Andrew Thorburn resigns as Essendon chief executive after one day over links to controversial church

Andrew Thorburn has resigned as Essendon chief executive 24 hours after his appointment because his links to a church that condemns homosexuality and abortion were “in direct conflict” with the AFL club’s values.

The Bombers announced on Tuesday afternoon that Thorburn, while not holding the same personal views as the City on the Hill movement of which he is chairman, felt he could not hold both roles and had offered his resignation.

“As soon as comments regarding the pastor’s 2013 sermon at City of the Hill Church came to light this morning, we acted immediately to clarify publicly held views on the organization’s official website that are in direct conflict with our values. as a club,” Essendon president Dave Barham said in a statement.

“Essendon is committed to providing an inclusive, diverse and safe club where everyone is welcomed and respected.

“The board has made it clear that despite these not being views that Andrew Thorburn has expressed personally and that were also expressed before he took up the role of chairman, he cannot continue to hold his dual roles at the Essendon Football Club and as chairman of City on the Hill . The board respects Andrew’s decision.

Chief executive Nick Ryan will continue in his role while the club begins the process of appointing a new one.

The Bombers’ announcement on Monday that Thorburn would replace Xavier Campbell was met with almost immediate backlash over his position at City on a Hill, which likened abortion to concentration camps and claims “to practice homosexuality is a sin”.

On Tuesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described the views as “absolutely appalling”, while Port Phillip Deputy Mayor Tim Baxter said he would cancel his membership of the club because “as a bisexual man, I cannot feel welcome. in this club”.

A 2013 City on a Hill article entitled Surviving Same-Sex Attraction as a Christian advises those “struggling with same-sex attraction” to “talk to a mature Christian you trust so you can get the support and accountability you’ll need in in the long run to survive these temptations”.

These views were reiterated in a 2016 sermon stating that “to practice homosexuality is a sin, but same-sex affection is not a sin”.

Another sermon, published in 2013, entitled What Christians Should Think About Abortion, says: “While today we look back with sadness and disgust at the concentration camps, future generations will look back with sadness at the legal murder of hundreds of thousands of human beings. day through medicine and in the name of freedom.”

The church reaffirmed this position in a 2018 sermon, stating that “even women who raised children conceived by rape did not regret aborting their child”.

Thorburn joined City on a Hill in 2014 and said some of the material on its website predated his involvement.

“I’ve never heard these things in my time, I’ve been on the board for two years,” Thorburn told SEN on Tuesday morning.

“I’m not a pastor, my job as a ruler is to make sure it works well, I don’t always agree with what’s being said. If we want a diverse society, it also means that there will be people with different opinions.”

Essendon said in a statement that neither the board nor Thorburn were aware of the comments from the 2013 sermon until they read them on Tuesday morning.

“This is not to vilify anyone for their personal religious beliefs, but a clear conflict of interest with an organization whose views do not align at all with our values ​​as a safe, inclusive, diverse and welcoming club for our staff, our players, our members, our fans, our partners and the wider community,” Barham said on behalf of the football club.

Thorburn, a former National Australia Bank chief executive who resigned in 2019 after his leadership was criticized by a banking royal commission, was praised by Barham as “a man of great integrity and exceptional vision” after his appointment.

Diversity and inclusion advocacy group the Purple Bombers welcomed Tuesday night’s news.

President Bindi Smith said on Twitter: “Following community outcry and consideration by Essendon FC, we welcome the announcement that Thorburn will NOT be our CEO. The Purple Bombers will continue to work with Essendon FC to advocate for our community and create a safe and inclusive place to come and support our beloved Bombers.”

Earlier Tuesday, Thorburn said his faith has made him a better leader.

“My role as CEO is to secure the organizations I lead [and] I think my record means that, they are inclusive, welcoming and caring. It makes us a more human organization and it makes us a more powerful organization,” he said.

“I wasn’t a perfect CEO, but my respect for people, my care, my love, my welcoming style – I welcome all those people. Look at my actions and look at my words as a leader and the organizations I have created to enable safe and diverse workplaces.”

Asked how he would respond to a gay man questioning him about the church’s views, Thorburn said, “I would say, thank you and I respect you and I care about you and you’re welcome in this organization and I want to hear what you think and what you think do you think. make sure you feel safe and can talk. So I want people to know who I am and how I lead and how I engage, they should rely on that.”

#Andrew #Thorburn #resigns #Essendon #chief #executive #day #links #controversial #church

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *