The Race to Irrelevancy – Shelton’s Australian Christian Lobby

This post first appeared on Gladly,The Cross-Eyed Bear

It is now clear the Australian public overwhelmingly opposes a plebiscite on marriage equality.  But, even if a plebiscite is held, we know most people will vote in favour of reform. Recent studies show  62 per cent of Australians and all but one electorate believe Australia should have marriage equality.

Despite the millions of dollars the Australian Christian Lobby has ploughed into demonising the LGBTIQ community, it has decisively lost the battle for Australian hearts and minds. As the debate has progressed, the Australian public has moved inexorably towards treating their fellow citizens as equal human beings. The fear-mongering fanaticism of Lyle Shelton’s fundamentalist lobby group (which wants the government to spend $200 million to amplify its message of homophobic hatred) has failed to gain traction.

While children live in poverty, while gay, trans and straight kids continue to face bullying in schools, while elderly people struggle to pay their bills, while the homeless inhabit our streets and parks, while every week a woman is being killed by an act of domestic violence, while Australians continue to die from preventable diseases, while medical research institutes cry out for better funding, while climate change threatens catastrophic environmental and human devastation, while low-income families and pensioners suffer because the government ‘cannot afford’ to fund dental care, while people with disabilities cry out for improved support and facilities, while Aboriginal disadvantage is entrenched by lack of medical and education services, while we keep refugees in disgusting conditions offshore because ‘we cannot afford to have them here’, and while farmers battle to save their farms, Mr Shelton and his merry bunch of “Christians” lobby the government to spend $200 million of tax-payers’ money to fight a battle against human love; a battle they know they cannot win.

The battle is clearly lost. But will Shelton concede gracefully and lobby for those funds to be redirected to any one of a million causes that would actually relieve human suffering? No.

And the reason is this. Despite its name, Shelton does not lead a Christian lobby group. He leads an anti-gay hate group. Opposing marriage equality is a crusade for Shelton whose homophobia was learned in the cult in which he was raised. One might even call it an obsession. Under Shelton, homophobia has become the Australian Christian Lobby’s raison d’être.

Yet, the group does not represent the majority of Australian Christians  (or those of other religions) who support same-sex marriage. The ACL represents only the fringe view of a rag-tag remnant group of a long-since-discredited 1980s cult.

Shelton’s intransigence on this issue will have no effect whatsoever on the inevitability of marriage equality. But, ironically, in flogging this particular, homophobic horse, he has guaranteed the inevitable demise of the Australian Christian Lobby.

The race is not yet finished, but the ACL has already lost. The Australian people want marriage equality and they will get it. What purpose then for the ACL? Shelton’s cultish views have no traction in modern Australia. By holding fast to the values of the not-quite-dead Logos Foundation, he has guaranteed the ACL’s inevitable decline into abject irrelevance.

Under Shelton’s Logos-inspired leadership, the Australian Christian Lobby has lost its fight against marriage equality. It has lost its fight for a plebiscite. It has lost the respect of Australia’s Christian community. Shelton has shown himself to be even more incompetent than his predecessor at prosecuting his indefensible case against love, justice and equality.

Shelton and his ilk have done more to bring Christianity into disrepute than almost any institution outside the Catholic Church and its shameful history of child rape. They are a joke to non-religious Australians and an embarrassment to their fellow Christians.

I doubt that Shelton has the nous, the management skills or the humanity to concede defeat. He’ll carry this tired old nag over the finish line until they both buckle under the weight of public opinion. And who will mourn the passing of the Australian Christian Lobby? No-one. Because, as a “Christian” organisation, Shelton’s tired old hobby-horse is an abject failure. Not one Australian life is better for it ever having existed – and a great many are considerably worse off.

It’s one hell of a legacy, Lyle.

Chrys Stevenson

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About the author

Chrys Stevenson is a freelance writer, speaker, blogger, historian and secular and skeptical activist, better known online as Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear http://thatsmyphilosophy.wordpress.com/. She has a BA and first class honours degree in Australian history, literature and cultural studies.