Editor’s note: In his decades’ efforts to voice out true family values, Greg Bondar, NSW State Director of FamilyVoice Australia, has been urging the church and fellow Christians to stand out and defend the truth amid the declining Christianity in his country with the rising new secular culture popularism. In an exclusive with China Christian Daily, Greg shared his concerns on the challenges to family values in the West, Christians’ commitment to the political discourses, the danger of cancel culture and “wokeism” as well as his encouragement for the church in China.
China Christian Daily: Greg, Could you please introduce yourself?
Greg Bondar: I am a Christian, Lay Preacher and a Chaplain and a Speaker at Christian conferences, forums, and meetings. I worship at a local Anglican church in the southern suburbs of Sydney. I am one of the Leaders of a national men’s ministry called MoMENtum. I am also on the Board of Directors for Mission to Seafarers (Sydney) and a Member of the Parish Council in my local church. I also serve as the NSW State Director of FamilyVoice Australia.
I have been married to Lynne for 45 years and we have three children. My wife Lynne is a schoolteacher at a girls' school where she teaches geography, business, religion and she is also a school chaplain.
I have been the CEO of national and international non-profit organisations such as charities and was a senior adviser to Hon John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia back in the late 1990s.
China Christian Daily: Can you share with us the basic situation of Christianity in Australia?
Greg Bondar: Christianity in Australia, like many western economies, is on the decline unlike countries like China and Africa where the growth is exponential. The proportion of Australians identifying Christianity as their religion has been declining over the last century – from 96% in 1911 to 52% in the 2016 Census. Over the last decade, Christianity in Australia has declined from 61.1% to 52%. The number of Australians identifying with Christianity is more than 24 times larger than the numbers identifying with the second largest religion in Australia, Buddhism (2.5%). Indeed, the proportion of Australians identifying with Christianity as their religion is more than eight times larger than Australians identifying with all other religions combined (7.3%).
Christianity is declining because the government is becoming less and less committed to religion and Christianity in particular. Our constitution was founded on a Judeo-Christian background which highlights the important contribution Christianity ha made to our judicial and legal system. Christianity was the number one religion, but now it's down to about 50% of the people. It's a big problem for us, because people are not required in the census to identify as Christians whether they're Catholic, Anglican or Baptist but particularly the younger population. So, the reason for decline in Australia is the growth in the ‘new’ secular populism where people don’t want religion or want to identify with the Bible.
China Christian Daily: Could you please introduce FamilyVoice Australia? Why does it promote family values in your country and how is the situation there? What's the challenge you face in the operation of your work?
Greg Bondar: FamilyVoice Australia is a non-denominational conservative Christian organisation. It was known as Festival of Light Australia from 1973 to 2008. Its stated mission was to be "a Christian ministry to the nation, promoting true family values in the light of the wisdom of God". The name was changed to FamilyVoice Australia on 1 July 2008 in order to eliminate confusion with the many other festivals or groups around the world called "Festival of Light" or "Festival of Lights". Key activities at FamilyVoice Australia include providing information to supporters, churches and community leaders and lobbying on issues of concern to Christians. Our key issues revolve around family, freedom and faith.
I am currently involved in a number of national campaigns where we oppose Euthanasia/Voluntary Assisted Dying, Abortion, LGBTIQA+ Ideology, and Same-Sex Marriage. I am currently leading a campaign to have a Religious Discrimination Bill introduced by the federal Parliament so people would be free to express their faith in the public square.
China Christian Daily: Can you tell us in general the challenge to family values in the Western world?
Greg Bondar: The major challenges facing families in Australia, and indeed the western world, revolves around the ‘watering down’ and erosion of the traditional natural family comprising a male father and a female mother. The growth of ‘wokeism’ is destroying the nuclear family model along with the attack on our Christian values and morals. Other challenges include:
• Abuse of woman
• Gambling and drug addiction mainly by men
• Growth in separations and/or divorce
• Removal of parental rights by governments
• Increase in the addiction to online pornography, especially by children
• The growth promoting same-sex attraction and transgenderism
China Christian Daily: In your opinion, what can Christian organizations, churches, and Christians do to help society hold the Christian family values?
Greg Bondar: There is a real need for Christians as individuals and churches to engage in political discourse. The idea that Church and State do not mix is long gone and unless we express our faith in the public arena, Christianity will continue to decline in western societies. Christians need to have their voices heard so it is important that we are actively working as part of the Great Commission.
We need more committed Christians in government, and we need to ensure that we lobby for legislation that reflects our Christian family values.
Though the situation in China is not as serious as in the western world, we can feel China is on the same trend. We read media reports that China does have a ‘censorship’ problem with Christians being silenced, churches closed or persecuted.
China Christian Daily: What does your new book Silencing of the Lambs: Wokeism and Cancel Culture’s Attack on Christianity in Australia talk about?
Greg Bondar: The message of this book is that everyone has a duty to oppose cancel culture which is dividing society and fomenting mistrust. The Gospel’s instruction is clear: ‘Let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour’.” The prevalence of cancel culture is a sign that we've devolved from a Western liberal democracy to a woke mob 'democracy' where two Marxist wolves and the conservative lamb vote on what's for lunch. It's high time for the lambs to become lions and fight back.
The Church is almost paralysed in the dilemma of what to defend and what to confess. We can do both at the same time for repentance is not weakness and courage is a great virtue. Whatever your faith, readers of this book will understand what it means to be persecuted and cancelled by the left with its aggressive intolerance of Judeo-Christian values. We know!
China Christian Daily: Have you heard of Mary Andrews, an Anglican female missionary who came to China in 1938?
Greg Bondar: Yes, I know about Mary Andrews and I have read many books on her. In Australia, we have the Mary Andrews College, which equips women to serve Christ throughout a whole lifetime. She lived out her faith by helping other women to flourish in Kingdom work, as well as ministering to and caring for the gospel poor and the disadvantaged. As a teenager, Mary heard the voice of God say to her, “China, China, China”. In response, Mary said to God, “From this day, I yield the control of my life to you. I am willing to be obedient, even if it means going to China.”
China Christian Daily: Have you ever been to China? Can you share the historical exchanges between the church in Australia and the church in China? Do you expect any further interaction?
Greg Bondar: I have been to China numerous times on business and involved in some missions. I have been to Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. The largest growth of churches in Australia are Chinese-dominated churches with many churches now conducting dual Sunday services in English and Mandarin. There are serious new allegations that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to infiltrate Chinese church congregations here in Australia.
I have seen many faith tours go to China before COVID and this has brought the two countries closer from a Christian perspective.
China Christian Daily: What’s the will of God for China in your opinion? Any word for Chinese Christians?
Greg Bondar: God works in mysterious ways. The fact that persecution of Christians is rife in China has convinced me that suffering is necessary to further the Kingdom of God. Persecution levels in China have gone up largely because Christians are facing increased pressure from the Chinese authorities so church life is still the place where Christians face the most persecution.
My understanding is that surveillance in China is among the most oppressive and sophisticated in the world. Church attendance is rigorously monitored, and many churches are being closed down—whether they are independent or belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (the officially state-sanctioned Protestant church in China).
There is a real need for discipleship and persecution survival training and the best way to achieve this would be by providing Christian literature to believers, continuing home group studies, and prayer meetings when and wherever possible.