chance for you and I to invest in a future where, decades from now, there are more Christians in the legal system, and perhaps enough salt and light to reform it and achieve something more like a justice system. Wouldn’t that be a great legacy to leave our children’s children – a nation where the Gospel and righteousness could be freely preached without fear of penalty or process?
Would you like the great news?
Next week HRLA is running a week long intensive Academy in Canberra for young Christian law students called to a career in law. It will equip the next generation of lawyers with the skills and the Biblical principles necessary to understand the changing culture we live in and to represent and defend those who face legal action because of their faith.
I’m so blessed to have been asked to join the faculty teaching these aspiring jurists – a Godly career ambition (potentially) – on understanding Biblical justice. Fellow faculty members you’ll possibly know investing an advanced Biblical foundation in these future legal careers are Professor Augusto Zimmermann, Dr Stephen Chavura, Lyle Shelton, Joanna Howe, Amanda Stoker and Jim Wallace. There are a dozen or so more, all highly esteemed and experienced in their various specialties.
I wish I could afford the time to attend all of it. The program is remarkable and the content probably more profound than months of University or a dozen course texts. This is a true investment in the future of justice and liberty in Australia.
I have a simple request – no, I have two. First, please pray for the hearts and minds of those teaching and receiving that the Kingdom of God, its Truth, wisdom and righteousness, will be the clear achievement of every idea communicated and received. Secondly, please join me in sowing your precious money into this ministry every month.
There is no government funding for defending Christianity, only the grievance industry. But it is righteousness, not immorality, which makes a nation great and its people rejoice.
I’m not on a high income (yet!), but I’ve been sowing monthly into HRLA for a long time, and I’d like to suggest you pray about what you can sow into the HRLA Legal Academy now, or every month for the foreseeable future too. Let’s at least be as invested in our vision for a Godly society as our enemies are invested in a godless society.
This is a challenge, but if that’s not for you, that’s okay. We can all at least be encouraged by the good news that HRLA exists, is actively and effectively defending religious liberty, and is investing in the future of justice in Australia.
Dave Pellowe is a Christian writer & commentator, founder of The Good Sauce, convener of the annual Australian Church And State Summit and host of Good Sauce's weekly The Church And State Show, also syndicated on ADH TV. Since 2016 Dave has undertaken the mission of arming Christians to influence culture through events from Perth to Auckland, videos, podcasts and articles published in multiple journals across Australia and New Zealand. [more]
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