Slouching Towards Hyatt Canberra

Waiting for a spine: pic by RubyGoes


A sudden spat has broken out on social media over the Australian Christian Lobby’s weekend conference at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra. It’s a bit late in the day but, as the cliche goes, better late than never.

The usual ‘community leaders’ – perhaps because so many of them are Labor clients and fellow-travellers -have decided to stay quiet on this issue, so it’s been left to a few LGBTI warriors on social media to take up the cudgels.

Mr Damp Cardigan himself, the alleged leader of the Labor party, Bill Shorten, is trotting along to give the keynote address. We’re supposed to be OK with this because he’ll say he supports gay marriage, even if they don’t. But will he tell them that Christian businesses should have no right to discriminate against LGBTI? That Christian schools must be inclusive of LGBTI, including proper inclusive non-judgemental sex and relationship education?

Will he tell them that Christian run hospitals and clinics will have no right to refuse abortions under a Labor government? That Christian prayers, instruction and chaplains have no place in schools in this multicultural nation? Or Parliament? Will he commit to removing all religious anti-discrimination exemptions from Australian law?

Let’s see. It is after all, a Christian gathering. A healing miracle may occur. The Lord may insert into the opposition leader, a spine.

Hyatt hotels supporting the US Wear It Purple day, combatting bullying of LGBTI

Hyatt hotels supporting the US Wear It Purple day, combatting bullying of LGBTI


It may be too late to hope that the conference venue will grow one, too. Want to join in the campaign to encourage them? After all, they are being rather hypocritical. Share this image around: here is a direct link.


You can download the image and use it on your own site, or in an email, or upload it in a Facebook comment as follows:

The Hyatt organisation generally gets a good rap from the Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and they did recently support the US analogue of our Wear It Purple Day, against the bullying of LGBTI youth. So why are they giving this cluster of bigots house-room?


Let’s remind ourselves who these people are, and what they stand for. The people Shorten will implicitly endorse by his attendance in such a high profile role. Because if these people and their ideas are, as I believe, irrelevant and unimportant, why is he helping to boost them from their current obscurity?  All the following people will be speaking at the conference too.

Brigadier Jim Wallace

Former ACL leader, now deputy, who was booted upstairs after overconfidence led him to becoming just a little too outspoken as to the ACLs aims and attitudes. Remember his gaffes? Gays, like cigarettes, ought to come with a health warning, because we’re just as much a health hazard, and other rib-ticklers?

Or the one about how Christian schools ought to retain the right to expel gay students for no reason, except that they’re gay and resistant to conversion? Check out this article from Eureka Street, an online magazine run by the Australian Jesuits, of all people.

Dr Tiffany Jones . . . submitted research to the [parliamentary enquiry] based on interviews she conducted with GLBTIQ students at religious schools. . . .  they described having abuse complaints ignored by staff, being punished for reporting abuse or [being] asked to leave their schools. . . . ‘the majority . . . rated them as homophobic spaces’ and many students in religious schools suffered attempts to be ‘converted to heterosexuality’.

Jim Wallace is OK with this. He said, in an interview with The Age, that a religious run school, faced with a gay student who would not remain closeted or attempt to convert to heterosexuality:

‘I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do that in the most loving way that it could for the child and to reduce absolutely any negative effects … I think it’s a loving response.’

Blogger and writer Chrys Stevenson pointed out how this echoed Christian segregationist arguments to keep Negroes out of white spaces, including churches.
Throughout history, those who dared to disagree with the devotees of Jesus of Nazareth have been variously boiled in oil, drowned, dismembered, raped with objects, mutilated, burned, roasted alive, stretched on a rack, massacred with swords and, later, with guns and cannon-fire. The church has never been a great supporter of human rights or social diversity.  . . .
Personally, I’m struggling to understand how you can expel a student, just for being who they are, in a ‘loving’ way;  but then, the religious bigots who opposed racial desegregation also professed their ‘abiding love’ for the Negro people (“But please, just keep them out of our schools and churches.”).

Dominionist Lyle Shelton

Current head honcho at ACL, a former journalist and PR man, and a much more sophisticated operator than the Brigadier. Former journalist, former politician.

Although the ACL is careful nowadays to hide its true beliefs, it belongs to, and is an outcropping of the Dominionist movement. Dominionists believe that the Second Coming of Christ cannot occur until the whole of the earth is under Christian dominion. That is, ruled by people like them. So that’s what they work for, infiltrating society, including political parties, whenever they can. It is the ACLs hidden agenda.This article sums up Lyle’s connections – and Wallace’s – to dominionism.

Shelton unsuccessfully contested the 2006 Queensland state election for Toowoomba North. And look who else is in the window!

Prior to joining the ACL, Lyle worked with Summit Ministries Australia, an offshoot of an American organisation headed by Christian dominionist, David Noebel.

Noebel was among the first to employ anti-gay rhetoric as a new focus for fundamentalist fear-mongering – a strategy put to good use by the Australian Christian Lobby.

Summit’s clearly stated goal is to “prepare tomorrow’s servant leaders to engage and transform our culture.”

For some years, Summit Australia held a “biblical world view conference” in Australia. Far from distancing himself from this den of dominionists, Jim Wallace, managing director of the ACL, was on the programmes for 2006 and 2007 along with David Noebel and Darrell Furgason. Shelton was recruited from Summit to the ACL in 2006.

The Australian Christian Lobby is so intimately linked with dominionist theology it beggars belief that it does not subscribe to its aims. Nobody denies that, in a democracy, all citizens have a right to have their voice heard in the public square. But, the privileged role accorded to the ACL by our political leaders must now be questioned.

Spruiker Karl Faase

Faase is what you might call a professional Christian, a kind of spiritual hooker. He runs a US style evangelical business making and selling a range of videos and programmes for use in evangelical churches, as well as appearing on Christian radio and TV. I’m quite surprised we haven’t seen him on the shopping channels, spruiking his wares alongside cubic zirconia jewellery, miracle blenders, and those things that straighten out your hair.

You too can buy his various series, and sign up for his daily Nudge, a little trickle of fundamentalist goodness every day. Needless to say, in addition to buying all this stuff, you are encouraged to donate, subscribe, tithe and otherwise shower the man with whatever cash you can spare for his good works.

He’s recently resigned as pastor of his church here in Australia to concentrate on developing and expanding his business in the US and UK

Kiwi Lobbyist Paul Henderson

A favourite of the ACL and a regular on their website and lecture programs, he is a consultant to the Christian right-wing ‘think-tank’  the Maxim Institute, and adviser to some NZ MPs. A sort of Tim Wilson for the god-squad.

He specialises in rolling back the progressive agenda in schools, and wrote a book popular in evangelical circles, “Vying for Our Children”, on how school curricula “consciously promote specific worldviews”, i.e., not Christian ones. To quote website

“Vying For Our Children” takes a timely and critical look at New Zealand’s school curricula and examines the very roots of the philosophies that underpin them. It shows how a number of ideologies compete to influence educational policy and curricular content, and clearly identifies the influence of each. Paul Henderson shows how traditional values have been largely swept aside in an unholy alliance between economic reductionism and neo-Marxism, and calls for a revised curriculum which panders less to transient fashions and social engineering.

Whenever you see the words ‘social engineering’ used sneeringly in this context, it’s usually code for teaching things like inclusion, diversity, and in particular, gay issues. He wants a different kind of social engineering: his fundamentalist Christian kind.

Crusader Elizabeth Kendal

Kendal is described as an “international religious liberty analyst and advocate.” She writes weekly Religious Liberty Prayer bulletins and “ produces resources annually for the International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church.'” She also has a blog here. She describes her work as “providing Biblical resources aimed at helping Christians understand, prepare for, endure through and respond to persecution and all manner of suffering.”

She is also an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at the Melbourne School of Theology and the Director of Advocacy at the Canberra-based Christian Faith & Freedom.

She runs Christian Faith & Freedom which is about supporting Christians who are persecuted in Muslim and totalitarian countries. She makes a big deal about praising Christians who are working to turn Muslims away from their faith and convert them to Christianity. She campaigns for them to be allowed to evangelise unmolested. She ships aid and Bibles out to them. Underlying everything is a strong anti-Islamic message.


In her book on confronting Islam, Turn Back The Battle, she channels the prophet Isaiah to argue against multiculturalism. ‘Judeo Christian’ countries must ‘return’ to strict adherence to God’s law in order to ‘turn back’ the advance of Islam, or else feel the other side of God’s character – his wrath.

‘Turn Back the Battle’ is an outstandingly insightful book which exposes global threats to Chris tian faith, religious liberty and human rights. As the foundation of our civilisation is shaken, and the Church faces life-endangering challenges from within and without, it calls us to ask ourselves in what and in whom do we trust. It proclaims that our ultimate security rests in Christ alone. It invites readers to a radical faith in God. The message of this passionate and prophetically astute book should be heeded by all Christ’s faithful witnesses in this the 21st Century.

– Albrecht Hauser, Mission Secretary and Canon of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg and a Trustee of the Barnabas Fund


So, do you think a pro-gay hotel chain ought to be hosting these people, or should they offer them the stables instead? Let them know what you think here.
Do you think the leader of the opposition ought to be currying favour with them? Tell him here or on Facebook. 

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)