Christians Need Not Apply

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Upon being forced to resign only a day after being appointed CEO of the Essendon Football Club, Andrew Thorburn stated tellingly that his “personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square.”

Thorburn, who has had a distinguished career in business, including six years as CEO of the National Australia Bank, said he was forced to step down from Essendon because of his role as a church chairman.

“I was being ­required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience ­allowed,” he said.

“People should be able to hold different views on complex personal and moral matters, and be able to live and work together, even with those differences, and always with respect. Behaviour is the key. This is an important part of a tolerant and diverse society.”

Unfortunately, it seems, tolerance is no longer extended to those of the Christian faith. The seven players from the Manly rugby league club who objected to wearing “pride” jerseys, are Polynesians and devout Christians, and were roundly criticised for their stance.

Epoch Times Photo
The Manly Sea Eagles rainbow pride jersey is seen on a player during the round 20 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Sydney Roosters at 4 Pines Park in Sydney, Australia, on July 28, 2022. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

However, it’s hard not to see a double standard in their treatment—that meted out to Thorburn, compared with the treatment of AFL Women’s player and practising Muslim Haneen Zreika who declined to wear a “pride” jumper and cricketer and practising Muslim Fawad Ahmed who declined to have beer brand logo on his Australian shirt.

Accepting Views You Disagree With

As Senator Matt Canavan told Channel Nine’s, Today Show: “In our community, we have to accept everyone’s view, even if we disagree with them.”

“Hurt feelings should not lead to people losing their jobs. And good on to Andrew Thorburn for having the courage to stick by his religious convictions, giving up what is his dream job and we need to stand up against the bullies who tell us what we can believe.”

Thorburn’s church has an article on its website from 2013 titled “Surviving Same Sex Attraction as a Christian.” It is a mainstream Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. This belief is also reflected in Judaism and Islam, among other religions.

There was also indignation expressed over a sermon on the church website in which abortion was compared to the destruction of life in concentration camps. The traditional Christian view of abortion is that it involves the destruction of innocent human lives.

These facts are seemingly ignored by ill-informed yet self-appointed moral judges such as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Channel Seven host David Koch. They forget that, while it’s perfectly fine to disagree with these views, regarding them as intrinsically bigoted and hatred is grotesque.

Indeed, issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and who can marry are, by their very nature, divisive. Perfectly reasonable people will disagree on them, for this is the essence of living in a democracy.

As Canavan stated, “a lot of people” in Australia “don’t agree with abortion” and identified himself as one.

“I think it is the termination of a life. Those are uncomfortable views, and I realise why it might be hard, but if we are going to be a democracy, you have to accept some people have different views from time to time,” he said.

In the Pursuit of a Liberal Society, We’ve Become Illiberal

The fact is that the fundamental mission of Christianity is counter to modern cultural trends, which is one reason why the secular society finds its teachings so unpalatable.

According to the Bible, Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper (St John 15: 18-20): “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, the world would know you for its own and love you; it is because you do not belong to the world, because I have singled you out from the midst of the world, that the world hates you.”

Those who have expressed such outrage at Thorburn’s views also forget that it was Christianity that gave us the idea of the inherent dignity of each person, as well as ideas of tolerance and equality before the law.

As Greg Sheridan wrote in The Australian, our society is becoming ever more illiberal. With Israel Folau, the issue was freedom of speech. With the Manly rugby league players who didn’t want to wear the pride jersey, the issue was compelled speech. In Thorburn’s case, the issue is guilt by association with a sermon from nine years ago that preached traditional Christian morality.

Epoch Times Photo
A man is seen praying outside St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 23, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

It is now such a sorry state of affairs that a small minority sees its fundamental raison d’etre to pour over every minutia of every past interaction or conversation in search of offence or hurt so as to “cancel” someone.

Thus, everybody, as a consequence, now has to go through life always fearful of giving offence. There is no longer any room for independent thought and free and open debate.

What is more, while it is illegal to ask a job applicant about his or her religious affiliations if any, it seems, perversely, it is now legitimate to sack him or her on account of said affiliation.

The usual measure of success in a sporting club is whether it wins more games than it loses. Essendon, in hiring Andrew Thorburn, must have surely believed that he was the best person to enable them to do that.

That generally is the decision made when a person is hired: that he or she is the best person for the job.

Now, it seems no matter how good you are at what you do, no matter how distinguished a career you have had, if you are a Christian, you need not apply.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Rocco Loiacono

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Rocco Loiacono is a senior lecturer at Curtin University Law School in Perth, Australia, and is a translator from Italian to English. His work on translation, linguistics, and law have been widely published in peer-reviewed journals.



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