In recent months, I have heard a variety of views from people such as the 'check-out chick' to the professional journalists. I even heard an opinion that Julia Gillard was a 'witch' and a 'Freemason'.
I wondered if she could be both – and in fact I checked, and she could. A few Orders of Freemasons require that their members be Christians (such as some Knights of the Realm bestowed by the very Anglican Queen of England); but in general, Freemasons take people of any faith or none at all. Despite the mystique they engender, and the false accusations of many, Masons are in fact free to hold any religious belief whatsoever.
The other point of contention is the origin of the word 'Witch'. Although the real origin of this word is totally unknown, two possibilities are that in the Middle Ages, this came from a word meaning 'wife' (which Gillard isn't, except in Common Law terms) or maybe from the female of the original term for 'wizard' which meant 'wise person'. It is likely that our modern word 'wit', meaning intelligence, also came from this root.
I was taken aback by the unconfirmed accusations about our Prime Minister, particularly as they were circulated via a Christian theological source. It made me realise that sometimes all of us can get caught up in naming the sin of others, sometimes with no other information except how a particular person is perceived by media, or from a website of spurious information.
If it is important to us to know, we should check our facts carefully – otherwise, as in this case, we should perhaps just ignore it as 'urban myth'. After all, who should remember who should throw the first stone.
Julia Gillard was brought up in the Baptist tradition, but is now not religious. In a mid-2010 interview on ABC Melbourne Radio, when asked if she believed in God, Gillard stated: "No I don't ... I'm not a religious person ... I'm a great respecter of religious beliefs but they're not my beliefs."
Is it enough that we should just pray for that claim in itself, despite whatever else she may or may not be involved with?
We are called to pray, for 'all' those in authority; that the Lord help them to gain wisdom, knowledge, understanding and honesty in their dealings; and that they be delivered and/or shielded from occult practices. We also pray that they show humility, a desire of purity, Godly counsel, that if they are unsaved, we pray that they have an encounter with Jesus Christ.
"... God our Saviour, ... wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2 - Instructions on Worship NIV)
Perhaps that is a good start.
Many Christians would agree that God has sovereign control of our country's political position; but it is difficult to have complete faith in God when things seem out-of-control, shocking or just plain weird.
We sometimes entertain the thought that there is evil at play or that we are being led down the drain by a mob of goofs who haven't got a clue about running a country and who just like to yell at each other in that circus classroom they call 'parliament question time'. All, or some of that, may even be occurring.
But in our society, civil government is necessary and divinely ordained by God, it is ultimately under God's control. "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.." (Romans 13:1 - Submission to the Authorities, NIV)
Even Herod and Pilate were in God's plan. Herod handed Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. Despite what we may observe or perceive, God has a plan and the Scriptures state that the authorities that exist have been established by Him. That knowledge gives me hope, helps to cement my faith, and enables me to accept the human frailties of our political leaders with a little more charity.