Open letter to the Australian Christian Lobby

This is my open letter to Jim Wallace, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Please share this letter via social media.

Dear Mr. Wallace,

In the last year the ACL has released significantly more statements on homosexuality than on all other social issues combined. This bias brings into question the agenda of the ACL and suggests that it is not one of advancing Christian values, but rather of promoting the narrow social interests of a niche clique with a radical social agenda.

Your organisation openly supports legislation to allow schools to expel students for being gay. You are in effect supporting segregation on the basis of biological traits. This is no different to the radical ‘Christians’ who 50 years ago supported segregation based on another biological trait – race. If you sincerely support segregating schools on the basis of sexuality, you are indeed intent on turning back time and restoring policies which, thankfully, are a part of our past and not our present. Rather than reverting to a White Australia Policy, you seem intent on implementing a Straight Australia Policy. Thankfully your views are so hysterically out of touch with mainstream Australia, and indeed the vast majority of the Australian Christian community, that your organisation is teetering on the brink of irrelevance.

You claim that your organisation is there to lobby for ‘Christian values’. However your values are inconsistent with those of the broader Christian community. Recent polling indicates that the majority of Australian Christians support equal marriage rights, and I suspect virtually none support your policy of homosexual segregation in schools. This brings into question whose values you are really advancing. They are most certainly not Christian ones.

Recently your organisation received massive donations from the Gloria Jean’s coffee franchise. Gloria Jean’s is privately owned – in part by members of the radical Hillsong Church – with a global sales estimate of $500 million dollars. Perhaps, rather than being a beneficiary of these massively wealthy individuals, you should criticise the ‘Christian’ owners on the basis that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).

During a recent television debate you equated gay rights activists with Nazis, suggesting they had a lot in common with Joseph Goebbels. I fail to see how people who are systematically discriminated against demanding equal treatment is tantamount to fascism. To my knowledge Joseph Goebbels was not a gay rights activist, nor particularly in favour of any form of human rights for that matter. To the contrary he was complicit in the mass summary execution of homosexuals. If anything is fascist it’s your disregard for the democratic will of the people. Using its affluent business connections, your organisation systematically lobbies against the will of the Australian people and indeed against the will of the majority of Australian Christians whom it claims to represent.

On ANZAC day you posted the Twitter comment “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for — wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!”. It now appears that, according to you, our servicemen and women are not dying to defend Australia, its democratic values and its pluralism, but only non-Muslim heterosexuals.

I notice from your portrait on the ACL homepage that you are an attractive, clean-shaved man. This must be an inconvenience to you given that Leviticus 19:27 states “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard”. Your suit is rather attractive too. I assume it’s not made of pure wool, which is problematic given that Leviticus 19:19 reads “…nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together”. But then again, it is obvious that these sections of the Bible are not intended to be taken literally – they need to be interpreted in their proper historical context – correct?

On the other hand, your arguments against homosexuality are based on a strict literalist interpretation of small segments of the Old Testament. If you identified as a Biblical literalist, at least we could give you merit for being consistent. However, if you were indeed a Biblical literalist you would be an institutionalised schizophrenic, serving ten consecutive life sentences in the Hague for war crimes. But until the day comes when you stop wearing that fancy suit of yours, you stop shaving and you stop eating shellfish (Leviticus 11:10), I am reluctant to give credit to your claims of biblical literalism.

What bothers me about your partial literalism is that you have a very pick-and-choose attitude as to what sections of the Bible are intended to be taken literally. You seem to very conveniently ignore the sections of the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, that would inconvenience your own lifestyle, while literally interpreting the sections that give you justification to preach discrimination and hatred towards others.

According to the interpretation of the New Testament I was taught as a child in Sunday School, the essence of the New Testament is to express love and acceptance towards others, irrespective of who they are. Certainly this is the message of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:29). The New Testament tell us “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), yet the mainstay of the ACL is to judge and discriminate against those with different biological traits.

The New Testament is filled to the brim with references to helping the poor – “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17). But rather than donating money to help the poor, your organisation is financed by and cooperates with the super rich. Indeed, your public statements on the evils of homosexuality massively outnumber your statements on social policy towards helping the poor and homeless. Perhaps you should use the immense wealth of the ACL and its benefactors to run soup kitchens or provide subsidised housing for the destitute.

You routinely insinuate that homosexual relationships are prone to breakdown. Perhaps it’s time you made public statements on heterosexual marriage breakdown. In Australia approximately one third of heterosexual marriages end in divorce. In relation to marriage, Mark 10:8 reads “You are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”. Perhaps you should focus your attention on addressing heterosexual marriage breakdown rather than advocating preventing loving people from entering marriage in the first place. The New Testament has made its position on divorce quite clear, but you don’t seem to have much to say on this issue. On the other hand, I’ve been searching all morning and can’t find anything about preventing loving people from getting married, yet you have a lot to say about that. And certainly there is no biblical precedent for segregation in schools on the basis of sexual orientation.

Mr. Wallace, your organisation does not represent the Australian Christian community – I think the majority of Australian Christians would be embarrassed by your organisation. You represent a clique with a fanatical sexual obsession with what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. You and your organisation are deeply hypocritical and extremely selective in your interpretation of the Bible. I’m left asking the question “who does the ACL really represent?”, because it certainly isn’t the Christians.

Dr. Peter Rohde

8 thoughts on “Open letter to the Australian Christian Lobby”

  1. Well written, and I generally agree.

    Though I would defend the right of schools to exclude students for any reason, including being gay or anything else. The right to discriminate is a basic human right, and I would argue it is a more important right than the “right to marry”. When the government tells you how you must treat other people on your own property, you have started a very dangerous game.

    I imagine that the vast majority of schools would not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation… and that any bigoted schools that did exist would likely earn a very poor reputation making it difficult for them to continue. Such is life.

  2. Religious hypocrites who use their religion to promote hate are evil people.

    They are happy to ignore the parts of the Bible they choose:
    Eating shellfish is an abomination.
    Wearing clothing of mixed fibres is an abomination
    People who work the Sabbath must be put to death.
    Non-virgin brides must be stoned to death.

    They eat their prawns, wear poly-cotton clothing, work on Sunday and no doubt know women who married and were not virgins, yet failed to stone them to death – and they say gays are the evil sinners!!!!!

    Disgusting Hypocrites

  3. I’m totally in support of the writers comments, and I too find it difficult to reconcile the ACL’s ongoing vitriolic hatemongering, with a Loving God. I also concerns me that the reader above feels “the right to discriminate is more important than the right to marry”! I’m hoping I’ve misconstrued your comments, because stereotyping and discrimination should not be an accepted form of treatment toward any person or group. The United Nations describes discriminatory behavior as one that “involves some form of exclusion or rejection” and excluding a student from any school on the basis of sexual orientation is nothing more than state sponsored homophobia. The Christian Right need to focus on important social issues, such as homelessness and the increasing rates of youth suicide, and stop focusing on a much needed ruling, allowing consenting Loving adults to marry.

  4. I read your letter with interest. As a Christian I find it sad that you would hold such an understanding of Jim Wallace and the ACL who I believe do an outstanding job, even though they fight against what you are fighting for. It has also saddened me to see how often the activists mention the Bible (see comment above) often referring to old testament scripture, and yet it’s obvious that they have no real understanding of the Bible. To a Christian this is made clear and it is often difficult to try and answer their statements in a short comment forum without appearing to ‘teach’ or ‘preach’ to them.
    I understand that activists want to fight the church but they need to accept that, because the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, the church is never going to change on this. I am also aware that the comment ‘most Australian Christians support same sex marriage’ is based on dubiously questioned polls and is also not considered to be a true reflection on the church view around the country. To a true believer they would question anyone claiming to be a Christian whilst also supporting same sex marriage.
    But saddest of all is the way this debate has been discussed, often with anger and prejudice, and yes some judgement also.
    Let’s hope that in the coming months both sides can have a rational debate in a peaceful and respectful manner. I also hope that Jim Wallace will read your letter and be given opportunity to reply to the many complaints directed towards him.

  5. It is very interesting to encounter a piece of writing that I both agree with and in which I identify errors. So firstly, let me position myself: I am a Christian woman, an elder and a worship leader in my church. I am also a passionate campaigner for social justice in every area where I believe that injustice exists.

    So, Dr Rohde, there is an error in your argument when you bring up Leviticus. The Old Testament is linked with the original covenant between God and his people from the time of Noah. The original covenant was superseded by the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. This means that the laws and restrictions of the old covenant do not apply to the Christian believer. So Mr Wallace is totally entitled to eat shellfish, be clean shaven and wear whatever combinations of fabrics he sees fit. Also, I am entitled to enter the church while menstruating, and the statements in Leviticus against homosexuality are invalid for a Christian. However, if Mr Wallace chooses to base his argument against homosexuality on Romans 1, he needs to be very certain of his translation and his interpretation of Paul’s writings. Romans 1:26-27 talks about ‘unnatural relations’. Given that we have scientific proof that homosexuality occurs in many other species, it is not unnatural. I believe that there is also scientific proof of sexuality being coded genetically, rather than being a choice. Thus, sexuality cannot be unnatural.

    Dr Rodhe, thank you for your letter. I hope that you will consider examining these alternative points for discussion which I have listed above.

  6. Heya Bobbie,

    The tricky thing about tolerance is that it means you have to tolerate things you disagree with. Tolerance doesn’t mean allowing people to agree with you. Even in Stalinist Russia people were “free” to do as they were told.

    So you disagree with homophobic bigots. Good. So do I… but will you tolerate them? Or do you only “tolerate” people who you think are “good”? That’s a dangerous game, and very similar to the game played by groups like the ACL. When government because a tool of imposing the “correct” morality on the “naughty” people then we are forever at the mercy of populism and trends, and we live with the constant threat of censorship if our views become too “strange”.

    Also, it’s pointless arguing against stereotyping and discriminating, because you (and every other person on earth) do it all the time. For example, you probably discriminate against homophobic people. You probably stereotype that people from China can speak Chinese. It is impossible to live life without some degree of generalization. The thing you should be against is bigotry.

    Finally, something isn’t state sponsored if it isn’t done by the state. I’m not arguing for state-sponsored discrimination. I’m saying that people (including homophobes) should be allowed to live their own life according to their own morality, so long as they’re peaceful.

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