A week of media stunts starts to roll

NEWS | Kaley Payne

Monday 10 August 2015 

Over three thousand bunches of flowers have greeted Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other members of parliament arriving in Canberra today for the start of the next federal parliamentary sittings.

The flowers mark the beginning of a week of media stunts from both sides of the same sex marriage debate. A cross-party bill to change the Marriage Act to allow for same sex marriage is expected to be introduced in the next two weeks.

Peter Kentley, a Victorian Pentecostal and executive director of newly formed organisation Christian Federation, is behind the flowers laid out on the lawn of Parliament House. He says the flowers, sent by thousands of families from across the country, represent “millions of Australians who still believe that children should be raised by both biological parents in a family unit wherever possible.”

Christian Federation, which calls itself a “coalition of individuals, ordinary mums and dads from local churches across Australia, who want to ‘glorify Jesus in every domain of our nation’,” is chaired by tennis champion and Pentecostal minister Margaret Court, who leads Victory Life Centre in Perth.

Thousands of flower bunches are being delivered to Parliament House today from Christians around Australia.

Thousands of flower bunches are being delivered to Parliament House today from Christians around Australia.

“Flowers never fail to put a smile on someone’s face or to make them feel appreciated, which is why we’ve all sent them to the PM today, with a clear message: Thank you for your leadership on marriage,” said Mrs Court.

The flowers were delivered this morning, but MPs were already confronted with stunts before they got off the plane at Canberra Airport.

Australian Marriage Equality, the organisation running the campaign in favour of same-sex marriage, lit up the Canberra Airport runway in rainbow colours as part of its new campaign #WeCanDoThis, which also includes a national advertising campaign starting this week.

Last week, another new advertising campaign titled “More to it than you think” was launched in Sydney with backing from several Catholic businessmen in opposition to same sex marriage. Eternity reported on Friday that the campaign ads had been rejected by Channel 7 and Channel 10.

Choosing print over television for its latest media tactic, the Australian Marriage Forum, who receives support from conservative Christians, the Australian Christian Lobby and the Australian Family Association, has taken out a full page ad in The Australian today. The ad’s headline: ‘It’s. Not. Marriage.’ “All relationships matter,” says the ad. “But not all relationships are marriage.” It ends with an exhortation to “Find. Another. Word.” No doubt it’s not the final ad we’ll see on this issue.

While it may seem that all the attention is on Canberra and same-sex marriage this week, there’s still room for stunts on the another hot topic: scripture in schools.

A Victorian anti-religion in schools lobby group known as FIRIS (Fairness in Religion in Schools) is moving into New South Wales, taking out a billboard on a high-traffic road in Sydney’s south west from tomorrow.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the billboard will carry words from an Anglican Special Religious Education (SRE) text: “God says you are stuck in your sin and need to be rescued from his judgment.” In 2012 the same group purchased billboard advertising in Victoria, with an ad stating that “State Schools are not Church playgrounds” and “Special Religious Instruction Divides Our Children.”

The New South Wales Government has commissioned an independent report into Special Religious Education and Special Ethics Education in NSW public schools, which is due for completion by the end of the year.

Youthworks, the provider of Anglican scripture teacher training and resources in New South Wales, said last week that over 10,000 people had signed a statement of support for Special Religious Education in schools.

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