Elected Australian Football Club CEO resigns under pressure over religious views

Australian Rules Football Club’s Essendon-elected CEO Andrew Thorburn has resigned after just one day on the basis of his religious beliefs.

Thorburn is the chairman of the City-on-a-Hill Church, whose website states that sexual desire, homosexual practices, and sex outside of marriage are sins according to biblical teachings.

The church also described abortion as murder, stating that “life begins at conception” and “the Bible says we are joined in the womb and known by God”.

Thorburn’s religious views faced media backlash within hours of his appointment being announced on Tuesday.

Essendon later issued a statement saying Thorburn’s views were “in direct conflict” with the club’s stance and that he could not continue as CEO of Essendon and president of City on the Hill Church. said.

quit under pressure

Thorburn announced his resignation on Tuesday, saying, “It has become clear that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in public squares by at least some, and likely many. .

“I was being asked to compromise beyond what my conscience would allow,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

“People have different views on complex personal and moral issues, and despite those differences, they should always be able to live and work with respect. Action is key. , an important part of a tolerant and diverse society.”

The former CEO of National Australia Bank also said that despite his leadership record, critical reaction from the media and community leaders was that his faith and relationship with the church meant “if you want to keep your leadership.” is unacceptable in our culture.” ”

He argued that society was “poor enough to lose great liberty of thought, conscience and belief” and warned that “complicating matters in sentences is dangerous.”

The former Bombers CEO said his Christian faith made a “huge change” in his life, making him a better husband, father, friend and a better leader.

mixed reaction

Following Thorburn’s resignation, Essendon said on Tuesday it was “committed to providing an inclusive, diverse and safe club where everyone is welcomed and respected”.

Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews took part in the debate, calling Thorburn’s views “utterly appalling”.

“I do not endorse those views. Such intolerance and hatred is wrong. This is not the first time I have made that point,” he said.

This comment was challenged by Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy, who said it was too much for the prime minister to participate in private religious affairs.

“What is it that forbids people to go to church, forbids people to go to synagogues, forbids people to go to mosques? Where are you? told 3AW Radio.

“Football clubs can hire anyone they choose.

Meanwhile, Philip Freyer, the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, backed Thorburn, saying in a statement that “people of faith are not allowed to participate in professional and public life because of their personal religious beliefs.” It is a pity to be excluded from participation.”

Nina Nguyen


Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Please contact her at [email protected]