The Victorian Secular Lobby will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday, January 19th, 6.30pm at the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church (110 Grey Street, East Melbourne).
The agenda for the meeting includes:
a) Report of activities of the past year.
b) Membership and Organisational Status
2. Administrative Changes and Election of Office Bearers
a) New Act for Incorporated Associations
b) Election of office bearers (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, 2 Committee Members). Nominations must be sent to public at victoriansecular.org by Friday, 11.59pm, January 18th.
3. Planning for the Upcoming Year
a) Interstate conference and organisation
Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? .
James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, 20 June 1785
The word 'secular' comes the Medieval Latin "secularis", meaning worldly or temporal in distinction to the eternal. It pertains to the world that we all live in and share, in space and time.
It is not, as commonly assumed, anti-religious, rather it is non-religious. A secular position is to have 'no comment' to make on religion. In terms of the state, a secular position argues for a clear separation of church and state. Religious people, particularly those who are respectful of other faiths, and wish to avoid state-sanctioned bigotry, can also be secular in this manner. Thus one can indeed be a secular Christian, a secular Buddhist, a secular Muslim etc. It is not just for atheists and agnostics !
The Victorian Secular Lobby is open to all people who support our principles:
1. To promote the principle of the separation of Church and State and equality for all institutions under the law.
2. To resource and promote secular principles to journalists, politicians, and other contributors to public opinion.
3. To encourage co-ordination with like-minded groups to influence public policy.
4. To encourage persons to take up membership and engage in activities that promote secular principles and the Victorian Secular Lobby.
5. To engage in activities, including generating income and expenditure, to further these aims.
MELBOURNE and Sydney's most senior rabbis are at loggerheads over the unexplained sacking of a rabbi from Melbourne's Yeshivah Centre, with Melbourne leaders accused of ''desecrating God's name''.
The centre's chief rabbi, Zvi Hirsch Telsner, has defied an order by the Sydney Beth Din (the rabbinical court) to stay the sacking, prompting an ultimatum from the court to back down by Tuesday or be shamed worldwide.
According to Jewish community figures, Rabbi Telsner overruled the injunction and instructed Yeshivah Centre chairman Don Wolf to sack Rabbi Mordechai Engel, 42, who has nine children, including a newborn baby, and has worked there for 14 years.
The Yeshivah Centre - the headquarters of the Orthodox Chabad movement, with two schools and many other facilities - has been controversial within the Jewish community for its handling of sexual abuse allegations from the 1980s to the present. Police were highly critical of community leaders in the Melbourne Magistrate's Court last year.
The Australian Christian Lobby is considering an offer from beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett to speak at its national conference after Prime Minister Julia Gillard pulled out.
Ms Gillard on Thursday withdrew from speaking at the October conference in Canberra, citing "offensive" comments by ACL leader Jim Wallace on homosexuality.
Mr Kennett, one of the founders of the depression advocacy group, has written to Mr Wallace offering his services, saying it was important such comments didn't go unanswered.
"I challenge the Australian Christian Lobby to allow me to speak at their national conference in October to put a more temperate, and I suspect, a more Christian view because nowhere in the Bible do I find the act of discrimination acceptable," the former Victorian premier said in a statement on Friday.
An ACL spokesman said the organisation had received Mr Kennett's letter and would reply in due course.
But he questioned Mr Kennett's decision to make his offer public.
"It's an unusual thing to then issue a media release saying you've made that offer," he said.
Ms Gillard had said it would be inappropriate for her to go after Mr Wallace this week compared the health effects of smoking with that of being gay.
"Although everyone is entitled to their own view, these statements ... are totally unacceptable," she said in a statement on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the beyondblue depression advocacy group launched a campaign to raise awareness of mental health problems faced by people whose sexuality doesn't fit in with the mainstream.
THE main provider of chaplains to Victorian state schools under a controversial federal government program is at risk of collapse, according to its most recent financial accounts.
Accounts filed by the organisation, Access Ministries, show it last year burned through $2.5 million in cash as it racked up a loss for the third year running.
However, chief executive Evonne Paddison said the organisation had this year staunched the outflow of cash and was now solvent.
Access Ministries received more than $21 million in federal grants under the school chaplaincy program between 2007 and 2011.
The Council for Christian Education, which trades as Access Ministries, also provides religious education and claims on its website to be ''sharing God's love with over 200,000 young Victorians'' every day.
It filed the accounts with the corporate regulator after The Age last week asked it why they were overdue.
AT LEAST 120 of Victoria's most vulnerable tenants are facing homelessness and some have lost their bond and bill money because a rooming house operator has gone missing with thousands of dollars.
The director of Discipleship Housing, John David Williams, allegedly ran at least 23 rooming houses in the south-eastern suburbs but disappeared several months ago, leaving tenants stranded.
The Age has no evidence of his whereabouts or any deliberate wrongdoing.
Mr Williams, an international Christian missionary who has worked on building projects in Rwanda and South Africa, is now listed by police as a missing person.
He has long stopped paying rent and bills on behalf of tenants, despite having collected thousands of dollars from them.
RESIDENTS of Docklands will soon be able to attend religious services in their suburb - but not send their children to a local school.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has announced a prime government-owned site in Docklands will be provided for a place of worship. This is despite a community plan released by the government and Melbourne City Council in July listing a ''public primary school in or very near Docklands'' in the top six priorities. A place of worship did not make the top six.
Docklands' 7000 residents and 29,000 workers are expected to swell dramatically over the next decade to more than 60,000 workers and 20,000 residents by 2025, increasing pressure for services such as schools.
The government said the new place of worship will be located on a 5525 sq m site on the Footscray Road-Little Docklands Drive intersection with work to be under way by 2015.
The place of worship could be one religious organisation or multidenominational.
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has cancelled a speech at the Australian Christian Lobby's national conference, after its leader said a homosexual ''lifestyle'' was more hazardous to health than smoking.
Describing the comments by the lobby's managing director, Jim Wallace, as ''offensive'', Ms Gillard said her attendance at the group's conference would be ''inappropriate''.
Mr Wallace hit back yesterday, accusing the PM of acting hastily in response to ''inaccurate media reporting and misrepresentation by gay activists'' and predicting many would see her withdrawal from the conference, in Canberra next month, as ''the abandonment of the Christian constituency''.
METRO is backing a new Salvation Army program to patrol trains and railway stations to help the needy and improve public safety.
Salvation Army commanding officer Major Brendan Nottle said a project called Train Teams will be launched in two weeks.
The Salvos last night held an information session at their Bourke Street headquarters for members of the public wishing to take part.
They would be required to work on trains and train stations, with the program operating six days a week from Mondays to Saturdays.
The project has been outlined in a bulletin notice the Salvos put up on the City of Melbourne's what's on website, thatsmelbourne.com.au.
The notice said workers would be ''engaging with the public to create a positive presence on trains and at train stations, improving the perception of public safety and responding to the needs of the public''.
''The train teams will particularly focus on connecting with vulnerable, intoxicated and disadvantaged people using the rail network,'' the notice says.
The Train Teams project will be based on the Salvos' successful Street Teams program, which is supported by the City of Melbourne and started in December 2010. Street Teams volunteers aged 18 to 25 patrol city streets on Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm to 5am.
They aim to prevent mishaps among vulnerable, intoxicated young people by helping them get home or to access services.
A Metro spokesman said the program was ''still in the planning process''. Metro staff involved in the project would not yet talk about it publicly but they took part in last night's information session, the spokesman said.
Labor will always support and protect access to publicly funded abortions, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised in yet another pitch to the female vote.
In what are believed to be her most outspoken comments on the issue, Ms Gillard told a dinner held by the Australian Medical Association on Wednesday night that vigilance was required to "protect the progress we've made, particularly in women's health".
"Women must have the right to healthcare and women must have the right to choose," Ms Gillard said in the speech, unreported at the time.
"Whether it's the independence of the [Therapeutic Goods Administration's] decisions in regulating fertility treatments, whether it's allowing our foreign aid budget to include spending on family planning, whether it's supporting a woman's right to choose through Medicare-funded services, that's my commitment to Australian women as Prime Minister."
The speech fitted in with Ms Gillard's recent pitch to women through social media and a morning tea she held with some of the most influential bloggers and commentators on women's issues.