At the center of the faux controversy about “banning bibles” in schools is a lie being told to distract people from an activist missionary group run by an Evangelical Church in Kew, a wealthy inner east, Melbourne suburb in the State of Victoria.
Working from a base at St. Hilary, is a man named Tim Clare, and his office is located inside St. Hilary’s Anglican Church in Kew, which is also home to Stephen Hale, an influential Evangelical Bishop, who was recently the Chairman of ACCESS Ministries and the advisor to Australian Lausanne Delegation, and also the Peter Corney Training Centre. Nominally it isn’t clear if Tim works for St. Hilary, but his organisation, Mustard, was set up by the clergy at St. Hilary, which is known for its assertive evangelical outlook on the Christian faith. It is not hard to find Christians in Melbourne who are unimpressed by the theology on offer at St. Hilary.
Recently Tim Clare has decided that he can claim the status of a persecuted minority and is the victim of governmental overreach, but this recently adopted mantle of persecution is fiction.
What Tim Clare does is go into schools and look for other people to convince to believe the same doctrines that he does. The term “disciple”, is shorthand for the act of convincing people who are unaware, or of a different opinion on the “doctrine of salvation”, these people might belong to a different religion, or they may be part of a different part of the Christian tradition, or they might belong to no religion at all. These people are spoken of as a “mission field”.
Recently, in what surely is a rare clearing of the fog that surrounds these evangelical groups, the Department of Education decided to ask schools to close the door on evangelism and proselytising, that men like Tim Clare organise in our schools.
The effect of this is like setting up a “marine sanctuary” and asking people dragging nets not to enter. Inside the marine sanctuary all sorts of fish can be found. Tim Clare wants to be fishers of these men.
People should not be confused by the use of euphemisms when evaluating the claims of “persecuted” Christians like Tim Clare. The content of what Clare means when he says “following Jesus” is to tell other people about his doctrine of “salvation”. This aspect of Christianity is primary to his variety of Christian, his nets have “salvation shaped” mesh in them.
But “salvation” has no “values” content, it divulges nothing about what a person stands for, other than where they stand on the question of where they believe they will go after they die. It is first and last a religious belief, and its one that is not held to be part of the purpose of a secular education system. Your salvation is not the business of the Department of Education … Tim Clare however is very eager to remind them about the consequences of “not believing in Jesus”.
In order to bring people “to faith in Jesus” Tim Clare, wishes to perform his Ministry inside the public schools in Australia. Here is how he puts it:
Secular education should not mean the absence of religion in schools or religious activities by students during school hours. Faith plays an important role in the growth and development of many students. We think secondary students of all faiths (including atheist or agnostic students) should be able to live out their faith in their schools, including meeting with other students and sharing and discussing religious materials. Subject to the support and approval of schools, we also think this should include appropriate participation from external groups. (emphasis ours).
This is a classic example of “euphemism” and “obfuscation”. Clare equates the lack of HIS MINISTRY in schools with an “absence of religion”. He makes motherhood statements about ‘faith” which are intended to disguise that he is pursuing a very specific objective with regards to “religion” and he completely downplays the fact that his objective is proselytising.
Clare has called in the The Australian Christian Lobby who have called in Members of Parliament, and spread the word in churches that the “government” wishes to “ban bibles” – but, very sensibly, what the Minister has done is asked schools to remove “external groups” (ie to remove him).
Obviously, since Tim Clare is a paid evangelist whose income and professional status is based on the propositon that he is allowed to do “Ministry in Schools”, he objects to this. But Tim Clare wants to be in schools for the same reason that Willie Sutton reported that he robbed banks because “that is where the money is” . If you’re looking for converts, then go where the young people are and …and go there often.
Imagine however, after being caught robbing the bank, Willie Sutton just wanted us to believe that his intent was to “look after the money”. This is exactly what Tim Clare wants to now tell us.
Tim Clare has was quoted in the paper as claiming:
“We totally understand schools are secular – we are respectful of that environment. Our particular focus was to support students who have a faith.”
The logic of the child evangelist is more or less that they they wish to free the hounds by forbidding the rabbits to have holes, but instead of admitting that he’s “seeking disciples” he now claims he’s “supporting students”.
Sound familiar? Yes, this is more or less the same claims that the advocates of chaplaincy in schools want. In fact, right there on the Mustard page you can see that it was a nexus between Chaplains and Mustard that got the whole ball rolling, and if this all sounds more or less like what Evonne Paddison laid out in her “Make Disciples Speech” … then you get a gold star for paying attention.
Consider for a second: Should parents have any right to assert that our schools are not seen as part of the “mission field” operated by the organised church run group seeking to disciple children?
Tim Clare wishes to make it seem like he’s in the schools to support people who are having a “hard time living their faith” … but this disguises a plain and simple evangelistic and expansionist missionary agenda which was plainly on display until someone started asking where we should draw the lines with religious groups operating inside schools:
What is going on now is that Tim Clare is furiously trying to reverse his agenda from “seeking to engage high school students in conversations about life through Jesus” to arguing that his group merely “appropriately supports students who already have a faith in Jesus”.
So right there you have have evidence of the lie – when pressed, Tim Clare simply changes his “mission” from one “seeking” to one “supporting” … by objecting to this program, FIRIS is not pursuing a policy of neutrality by upholding the secular principles of public education, but instead removing a vital support service that a minority needs.
This simple act of dishonesty ought to disqualify him from being in our schools, but as we’ve seen over and over, people who feel they are justified in seeking converts among other people’s children, have no compunction about telling lies for the right to do it.