This post is about "The Essendon Saga" - a story from Melbourne, Australia, featuring:
- an Aussie Rules football club, Essendon, which prides itself on its "inclusive" character.
- their need for a CEO.
- finding that CEO, Andrew Thorburn, a man with a distinguished track record as a CEO.
- some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed reporters digging into Thorburn's background and discovering that (1) he has a lay leadership role in a group of churches, City on a Hill,* and (2) a preacher at that church back in 2013 preached something considered objectionable by a majority of 2022's secular population.
- furore (not particularly focused on what Andrew Thorburn himself believes).
- Andrew Thorburn choosing to resign a day after being appointed but expressing regret that a Christian appears unwelcome in Australia's public space.
- quite a few views then being expressed about values, what Christians ought to believe, what Christians actually believe, whether people of faith are welcome in public life in Australia, etc --- see below.
- (We should note that on the views which were objected to a large number of Catholics, Muslims could be ousted from public life on the grounds of what a priest or imam preached in 2013!!).
-*City on a Hill is interesting in its own right as an Anglican-aligned group of churches.
Not much to add to what I have read but:
1. Not sure that our NZ cultural/political space is quite as vicious as Oz seems to be.
2. I worry that what happened to Andrew Thorburn happens because he is not Catholic or Muslim, i.e. that Protestants/Pentecostals are easy pickings for a media intent on finding fault(lines). Is it fair to pick on one group and not others?
3. Dan Andrews, Victoria's premier, is, at least to a degree, an illustration of 2. He is Catholic and sends his children to Catholic schools. Catholic teaching has not changed one iota on the matters which deconstructed Thorburn's brief tenure as CEO. Yet he can adroitly distance himself from the church to which he professes allegiance by claiming "my Catholicism" is not like ... whatever he doesn't agree with.
4. I really admire Archbishops Freier and Comensoli for standing up for the right to be Christian, including "Christian" meaning: having beliefs not all agree with, and to have a place in public life. If you like, their Christianity is my Christianity in a way that Dan Andrews' Christianity is not.
A view here
A report here
Michael Bird here.
Archbishop Philip Freier statement tweeted here.here.