I turned 50 last year in the immediate aftermath of a failed attempt to become a Senator for Queensland.
There’s nothing like a set-back coinciding with a significant life event to put one in a reflective mood.
Although I was disappointed, I could see that there was now an opportunity to put my fingers to keyboard and tell some stories.
Apart from turning 50, it was the 19th anniversary of my start as a full-time culture warrior upon my election to the Toowoomba City Council, in Queensland.
Since those days I have felt like a bear with a sore head. Being misunderstood and slandered in the media for 20 years will have that effect.
I Kid You Not – Notes from 20 Years in the Trenches of the Culture Wars is my attempt to lift the lid on what went on behind the scenes in halls of power when people like me tried to resist evil’s tide.
I carry grief in my heart that so few politicians, church and civil society leaders were up for the fight. Our silence is what is losing our culture.
This first hit me when my efforts to oppose the then Labor Premier Peter Beattie’s creepy agenda for exploiting young women through a new legal sex trade were generally not appreciated by most of my colleagues.
It wasn’t because they necessarily agreed with what Labor was doing, it’s just that no one wanted the fight.
I learned some hard lessons during those days – principally that common sense is not common and neither is courage.
After a failed attempt at State Parliament (spoiler alert: failure is a theme of the book), I found myself working for Jim Wallace’s Australian Christian Lobby in Canberra.
Years of walking the corridors of power trying to influence our parliamentarians to do the right thing by the unborn, marriage and family policy took its toll.
The Chapter “Blood on our Medicare Cards” chronicles a modern Australian scandal.
Abortion is the ultimate abuse of women and the killing of the unborn is the ultimate human rights abuse. This chapter describes one of abortion’s dirtiest secrets through a drama that played out on Capitol Hill. I still can’t believe what is described happened. You’ll need to get the book.
My years as Managing Director of ACL were dominated by trying to defend the definition of marriage against the rainbow mouse that roared.
I was only going to write one chapter on this issue but it quickly morphed into three. I don’t do justice to all the people who sweated blood in the valiant rear-guard effort to save marriage, the rights of children and freedom of speech. Everyone who fought, when sadly so many didn’t, are heroes.
I hope my scribblings provide some insights into how something precious was lost and why it was lost. There are lessons for leaders if we are to salvage a civil society for our kids and grandkids.
I tell the story of the Toowoomba recycled-sewage-water-for-drinking poll which was my first brush with Malcolm Turnbull. We were to face-off 10 years later in another plebiscite.
I invite further controversy with my reflections on climate change-driven energy policy and indigenous reconciliation.
While the book is a chronicle of defeat, I am sober but not without hope for the future of Australia.
The book seeks to end on a positive note with some of my rough and ready bush theology.
While it’s been a tough 20 years for all of us who have been in the trenches, I believe the efforts of all of our warriors, supporters, donors – and above all prayerful people – has laid a good foundation for the next 20 years.
The cracks in the edifice of the ideas of those who reject truth are showing. Like a rotten wooden fence, it just needs a bit more of a push.
The book’s title bears witness to this. What the left has gotten away with would be seen as laughable by ordinary people, if only they knew.
As my friend and mentor Jim Wallace writes in the foreword, “we have forgotten that throughout history truth always has to be fought for”.
My hope is that a new generation of activists will be inspired to join the fight. I also hope, God willing, for another 20 years alongside them. I’m a sucker for punishment.
I Kid You Not – Notes from 20 Years in the Trenches of the Culture Wars is published by Connor Court and is available for sale in Australia at https://www.lyleshelton.com.au/book. US and UK buyers should go to Amazon and Book Depository respectively.