Following the election of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Australia over the weekend, Christians would be forgiven for thinking that they are in for a difficult ride over the next few years.
In the last term of Parliament, Albanese's own party - the Australian Labour Party (ALP) – proposed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act that would make it harder for Christian schools to conduct their business in accordance with their ethos. And with a large Green vote in the Senate, the ALP will need them to pass laws or risk teaming up with their Liberal/National opponents.
Against such a backdrop, it would be natural to assume that Christian schools and faith-based institutions are under greater threat. And yet, with every grey cloud there is a silver lining.
The number one political lobby for Christians in Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), ran a targeted campaign against MPs who failed to support the Religious Discrimination Bill – a set of legislation allowing faith-based institutions to operate according to their values.
The ACL's plan was to reshape the Liberal Party after it had been hijacked by a more left-wing faction that was seeking to undermine former Prime Minister Scott Morrison's promise to bring anti-religious discrimination laws before the parliament.
The ACL targeted five rebel MPs who voted against the bill, dispatching flyers, knocking on doors, phone canvassing, putting up billboards and running newspaper ads in their local constituencies.
You could say their campaign was successful as four out of the five rebel MPs who voted against the bill ended up losing their seats, with only Tasmania's Bridget Archer surviving on preferences despite large swings to the Liberals in neighbouring districts.
Commenting on the outcome, the ACL's National Director of Politics Wendy Francis, noted: "The Australian Labor Party responded to the campaign by making promises to protect Christian schooling and enact religious discrimination laws.
"Faith communities have held the Morrison Government to account for it's failures on these policies and stand ready to do the same for Labor."
This promise from Labor suggests a greater will to protect Christian schools and a stronger position on religious freedom and religious discrimination post-election and post-ACL campaigning than perhaps what they had in the last term of parliament.
It shows that Christians can still influence the national conversation despite a trend in society in general away from Christianity.
We also saw this in South Australia where a large number of MPs who supported abortion up to birth lost their seats.
And it also shows that Christians will vote in accordance with their Christian values and put the individual candidate and what they stand for before any party.
This could vastly impact the political scene if parties take note and embrace more candidates with strong values that reflect their grassroots constituents.
The ACL's campaign has also taught us that the Church of Jesus Christ is still a powerful force.
However, attacks will certainly come and it's important that as Christians we are ready to roar and use our God-given influence.
Because Australia's greatest need is not a change of government but a change of hearts towards the Lord.
Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6 says:
"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6 NIV).
Ben Kruzins is a Pastor of The Hub Baptist Church in Regional New South Wales Australia. He has written articles in The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.