Andrew Thorburn resigns as Essendon CEO after one day over ties to controversial church | Essendon

Andrew Thorburn has resigned as Essendon’s CEO 24 hours after his appointment, because his ties to a church that condemns homosexuality and abortion “was in direct contradiction” to the values ​​of the AFL club.

The Bombers announced Tuesday afternoon that, despite not having the same personal views as the City on the Hill movement of which he chairs, Thorburn felt he could not serve in either role and had tendered his resignation.

“Once the comments regarding a 2013 sermon from a pastor at City of the Hill church came to light this morning, we took immediate action to clarify the publicly held positions on the organization’s official website, which was posted in directly contradict our values. as a club,” Essendon chairman Dave Barham said in a statement.

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

“The board has made it clear that while these are not views expressed personally by Andrew Thorburn and which were also made before he took up his role as chairman, he could not continue to serve in his dual role at Essendon football club and as chairman of City on the Hill. The board respects Andrew’s decision.”

The acting chief executive, Nick Ryan, will remain in the position as the club begins hiring a new one.

The Bombers’ announcement on Monday that Thorburn would succeed Xavier Campbell met an almost immediate response to his position at City on a Hill, which has equated abortion with concentration camps and claims “homosexuality is a sin”.

On Tuesday, Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews described those views as “absolutely appalling”, while Port Phillip City Deputy Mayor Tim Baxter said he would revoke his club membership because I cannot welcome myself as a bisexual man. to feel. at this club”.

A 2013 City on a Hill article titled Surviving Same Sex Attraction as a Christian advises those who are “struggling with same-sex attraction” to “speak with a mature Christian you trust so you can gain support and responsibility.” that need you in the long run to survive these temptations”.

Those views were echoed in a 2016 sermon which read, “Practicing homosexuality is a sin, but same-sex attraction is not a sin.”

Another sermon, published in 2013 and entitled What Should Christians Think About Abortion, said: “As we look back today on sadness and disgust at concentration camps, future generations will look back with sadness on the legal murder of hundreds of thousands of people every day by medicine and in name of liberty.”

The church confirmed this position in a 2018 sermon stating that “even women who have raised children conceived through rape have not regretted aborting their child”.

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

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

“I’m not a preacher, my job in a board role is to make sure everything runs smoothly, I don’t always agree with what’s being said. If we want a diverse society, that also means there will be people with different views.”

Essendon said in their statement that neither the board nor Thorburn were aware of the 2013 sermon’s comments until they read them Tuesday morning.

“This is not about defaming anyone because of their personal religious beliefs, but about a clear conflict of interest with an organization whose views are completely inconsistent with our values ​​of being 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 CEO of National Australia Bank who stepped down in 2019 after his leadership was criticized by the Royal Banking Commission, was hailed by Barham on his appointment as “a man of great integrity and exceptional vision”.

Earlier on Tuesday, Thorburn said his faith had made him a better leader. “My role as CEO is to ensure that the organizations I lead [and] I think my record for this is being inclusive and welcoming and caring. That makes us a more human organization and makes us a better performing organization.

“I haven’t been 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, diverse workplaces.”

Asked how he would react to a gay player challenging him about the Church’s views, Thorburn said: “I would like to thank you and I respect and care about you and you are welcome in this organization and I want to hear what you say. think and make you feel safe and able to speak, so I want people to know who I am and how I lead and how I am involved, they have to rely on that.”

Leave a Comment