A lifelong Essendon fan and Baptist minister has spoken of a scandal that rocked his two great loves – faith and football.
The Reverend Tim Costello said he was caught between the fallout surrounding Australian Rules and the Anglican Church after former NAB boss Andrew Thorburn resigned as chief executive of Essendon Football Club after a day because of his religious beliefs.
Thorburn left the role after it emerged that he is also the president of City on a Hill Church, which calls homosexuality a sin and condemns abortion.
READ MORE: Potential Class Action Against Home Loan Brokerage
“Andrew could not be president of the church with these views and CEO of Essendon Football Club,” said Essendon chairman Dave Barham.
But Costello, who is part of the Center for Public Christianity, said he believes “you can have both.”
“Essendon is supposed to be the most inclusive club,” Costello said A topical matter.
READ MORE: Residents with collapsed boulder wall call long wait for insurance
“A lot of religious people, including a lot of Catholics, who sit on football club boards, secular corporate boards, would look over their shoulder and say, ‘Oh my God, what does this mean for me and my beliefs? “”
Costello pointed out that Thorburn was a member of City on the Hill when he was CEO of NAB, which “sponsored the midsummer festival”.
“Andrew was on the marches and gay rights. They (NAB) sponsored the AFL pride ride, the first ever, and Andrew was very important,” Costello said.
READ MORE: Football legend Mat Rogers opens up about health scares and the loss of his father, from friends to suicide
City on a Hill is an eight-congregation church in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
It started in Melbourne in 2007 as a small Bible study group in a city apartment and held its first public service in a pub.
Now some sermons are inside cinemas and although this is part of the Anglican religion, City on a Hill has taken a more conservative hard line on some issues.
“These are certainly controversial views,” said Anglican minister and professor of philosophy, the Reverend Dr Chris Mulherin.
However, Mulherin said he was furious with what had happened.
“Within our society, there is a wide range of opinions on human sexuality, on the abortion debate, and we don’t close opinions by having that kind of response to someone who might have those opinions. , we actually have a civil debate about it,” he said.
“We accept to tolerate points of view with which we do not agree, because it is the basis of a decent democracy.”
Today City on a Hill’s leadership collapsed and its Melbourne office was closed.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews also weighed in and said ‘there is no place to stigmatize people’.
But the Prime Minister’s comments were widely condemned by religious leaders, including the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier.
“I think pulling out a few sentences and then saying ‘this tells us everything we need to know about the person and their position,’ seems superficial,” Freier said.
“We must continue to learn this in light of a changing society.”
Labor solicitor Andrew Jewell said it was illegal for someone to be fired for their religion or religious beliefs and Thorburn could be entitled to sue Essendon Football Club.
“He has the right to bring a lawsuit alleging he was fired because of his religious beliefs,” Jewell said.
“The typical route would be through the Fair Work Commission.”
Costello said in light of the controversy, it’s clear Australia needs “a bill of rights”.
“We’re the only Western democracy that doesn’t have a charter or a bill of rights,” he said.
In images, in pictures
The unique and unusual jobs Australians do
See the gallery