Culture War: The Battle for Australia's Soul

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SYDNEY - A cultural battle pitting Christians against Australia's first atheist prime minister and her party may be looming in the land down under.

Just three months after a new minority government assumed power, social issues are now topping the legislative agenda.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is having trouble keeping radical members of her Labor-Green Party coalition government in line. The Green Party's sole representative in parliament is pushing to garner support for gay marriage. He also wants to pass federal laws legalizing euthanasia.

But Gillard wants to put off debate on those issues for at least another year so she can strengthen her weak coalition. She fears the Opposition party, led by Tony Abbott, will use divisions over social issues to bring down her government.

A Call to Conscience

Many Australian Christians were disappointed that Abbott and his Opposition party were unable to form a government while the Labor Party was able to do so. The Labor Party now has a coalition that rules with only one seat advantage in the parliament.

Still, Christians remain optimistic that they can push forward a more conservative pro-family agenda. Concerned citizens put together the "Canberra Declaration" to guide elected leaders on the values important to them.

"The Canberra Declaration is a call to our national leaders to protect life, defend marriage, support family, secure our religious freedom, and safe guard our children," a statement on the Canberra Declaration website explained.

Culture of Death?

Bill Muehlenberg, a political analyst and one of declaration's authors, says legislating the Canberra pro-family, pro-life agenda may prove difficult because of the Labor-Green Party coalition.

"Instead of pro-life, we have a government that's pushing a pro-death agenda," Muehlenberg told CBN News. "From womb to the tomb, it's under assault."

"We have a very cavalier view of life, and we've really become a culture of death," he said.

Muehlenberg and many others believe the Australian government has gone too far in limiting Christian rights.

Pastor Danny Nalliah, who leads Catch the Fire Ministries, knows the Australian court system all too well. He fought a five-year legal battle over charges that he vilified Muslims. Eventually, he was declared not guilty of inciting hatred against the religious group.

Breaking the Curse

Nalliah suggests change will come to his country when more Christians fall to their knees in prayer. He said an anticipated drought was averted when Aussies petitioned God for rain.

"We broke the curse over the nation," he told CBN News. "We repented and prayed and said, 'Lord to give us rain.'"

That rain, which started in October of last year, has not stopped.

Australian Christians have also held prayer meetings in their parliament building, and they've seen lives transformed throughout the country.

"When we decided to do this prayer gathering on Mt. Ansley, the witches, the warlocks, and the Satanists got very upset because that's their capitol," Nalliah recalled. "They didn't want us to come."

"They personally sent me messages and said, 'If you come, we will attack you.' But the Lord protected us," he said.

"Ultimately, half way through, these people were asking us, 'Do you really love us?' Because we stood our ground, but we loved them," he continued. "And the great exciting news is that four months, three months later, the Satanist leader who came to attack me, I had the great opportunity of leading him to the Lord Jesus."

"And four months later, I was in his house in Canberra with my hands around his shoulder as brothers in Christ," Nalliah added.

Culture Watch

Muehlenberg said Australian Christians need to be stirred to action. Through his blog, Culture Watch, he draws attention to current issues.

"We inform the church, alert them, energize, encourage believers to be salt and light and make a difference," he said. "We will have fruit and success if we do our thing faithfully and trust God will bring in the results."

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Gary Lane

Gary Lane

CBN News Sr. International Correspondent

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