If the Essendon situation is a litmus test of the value and place of people of faith in Victorian society, then we are in big trouble.
It is outrageous that a person of good character has felt that he must choose between a public leadership role and being an active member of a Christian community.
Andrew Thorburn, a dedicated supporter of Essendon since childhood and a known man of faith, was appointed CEO after years of leadership in major Australian organisations that have been inclusive of all people. Why is this now a problem for this football club?
I commend Andrew for his charitable and Christian response to this awful treatment.
Sadly, this situation sends a chilling message to ordinary faith believers in Victoria, that they can’t be trusted to exercise leadership and service in the community. I offer a word of encouragement to them.
This has been a polarising and divisive moment. It has not been about respecting diversity.
I feel for young women and men currently seeking to further their football or other careers, now asking whether their personal faith might hinder their progress.
I think of the families who have long supported their club, now wondering if their beliefs are acceptable to the leadership of the club they belong to or sponsor.
I became a supporter of the Bombers on my first day ‘in the job’ here. But frankly, if Essendon can’t be inclusive and fair to supporters who hold a religious faith, maybe it’s time to find a new club.
Melbourne Catholic27 February 2024
Justin McLellan (CNS)26 February 2024