Address to the Church and State Summit, Coffs Harbour, 11/02/2023

Lyle Shelton

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that our nation, along with Western civilisation, is going the wrong way.

But the genius’s running our nation don’t see it.

Like Thelma and Louise, they are in the Cadillac yahooing as they speed over the cliff with our children in the back seat.

They think a “climate crisis”, a divisive race-based voice to parliament, LGBTIQA+ rights and expanded access to abortion and euthanasia are the political priorities.

Church and State Summit, Coffs Harbour

Their misdirected focus is destroying the economy and our social fabric.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take geniuses to get us out of the mess.

Yes, smart people are important, and we need them to apply their talents to our cause, but they are not the most important ingredient.

All we need is committed ordinary people with bucket loads of courage, common-sense and resilience.

Well, not all. I would add the most important ingredient of all – faith in the Almighty God and his deep providential involvement in the affairs of men and women.

Today I want to focus on four things:

  1. The necessity of staring into the abyss for a moment – just briefly – as we make a sober assessment of our current trajectory.
  2. I want to look at some of the things that are limiting us as a political movement – principally lack of courage and poor theology.
  3. I want to look at the F word of politics – not the one I continually hear out of the mouths of politicians of all stripes including many “Christian” politicians – but one that evokes far more emotional resistance.
  4. Lastly, I want to have a crack at presenting a vision for a better future.

The abyss

I used the word abyss advisedly a moment ago to describe that which we are literally staring into if we don’t pull out of this nosedive soon.

The night of nights for the global music industry is essentially the Grammys in the US.

Centre stage was a Satanic-themed performance called “Unholy”, celebrating sexual acts involving violence, bondage and the subjugation of women in cages.

Sexualised and subservient women were depicted worshipping and fulfilling the desires of a Satan-like figure complete with devil horns, portrayed in the performance by the singer Sam Smith, who I had never heard of until this week.

His co-performer was Kim Petras, a man who identifies as a woman and who used the platform provided by their receiving of a Grammy award to thank his mother who “always believed I was a girl”.

He was castrated as a 16-year-old child.

But you don’t have to be a devil worshipper to release the forces of violent and depraved sexual expressionism into our culture.

Dominic Perrottet’s Liberal-National Government is funding Sydney World Pride this month to the tune of $4.5 million.

Interspersed among promotions for animal-themed fetish parties, pictures of naked men in sexual positions, the objectification of women and a general kaleidoscope of raunch, several events on the “Pride Amplified” website, which boasts it is “part of World Pride”, target children.

You heard that right.

At least three events including a “drag queen story time event” pitched at “pre-schoolers” target children.

We are staring into an abyss. Is there anything more evil than brainwashing children and inducting them into a world where everything is sexualised and their gender is fluid?

But the Liberals and their hapless education minister, Sarah Mitchell, continue to preside over gender fluid indoctrination at schools and “wear it purple” days celebrating all things homosexual and gender-fluid.

Thankyou Mr Perrottet and thankyou Liberals and Nationals – you are doing a great job governing the state of New South Wales and protecting its most vulnerable.

Driving all this is a tiny but well-organised political activist movement.

Their power and their naked ambition was on full display last week at Cardinal George Pell’s funeral.

Cardinal Pell was of course exonerated by the High Court of Australia in a seven nil judgement quashing his conviction of sexually abusing two choir boys.

He spent 404 days in prison, in solitary confinement, for crimes he did not commit. It is probably Australia’s most egregious miscarriage of justice but elites still demonise Pell and self-identifying Catholic politicians Dominic Perrottet and Anthony Albanese stayed away from his funeral. Cowards.

Contrary to what many still say, there is no evidence Pell covered up child sexual abuse in the church, in fact the contrary, he exposed it and dealt with it.

Pell was a human being and not perfect. But he was certainly no friend of paedophilia.

These facts did not stop Community Action for Rainbow Rights, a radical group that promotes transgenderism to children, from protesting at his funeral.

Protesting at a funeral? Who does that apart from the whacky Westbro Baptist Church in America?

While there were undoubtedly survivors of the heinous crime of clerical sexual abuse amongst the protestors, they were not the organisers.

The LGBTIQA+ political movement organised it not with the purpose of highlighting the sins of evil priests in decades past, but for the purpose of trying to bury “Pell’s politics” with him.

“We have a right and responsibility to come out and say no, we reject Pell and everything he stood for,” one of the organisers told Sky News.

“And we reject anyone who wants to keep his rotten legacy alive, and not only are we going to send Pell straight to hell we are going to send his politics with him.”

So what were Pell’s politics?

He was one of the most vocal defenders of marriage between one man and one woman, human rights for the unborn and a fierce opponent of euthanasia.

But this political movement, which remember is a favourite of the mainstream media, wants to send to hell – that place depicted on the stage of the Grammys this week – and “anyone who wants to keep his rotten legacy alive”.

Yikes. I believe all the things about marriage, family and human life that Pell espoused. I’m hoping there are some in this room who do too and who like me, are committed to keeping this legacy alive.

Make no mistake. The media and our political leaders last week were not on the side of the people inside St Mary’s Cathedral.

Does anyone get the picture that we might be in a spiritual war?

One more thing about the abyss. Christian schools in this nation are literally staring into it.

Two weeks ago the Australian Law Reform Commission released a discussion paper commissioned by the federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfus.

It recommends stripping Christian schools of the freedom to employ teachers and auxiliary staff who share the Christian ethos of the school.

The paper even says a school should not have the freedom to dismiss a teacher who attends pride marches.

What parent in their right mind would want to have teachers as role models for their children who attend events like Sydney World Pride promoting animal fetishes and “sexuality shows” that include whips, ponies and puppies? Sponsored by the Liberal Party.

Enough of the abyss, you get the picture.


The biggest limitation our political movement has is courage.

How hard would it be for Dominic Perrottet to say we are not giving taxpayers’ money to World Pride?

How hard would it be to say we are not allowing LGBTIQA+ indoctrination of children through the school curriculum and “wear it purple” days?

How hard would it be for them to close the gender clinics which are sterilising and mutilating children and young people?

How hard would it have been for the Liberals and Nationals to tell Alex Greenwich “no” to abortion-to-birth and euthanasia? Instead, the Liberals gave up without a fight and facilitated their passing through the Parliament.

All this evil is enabled by the silence of people who know better.

Eric Metaxas in his latest book, Letter to the American Church, says:

“When people fail to speak, the price of speaking rises”.

Metaxas, who has also written a biography of the German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, points out that in 1934 some in the church in Germany realised they had a problem with their government.

A document called the Barmen Declaration was drafted as an act of defiance  against Hitler at a time when it was still possible to defy him.

Metaxas says the document essentially said: “that the German state must not and could not co-opt the Church, and that the sanctity of separation of church and state must be clear”.

Shockingly, most pastors in Germany were not willing to sign it.

This was despite the fact that Hitler was intent on creating a Reich Kirk, or Reich Church, subservient to the National Socialist government.

In 1935 there were roughly 18,000 Protestant pastors in Germany.

Only 3000 refused to join the Reich Church and stood with the dissident Confessing Church.

Around 3000 stood with the Reich Church and opposed the Confessing Church.

12,000 pastors stood in the middle, unwilling to take a stand.

Is this not where we are today? A minority rump of the church is speaking from the fringes, represented in conferences like this, the Australian Christian Lobby and the Cardinal Pell’s of this world.

A small but influential group of church leaders have gone woke and wittingly or unwittingly are fighting for the other side.

That leaves the vast majority of leaders sitting on the fence in silence. They are today’s 12,000 pastors of 1930s Germany.

Whilst I’m not suggesting a threat analogous to the Holocaust, it is valid to make historical comparisons so we can learn the lessons of history.

Because as EH Carr said, “the thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”.

We must ask questions about our silence in the face of the killing of unborn babies on an industrial scale, the greasy slope that is euthanasia, the harm of children through the medicalisation of rainbow ideology and the increasingly totalitarian nature of our body politic.

It is worth reflecting on Metaxas’ words in Letter to the American Church:

“Just as cowardice begets cowardice, courage begets courage.

“Either we help evil, or we fight evil.

“Perhaps the main question for most of us is whether we are willing to pay the price of speaking and acting.”

Most of the Christians I know are desperate for revival and the serious ones are earnestly praying for it.

That is a good thing.

But quite frankly, I’m more desperate for the church to be willing to pay the price of speaking and acting.

Maybe revival just might follow.

The Bible itself contains the phrases “fear not” or “be not afraid” 103 times outlining two things. Firstly it highlights the importance of courage. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it reveals that fear is a choice we make. It is not so much an emotion but the refusal to take right action because of an emotion. We choose to give in to fear and avoid right action, or we choose to place our faith and trust in God and take right action despite our emotion of fear. So I say to you today, “Be not afraid.”

That leads me to the second limitation I see to the meaningful engagement of Christians in politics.

And I’m about to tread where angels fear.

I’ve noticed that in the last five years Christians have started talking again about the return of Christ.

When all the predictions about 1984 and then the year 2000 failed to eventuate, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists and other evangelicals with a heavy focus on Christ’s return just stopped talking about it – or de-emphasised it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in the return of Christ. It is orthodox Christian and Biblical teaching that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead.

But scripture is also clear that no one knows the hour.

Paul essentially says to the Thessalonians stop worrying about it and get on with things.

More and more Christians are coming up to me at events like this and saying things like “the world has deteriorated so much, Christ’s return is surely immanent”. Leaders are starting to preach on it again saying we probably don’t have too much long to wait and that it will probably be in our lifetime. This is now the hope of many despairing Christians.

And while no one knows the hour, the Bible gives us a pretty big clue – one which I’ve never heard mentioned in sermons and books on the second coming.

Theologians will tell you that when something is repeated in Scripture, we should take notice.

Doctrine is formed when there is repetition.

So it bothers me that so much focus is on our escape plan when the scriptures, not once, but five times, give a pretty big clue about the return of Christ.

Psalm 110:1 says: “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Matthew 22:44 – “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet’.”

Mark 12:36 -  “Speaking by the Holy Spirit, David himself declared: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet."'

Luke 20:42- 43  - “For David himself says in the book of Psalms: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."'

Acts 2:24-35 – “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

That’s five times folks.

God has a purpose for this world that is to be worked out by the people of God. Jesus remains at the right hand of the father until that is accomplished.

The prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray says: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

Why are so many Christians focussed on getting out of earth and into heaven?

Jesus is saying that where there is hell on earth, we are to bring heaven.

Many Christians would have been watching the Grammys depiction of hell on earth thinking that’s our apocalyptic vision of the future coming true, “God get us out of here – soon!”.

No, we are to drive hell from the earth and replace it with Christ’s kingdom so the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Where there is pain, where there is injustice, where there is tragedy, where there is oppression, where there is subjugation of others, where there are lies – we are to run to those places and bring peace, healing, truth, love, freedom and joy.

Before anyone accuses me of wanting to set up a political theocracy, they should read the Bible.

My king, Jesus, rode on a donkey into Jerusalem to lay his life down for others. Other religious leaders rode big horses and carried swords but not Jesus of Nazareth.

Any engagement in politics must follow Christ’s humble, self-denying way. His kingdom does not operate according to the ways of this world.

That doesn’t preclude robust debate, it does not preclude confrontation with evil, but it is to be done in a different spirit – not the way of Machiavelli which is the way of modern politics.

But it does require courage and it requires a proper understanding of the mission of God on this earth.

As English theologian Tom Wright says: “What you believe about how it ends up affects what you do now.”

Therein lies the second answer for much of our inaction.

The F word

Now to the F word.

The idea of family - defined as mother, father and children - is in our politics like holding a crucifix to Dracula.

It has been decades since an Australian political leader on either side has had the courage to define family that way.

And since the passing of same-sex marriage in 2017, almost no politician dares use this definition which was uncontroversial until five minutes ago in our history.

But the counter to the convenient lies which serve the political agenda of those seeking to re-shape our world our economic and social order, is the inconvenient truth that married mothers and fathers matter for children.

The social science has been incontrovertible on this for decades yet politicians turn a blind eye, unwilling to jettison the tenants of the sexual revolution despite its bitter fruits beginning to emerge in things like the #MeToo movement.

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, The Fabelmans, is autobiographical in that it depicts his childhood and the devasting effect the divorce of his parents had on him.

We know that what UK writer Melanie Phillips calls “fragmented families” impact on children’s future well-being.

Early childhood experiences impact on addiction, poor mental health, homelessness and crime.

It’s a fact that prisons are disproportionately populated with fatherless males.

Former deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, a previous speaker at Church and State Summits, raised fatherlessness as one of the ignored causes of the dysfunction in Alice Springs.

Melanie Phillips wrote in the Australian this week:

“In 2021, 51 per cent of babies were born outside marriage or civil partnership in England and Wales. According to the children’s commissioner, 44 per cent of children born at the start of the century weren’t brought up by their parents for their full childhood, compared with 21 per cent of children born in 1970.

“Cohabitation, which has increased by more than 140 per cent since 1996, now drives family breakdown. According to the Centre for Social Justice, cohabiting parents are roughly three times more likely than married parents to have separated by the time their child reaches the age of five.”

Fifteen years ago when I joined the Australian Christian Lobby as Jim Wallace’s chief of staff, I was given the job of organising the national conference.

I spent most of our tiny budget flying Dr Samantha Callan from the Centre for Social Justice from England to Canberra.

I’ll never forget her message. She said if we could send a man to the moon within a few years of that vision being articulated by John F Kennedy, surely we could rebuild a culture of marriage and family in public policy.

Despite our efforts at ACL to present the evidence of the importance of marriage and family, politicians of every stripe ignored it.


And this brings me to my final point.

The sad reality is that if we don’t have courage and we don’t know our purpose, how on earth are we to articulate a compelling vision that will attract the next generation?

Most of us in this room, myself included, are reactionaries. It is important to react against the things which come to destroy the good, true and the beautiful.

The phrase uttered by Christian leaders that has done the most to enable evil has been the phrase “we need to be known what we are for, not what we are against”.

This has been a big fat permission slip for people to stay out of the debates that have mattered most in the past 10 years.

Like all lies, there is a kernel of truth to it.

But if you won’t fight against the things that come to wreck the things that you are for, are you really for those things in the first place?

We fight because we are for things.

And yes, we do have to do a better job of getting on the front foot.

But in fairness, the enemy has been coming in like a flood.

That’s why I was excited to hear Dr Jordan Petersen, speaking on the Joe Rogan podcast last week, articulate an alternative vision to the dystopian one offered by our elites like Klaus Schwab at the World Economic Forum.

Instead of seeing humans as a pox whose prosperity and freedoms must be severely curtailed to “save the planet”, Petersen is talking about getting poor people rich quickly because the evidence shows that is far better for the environment.

People who have enough to eat, adequate shelter and a reasonable lifestyle don’t have to scratch around in the dirt, cutting environmental corners to survive.

At the centre of Petersen’s vision, as it pertains to social policy, is the heterosexual, monogamous married couple raising their own biological children.

That he is putting that out publicly is significant and courageous.

Again, not because a god decrees it but because social science shows it works.

This vision for human flourishing satisfies the deepest needs of the human creature.

At Family First, we are committed to building a political party and movement that can articulate such a positive vision for life, family, faith and freedom.

It’s a vision that has been completely abandoned by our major political parties on the left and the right.

If the alternative is what we saw at the Grammys and what Klaus Schwab is offering – essentially hell on earth, I have every confidence that if we persevere with courage, humility and with clear purpose, we will win.