The CEO of the Essendon Football Club has been forced to resign just one day into his tenure after news of his links to the Anglican church created a media furore.
Within hours of Andrew Thorburn’s appointment on Monday, media outlets were publishing news that the former NAB chief was part of an Anglican Church that believes homosexuality sex is a sin. The church is also pro-life.
Melbourne’s Herald Sun described the church as “controversial”, and The Age described his Anglican affiliation as “a big fat cloud” hanging over his appointment.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews labelled Thorburn’s alleged views as “appalling” and hateful.
“Those views are absolutely appalling. I don’t support those views, that kind of intolerance, that kind of hatred, bigotry. It is just wrong,” he said.
Port Phillip’s deputy mayor Tim Baxter urged Essendon fans to cancel their club memberships, saying, “As a bisexual man I cannot feel welcome in this club.”
By Tuesday Essendon President David Barham, who described Thorburn as “a man of great integrity and exceptional vision”, had told Thorburn that his role with the Anglican Church was at odds with the AFL club’s values of tolerance and inclusion.
Thorburn was told he would need to quit his role in the church if he was to continue as Essendon CEO.
Thorburn resigned his Essendon position saying “My faith is central to who I am.”
“Today it became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many,” he said.
“I was being required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience allowed.
“Despite my own leadership record, within hours of my appointment being announced, the media and leaders of our community had spoken.”
The Anglican Church is one of the oldest and largest churches in Australia. Former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard both attended Anglican churches.