Australian Christian Lobby
|Registration no.||40 075 120 517 (ABN)|
|Chairman, Jim Wallace AM
Managing director, Lyle Shelton
Chairman Emeritus, Tony McLellan
|Slogan||Voice for values|
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is a prominent conservative Christian advocacy organisation, based in Canberra. It is similar to the Christian right lobby groups found in the United States.
As at 2017 it is conducting a high-profile campaign to support the retention of the legal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and has sought to exempt debate on this topic from hate speech laws.
LGBT rights advocate Carl Katter has said that the aim of the group is to "facilitate and perpetuate hate". Others have said it operates from a Christian dominionist and reconstructionist theology. ACL rejects those labels.
The ACL is registered as a public company, limited by guarantee and files political expenditure returns with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Funding comes mostly from individuals but names are not disclosed by the organisation. It has no political affiliation and makes no statements regarding faith. Eternity House, the Deakin ACT headquarters of ACL is registered as a separate not-for-profit entity.
ACL activities include:
- national, pre-election "Make it Count" events and other conferences/forums where Australian political leaders address individuals and groups sharing common views with the ACL
- state-based, "Make it Count" events have been held in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. These events are often webcast to a wider audience. For both federal and state elections, the ACL holds "Meet Your Candidate" forums, primarily in marginal seats, to give voters an opportunity to meet and question the people who are seeking their vote.
- written and oral representations to federal and state/territory parliaments and their agencies
- distribution of Viewpoint to Australian parliamentarians
- release of media releases.
The Australian Christian Coalition (ACC) was founded in 1995 by John Gagliardi, a lay leader of a large Pentecostal church in Brisbane. Gagliardi had held journalistic positions as editor of the Townsville Bulletin and as a presenter for Channel 10 news. Co-founders include John McNicoll, a retired Baptist minister turned lobbyist in Canberra, and John Miller, a Baptist who held lay leadership positions within his Canberra church.
The organisation changed its name to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in March 2001.
In September 2012 Prime Minister Julia Gillard cancelled a speech to the ACL's annual conference after the organisation's managing director Jim Wallace argued that the health effects of homosexuality on individuals were worse than smoking.
The Australian Christian Lobby is threatening to take the unprecedented step of campaigning against a Coalition government, warning Liberal MPs that it could direct members to support minor right-wing parties if they don't follow their policy of a People's Vote.
In October 2014, ACL held a conference at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra which was followed by complaints to the hotel and a social media campaign directed against it. In response the hotel issued a statement saying they, "don't discriminate against guests who want to conduct lawful business at Hyatt hotels". This subsequently, "attracted considerable community support for the commercial rights of the Hyatt and threatened the free-speech credentials of the marriage-equality lobby". In September 2016, a meeting at a Sydney hotel, planned by ACL to discuss same-sex marriage issues, had to be cancelled due to "threats of violence" to staff and guests. The 100 participants subsequently met at another venue.
In December 2016, a van containing four 9 kg propane-gas bottles was set on fire beside the ACL building, which caused $100,000 damage to ACL's empty offices. Police who interviewed the man said, in December, that the incident was not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated. In February 2017, the investigation into the bombing was reported as "active", but "frozen" due to the driver's medical condition. Documents tended by the police to the ACT Magistrate's Court, in August 2017, said the accused, Jayden Duong, disliked the ACL and would have been, "happy to see it destroyed". He was also a former competitor in Mr Gay Asian Pacific. Previously he had undertaken internet searches on topics including, "Australian Christian Lobby", "countries with same sex marriage" and "pressure cooker bomb". In a submission as part of this trial, Duong's lawyers stated that his mental state at the time of the incident had been a significant factor which influenced his behaviour. Duong died on 24 September 2017. During a Senate Estimates hearing in October 2017, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin stated that the AFP and Director of Public Prosecutions believed that Duong's actions were not politically or religiously motivated and his main motivation had been to commit suicide. Assistant Commissioner Justine Saunders, the Chief Police Officer for the ACT, also stated that Duong had selected the ACL's car park to set off the explosion as it was isolated.
Several people[who?] having an affiliation with ACL have had their employers targeted and have been attacked through social media. Those employers have included an accountancy firm, a technology company, an IT firm and a university. In March 2017, ACL was granted permission by The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to keep their board members' names secret on the grounds of "public safety", following abuse and threats. In March 2017 the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies and Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher criticised the attacks by social media users directed against members of the ACL.
On 9 May 2017 ACL hosted a seminar in Melbourne entitled Is Safe Schools safe?, with the speakers, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Western Sydney, John Whitehall and Dr Elisabeth Taylor from ACL. About 30 people, several of whom had their faces covered with bandanas, blocked the entrance to the seminar stopping the majority of the attendees from entering.
During the campaigning associated with the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, the ACL received threats and suspicious packages were sent to their office which necessitated the evacuation of 30 staff at the Canberra mail-centre. The Lobby's offices were also egged, and received letters containing glitter.
|Year||Name||Period||Time in office|
|1995||John Gagliardi||1995 – 2000||5 years|
|2000||Jim Wallace||2000 – 2013||13 years|
|2013||Lyle Shelton||2013 – present||4 years, 12 months and 10 days|
Jim Wallace was the managing director of ACL from 2000 to 2013. Lyle Shelton is ACL's managing director. The company has a self-appointed board of management – board members are invited to join by existing board members. Board members are not elected by members. The organisation's biggest expense is paying staff.
Constituency and influence
One of the main criticisms of the ACL is that it overstates the constituency it represents. Jim Wallace, one time managing director of the ACL, confirmed that the organisation represents its supporters only but stated that they also contact a group of representative theologians representing a number of denominations.[who?]
Whilst its claimed constituency is unproven, John Warhurst, emeritus professor of political science at the Australian National University said that ACL has been successful in establishing itself "in the top echelon of lobbying groups", has the "professional knowledge to run modern election campaigns" and "will not go away" Warhurst notes that ACL as an evangelical lobby group is more politically influential than the Family First party.
Academic assessments of the ACL's influence differ. Professor Marion Maddox, of Macquarie University said in 2016 that ACL has achieved, "remarkable influence with political leaders on both sides." In contrast, Geoffrey Robinson, a senior lecturer at Deakin University, stated in 2015 that the ACL's influence had been decreasing since 2013 and the organisation had become only influential on the conservative side of politics.
Former Attorney-General Robert McClelland said in a speech to the ACL's 2012 conference that those protesting against the organisation would not have recognised that it had supported amendments to 84 pieces of Commonwealth legislation that removed discrimination against same-sex couples. In contrast, in 2012 the leader of the Australian Greens Christine Milne stated that the ACL's "whole focus is to attack the gay community" and as it is a private company with no affiliated churches, it was not suitable for the prime minister to attend its events.
Some Christian leaders have stated the ACL's campaigning against gay rights does not represent the stance of all Christians, and several Christian Churches have stated they are frustrated and concerned about the ACL's actions on the issue. In 2013 Professor Rodney Smith from Sydney University stated that while the ACL was supported by senior members of the Anglican, Orthodox and Catholic churches, many other members of the churches do not agree with the Lobby's positions.
The ACL has been described as extremist, influenced by Christian dominionism and reconstructionism. This is denied by the ACL. John Warhurst, emeritus professor of political science at the Australian National University has said that ACL is, one of the most important conservative Christian organisations being, "active and innovative in professional lobbying over the past decade or more."
ACL provided the seed-funding for, and works with, the Human Rights Law Alliance (HRLA). The HRLA focuses on, what it sees as, freedoms neglected by the Australian Human Rights Commission, such as: 'freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of association'.
Focus of lobbying
- marriage as defined by 2004 amendments to the Marriage Act, where the definition is, "marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life" ACL and others campaigned unsuccessfully for the 'no-change' case in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.
- the nuclear family comprising a mother and father and their biological children with the family as the best environment for children
- removal of superannuation-discrimination for same-sex couples
- reduction of global poverty
- religious freedom for Christians globally
- provision of asylum for refugees, particularly Christian refugees
- Christian chaplains in schools.
- recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution of Australia
- increasing foreign aid spending
- abortion and the establishment of safe zones to protect women seeking abortion from harassment by protestors
- certain LGBT rights in Australia, such as same-sex marriage, LGBT parenting and adoption, and have campaigned for the rights of church-owned schools to be able to legally discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation
- same-sex marriage: opposing any amendment to the 2004 definition of marriage in the Marriage Act (1961) and limits on speech against, initially also opposing legal recognition same sex civil unions
- surrogacy and adoption by gays and lesbians
- certain treatments of sexuality in school settings
- the Safe Schools program and a year 8 school program entitled Respectful Relationships and asked for the withdrawal of $8 million allocated to the Australia-wide program
- current halal certification arrangements
- the introduction of a charter of rights by the Commonwealth Government
- Abortion in Australia
- Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference
- Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey
- Christianity in Australia
- Coalition for Marriage (Australia)
- Euthanasia in Australia
- FamilyVoice Australia
- Wendy Francis
- Human rights in Australia
- Human Rights Law Alliance
- Marriage Alliance
- Marriage in Australia
- National Organization for Marriage
- Historical details for ABN: 40 075 120 517, Australian Business Register (historical details), retrieved 14 November 2011
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- Under the Marriage Act 1961 there was no specific definition of marriage until this 2004 amending act.
- "Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry: Same sex entitlements, Chapter 3".
- "Override hate speech laws to allow marriage equality debate, urges Christian lobby". theguardian. 16 Feb 2016.
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- Crawford, Sarah (16 August 2017). "Man who attempted suicide by blowing up his van outside Australian Christian Lobby HQ said he 'disliked' the group". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Sibthorpe, Claire (19 February 2017). "Investigation into Australian Christian Lobby car fire stalled due to driver's 'medical condition'". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- Blaxendale, Rachel. "Gay activist did bomb 'research' before ACL hit". The Australian. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
- Gorrey, Megan (16 August 2017). "Canberra man to stand trial over Australian Christian Lobby car explosion". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
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- Akerman, Tessa (9 May 2017). "Safe Schools protest targets Arrow on Swanston hotel". The Australian. Retrieved 13 May 2017. (Subscription required (. ))
- Graham, Chris (25 August 2017). "If You Mail The Australian Christian Lobby An Envelope Full Of Glitter, They'll Pay For the Stamp!". New Matilda. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- "Suspicious packages addressed to Australian Christian Lobby cause mail centre evacuation". ABC News. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- McDonough, Keely (25 August 2017). "Packages containing white powder were on way to Australian Christian Lobby". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
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- "Our staff". Archived from the original on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
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- Nasty debate 'un-Australian': McClelland, Brisbane Times, 6 October 2012, retrieved 23 October 2016
- "Christian Lobby analysis reveals strong gay focus". Brisbane Times. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- "PM shrugs off Obama's gay marriage support". WAtoday. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Lloyd, Peter (22 May 2013). "How powerful is the Australian Christian Lobby?". PM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- "Lachlan Macquarie Institute".
- Merritt, Chris (2 September 2017). "Human Rights Law Alliance formed to fight for essential freedoms". The Australian. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- "Centre For Human Dignity - United Against Sexual Exploitation". Australian Christian Lobby. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- "Centre for Human Dignity". Centre for Human Dignity. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- "Marriage Amendment Act 2004". comlaw.gov.au.
- Devine, Miranda (13 August 2017). "Gay marriage lobby holds the aces, but the silent majority is stirring". Daily Telegraph.
- Patrick Parkinson with Antoine Kazzi, (2011), For Kids' Sake: Repairing the Social Environment for Australian Children and Young People, Vos Foundation, commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby ISBN 978-1-74210-241-2
- Falling marriage rates hurting children: report, Melbourne: The Age, 6 September 2011, retrieved 27 October 2011
- Lane Sainty, (14 September 2017), Parents Should Be Able To Send Their Kids To Gay Conversion Therapy, Says Leading "No" Campaigner: "If someone's a minor, it is up to their parents.", BuzzFeed News, Australia. Retrieved 17 September 2017
- Submission No. 67 from the Human Rights Law Alliance and Australian Christian Lobby to the Australian Senate Select Committee on The Exposure Draft Of The Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill.. Retrieved 17 September 2017 Under Recommendation 14 (page 12) they stated,
- Cause for concern already exists in the Labor party’s national platform as amended at the 2015 National Conference. The platform states that Labor will make it unlawful for certain discouragements of homosexual behaviour by parents in their children. Such action may be deemed "serious psychological abuse" and "domestic violence." (Resolution 202R, ALP National Conference 2015.)
- Nielson, Les; Magarey, Kirsty (17 September 2009). "Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008". Australian Parliament House. p. 9. Retrieved 21 November 2016.[dead link]
- Cauchi, Stephen (24 June 2012). "Call for strict line on R18+ games". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
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- Polites, Harrison (12 July 2013). "Why R18+ ratings are still a losing game". Business Spectator. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- ACL Confirms Porn Filter Stance – Christianity Today, retrieved 1 April 2009
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- Coorey, Phillip (10 November 2012). "Opposition welcomes dumping of Labor's internet filter scheme". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
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- "Australia's most complained about ad Rip & Roll safe sex campaign returns". News Ltd. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Simonot, Suzanne (28 April 2016). "Offensive Wicked campervans not welcome at Gold Coast music festival Splendour in the Grass". Gold Coast Bulletin. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "Volley hits back at Australian Christian Lobby's 'homophobic' response to ad campaign". News Ltd. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
- "Bestiality billboard pulled after outrage". Yahoo. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
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- "Wendy Francis on the giant pink condom on Hyde Park Obelisk". News Ltd. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
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- "Tony Jones talks to Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby". ABC. 10 August 2007.
- Bianca Hall (11 May 2012). "Coalition won't keep aid commitment". SMH. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
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- Devine, Miranda (16 October 2016). "The Left's bigotry and hypocrisy toward Catholics and Christians is alive and well". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
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- Jim Wallace (31 May 2012). "The lobbyist's view: Secularising school chaplaincy". Sight Magazine. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
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- David Marr (12 February 2011), "'Appalling' law lets schools expel gay students", Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved 13 February 2011
- Amended in 2004 by the Howard Government, it reads, 'marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.'
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- Support for the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, who was required to answer to an Anti-Discrimination Commission after distributing booklets supporting "traditional" marriage stating that those laws will have to change to allow people to freely express opposition to same-sex marriage in any future plebiscite whilst those advocating for same-sex marriage stating it is an unreasonable request.
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- Australian Christian Lobby (February 2009). "Inquiry into adoption by same sex couples: Submission 185" (PDF). NSW Parliament. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Tomazin, Farrah (29 March 2015). "Christian group asks Victorian government for right to discriminate on gay adoption". The Age. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
To ask for a religious exemption that would give faith-based organisations the right to choose couples in accordance with their ethos. The group has also called for parents whose children are being adopted to have the ability to choose a straight family.
- "Anger over same sex adoption change". ABC News. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
State director Mark Brown says it overlooks the rights of children.
- Gordon, Josh (13 November 2015). "Conservatives force religious exemptions into same-sex adoption laws". The Age. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- Leighton-Dore, Samuel (31 October 2016). "The ACL furious over "sexually degrading concepts"". SameSame. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- Tomazin, Farrah (23 October 2016). "Andrews faces Christian Lobby showdown over sexual classroom videos". The Age. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- Tomazin, Farrah (17 December 2016). "Safe Schools program to be overhauled and founder Roz Ward removed". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- "Christian lobby groups claim 'radical sexual experimentation' is being promoted in schools". News Ltd. 25 July 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
- Cook Herietta (28 July 2015). "Safe Schools program ordered to stay silent on gay marriage". The Age. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
- "ACL says school anti-bullying program 'encouraging cross dressing'". Brisbane Times.
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- "Submission to the Senate Economic References Committee on the Inquiry into Third Party Certification of Food: Submission No. 1395". Senate Standing Committees on Economics, Third party certification of food. July 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- The ACL has worked with GetUp!, the Salvation Army and the Churches Gambling Taskforce to establish the Stop The Loss Coalition which has launched TV and radio commercials designed to assist in, 'say(ing) 'no more' to the $12 billion pokies industry and the dreadful harm they inflict on hundreds of thousand of Australians'
- Richard Willingham (29 February 2012). "Wilkie threat to vote against 'weak' pokie reform bill". SMH. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
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- Beniuk, David (29 January 2017). "Federal Group, ACL and Walsh gambling on parliamentary hearings". The Mercury. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Adams, David (20 April 2017). "Laws banning gambling advertising in Australia during live sporting events a "welcome first step", says Australian Christian Lobby". Sight Magazine. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Bianca Hall (13 January 2012), Sex in the ACT: Part II, Canberra Times, retrieved 19 January 2012
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