The Australian Christian Lobby Tries to Put A New Spin on the Old Tale

Has anyone told the Australian Christian Lobby? pic by Sister 72

Has anyone told the Australian Christian Lobby? pic by Sister 72

It’s The Australian Christian Lobby: Reloaded. Lyle Shelton, the new ‘face’ of the Australian Christian Lobby, was out and about in the wake of Kevin Rudd’s conversion to marriage equality, setting out a refurbished pitch for the Lobby’s relevance.

After chiding the former PM for letting the Lobby down, Shelton turned his attention to a study showing that the Lobby has little if any ability to change how people actually vote.

The study found no significant difference in the voting between electorates targeted by the ACL and electorates spared the Lobby’s sweet attentions.

Shelton’s response was to adopt a tone of injured innocence, followed up by a veiled threat. The Lobby didn’t target anyone, he sobbed.

 “Until now, we have never even considered targeting electorates (although we are considering it for the upcoming election). We hold “Meet Your Candidate” forums in some electorates, but this hardly constitutes “targeting electorates.” It is a service to the Christian constituency so they have an opportunity to know the people they are being asked to vote for and what motivates them.”

Well I do declare, Mr Shelton, if one picks out a particular electorate for one of your forums, and not another, why, then surely to goodness you have ‘targeted’ that electorate ? Isn’t that what targeting means?

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ [Alice Through The Looking Glass]

Setting Shelton’s Humptyist protestations aside, the study makes perfect sense, since the kind of ‘Christians’ the Lobby represents are, firstly, few and far between, and secondly, pretty rigidly attached to a very conservative view of society.

In fact it doesn’t matter how many people sign ACL petitions, or which way Kevin, or any other Labor or Green politician, swings on marriage: as long as any party supports and promotes LGBTI issues, ACL’s little but very rich band of brothers and sisters and their fellow-travellers will bestow their votes elsewhere.

(Don’t fall for all that poor-me guff about ‘we’ll do our best with our limited resources’, by the way – they’re rolling in it, according to sources who have had dealing with them. If they’re really so hard-up, let them publish their financials like the honest, open Christian gentlemen they are.)

Shelton tricks are not even original: he copied the redefinition ruse from his predecessor Jim Wallace. When an analysis of the ACL website showed the group had spoken against LGBTI equality 122 times in six months (five times more than on any other subject), Wallace claimed the 122 attacks were not attacks at all, but really pro marriage and family statements.

The same analysis showed this “Christian” organisation, over the same period, barely mentioned poverty, asylum seekers, or Afghanistan etc.

The apprentice has learned: In his closing paragraphs Shelton manages to cram in mentions of asylum seekers, gambling, internet filtering, pornography, and aid to the world’s poor. Let’s hope these are not just more token gestures.

Let’s hope this is a portent for the future, and we see a lot more Christianity from the ACL, and a lot less obsessive nosing around in other people’s bedrooms.

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)