Business columnist for The Age, Elizabeth Knight, writes that there is an irreconcilable difference between business and Christianity, which means businesses and even AFL Clubs are right to exclude people on the basis of religious beliefs.
“Business doesn’t mix with religion in the same way it doesn’t mix with pleasure. Some would argue that AFL is a religion among its legion of fans, but first and foremost it’s a business. Andrew Thorburn and Essendon’s management that stupidly appointed him as the chief executive should have understood this.”
“A decade or two ago, corporations and their stakeholders may have tolerated Thorburn’s association with a church with strong views on the homosexuality and abortion. But not today.
Whether Thorburn personally holds those extreme opinions is irrelevant, Essendon is a valuable and highly recognised brand, and it cannot afford to be tarnished by any proximity to views that are deemed offensive by a big chunk of its fan base and the broader community.”
Victorian Christians are understandably shaken this week, given Premier Daniel Andrews public attack on Andrew Thorburn which added pressure on Essendon’s board to see him out the door after less than 24 hours in the role. And now we have a business columnist for one of the country’s major newspapers, justifying businesses no longer employing people of faith.
We should note that it is illegal for the workplace to discriminate against job applicants and employees on the basis of their religious beliefs, but here we are with a business columnist pretty much saying that’s how it needs to be.
Let’s not play the hypocrites game that is being kicked around this week: ‘it’s not about personal religious beliefs’. Pretty much everyone who has said this has also added in the same breath, ‘he had to go because of his views and association with that church’.
Elizabeth Knight doesn’t even feel the need to hide the religious vilification that is spilling out this week. Those standing against Thorburn feel as though the crowd is behind them and cheering on them as though they’re at the Colosseum.
A word to readers who haven’t yet lost their sense of decency and the belief in the good old-fashioned sense of tolerance. When Knight says that businesses can’t afford to be ‘tainted’ by association with churches like City on a Hill, let’s be perfectly clear about what this means. City on a Hill is a normal, typical, mainstream Christian Church that teaches, believes, and practices the historic faith. They are no more controversial than Jesus and the Apostles and every faithful Christian Church since.
It is true, that there are a few ‘Christian’ voices speaking in support of Essendon. Let the reader note: those folk are the very same ones who’ve given up the Bible and the Gospel and instead bought the theology from the same book as the Essendon Football Club. They tend to be the same voices who supported Daniel Andrew’s conversion laws to ban Christians from speaking and convincing to individuals of the Christian view of human sexuality. Even praying with people can result in a criminal conviction! Unsurprisingly, their churches are declining into obscurity whereas traditional churches are far more likely to see growth. That’s not hubris, it’s the way it works.
My bigger point here, one that I’ve made already this week and one that we’ve been warned about for years now by Christian leaders including Stephen Mcalpine, is that the workplace is not a secure or safe place for Christians (nor indeed for Muslims and Jews). Many Christians were already nervous at work, even fearful, because of the pressures to celebrate all manner of “diversity” events. Admitting you’re a Christian is like telling people you have COVID and you’re about to cough all over them! If Essendon can find a way to remove a high profile Christian man, of course, others can do so, and indeed it’s been going on for some time now.
Andrew Thorburn was right when he said,
… today it became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square.
Elizabeth Knight is nodding her head,
“Running Essendon was a job that Thorburn could have managed even as a side hustle. But it’s hard to see where he will get his next gig, even after the current controversy dies down.”
Christian, be clear about your convictions and don’t let this temporary and passing age cause you to stumble or fall short.
Christian, be wise in how you conduct yourself at work and on social media.
Christian, show kindness even toward those who oppose you.
Christian, talk to your pastors and church and shore up ways we can support and encourage each other
Christian, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2)