Last week my pastor Campbell Markham and I received news that the Anti-Discrimination case against us had been dropped. Praise God for His kindness in removing this difficulty from our lives and taking away the threat over our church and families!
This has been a difficult time in many ways and the process has underlined to us the wrongness of these offense based laws. Before the case was dropped, hundreds of man hours had been spent on forming a legal defense against the accusations. In addition, Campbell, one of our legal team and I were required to attend a conciliation meeting at the EOT (Equal Opportunity Tasmania) in Hobart under threat of punishment if we did not attend. This meeting was a tedious affair, scheduled to last for 2 hours but lasted 4.5 hours.
The meeting began with courtesy and at all times the two female staff treated us with courtesy. But the kindness of the staff could not paper over the glaring injustice of the situation. There we were, forced to explain why we were not guilty of unsubstantiated, subjective and often absurd accusations. Then to make the process more arduous still, we had to sit and wait to see if our offer of conciliation would be accepted by Mr S. who was in the next room.
On a more positive note, while we waited we were able to enjoy each other’s company and Campbell even shared his sermon with us. We couldn't help but feel for the EOT staff who had to deal with Mr S. who was I suspect at his cantankerous best by the muffled sound of a loud and often angry sounding male voice from the next room.
When the allotted time for the conciliation had passed we were permitted to leave for a lunch break, but there was no mention of stopping the conciliation. We returned to a list of unreasonable demands from Mr S. and further back and forth as we sat obediently in our allotted room. Ultimately, we were informed that Mr S. was not happy, but as the conciliation had gone on for 4.5 hours the meeting was to be continued by email. This extended the process into the next week as we waited for and responded to emails from the EOT.
On Thursday we received an email stating that the conciliation had failed to resolve the matter and that we would need to appear before the tribunal. This was no surprise, we all thought it very unlikely that the matter would be resolved. What was a blessed and a wonderful surprise, was the email that followed 5 minutes later saying the case had been closed. What a roller coaster of a week!
It is not primarily Mr S. or the EOT that have created this debacle. Rather it is section 17 and 19 of the Anti-Discrimination Act that permits the gagging of others if someone is offended. Section 17 holds every Tasmanian to ransom for their words, under the threat of anyone who sees them as that which “offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules”. Section 19 is so ill-defined that it allows even a lovingly and carefully worded presentation of Christian convictions to be labeled as “hatred, severe contempt or ridicule” and punishable by law. The utter subjectiveness of these laws mean that it does not matter what you say but rather what someone feels about what you say. We are very concerned about the laws that have made this entire fiasco possible. With this in mind we will be continuing our Supreme Court proceedings to challenge these unjust laws.
We hope that God will grant that these unjust laws will be repealed or significantly changed. We will be praying that God will protect the freedom of all the people of Tasmania. Please join us in these prayers.
Thank you to the many people who have faithfully prayed during this time of trial. May God be glorified through your trust in Him and His kind deliverance from times of trouble! God has been good to us in this last 7 months, there has been much rejoicing and even laughter in the midst of the difficulty and stress. We have seen many opportunities come to share the gospel because of this complaint. We have had the blessing of fellow Christians offering their support and encouragement. And over all this there is the wonderful joy of knowing that no-one can do anything to us that is outside our heavenly Father’s good plan to bless us and make us more Christ-like.
Praise His name!
Hobart Team (TAS)
Meets every Tuesday and Friday afternoon 12-5pm at the Elizabeth Street Mall.
Contact David Gee for more information.