Australian Christian Lobby

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Australian Christian Lobby
AustralianChristianLobbyLogo2011a.jpg
Founded 1995
Registration no. 40 075 120 517[1] (ABN)
Location
Area served
Australia
Key people
Chairman, Jim Wallace AM
Managing director, Lyle Shelton
Chairman Emeritus, Tony McLellan
Slogan Voice for values
Website www.acl.org.au

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is a Christian public company based in Canberra lobbying both national and state/territory governments and running campaigns to change public opinion.[2][3][4][5][6]

It is similar to the Christian right lobby groups found in the United States.[7]

As at 2016 it is conducting a high-profile campaign to support the retention of the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman as found in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 No. 126, 2004[8][9] and seeks to allow open expression of its opposition to same-sex marriage through exempting debate from hate speech laws.[10][11]

Carl Katter writing on Mamamia said that the aim of the group is to "facilitate and perpetuate hate".[12] Others have said it operates from a Christian dominionist[13] and reconstructionist[14] theology. ACL rejects those labels.[15][16] 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."[17]

Structure[edit]

The ACL is registered as a public company, limited by guarantee[18] and files political expenditure returns with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).[19] Funding comes mostly from individuals but names are not disclosed by the organisation.[20] It has no political affiliation and makes no statements regarding faith.[20] Eternity House, the Deakin ACT headquarters of ACL is registered as a separate not-for-profit entity.[21]

Lobbying strategies[edit]

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,[28] Victoria,[29] Queensland,[30] Western Australia,[31][32] Tasmania,[33] Northern Territory[34] and the Australian Capital Territory.[35] 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.[30]
  • written and oral representations to federal and state/territory parliaments and their agencies[36]
  • distribution of Viewpoint to Australian parliamentarians[37]
  • release of media releases.[38]
ACL managing director
Lyle Shelton

History[edit]

The Australian Christian Coalition (ACC) was founded in 1995 by John Gagliardi,[7] 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.[39] 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.[40]

The organisation changed its name to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in March 2001.[1]

In October 2014, ACL held a conference at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra which was followed by a "vitriolic social media campaign" using "vile insults" against the hotel. In response the hotel issued a statement saying they, "don't discriminate against guests who want to conduct lawful business at Hyatt hotels".[41] This subsequently, "attracted considerable community support for the commercial rights of the Hyatt and threatened the free-speech credentials of the marriage-equality lobby".[42] 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.[43][44]

In December 2016, a van filled with propane bottles was set on fire in an adjacent car park damaging the ACL's empty offices. Police who interviewed the man said that the incident was not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated.[45][46] In February 2017, the investigation into the bombing was reported as "active", but "frozen" due to the driver's medical condition.[47]

People having an affiliation with ACL have had their employers targeted and have been "hounded by social media activists". Those employers (each supporting "diversity") have included an accountancy firm,[48] a technology company,[49] an IT firm[50] and a university.[51] 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.[52] Australia's most senior Christian leaders have described the attacks as "appalling" and "unAustralian".[53]

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[54] 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.[55][56]

ACL has established the Lachlan Macquarie Institute,[57] as a training organisation for public policy influencers.[51]

Staff[edit]

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, 6 months and 21 days

Jim Wallace was the managing director of ACL from 2000 to 2013.[58][59] Lyle Shelton is ACL's managing director.[60] The company has a self-appointed board of management – board members are invited to join by existing board members.[61] Board members are not elected by members.[14] The organisation's biggest expense is paying staff.

Constituency and influence[edit]

One of the main criticisms of the ACL is that it overstates the constituency it represents.[14] 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.[61][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",[42] has the "professional knowledge to run modern election campaigns"[62] and "will not go away"[63] Warhurst notes that ACL as an evangelical lobby group is more politically influential than the Family First party.[64]

Professor Marion Maddox, of Macquarie University has said that ACL has achieved, "remarkable influence with political leaders on both sides."[65]

Former Attorney-General Robert McClelland has said those protesting against ACL would not have recognised that the ACL had supported amendments to 84 pieces of Commonwealth legislation that removed discrimination against same-sex couples.[66]

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.[67][68]

The ACL has been described as extremist, influenced by Christian dominionism and reconstructionism.[14][13] This is denied by the ACL.[15][16]

Focus of lobbying[edit]

Supports[edit]

ACL supports:

Opposes[edit]

ACL opposes:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Historical details for ABN: 40 075 120 517, Australian Business Register (historical details), retrieved 14 November 2011 
  2. ^ "Christianity and the LNP". Brisbane Times. 8 Feb 2012. 
  3. ^ Maddox, Marion (2014). "Right-wing Christian Intervention in a Naïve Polity". Political Theology. 15 (2): 132–150. ISSN 1462-317X. doi:10.1179/1462317X13Z.00000000071. 
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  6. ^ Tom Hyland (20 Dec 2009). "Political influence of Christian right 'overstated'". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ a b Jodie Brough, (2 November 1995), 'Family values' group to target MPs, Sydney Morning Herald, p. 6
  8. ^ Under the Marriage Act 1961 there was no specific definition of marriage until this 2004 amending act.
  9. ^ a b "Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry: Same sex entitlements, Chapter 3". 
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  54. ^ "Professor John Whitehall". University of Western Sydney. 12 May 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  55. ^ Hore, Monique (9 May 2017). "Protesters promise to shut down Australian Christian Lobby event against Safe Schools program". Herald Sun. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  56. ^ Akerman, Tessa (9 May 2017). "Safe Schools protest targets Arrow on Swanston hotel". The Australian. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  57. ^ "Lachlan Macquarie Institute". 
  58. ^ Sandeman, John (29 April 2013). "Changing the guard at the Christian lobby". Eternity Newspaper. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  59. ^ Hatcher, Leigh (28 April 2013). "Jim and Lyle: Changing of the guard". Open House. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  60. ^ "Our staff". Archived from the original on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
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  62. ^ Warhurst, John (11 May 2016). "Religion will play a role in 2016 federal election". The Age. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
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  64. ^ Warhurst, John (2006). "Religion in 21 st Century Australian National Politics" (PDF). Papers on Parliament. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. The Senate. 46: 61–80. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
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  66. ^ a b Nasty debate 'un-Australian': McClelland, Brisbane Times, 6 October 2012, retrieved 23 October 2016 
  67. ^ "Christian Lobby analysis reveals strong gay focus". Brisbane Times. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
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  69. ^ a b "Marriage Amendment Act 2004". comlaw.gov.au. 
  70. ^ 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
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  72. ^ Nielson, Les; Magarey, Kirsty (17 September 2009). "Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008" (PDF). Australian Parliament House. p. 9. Retrieved 21 November 2016. [dead link]
  73. ^ Cauchi, Stephen (24 June 2012). "Call for strict line on R18+ games". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
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  76. ^ Ray, Jeremy (9 December 2010). "Australian Christian Lobby ... I disown thee". The Punch. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  77. ^ Polites, Harrison (12 July 2013). "Why R18+ ratings are still a losing game". Business Spectator. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
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  81. ^ 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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  93. ^ 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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  95. ^ "Interrogation of Jakarta Governor Ahok for blasphemy will bring fear to Christians, ACL warns". Christian Today. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  96. ^ Adams, David (3 April 2017). "Australian Christian Lobby renews calls for motion declaring Islamic State's persecution of Christians and other religious minorities 'genocide'". Sight Magazine. Retrieved 11 April 2017. 
  97. ^ Adams, David (3 April 2017). "Australian Christian Lobby renews calls for motion declaring Islamic State's persecution of Christians and other religious minorities 'genocide'". Sight Magazine. Retrieved 24 April 2017. 
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  100. ^ Shanahan, Dennis; Martin, Sarah (24 November 2015). "Christian churches welcome focus on taking in refugee minorities". The Australian. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  101. ^ Jim Wallace (31 May 2012). "The lobbyist's view: Secularising school chaplaincy". Sight Magazine. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
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  105. ^ Ogilvie, Felicity (22 November 2013). "Protests banned outside Tas abortion clinics". ABC News. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
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  107. ^ Smith, Matt (13 March 2013). "Euthanasia laws spark debate". The Mercury. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
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  110. ^ "Euthanasia bill fails in SA by one vote". SBS. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 
  111. ^ "Australian Medical Association stance on euthanasia reinforces need to reject assisted suicide, says ACL". Christian Today. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  112. ^ a b David Marr (12 February 2011), "'Appalling' law lets schools expel gay students", Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved 13 February 2011 
  113. ^ 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.'
  114. ^ Whitbourn, Michaela (8 March 2015). "Backlash after anti-marriage equality ad debuts on Mardi Gras night". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  115. ^ 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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  121. ^ "Christian lobby group urges MPs to reject adoption bill". News Ltd. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2015. Heterosexual couples who can provide a more complete family environment are already spending years on NSW waiting lists in the hope of adopting a child, with many missing out 
  122. ^ 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. 
  123. ^ 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. 
  124. ^ "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. 
  125. ^ Gordon, Josh (13 November 2015). "Conservatives force religious exemptions into same-sex adoption laws". The Age. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  126. ^ Leighton-Dore, Samuel (31 October 2016). "The ACL furious over "sexually degrading concepts"". SameSame. Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  127. ^ Tomazin, Farrah (23 October 2016). "Andrews faces Christian Lobby showdown over sexual classroom videos". The Age. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  128. ^ Tomazin, Farrah (17 December 2016). "Safe Schools program to be overhauled and founder Roz Ward removed". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  129. ^ "Christian lobby groups claim ‘radical sexual experimentation’ is being promoted in schools". News Ltd. 25 July 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  130. ^ Cook Herietta (28 July 2015). "Safe Schools program ordered to stay silent on gay marriage". The Age. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  131. ^ "ACL says school anti-bullying program 'encouraging cross dressing'". Brisbane Times. 
  132. ^ "Christian lobby boycotts gay student program". The Age. 
  133. ^ "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. 
  134. ^ 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'
  135. ^ Richard Willingham (29 February 2012). "Wilkie threat to vote against 'weak' pokie reform bill". SMH. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  136. ^ Wilkie insists poker machine deal still holds, ABC, 18 January 2012, retrieved 19 January 2012 
  137. ^ Beniuk, David (29 January 2017). "Federal Group, ACL and Walsh gambling on parliamentary hearings". The Mercury. Retrieved 24 April 2017. 
  138. ^ 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. 
  139. ^ Bianca Hall (13 January 2012), Sex in the ACT: Part II, Canberra Times, retrieved 19 January 2012 
  140. ^ "Inquiry into the Prostitution Act 1992" (PDF). ACT Legislative Assembly–Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety. February 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012. 
  141. ^ Gilmore, Jane (13 April 2016). "We need a less polarising debate about sex work laws". Daily Life. Retrieved 11 April 2017. 
  142. ^ Adams, David (21 March 2017). "Australian Christian Lobby again urges state governments to adopt 'Nordic approach' to prostitution in light of Scottish support". Sight Magazine. Retrieved 11 April 2017. 

External links[edit]