Corner of Crown & Albion Streets, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia
Photo by Albert Chiu



The stained glass windows of CPC's auditorium.

Pastoral Letter 17th September 2023

Rev. Christopher Chan

Christian considerations about The Voice referendum

My purpose in writing on this topic is twofold: firstly, to share some thoughts about what to consider in determining how to vote in the referendum, and secondly to encourage Christian discussion of significant societal issues even if they have become political. In today’s world, nearly all significant public matters are politicised. As we are commanded to be salt and light of the world, we cannot, and should not avoid political issues. Some Christians have misunderstood the meaning of “separation of church and state” and are inhibited from engaging in any discussion political. This is a misnomer that is important to correct.

As I see it, there are three categories of considerations in determining whether to support The Voice, viz. biblical, governmental and political.

Biblical: The publicised reasons for The Voice are firstly to give recognition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (hereinafter ATSI) as one important step in the “reconciliation” with them after the atrocities done to them by British colonialism in history. Secondly, it is to permanently establish an avenue for the government to consult with ATSI with the view of improving their well-being and giving them equal opportunities in life in Australia. These are right and honourable intentions consistent with biblical teachings. ATSI currently have a significantly shorter life expectancy and standard of living compared to the Australian average, and these gaps should be bridged over time. There is no doubt that they suffered greatly when settlers displaced them from the land, killed many of them and imposed Western ways of life on them. Much as we, as migrants many decades later had no part in the misdeeds of the original colonisation, we are now part of this nation, and have ownership of its history, whether we like it or not. {cf. Daniel’s ownership of the sins of his ancestors although he had no part in committing those sins.} Biblical principle is that when we have wronged someone, we need to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Loving others, particularly those deprived is, of course, a clear biblical teaching.

Governmental: These considerations pertain to whether The Voice would contribute to good government, including its appropriateness and effectiveness in achieving the stated purposes. These considerations are in the domain of practical implementation of principles and are not directly informed by scripture. They need the wisdom of judgement after considering a range of opinions and earnest praying. The considerations include:

a. While recognition of the ATSI and their past and present suffering, and the establishment of a permanent avenue of consultation can only be positive, there is debate about whether to do it constitutionally is appropriate and best. There are also questions about whether recognition of one people group and not others would strengthen or weaken national unity.

b. Reconciliation is a good thing, but there is a very diverse understanding of what reconciliation with the ATSI would involve. There is no possible way of undoing what was done in history. To some, Australia is so indebted to the ATSI that any step towards that goal is worth taking, and they do not consider it necessary to have the overall picture first. Others feel strongly otherwise, that a commitment should not be entered into without understanding its extent.

c. Some feel that The Voice is a solid step forward to pave the way for other measures to be taken to improve the well-being of the ATSI. Even if results would take a long term to eventuate, the symbolism of recognition is vital. Others think that The Voce is no more than window-dressing and has no practical value. Some advocates of ATSI rights think that it is being used as an excuse for the government not to do something more practical for the betterment of the ATSI.

Political: The Voice is being championed by the Labour Party and the Opposition is against it. Their positions could have arisen from their ideologies and convictions, but undoubtedly, there is also partisan politics involved. That is what we, as Christians, should not allow to influence our decisions.

Let us be diligent in considering how to vote through prayerfully seeking guidance from the Lord.

基督徒對《原住民之音》[1] 公投的考慮


在我看來,在決定是否支持《原住民之音The Voice;以下簡稱「原音」》時需要考慮三方面,即:聖經原則、施政果效和黨派政治。

聖經原則:設立《原音》所聲稱的理由首先是承認原住民和托雷斯海峽島民 (以下簡稱「原住民」)在社會的地位,並作為因以往英國殖民主義對他們所施的暴行與他們「和解」的重要一步。其次是永久建立政府與原住民協商的渠道,以改善他們的福祉,並為他們在澳大利亞的生活提供平等機會。這些都是符合聖經教訓,並是光明正大的用意。與澳大利亞平均水平相比,原住民目前的預期壽命相當短,生活水平也很低,這些差距應該隨著時間而縮小。毫無疑問,當移民將他們逐出原居地、殺害許多人並將西方生活方式及文化強加他們身上時,他們遭受了巨大的傷害。對我們在事發後數百年移民來澳的人來說,雖然我們並沒有參與最初殖民統治的罪行,我們現在是這個國家的一部分,也承繼了澳大利亞的歷史遺產,因此我們不能卸下尋找解決方的責任。{參見但以理承擔他祖先的罪孽之責任,儘管他個人並沒有參與犯那些罪。} 聖經原則是,當我們得罪他人時,我們需要尋求寬恕與和解。我們須愛他人,特別是那受我們剝奪的人。這當然也是聖經明確的教導。







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