Andrew Thorburn was a fan of the Essendon Bombers since his childhood. He is also the former CEO of NAB, one of Australia’s big four banks, making him eminently qualified to be Essendon’s new chief executive. The appointment, said Thorburn, was “one of the proudest days of my life”.
But Andrew Thorburn is also a Christian and a board member at his local church, City on a Hill. He holds to orthodox, millennia-old Christian views on homosexuality and abortion. And in 21st century Australia, that means he cannot and will not be tolerated in public life.
A little over 24 hours after his appointment at Essendon, before he had even begun in his role, Thorburn was forced to resign. Activists had apparently dug up decade-old sermons from City on a Hill condemning abortion as murder and homosexual activity as sinful.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had also weighed in on the confected controversy, framing Thorburn’s beliefs as “intolerance”, “hatred”, “bigotry”, and “absolutely appalling”.
As reported by the ABC, Essendon president David Barham gave Thorburn an ultimatum that forced him to choose between his church and his footy club:
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.
Andrew Thorburn’s dilemma echoes a choice made by many first-century followers of Jesus. In a spirit of ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’, Roman citizens were free to believe in the god of their choosing—so long as they acknowledged Caesar as Lord above all.
Unwilling to pay homage to Caesar over Christ, eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred.
The stakes are nowhere near as high for Andrew Thorburn, but the choice itself is remarkably similar. “They made it clear that my Christian faith and my association with a Church are unacceptable in our culture if you wish to hold a leadership position in society,” he has since said of the incident.
There are several sobering lessons for Australians—and Aussie Christians especially—to take away from the Andrew Thorburn saga.
The first is that appeasing the woke mob is a futile endeavour. Thorburn did or said nothing wrong. It wasn’t his “tone” at issue, as so many equivocating Christian leaders moaned of the Israel Folau affair. Thorburn simply accepts what the Bible says and is willing to stand with his church on what he believes to be true, rather than caving to cultural fads.
Secondly, Australia has become a Christophobic country. It is deeply sad to at last admit this, but honesty demands it. Cancel culture is as real as the nose on your face and Christians above all are in its crosshairs. Yes, Christians are to turn the other cheek and return hatred with love. But we’re not called to live in denial.
Thirdly, there’s nowhere to run or hide from the dreaded culture wars. Many Christian leaders, even now, prefer to ignore Andrew Thorburn-scale events to guard their squeaky-clean image and maintain a seat at the table of mainstream society.
To what end? Marx has won. Everything is now political, including footy, including even church. The culture wars have come for all of us. It’s time to turn and face the battle squarely, and speak with conviction and substance.
Fourthly, “diversity, equity and inclusion” is a ruse. In truth, these values are not what Essendon FC or any other DEI-compliant organisation is truly after. What matters is shaming the majority into virtue signalling their feigned allegiance to a new set of values in which subversion is normalised and normality is problematised.
Finally, eyes are opening. I have not been easy on Christian leaders in this treatise but credit where credit is due. In the last 24 hours, to my surprise, many have spoken up with great clarity about the injustice done to Andrew Thorburn—and the ramifications his experience will have for the future job prospects of Christians in Australia.
More people are finding their courage to resist the woke mob. Have you found yours?