Australia’s ambassador to the U. S.
visited with Adventist Church leaders last week at the denomination’s
headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, affirming the South Pacific country’s
commitment to religious freedom and discussing the government’s ongoing
financial support for private education.
Kim Beazley, the former deputy
prime minister, thanked church leaders for hosting him in his first visit since
he became ambassador in 2010.
“There’s a wonderful sense of peace
and purpose about this building and about the people in it. That comes, of
course, with the experience everybody in this place has had at the cross and
what it means in their lives,” Beazely told a group of church leaders during a
protocol lunch on April 10.
Beazley spoke briefly on a variety
of subjects, drawing on his knowledge of the country from his long and varied
political career in the federal government. Beazley has served as minister for
transport and Communications, defense, finance, and employment.
He said Australia is a largely
secular society, but its government funds private schools, including religious
institutions. Beazley also said faith-based institutions are the most reliable
in delivering aid at home and abroad, particularly through health and education
initiatives. “Adventists are enormously present in both,” he said.
Church leaders thanked Beazley for
Australia’s religious freedom and government funding of private schools.
“We want you to know that
Seventh-day Adventists are very much part of helping to build the structure of
society, …and we are extremely gratified that Australia provides full religious
freedom,” said Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson.
Australia’s federal and state
governments fund private schools on an as-needed basis, anywhere from 25
percent to 100 percent or more, based on specials needs or populations they
serve, Beasley said.
Education director Lisa
Beardsley-Hardy said she was proud of Beazley’s father, who served as Minister
for Education in the 1970s and introduced the government funding for
schools. “I wanted to publically thank you for what your father has done
in making distinction between choice and conscience and allowing federal funds
going to parents who wish to educate their children in private schools for
reasons of conscience,” she told Beazley.
The Adventist Church in Australia
has more than 58,000 members and operates nearly 50 primary and secondary
schools, as well as Avondale College. The church there also operates Sanitarium
Health and Wellbeing Company, which produces the national iconic breakfast cereal
The Adventist Church headquarters
and the International Religious Liberty Association periodically host diplomats
to strengthen relationships in the promotion of religious freedom. In the last
year alone, diplomats have visited from Cuba, Fiji, Romania, Switzerland and