Conference of Bigotry

imageThe Australian “Christian” Lobby, the tiny but rich and influential extreme Dominionist group that has long led the opposition to G.A.Y* rights in general and marriage equality in particular (and most recently driven a successful campaign of misinformation and propaganda against the Safe Schools Coalition) will soon be holding its annual conference in Sydney.

After a sparkling dinner at an unspecified five star hotel location in Sydney CBD on the night of Friday April 21, hosted by the lovely (and ever so aptly named) Miranda Devine, conference proper kicks off the following day.

The chosen venue is the Wesley Conference Centre

Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, a stone’s throw from the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Wesley Conference Centre was designed as a number one venue for conferences, performances, debates and conversations. Every week from this iconic location thousands of guests connect, learn and grow professionally and personally. We are passionate about connecting people and doing all the good we can, consistent with our vision and values.

They are very particular about who they will rent to, as the opening paragraph of the terms and conditions makes clear.

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After reading about the people the ACL is bringing to the Mission, you might want to write to them. Their email is conferencecentre@wesleymission.org.au Or you might consider using the feedback form on the site to let them know what you think of their decision to host the ACL, and ask them how they think this is consistent with their principles and standards. Or you could write directly to the church on site christianlife@wesleymission.org.au

The Wesley Mission is part of the Uniting Church, which welcomes G.A.Y.* people, including those in committed relationships, as members of the church and ordained ministers. As you can see from this:

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Contrast that with the crew the ACL have assembled for their conference:

Eric Metaxas

Author, US Public Figure, prolific radio presenter, author and public speaker, Metaxas is closely linked to the extremely rich and influential far right evangelical organisation The Family. He is also an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, of which more later.

Metaxas claims that US Protestant churches welcoming and accepting G.A.Y.* people is equivalent to the German Protestant churches in the 1930s and ’40s accepting Nazism.

“How can you say that most mainline denominations in America today are profoundly Christian when they have given up the ghost on all of these fundamentals of the faith? You had the exact same thing happening in Germany. It’s just setting things up so that when evil comes, where do people turn?”

The Uniting Church, which owns the Wesley Conference Centre, accepts G.A.Y.* people both as members of the church, and as ordained ministers. I wonder how they like being compared to Nazi sympathisers?

The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia

Morrison, a member of Hillsong Church, has stated that he will vote against marriage equality regardless of the outcome of any vote: he would prefer a referendum (a near-impossible ask) over a plebiscite. An implacable (though thankfully none too bright) foe of G.A.Y.* rights

Dr Jeffery J Ventrella

Attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, Blackstone Legal Fellowship, Ventrella is a prominent US lawyer arguing anti-gay marriage cases.

“The ADF… is funded by a community of quietly but deeply radical billionaire Christian patrons helping bankroll a mounting global onslaught against LGBT rights, who have led attacks on public schools and unions and heavily fund creationism and global warming denialism “

The ADF, described as “prominent in the religious right movement for its work seeking to criminalise sodomy internationally and roll back anti-discrimination laws in America”, recently paid Tony Abbott to address one of their gatherings, flying him to the US at their expense.

Among many other charming things Dr Ventrella has said about us:

“There is a price to be paid for ignoring the fixed natural order of thing… those who practice homosexual behavior face the consequences of living a life that runs counter to that order. Sticking one’s head in the sand for the sake of not assessing the dangers of one’s sexual or political preferences won’t actually change how the natural order works. Those choosing these behaviors should turn from them to regain for their own sakes the healthfulness and longevity that comes with living life in the real world.”

He also claims that same-sex marriage is like a square circle: it simply cannot exist. Which is the same as saying, “gay marriage isn’t marriage because I say it’s not.” Hardly a convincing argument.

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See here for a comprehensive debunking of this and other arguments against marriage equality.

And The Rest

Other speakers include: self appointed Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson; Dr Gary Millar of
The Gospel Coalition Australia, Queensland Theological College, who hopes his daughters will love God, marry good Christian boys, and are banned from having boyfriends until they are 25; Dr Stephen Chavura of Macquarie University, the Lachlan Macquarie Institute (an ACL offshoot), and Family Voice Australia; and Dr Megan Best, Bioethicist, Palliative Care Specialist, and an expert on assisted reproduction, advising the ACL and sundry governments on both issues, from an extremely Catholic viewpoint.
And then there’s the usual suspects: Wendy Francis And Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby.

As homophobic – and wealthy – a crew as you could hope to find anywhere.

There will be a protest outside the Wesley Mission on Pitt Street on conference day. If you’re in town, please go make some noise.

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*G.A.Y. = Good As You, incorporating the acronym formerly known as LGBTIQ2AA etc

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years.

“Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe.” (Daniel Witthaus, “Beyond Priscilla”, Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)