A day after he was appointed as CEO of Essendon FC, Andrew Thorburn, the chairman of a conservative Christian church that preaches homosexuality is a ‘sin’ and that abortion is “legal murder”, has resigned.
“The Board of the Essendon Football Club has accepted the resignation of Andrew Thorburn as CEO,” President Dave Barham announced on Tuesday on the Club’s website.
“As soon as the comments relating to a 2013 sermon from a pastor, at the City of the Hill church came to light this morning, we acted immediately to clarify the publicly espoused views on the organisation’s official website, which are in direct contradiction to our values as a Club. Essendon is committed to providing an inclusive, diverse and a safe Club, where everyone is welcome and respected,” Barham said.
“The Board made clear that, despite these not being views that Andrew Thorburn has expressed personally and that were also made prior to him taking up his role as Chairman, he couldn’t continue to serve in his dual roles at the Essendon Football Club and as Chairman of City on the Hill. The Board respects Andrew’s decision,” added Barham.
Essendon had faced backlash from some fans over the appointment of Andrew Thorburn, the chairman of a conservative Christian church that preaches homosexuality is a ‘sin’ and that abortion is “legal murder”, as the club’s new CEO.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses homophobic comments, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
Essendon President Dave Barham announced the appointment on Monday and had described Thorburn as “a man of great integrity and exceptional vision.”
Thorburn was forced to resign as CEO of NAB in 2019 following criticism from the banking royal commission. He then took over as Chairman of City on a Hill church.
Church believes Homosexuality Is A Sin
On its website, the City on a Hill church claims that “practicing homosexuality is a sin, but same-sex attraction is not a sin”.
In a 2013 article, the church says “God has designed sex to be enjoyed within marriage between one man and one woman” and adds “a Christian who is same–sex attracted should not identify with being gay”.
The Church is much more strident in its views against abortion rights, equating it to Nazi “concentration camps”.
A 2013 sermon about abortion says: “Whereas today we look back at sadness and disgust over concentration camps, future generations will look back with sadness at the legal murder of hundreds of thousands human beings every day through medicine and in the name of freedom.” A 2022 sermon reaffirms the church’s opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape.
Thorburn’s appointment was slammed by many LGBTQI fans.
Fans Resign From Club Membership
I’ve made the difficult decision to resign my Essendon FC membership, and those of my children, due to the Essendon board’s decision to appoint the chair of a homophobic and anti-health care church to the position of CEO. I urge anyone who cares about queer rights to resign also. https://t.co/kegu7y9D9M
— Deputy Mayor Tim Baxter 🏳️🌈 (@BaxterTim) October 3, 2022
Out bisexual deputy mayor of City of Port Philip Tim Baxter said that he and his family had resigned from their club memberships.
“I’ve made the difficult decision to resign my Essendon FC membership, and those of my children, due to the Essendon board’s decision to appoint the chair of a homophobic and anti-health care church to the position of CEO. I urge anyone who cares about queer rights to resign also,” Baxter announced on Twitter.
“The decision to appoint Andrew Thorburn as CEO is spitting in the face of every queer Essendon member, as well as any member or supporter who supports womens rights to reproductive healthcare. As a bisexual man I cannot feel welcome in this club. Essendon Football Club your decision, when the club has desperately needed a solid, uncontroversial path forward, has instead ripped the club back to the dark ages, and alienated your members,” the deputy mayor said.
As a bisexual man I cannot feel welcome in this club. @essendonfc your decision, when the club has desperately needed a solid, uncontroversial path forward, has instead ripped the club back to the dark ages, and alienated your members.
— Deputy Mayor Tim Baxter 🏳️🌈 (@BaxterTim) October 3, 2022
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, when asked about the appointment, said he was “disappointed” and termed the church’s views “appalling…That kind of intolerance, hatred and bigotry is just wrong.”
Thorburn Says He Is Not A Pastor
In his comments to the media after his appointment was announced, Thorburn had claimed that he had “different views on some matters” from the church he heads, but did not explain his personal stand on homosexuality and abortion rights.
News Corp reported that Thorburn had said that any gay Essendon player could come up to him and he would respond “thank you and I respect and care about you and you’re welcome in this organisation, and I want to hear what you think and that to ensure that you feel safe and can speak out.”
Thorburn claimed that he was not a “pastor” and the church had brought him in a governance role.
“There’s a diversity of people. Different races, sexual orientations, faiths and cultures, that’s society. My role as a CEO is to ensure that the organisations that I lead, which I think my record stands for this, is inclusive and welcoming and caring and diverse,” Thorburn told media persons after his appointment.
© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.