Secularism

The Separation of Church and State - Part 1 The Australian Constitution

The Separation of Church and State - Part 2 The Rising Christian Right

The Separation of Church and State - Part 3 Secularism

In April 2021, it was revealed that controversial developer and Mayor of the Gold Coast, Tom Tate, had opened a Prayer Room on Gold Coast Council premises. When questioned, Tate claimed:

... a prayer room, which was recently opened at council chambers, is open to the public. Importantly, the prayer room, which was a disused storage room at chamber, is open to any member of the public and any group, through the normal booking protocols...

Gold Coast journalists, Paul Weston and Brianna Morris-Grant, then revealed that the Gold Coast Mayor had also controversially hired his evangelical spiritual adviser, Pastor Sue Baynes, as a ratepayer funded employee in the Mayoral Office.

Baynes stood as a senate candidate for the Family First party in the 2016 Federal election, opposing gay marriage as well as the Safe Schools program designed to create an inclusive environment and protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from being bullied in school.

Spirtiual Advisor Tell All Video Tweet

Prayer Room and Seven Mountain Mandate

Ms Baynes appears to be in charge of bookings for the new Prayer Room at Council chambers. It emerged Baynes is an advocate of a radical Christian movement called the Seven Mountain Mandate (7M).

Tom Tate BaptisedOn Easter Sunday,1 April 2018, Tom Tate was submerged in Evandale Lake and baptised by Pastor Baynes in front of family, friends and locals in an act which he said symbolised a "baptism for the city" ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Baynes' husband, Roger, assisted in Tate's baptism along with 'Pastor' Marshall Gray.

Gray migrated from New Zealand to the Gold Coast in 2012, "planting a church in Gold Coast" by launching The Gold Coast Chapel in Nerang.

As a guest speaker at the Heritage of Faith Christian Church (Burleigh Heads) in 2018, Marshall claimed he "has a passion to advance God's Kingdom through planting local churches everywhere." Heritage of Faith is a branch of the Jerry Savelle Ministries International, Texas USA.

Baynes claims Tate's baptism was the moment that she "instantly converted him to the 7M philosophy."

The 7M religious ideology seeks to take control of seven spheres of society. These include:

church, government/military, family, business, education, arts/entertainment and the media.

Baynes once told followers at a religious function that Mayor Tate supports her plan to transform the Gold Coast "to look like the Kingdom of God".

Meanwhile, Baynes has also described the iconic Home of the Arts (HOTA) cultural precinct a "demonic stronghold".

(Rogers, D. Q News. 6 April 2022)

YouTube Video Sue Baynes

A biblical worldview in government-:

In a 35-minute video posted on YouTube in July 2019, Baynes, who was hired as city pastoral advisor last month, said she was passionate about the Seven Mountain Mandate and "how we could bring that to our city and to our nation".

The Seven Mountain Mandate is a dominionist Christian movement that originated in the United States.

A 2013 publication outlining its belief system asserts that followers should seek to gain authority or influence in seven spheres of public life, including government.

"What I believe we need is more Christian thinking in government, more Christian mindsets in government, much more of a biblical worldview in government," Ms Baynes said in the video.


Covert, under the radar, a little bit hidden-:


Ms Baynes said she met with Mr Tate after hearing about the Seven Mountain Mandate in 2007.

In the video, Ms Baynes said that as she prepared to meet him, before he was elected as Mayor, she asked God for advice.

"I heard the Lord say to me, 'Proverbs, chapter 29, verse two' ... 'When the righteous rule the city rejoices, but when the wicked are in power, the people groan,' she said."

"For the next two hours, I sat in that man's office and he shared with tears in his eyes the story about how he became a Christian."

"For the next hour I outlined for him, on a piece of A4 paper, the Seven Mountain Mandate."

I drew it out and I said, 'This can be a template for how we can see our city transformed by the power of God to look like the Kingdom of God.'

Ms Baynes said Cr Tate's "chin dropped" and "hit the desk".

"He said, 'I want this, I want you to help me do this,' she said."

Ms Baynes said she then began providing informal counsel to Mr Tate.

"When you have an assignment from the king, that assignment might be covert or it might be overt," she said in the video.

"Other times God leads you to something that's quite covert — it's kind of under the radar, it's a little bit hidden, and for me that's been my story with Tom."

(Rogers, D. Q News. Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate & the Seven Mountains Mandate. 2 April 2022)

Satanists-:

After a "spiritual battle," Baynes recently claimed she had displaced "the powers of darkness" inhabiting the Gold Coast's art centre, Home of the Arts (HOTA).

On 20 April 2022, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate rejected an attempt by 'satanists' to book council's prayer room, citing security concerns, but inviting the group to enjoy a long weekend on the holiday strip.

Lawyer, Trevor Bell, from the Noosa Temple of Satan said he made a booking after learning council's newly appointed pastoral adviser Sue Baynes had claimed HOTA was a "demonic stronghold".

"We saw there is a prayer room and we saw that it is organised by the lord mayor's spiritual adviser, Sue Baynes, who seems to be very pro-Christian," he said.

"We wanted to make the point that when religious privilege is granted then it applies to all religions.

"If there's a prayer room available to Christians then it's available to all faiths."

Mr Bell said the Noosa Temple of Satan promoted satanism and secularism.

Mr Bell, who lives in Brisbane, said he made an online booking and spoke with Ms Baynes over the telephone last week.

"She said the room's available," he said.

Bell said he made a booking after Mayor Tate declared the prayer room at council chambers was open to public bookings.

He explained the group was told in an initial inquiry that the prayer room was available to book.

[The group planned to hold a series of weekend events to "invite back the demonic spirits" that Baynes claims she had ousted from HOTA.]

However, after revealing the name of their group and prayer program, they were told their access – as well as all other groups and religions – was not granted.

Bell said, "We wanted to make the point that when religious privilege is granted, it applies to all religions.

Bell said he was planning to attend the prayer room with two women and two children.

"We will be saying a prayer," he said.

"We will be using it for the purpose that it was intended."

(Forbes, T.,Utting A. &Bernard K. ABC Gold Coast. 20 April 2022)

Bell and Brother Samael from the Noosa Temple of Satan said the group would serve tea and scones at the satanic blessing.

"If there's a prayer room available to Christians then it's available to all faiths.

"Christians don't like sharing power and privilege. They are so used to dominating our society they forget there are other religions entitled to the same privileges.

"When a religion like Satanism threatens to enjoy the same privileges, they would rather remove the privilege than share it.

"We knew that if we applied to use [the prayer room], the Council would probably shut it down. That is what has happened."

It's understood the council cited security concerns but denied it was a "personal decision" related to any individual or group.

Atheists-:

Mayor Tate later claimed the Temple of Satan group did not have a booking.

"We wouldn't accept a booking from that kind of group because we have done a security assessment.

After claiming the prayer room was available for public access, Tate now claims, "Bookings are only available for councillors and staff for security reasons."

Bell replied:

"He [Tate] should also imagine how atheists feel to have ratepayer money wasted on 'spiritual advisers'."

(Hirst, Jordan. Satanists outraged...blocked from prayer room. Q News. 21 April 2022.)

In 2021, the Noosa Temple of Satan launched action in the Supreme Court calling for a judicial review of the Queensland Education Department's assessment that it was "not a religious denomination or society" and therefore would not be granted approval to teach religious instruction in State-run schools.

The judicial review was a result of the group's application to provide religious instruction at two high schools and two primary schools in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

The Education Department argued that the Satanist group was established in response to the Australian Government's proposal for a Religious Discrimination Bill and questioned whether the Temple's true purpose was political rather than religious.

Concern was also expressed about the Temple's claims of wanting to teach students that "Satan was a supernatural being".

The Mayor's Discerner-:

No such concerns were held by Mayor Tom Tate regarding the appointment to his Mayoral staff of an advocate for the "Seven Mountain Mandate", Sue Baynes, whose 'supernatural' claims included:

The second coming of Christ, the end of the world and the final judgement will come when she and her followers had finally taken control of the seven spheres of society: church, government, family, business, education, arts and the media.

Tom Tate described Baynes' role to the ABC as being "on a casual basis, back filling a current vacancy."

However, Baynes told a church breakfast in March 2022 that Tom Tate created the job for her:

Baynes said she first heard about her new job during a private bible study session at Tom Tate's home.

He said, "Expect a call because I've made a space for you in the mayoral office and I want you to be my pastoral advisor."

"He created a role for me that wasn't anything previously there but he brought me in and he said I need you to come and be the pastoral advisor in the council."

"I've been given opportunities to sit in meetings as a discerner for the mayor."

"So, I sit in high-level meetings and he says to me I want you to be my eyes and ears. I want you to hear in your spirit and tell me what you think we need to do in the city."

Sue Baynes told the church breakfast she gave up the church she previously ran, after becoming Tom Tate's personal spiritual advisor. In 2015, she stood as a Family First candidate for the state seat of Burleigh. She achieved just 3.95% of the vote.

Now, she's Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate's 'discerner'.

Sue Baynes told the breakfast one of her first actions in her new role was to decorate a Prayer Room.

(Rogers, D. Q News. Tom Tate's Discerner. 7 April 2022)

Baynes said she had been "very intentional" in engaging with community and business leaders to further the 7M doctrine, and after meeting with Tate found she could communicate directly to him from God.

"I very much hold him in prayer...

I ask the Lord about what's happening in the city and quite often the Lord might give me a scripture or something that might encourage the Mayor and I'll send him a text message with that scripture and say what I feel the Lord is wanting to communicate to him."

(InQueensland. Kingdom come: Mayor's new spiritual advisor and the texts that come directly from God. 14 April 2022)

Rationalists-:

Meredith Doig is the President of the Rationalist Society of Australia, which provided the ABC with the 2019 video of Baynes' 7M sermon.

Doig says the Seven Mountains Mandate is "a fundamentalist Christian movement that seeks to place people in control of seven of society's major institutions".

"The ratepayers on the Gold Coast should know from their Mayor - does he agree with her publicly stated ideology that supports this Seven Mountains Mandate?"

"We think this is really crossing the line between the separation of religion and the state."

She said the group had "no problem with the Mayor's personal faith" but that the appointment of Ms Baynes was inappropriate.

"We are concerned about using [ratepayer] money to fund this appointment," she said.

"We are concerned with the particular ideology of this particular spiritual adviser."

(Rope, S., Webber M. & Cansdale D. Tom Tate supported the Kingdom of God Gold Coast... ABC Gold Coast. 1 April 2022.)

Australians of Every Faith and No Faith

In his article, Australia's Traditional Separation of Church and State is in Peril, Christian Brown insists:

"It is necessary Australian's retain their right to freedom of religion without the influence of religion in the political system of governance."

(Brown, C. Daily Clout. 14 February 2021)

The Reason Party-:

In August 2021, changes to a 103-year-old tradition in Victoria were put forward by The Reason Party's upper-house MP, Fiona Patten.

Patton pushed for a debate and a vote on a motion to scrap the prayer and instead have the President of the Legislative Council open the day by instructing MPs "to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of Victoria", not unlike the ACT model.

Ms Patten, an atheist, has argued since 2019 that reciting the prayer makes Parliament seem like a "Christian's club", which she says is inappropriate for a secular institution. She says there are more than 100 religious affiliations in Australia and a parliament designed to represent a multicultural, multi-faith society should not be so closely tied to one religious view point.

(The Age Editorial. Dropping the Lord's Prayer would help State Parliament better reflect our diversity. 2 August 2021)

The Secular Party (Fusion) -:

"The Secular Party asserts the superiority of universal value systems independent of any religion and believes that Australia should lead the way in establishing a society free of sectarian strife. We need a global ethic based on universal moral principles."

The Secular Party is focussed on:

  • Teaching universal secular values in education
  • Phasing out government funding for religious schools
  • Removing religious references from statutory oaths and pledges
  • Abolishing parliamentary prayers
  • Ending state support for religious institutions and personnel
  • Removal of tax advantages for religious institutions

The Secular Party opposes:

  • Religious indoctrination of children
  • Religious attire worn in schools
  • Government support or endorsement of any religion

( https://www.secular.org.au/the-separation-of-church-and-state/ accessed 21 April 2022)

The 2011 Australian 'Humanist of the Year', Leslie Cannold, clarifies some of the major forms that 'Secularism' can take:

  • Atheism is a personal belief system.
  • Humanism is a philosophy.
  • Rationalism is an epistemology or theory.
  • Secularism is a form of governance designed to ensure that Australians of every and of no faith are free to live their lives and to raise their children in accordance with their beliefs and not miss out on life's opportunities because of their personal faith.

(Cannold, L. 2011 Australian Humanist of the Year. 30 April 2011)

The Fading Separation Between Church and State

As the 21 May 2022 Federal Election fast approaches, all Australians should be concerned about the covert and overt influences of fundamentalist Christian organisations that appear to have successfully infiltrated the highest levels of the Australian Government and are attempting to do the same at State (South Australia and Queensland) and Local Government (City of Gold Coast) levels.*

These organisations have clearly stated their major objectives to influence, assist and install elected officials who will impose fundamentalist Christian, 'biblical' world views on major Public Policy decisions in Australia.

The 'Seven Mountain Mandate' and other right-wing Christian ideologies emanating from the fundamentalists within the world-wide and Australian Pentecostalist and Evangelical Christian movements have resulted in controversial and negative policies being proposed and driven by the 'Seven Mountains pin-up boy', Prime Minister Scott Morrison, especially in the areas of funding and policies on -:

Social Justice; Social Equity; Medicine; Science, Education; Environment; Religion; Public Media and The Arts; and the increasingly inequitable distribution of the 'Common Wealth' among the people of Australia under this current LNP Federal Government.

(Dr Steven Gration. 25 April 2022)

Under Morrison, intelligent and informed discussions, parliamentary debates and progressive views on contemporary matters such as institutional and political corruption, abortion, women's safety in the workplace, LGBTI issues, voluntary euthanasia, immigration, refugees, same sex marriage and the environment have been suppressed, blocked and undermined, resulting in a lack of government policies and/or relevant legislation being put forward by the LNP coalition government on these issues.

The Morrison Government's policies and rhetoric are heavily underpinned by the Prosperity Theology of Morrison's 'church' and an attitude of superiority accompanied by a warped sense of spiritual and material entitlement that accompanies this 'blessed' ideology.

As proclaimed by Christian Brown (et al),"Australia's Traditional Separation of Church and State is in Peril" under the reign of Morrison and his Pentecostal 'Brothers'.

More than a decade ago, Australian 'Humanist of the Year', Leslie Cannold, warned us of "Australia's fading separation between Church and State".

Cannold's observations remain just as potent and prescient today regarding the need to clarify and consolidate a legitimate Separation of Church and State in Australia as outlined in her declaration:

"Who can, does and should support a secular state? Fair-minded Australians of all faiths and of none, that's who."

Updates:

19 March 2022 - Labor win a landslide victory over the incumbent Liberal government in the South Australian state election. The new Labor Premier, Peter Malinauskas, pledged to use the win to deliver a "fairer, better society".

23 April 2022 - incumbent Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, announces he will win a record-breaking fourth term as mayor when he runs again in 2024. Based on his "own street poll", Tate boasts he'd "win in a bigger landslide" than his previous wins in 2012, 2016 and 2020.

6 May 2022 - Queensland Supreme Court judge dismisses the Noosa Temple of Satan's application to teach religious classes in Queensland schools, describing the case as a "deplorable waste of state resources" and a political stunt.

13 May 2022: The week prior to the 21 May 2022 Federal election, Pastor Marshall Gray and his Gold Coast Chapel hosted a Faith and Politics Forum #2 on the Gold Coast. Tickets $5 online, $10 at the door. Advertised guest speakers included: Senator Malcolm Roberts and Pauline Hanson (One Nation); Senate candidates Clive Palmer (United Australia); Campbell Newman (Liberal Democrats); George Christensen (Independent); Debra Yuille (The Silent Majority); Heston Russell (Australian Values); and Jason Miles (Great Australian). This collective of independents and micro-political parties identified themselves as the "Freedom Parties". A colloquial term, "Cookers", has also been coined to describe them owing to their various fixations and allegiances ranging from government conspiracy theories to being members of far right political groups; opposing anti-government health mandates; members of fundamentalist Christian groups supporting the Seven Mountain Mandate ideology; or just generally anti-government under the banner of claiming to be "Libertarians".

Researched, compiled, composed, written and edited by Dr Steve Gration, April 2022.
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The Separation of Church and State - Part 1 The Australian Constitution

The Separation of Church and State - Part 2 The Rising Christian Right

The Separation of Church and State - Part 3 Secularism

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