Recently, in what could be described as an epic fail in recruiting practices, the Essendon Football Club hired and accepted the resignation of the same CEO within a day. The issue was that the CEO was also the Chairman of ‘City on the Hill’, a church that seems to promote some conservative views on the way people live their lives. Andrew Thorburn, the CEO in question, chose to resign from the role at Essendon because the football club markets itself as inclusive and accepting of all comers. City on the Hill’s conservative and restrictive views on abortion and same sex relationships are apparently a problem to a lot of Essendon supporters who have supported the club’s inclusivity policy.
You could ask if inclusivity and equity is the Club’s desired culture why they hired Thorburn in the first place. As CEO, Thorburn would have to speak publicly and as a leader he would have been responsible for implementation of the organisational culture of both the Football Club and church as determined by the respective Boards of Directors. The ABCs Stan Grant reported at the time
Thorburn himself says people of faith fear they will lose their jobs because of their beliefs.
Is he right? Well, in his case, he was not just any employee. Thorburn held senior leadership roles in a football club and a church. The values of those institutions clashed and Thorburn, in good conscience, made a decision to side with his church.
The ABC’s Virginia Trioli recently wrote about Thorburn and compared it with
The experience of one private school principal [which] was instructive. He’s trialled and adopted the policy of 15 pieces of uniform – skirts, pants, shorts, blazers etc, winter and summer – and the kids can select whatever they want: summer uniform all year, or boys in skirts, girls in shorts.
Caulfield Grammar principal, Ashleigh Martin, confessed the process had not been easy, but guess who provided some of the greatest pushback against the idea? The so-called Old Boys/Girls.
Some “Grammarians” have given Martin a hell of a time, furious about the look of “their” school diminished by an individualised uniform selection.
And then I realised I had been wondering a similar thing all week – something that had been bothering me really ever since the marriage equality debate: why do churches like Thorburn’s City on the Hill care so much about what’s going on in the bedrooms and GP consulting rooms of people they have absolutely nothing to do with?
Why do some people – overzealous ex-students and overanxious parishioners – have such a powerful need to control others?
Why can’t they live and let live?
And Grant’s conclusion is similar.
The outrage right now comes with its own hypocrisy. Those leaping to the defence of Christians now have not always extended the same religious freedom to people of other faiths.
Those same culture warriors of the political right have characterised Muslims as a threat to all the West deems holy.
Many of these Muslims would hold similar views as the parishioners at Thorburn’s church.
Your personal beliefs have been honed over your lifetime and you have the right to them. You don’t have the right to shove your beliefs down the throat of everyone else and expect absolute compliance. The problem is when the opinions of one particular group are forced on others. For example, it is not acceptable for a US Border Official to determine if a person should be granted entry to the USA based on if they have had an abortion or not as seems to be the case in the linked news report.
Cultural warriors seem to believe they are the only people that can determine the behaviours of society. There are also a number of different methods used to attempt control. There are a number of religious leaders who have fallen from grace because they haven’t lived up to the standards of behaviour they have preached, including Brian Houston from the Hillsong ‘mega-church’.
According to a recent claim on ABC’s Q&A program, the Iranian Morality Police enforce a particular view of their religion that seems to be predicated on women being required to wear certain loose and completely enveloping clothes so they are not a ‘temptation’ to men. Surely men have a responsibility here as well.
Others use conspiracy theories to influence opinion such as Alex Jones.
Jones is an American conspiracy theorist and right-wing host and operator of Infowars.
For years, he claimed the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre – where 20 students and six teachers died – was staged as part of a government plot to take away Americans’ guns.
Experts testified that Jones’s audience swelled, as did his revenue from product sales, when he made Sandy Hook a topic on the show.
Jones was recently ordered to pay US$965 million to the Plaintiffs that are immediate family of some of those killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Those who are out to control are really doing it for their purposes, not your benefit. We all have a choice. The first option is to consume ourselves and those close to us in cultural wars to control others such as those who are attempting to manage women’s reproductive rights, uniform choices at schools or even worse, creating business empires based on religion or cynical attempts to build influence and profit margins using the misfortune of others.
The second option is to look for and promote the many inspirational acts of goodness in the world as demonstrated by this recent ABC online story about a Congolese orphan who was brought to Australia as a young child and seems to have received appropriate, holistic care and mentoring from her adopted parents. She seems to be making a valuable contribution to her community.
Which way will you go? It is reputed to take less effort to smile than frown.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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