Australia News & Commentary

Death by Cowardice and Pragmatism

"Whilst acknowledging the intrinsic value of life, saying that murder is wrong, and taking a firm stand on the refusal to perform any VAD procedures, Queensland Baptists failed to refuse to play any part whatsoever in the killing of the elderly and other vulnerable people due to the need to meet 'the minimum obligations for an entity required by the Act.'"

Just so everyone knows, I am a Baptist and I am not ashamed of that.

Having said that, 2022 saw me become a Baptist only by virtue of conviction, not by virtue of association.

Throughout this current year, I gained increasing clarity about the fact that walking in partnership with those responsible for running the Queensland Baptist (QB) association was no longer a possibility for me.

This doesn’t mean I stopped associating with other QB churches. My natural and organic partnership with other Baptist Churches in Queensland and beyond continues to go very well, but the crux of the issue here is that the people inhabiting the QB head office and I haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye on way too many issues for a while now.

Needless to say, I also started to notice that the space for the type of non-conforming individuals like I am, was starting to diminish rapidly in the association. For me, that meant the time to leave the formal association of Baptist Churches in Queensland had arrived.

I only say the above as an attempt to be fully transparent. I am not a person in love with the way my own former church association is conducting its own affairs currently. But even in that case, although I believe I had much to say, I have refrained from voicing any concerns of mine publicly.

Don’t get me wrong, I was very vocal to the vast majority of QB leaders in private and in denominational public settings, such as general assemblies. No one will be able to say that there was no attempt to say anything about what was going on. I also spoke abundantly with other pastors and churches in the association, but I had never chosen to write anything to be published in a public forum such as this one.

Well, that was up until now.

Queensland Baptists and the new state Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) legislation

Early this week, Carinity, Queensland Baptists’ care arm responsible for areas such as age care, education, and chaplaincy, for example, announced its new policy in response to the change in legislation in Queensland around Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD).

Whilst a medical practitioner or institution in Queensland can still refuse to provide any VAD services, the following still applies to them according to the new act:

A registered health practitioner who, because of a conscientious objection, refuses to do a thing mentioned in subsection (1) for a person seeking information or assistance about voluntary assisted dying, must

(a) inform the person that other health practitioners, health service providers or services may be able to assist the person; and

(b) give the person—

(i) information about a health practitioner, health service provider or service who, in the practitioner’s belief, is likely to be able to assist the person; or

(ii) the details of an official voluntary assisted dying care navigator service that is able to provide the person with information (including name and contact details) about a health practitioner, health service provider or service who may be able to assist the person.

In response to the piece of legislation above and the rest of the new act in general, Queensland Baptists, on behalf of Carinity, issued a statement containing the following words:

Without attempting to diminish the suffering of others, we believe that God has ordained life and all people carry inherent value to Him (Ps 139:13-16; Gen 1:26-27; Jer 1:5; Matt 10:29-31). However, for Carinity services to remain legally open from 1 January 2023, the Carinity Council is required to provide policy on how to make the VAD Act available to valid residents.

The decision therefore is that legally, while Carinity cannot dissuade residents from exploring VAD, Carinity do not agree with the VAD Act and chooses not to suggest or promote VAD to any resident or family member. No Carinity staff member or volunteer will participate in VAD, however, Carinity legally commits to meeting the minimum obligations for an entity required by the Act.

What’s up with that?

At the risk of stating the obvious, the section above clearly demonstrates the death of a Christian organization by cowardice and pragmatism.

Whilst acknowledging the intrinsic value of life, saying that murder is wrong, and taking a firm stand on the refusal to perform any VAD procedures, Queensland Baptists failed to refuse to play any part whatsoever in the killing of the elderly and other vulnerable people due to the need to meet “the minimum obligations for an entity required by the Act”.

In other words, Queensland Baptists, rightly so, will refuse to kill the elderly and the vulnerable, but they still think it is ok to provide information and point people in the direction of those who can provide such a service. Can you see the implications of that? Try to substitute the sin of murder (as if this one isn’t shocking enough!!!) for other types of abhorrent sins such as sexual immorality, paedophilia, abortion, etc. Do you think it is ok for Queensland Baptists to, whilst refusing to provide paedophilia-related services, play any part in connecting the victims of paedophilia to their abusers? Can you see the problem with that yet?

Seriously, Queensland Baptist brothers, what’s up with that?

My dear Queensland Baptist churches and friends, this one will be on you

Whilst it is true that individual local churches played no direct part on Carinity’s end, ultimately, the QB board’s decision on this matter, it is also true they will not have clean hands if this policy is implemented on the 1st of January next year.

The Queensland Baptists board as well as the many institutions connected to QB, they all fall under the direct authority of the assembly of the local churches. QB’s administrative body, as well as its parachurch organizations, are vested with power by the assembly of local churches to execute their will. Whether my QB friends like this or not, unless churches say something, as of the 1st of January, Carinity’s actions will go ahead with your consent and blessing.

Brethren, for all that is precious in this world, may this not be so. It is time to stop and think on the damage a cowardly and pragmatic style of leadership is doing to this once prestigious institution called Queensland Baptists. But, most importantly, it is time to stop and think on the damage a cowardly and pragmatic style of leadership is doing to the gospel witness of local communities of Baptist churches all over Queensland.

Brethren, all who attend and are members at Queensland Baptist churches, it is with fear and trembling that I say, if you refuse to do something in relation to this, you will have blood on your hands once Carinity’s new policies are enacted. If this goes ahead next year, I am so deeply sorry to say my dear Queensland Baptists churches and friends, this one will be on you.