David Phillips was a university student delving into physics and higher mathematics when he was invited to join a group discussing the Bible. He went along, because he liked philosophical discussions. But he soon found that his new friends did more than discuss – they lived what they learned.
He decided to read this book for himself, and began at the beginning. Before he had reached Revelation, he had committed his life to following Jesus. His book, Courage in a hostile world: the story of FamilyVoice Australia – launched at the Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) conference in September – tells what happened next.
I was struck by the opening story of David Phillips in his dressing gown, recovering from the flu, hearing a knock at the door. To his great surprise, his wife Ros ushers two burly senior detectives into the lounge room. What crime has he – now a Christian leader – committed?
The police show him a leaflet he'd sent out a few weeks earlier. It includes the name and address of Festival of Light (as FamilyVoice was then called). But the state's imprint law require the printer's details to be included. They are missing.
David confesses that he has never heard of this law. His printer Mal is a friend from church who had started his business with a small press in his garage. Mal later apologises for forgetting to include his business name and address.
But David Phillips is perplexed. The offence is a minor technical breach – surely not the real reason busy senior police officers have driven all the way to his outer suburban home to confront him.
The police look uncomfortable. They suggest that the South Australian law would not apply if the leaflet had been printed interstate. But David did not want to tell this white lie. Who made the complaint?
The police allow David Phillips to glimpse the official complaint, typed on the letterhead of the South Australia's Premier's Department. Then light dawns.
The leaflet had been circulated at a large rally against child pornography, legally available in South Australia at that time. In one section, a graph of South Australian rape reports showed they had skyrocketed after hardcore porn was legalised some years earlier. In Queensland, where hardcore porn was still illegal, rape reports had remained steady. It was a dramatic difference.
A petition circulated with the leaflet had gained over 14,000 signatures in just two weeks. The Premier, proud of his government's "progressive" agenda, was said to be furious.
Find out what happened
You can find out what happened by reading the rest of the book – which is often
hard to put down. It tells the FamilyVoice roller-coaster ride after its launch in 1973, and the huge 1960s sex-and-drugs revolution that dramatically changed Western culture.
It is full of stories of the courageous men and women who spoke out in defence of "family, faith and freedom" over the last 40 years. ARPA president Peter Bentley commended the book at its Canberra launch, saying it "tells the history through stories".
"Courage in a hostile world is timely," he said. "Christians do indeed face a hostile world. So much is going on that we've forgotten how to blush!" He described the book as "riveting reading".
Bob Thomas, who edits Australia's New Life newspaper, said in his 15 September review that "Courage in a hostile world is so attractively presented it could almost be a coffee table book. It tells its story comprehensively but never tediously and is liberally illustrated.
"More importantly, though, it provides a tangible record of a fight against evil in so many of its manifestations, spearheaded by this couple whose dedication inspired a large number of other concerned people to become involved," Bob Thomas said.
The book has been warmly commended by Australian Christian leaders, including former Governor-General Michael Jeffery, former deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, Crossway Baptist Church founding pastor Stuart Robinson, Tabor College founder Barry Chant, Labor Senator Joe Bullock and Family First Senator Bob Day.
You can order a copy ($40 including postage & packing) by phoning FamilyVoice office on 1300 365 965 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. The above photo is the upper part from this portrait.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html