Straightening out Professor Iain Benson

March 26, 2017

On Wednesday 22 March 2017 ABC Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report aired “The culture war of marriage equality in Australia”.

Host Andrew West interviewed Iain Benson, Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame.  Prof Benson is also a contributor for the Catholic Weekly.

I thought this interview was both intellectually dishonest and biased.

The interview presented only one side of the story around my raising awareness of a perceived conflict with Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board member and former Australian Christian Lobby board member Mark Allaby, and his current employment at IBM Australia.

Andrew West incorrectly framed the conversation in terms of “same-sex marriage” within the opening four seconds of the story and at 7:56 left unchallenged the insinuation by Prof Benson that my activism was a “witch-hunt” targeting Mark Allaby.

In the intellectual void of Prof Benson’s argument, he makes a range of assumptions, factual errors and omissions.  First off he claims this is about marriage equality.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not once have I mentioned or implied the words “marriage equality” in relation to Mark Allaby’s association with IBM.  For me, this particular issue is definitely not about marriage equality.

To this day IBM has no on-the-record corporate position on marriage equality, despite their Managing Director Kerry Purcell recently declaring his personal support for it, first reported on March 16, and despite a few media articles circa 2013-15 incorrectly stating so.  As of February 20 IBM’s logo was absent from the Australian Marriage Equality list of corporate supporters, yet it appeared subsequently, and surprisingly without fanfare, sometime around the publication of the CEO letter, but before March 21. As yet there has been no public announcement from IBM or AME substantiating its appearance.

As such, it is not possible for Prof Benson or Andrew West to actually know what IBM’s public corporate position on marriage equality is given it has not yet been communicated officially.

Given that Prof Benson has not actually spoken to me, he could not know my motivation for bringing to public attention Mark Allaby’s simultaneous connection with IBM and the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

If he had asked me, without jumping to conclusion, I would have told him that for me, this is only about holding IBM to account as a founding member of Pride in Diversity.  I simply sought to question IBM’s rationale for employing to a senior leadership role a person whose personal stance appears to be in direct conflict with IBM’s stated goals as an employer of choice for LGBTIQ people.

How can IBM, in all sincerity, guarantee their same-sex attracted, gender diverse, and intersex employees an unbiased, safe, discrimination-free and fully participative environment in the workplace under the leadership of someone like Mark Allaby?  The Lachlan Macquarie Institute trains future leaders in Christian values that are intolerant of legal equality for LGBTIQ people.  The Australian Christian Lobby actively deploys campaigns and lobbies politicians around issues that include degrading the legal rights and equality of LGBTIQ people. Knowing that such a senior employee currently or previously had significant leadership influence with these sorts of organisations would leave any reasonable person hesitant to openly broach such important topics with them, for fear of not being afforded unconditional acceptance, dignity and respect.

Prof Benson gets it wrong in assuming this specific issue for me is about marriage equality.  The ACL and those aligned with the organisation are undeniably on the record for targeting every initiative that furthers the removal of discrimination against LGBTIQ people.  Examples of relevant ACL campaigns include Safe Schools, same-sex parenting, same-sex adoption, safety for transgender and intersex people, safe-sex awareness, removal of gay-panic laws, religious workplace and faith-based school protections, and equal relationship recognition (including and most notably marriage equality).

Given that I have not mentioned this is about marriage equality, it seems Prof Benson is driving an agenda in making it appear to be about such.  What this is actually about for me is the guaranteed dignity, inclusion and respect of LGBTIQ people and our families, wherever in society, and in whatever form it takes.

Prof Benson alleged that the key activist, namely me, was embarking on a witch-hunt against Mark Allaby.  It is unclear to me how he came to this understanding given the way events unfolded.

Lyle Shelton excoriated me in the ACL’s widely publicised March 14 blog.  The first tweet I sent on this topic was on March 17.  If Prof Benson had researched this issue, he would have known that Lyle Shelton and the ACL went after me three days before I was even aware of Mark Allaby’s employment at IBM.

Lyle Shelton’s blog implied Mark Allaby was forced to step down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby in March 2016 because of me.  As there is no public statement from either Mark Allaby or PwC on this matter, the reason for him stepping down is entirely speculative.

Lyle Shelton has a significant negative influence in the public sphere.  He is frequently in the mainstream media, with ready access to radio, television, newsprint and online outlets.  His decision to name me personally, an individual activist without the level of access to mainstream media he enjoys, demonstrates an apparently disturbing level of bullying and harassment.

If there is a witch-hunt going on, it is one being spearheaded by Lyle Shelton, and not me.  I had no intention or motivation to review Mark Allaby’s circumstances until Lyle Shelton chose to bring both Mark Allaby’s and my name into public conversation on March 14.

In fact, it is a testament to my integrity as a human rights campaigner and advocate for equality that I did follow-up with IBM on Mark Allaby’s circumstances.  It would be remiss of me to turn my back on any additional perceived conflict.  I would hate to be labelled by Lyle Shelton as being inconsistent.

So really, Prof Benson got it all wrong, and disappointingly Andrew West did not offer me a right of reply, or let Prof Benson’s apparent prejudice go unchallenged.  In the future this ABC presenter should provide a more balanced perspective when interviewing guests with intolerant ideological perspectives on human rights and equality.


Australian Christian Lobby Board as at Feb 18, 2017

March 22, 2017

Our Board

 

Jim Wallace AM

Chairman of the Board

Jim Wallace AM left the Army as a Brigadier in late 2000 after a 32-year career which included command of the SAS Regiment, Special Forces, and the Army’s mechanised Brigade of 3,000 personnel and most of the Army’s fighting vehicles. He is a graduate of Duntroon in Canberra, the British Army Staff College and the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies.

Mr Wallace served as a UN Observer in the Golan Heights and Lebanon with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation.

In 1984 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to counter-terrorism. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the Australian Defence Studies Centre and has served on the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the National Consultative Committee for International Security Issues.

He was the Managing Director of ACL for 13 years until May 2013 when he was appointed Deputy Chairman. He was appointed Chairman in November 2015.

David Burr

Director

David Burr is a lawyer and businessman. Together with his wife May Wan, David has practised law in Melbourne for over 30 years, chiefly in the areas of property and commercial law. He has a strong commitment to social justice and the role of the Church in achieving fundamental human rights for all. David is committed to the work of ACL in upholding biblical values in public policy, and the protection of our Christian heritage.

In addition to legal practice, David has also pursued a number of business activities. These include property investment and development, a manufacturing and distribution business, and mixed agricultural production.

Michelle Pearce

Director

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, Michelle Pearse stepped into the role of WA Director for the Australian Christian Lobby where she quickly earned the respect of the most senior personalities in both the church and government in WA.

With a growing young family, Michelle moved into a more focused role, dealing with the area she greatly contributed to in her role as WA Director, the fight against prostitution and human trafficking.  Michelle was the spokesperson for ACL on these matters across the nation.

Michelle and her husband John are both employed at Kingdomcity Perth, a thriving Pentecostal church that is committed to impacting our nation through the love of Christ, socially, economically and politically. Michelle also lectures at Kingdomcity Perth College to give students greater perspective on national issues and encouraging them to be positioned to make a positive impact and create change. Michelle serves on the board of Teen Challenge WA and has a strong desire to see Christian organisations remain Christ-centred in all of its functions.

Lyle Shelton

Managing Director

Lyle is a journalist by profession, initially working in rural journalism as a roving reporter in Queensland and then Victoria.

In 2000 Lyle was elected to Toowoomba City Council. He was re-elected in 2004 and unsuccessfully contested the 2006 Queensland state election.

After a short stint as a political adviser in federal politics, Lyle was appointed in 2007 as Chief of Staff at the Australian Christian Lobby, based in Canberra. He served in this role for six years before being appointed Managing Director in May 2013.

Tony McLellan

Chairman Emeritus

Mr McLellan and his family lived abroad for more than 25 years where he served as the President and CEO of a number of major international corporations. Since returning to Australia, he has been appointed chairman of several public-company boards, principally in the resources area.

With a passion for the poor, Mr McLellan served as a director of Opportunity International Australia for many years, and as chairman of Habitat for Humanity Australia. He has also served as chairman of a number of other Christian NGOs. An accomplished public speaker, Tony has addressed audiences in several countries, and has also appeared frequently on American television as a commentator on family issues.

Mr McLellan served on the ACL Board for 9 years and as Chairman for the final 6 of those years. On the expiry of his term in November 2015, Mr McLellan was appointed to the honourary position of Chairman Emeritus for his exceptional service to ACL.


Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board as at March 16, 2017

March 21, 2017

Board

The Lachlan Macquarie Internship is run by the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, a not for profit company. It is a religious educational program and is neither denominationally nor politically aligned. (Bios also included).

The Director reports to a Board.

Jim Wallace AM – Chairman

 
Jim Wallace

Brigadier (ret.) Jim Wallace AM left the Army as a Brigadier in late 2000 after a 32-year career which included command of the SAS Regiment, Special Forces, and the Army’s mechanised Brigade of 3,000 personnel and most of the Army’s fighting vehicles. He is a graduate of Duntroon in Canberra, the British Army Staff College and the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies.

Mr Wallace has lived overseas, including in the Middle East. He has also visited Palestinian refugee camps as an unarmed United Nations observer. He is also the former Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, a position he held for 10 years.

In 1984 Mr Wallace was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to counter-terrorism. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian Defence Studies Centre and was appointed by the Minister of Defence to the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Mr Wallace and his family worship at the Hughes Baptist Church in Canberra.

Anthony McLellan – Deputy Chairman

Anthony McLellan

Mr McLellan and his family lived abroad for more than 25 years where he served as the President and CEO of a number of major international corporations. Since returning to Australia, he has been appointed chairman of several public-company boards, principally in the resources area.

With a passion for the poor, Mr McLellan served as a director of Opportunity International Australia for many years, and as chairman of Habitat for Humanity Australia. He has also served as chairman of a number of other Christian NGOs. An accomplished public speaker, Tony has addressed audiences in several countries, and has also appeared frequently on American television as a commentator on family issues.

Mr McLellan and his wife, Rae, recently celebrated 50 years of marriage, and attend St Jude’s Anglican Church in Bowral.

David Burr

David Burr

David Burr is a lawyer and businessman. Together with his wife May Wan, David has practised law in Melbourne for over 30 years, chiefly in the areas of property and commercial law. He has a strong commitment to social justice and the role of the Church in achieving fundamental human rights for all. David is committed to the work of LMI in developing Christian leaders in public policy.

In addition to legal practice, David has also pursued a number of business activities. These include property investment and development, a manufacturing and distribution business, and mixed agricultural production.

He and May Wan have four adult children, and have attended Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne for almost 20 years.

Mark Allaby

 
Mark Allaby

Mark Allaby is a Principal with a major professional services and accounting firm.

With over 25 years experience in Europe, North America and Australia, Mr Allaby has worked in an executive capacity across the financial services industry. As both a senior partner in the management consulting field, and as corporate senior executive, he has had extensive experience setting strategy, leading organisations through large scale organisational change, and managing risk.

Mr Allaby’s commitment to LMI is a result of his passion for the freedoms we enjoy in this country, a nation and society grounded in Christian principles, and a belief that active engagement with the nation through the political process is required to ensure those foundations are not lost in order that our grandchildren may enjoy the same freedoms we take for granted.

Mr Allaby and his wife Susan attend St Thomas’ Anglican Church in North Sydney.

Lyle Shelton

Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Lyle is a journalist by profession. He worked in rural journalism as a roving reporter for Queensland Country Life before serving as the Melbourne-based Group Commodities Editor for Rural Press Limited, with articles syndicated to the stable’s rural weeklies, including The Land newspaper.

In 1997 he became youth pastor at Toowoomba City Church before being elected to Toowoomba City Council in 2000. He was re-elected to Council in 2004 and unsuccessfully contested the 2006 Queensland state election.

After a short stint as a political adviser, Lyle was appointed in 2007 as National Chief of Staff at the Australian Christian Lobby, based in Canberra. He served this role for six years before being appointed Managing Director in May 2013.

Michelle Pearse

Michelle Pearse

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, Michelle Pearse stepped into the role of WA Director for the Australian Christian Lobby and spokesperson for the fight against prostitution and human trafficking.

Michelle and her husband John are both employed at Kingdomcity Perth, a thriving Pentecostal church that is committed to impacting our nation through the love of Christ, socially, economically and politically. Michelle also lectures at Kingdomcity Perth college to give students greater perspective on national issues and encouraging them to be positioned to make a positive impact and create change.

Dr. Steve Chavura 

Steve Chavura

Stephen Chavura is a Senior Research Associate at Macquarie University, Sydney. He received his Ph.D. in the history of political thought from the University of New England in 2007. He has published articles in national and international scholarly journals such as History of European Ideas, Journal of Religious History, and Australian Journal of Political Science. His book Tudor Protestant Political Thought 1547-1603 was published in 2007. He has taught political theory for the Lachlan Macquarie Internship since 2011 and also teaches Australian history at Campion College, Sydney. He is currently part of an ARC team exploring the emergence and history of the secular state in Australia. Dr. Stephen Chavura, B.A. (Hons. I), Ph.D. (UNE) Senior ARC Research Associate, Macquarie University.


The Salvation Army Supports Safe Schools Initiative

November 17, 2016

 

The Salvation Army Supports Safe Schools Initiative

salvation-army

The Salvation Army supports the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria in its initiative designed to reduce homophobic and transphobic behaviour and create safe learning environments for all students. The Salvation Army is concerned by the very high level of bullying, higher levels mental health issues and the highest rates of suicidality of any group in Australia for same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people. The Salvation Army’s Victoria State Council (VSC) has been aware of the negative claims about the Safe Schools program and its related materials but believes these to be unfounded.

Chair of VSC, Major Dr Geoff Webb says “Our social policy unit has reviewed the official teaching resources provided by the Safe Schools Coalition and the four official guidelines. It has also studied the independent review commissioned by the Australian government, together with other materials. None of the negative claims made about the program accurately reflect anything in the official materials reviewed.

“Provided schools adhere to official teaching resources and the official guidelines, there should be no issues with Safe Schools. We support the provision of safe learning environments for all students,” Webb says.

Dr Webb notes that a Federal Government independent review found that the four official guides are consistent with the aims of the program and are appropriate for use in schools. “Our findings are consistent with the government’s review,” Webb says, “and the resource All of Us is consistent with the aims of the program, is suitable, robust, age-appropriate, educationally sound and aligned with the Australian Curriculum.”

The Salvation Army in Victoria has welcomed the Andrews Government commitment of additional funding to ensure that every Victorian secondary school is involved in the Safe Schools programme by the end of 2018.

 

For further information, contact:
Geoff Webb (Chair, The Salvation Army Victoria State Council)   0400 251588
The Salvation Army Media Unit  (Emma Daniell)  0437 830 550


More homophobic abuse by Paul Winter tolerated by J-Wire publisher Henry Benjamin

September 29, 2016

On an J-Wire article about the offensive Bill Leak “Waffen-SSM” cartoon, Paul Winter again pours more fuel on the fire of bigotry and intolerance:

20160924-paul-winter-jwire-homophobic-abuse

How much more of Paul Winter’s hate is J-Wire going to permit?

Would it permit anti-Semitic vilification?  Holocaust denial?  Anti-Zionist sentiment?

All comments are moderated by publisher Henry Benjamin, so he knows exactly what is appearing on his site.

Not good enough.


Homophobic violence and the Jewish Orthodox double standard

September 9, 2016

The Age of Blasphemy

Yishai Schlissel 2d528

In Jerusalem less than a year ago, an ultra-Orthodox Jew named Yishai Schlissel, who had already publicly declared his loathing of homosexuals, wildly assaulted participants in a Gay Pride parade with a long kitchen knife. Before police could stop him, Schlissel had stabbed six of the “blasphemous” marchers, one of whom – a sixteen-year-old girl – later died from her wounds.

Schlissel claimed he was acting on behalf of the Torah – which forbids homosexual intercourse – but an Internet poll conducted by the ultra-Orthodox Kikar Shabbat website found that only 13% of respondents believed ultra-Orthodox Jews owed anyone an apology for the attacks, even though the community’s leaders had long condemned gays as criminals, or worse.

Speaking for the majority, Chaim Brizel – “the sexton of a Jerusalem synagogue,” who referred to the event Schlissel ravaged as the…

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The Suicide Epidemic in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community – 76…more?

September 9, 2016

LOSTMESSIAH

jewishcemeteryistock_000001665696

Keeping Count of the Dead…

In June of 2016, the Yeshiva World News published the article that follows. As of that week, the Orthodox community was already mourning 75 deaths.

That number has since increased by a mother, Esti Weinstein (z”l), who documented her suicide in painstaking detail. The number has grown by the Brooklyn man who hanged himself, Yakov Krausz (z”l), “whose body was discovered…in an elevator motor room.” [http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2016/07/brooklyn-man-hangs-self-26th-new-york.html] Krausz’s death had been the 26th in New York, reported. With yesterday’s news of Feige Greenwald’s (z”l) death it is hard to tell where we are in the macabre count.

In July of 2014, the New York Times picked up the Weinstein story.  The editor of the story wrote profoundly:

The level of criticism and ridicule by secular Israel on the ways and habits of the Haredi community will determine the long-term impact of Ms. Weinstein’s tragic…

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