TOP News

Australia: Bombers CEO resigns after church controversy

The different ways we worship

  The different ways we worship The way we express reverence and adoration for a deity differs greater depending on our customs and our faith. Across the world, our belief in God or gods and how we choose to worship is defined by numerous festivals, rituals, and ceremonies. Browse the gallery and follow the faithful with this pictorial guide to some of the world's most impressive religious celebrations.

Andrew Thorburn has quit his role as chief executive officer of the Essendon Football Club barely 24 hours after his appointment.

The stunning turn of events come after it was revealed he was a chairman of a church organisation that has denounced homosexuality and likened abortion to the operation of concentration camps.

Thorburn's recruitment was initially described by president David Barham as "bold and decisive" but was met with vocal criticism from high-profile members, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who is an Essendon member.

LIVE UPDATES: AFL day two trade news

READ MORE: Extent of Cleary's 'scary' health battle revealed

The church linked to Abe’s killing, Japan’s political turmoil

  The church linked to Abe’s killing, Japan’s political turmoil Controversy erupts over the Unification Church’s ties to Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party.Investigators say Tetsuya Yamagami, who fatally shot Japan’s longest-serving prime minister on July 8, had initially wanted to kill the leader of the Unification Church — a South-Korean religious sect that the 41-year-old blames for his family’s financial ruin. But the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way.

READ MORE: Koroisau cops phone call from Tigers over jibe

"As soon as the comments relating to a 2013 sermon from a pastor, at the City of the Hill church came to light this morning, we acted immediately to clarify the publicly espoused views on the organisation's official website, which are in direct contradiction to our values as a club," Barham said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

Andrew Thorburn has quit his role as Essendon CEO barely 24 hours after his initial appointment © Bloomberg via Getty Images Andrew Thorburn has quit his role as Essendon CEO barely 24 hours after his initial appointment

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

"The board made clear that, despite these not being views that Andrew Thorburn has expressed personally and that were also made prior to him taking up his role as chairman, he couldn't continue to serve in his dual roles at the Essendon Football Club and as chairman of City on the Hill.

The short life of James Dean

  The short life of James Dean There are few bad boys as well known as James Dean. Although he only appeared in three major movies, viewers were charmed by his casual rebelliousness and aloof attitude, alongside his striking looks. He acted in films which mirrored the disillusionment of the youth of the '50s, and brought new color to old tales. Sadly, he was only 24 when he passed away in a tragic car accident, putting an end to what would have been a magnificent career. To discover the life and success of this enigmatic actor, click through this gallery.

"The Board respects Andrew's decision.

"We are deeply committed to our values and support wholeheartedly the work of the AFL in continuing to stamp out any discrimination based on race, sex, religion, gender, sexual identity or orientation, or physical or mental disability.

"I want to stress that neither the board nor Andrew was aware of the comments from the 2013 sermon until we read about them this morning. I also want to stress that this is not about vilifying anyone for their personal religious beliefs, but about a clear conflict of interest with an organisation whose views do not align at all with our values as a safe, inclusive, diverse and welcoming club for our staff, our players, our members, our fans, our partners and the wider community."

Essendon Bombers president David Barham said the club is committed to inclusivity on the back of the CEO's exit © Getty Essendon Bombers president David Barham said the club is committed to inclusivity on the back of the CEO's exit

Thorburn, the former NAB chief, is listed as chairman of the eight-church movement, City on a Hill.

Bombers CEO wants to lead 'diverse' club

  Bombers CEO wants to lead 'diverse' club Firefighters arrive after Wollongong Courthouse was evacuated on the morning of October 4, 2022

According to the website he became a Christian in 2002 and has attended since 2014.

Speaking to SEN on Tuesday prior to his sudden exit, Thorburn addressed the church's philosophy, saying it should be seeking more diversity.

"I don't always agree with the church. I'm not a pastor. We should be seeking diversity," he said.

"I've been a Christian for 20 years. CEO of two banks. I've never led with that. Never been an issue. Judge me on my words and actions as a leader."

The City on a Hill website sheds light on the church's beliefs regarding abortion, with one sermon published in 2016, reading: "We believe that we must be a voice for the voiceless, and stand for the rights of the unborn baby and be pro-life.

"Human life begins at conception. All women and men have intrinsic value and worth as images of God. Abortion denies the voice of the most vulnerable ... 80 per cent of those who have aborted their child have regretted it."

Essendon is now still on the hunt for its next CEO after the departure of Xavier Campbell © Fairfax Essendon is now still on the hunt for its next CEO after the departure of Xavier Campbell

In another sermon on the site, it is stated: "Whereas today we look back at (sic) sadness and disgust over concentration camps, future generations will look back with sadness at the legal murder of hundreds of thousands of human beings every day through medicine and in the name of freedom."

Victorian opposition leader laments Essendon CEO’s resignation, criticises premier’s comments

  Victorian opposition leader laments Essendon CEO’s resignation, criticises premier’s comments Matthew Guy said the resignation of former NAB boss Andrew Thorburn as Essendon chief on Tuesday was “ridiculous”.Guy also said Premier Daniel Andrews should not be telling the Bombers who to appoint as chief executive after the premier commented on the furore on Tuesday by saying he did not support the views of controversial City on the Hill church.

A further sermon on homosexuality reads: "Sex is designed for marriage, and marriage for fulfilling God's mandate for humans to 'be fruitful and multiply'. The Torah condemned the practice of homosexuality so that Israel would stand out among the nations.

"Through Christ, who fulfilled the law, we enter a new law of grace, where struggle is not a sin, but we are told to flee sexual immorality and glorify God with our bodies.

"The Bible never calls same-sex attraction a sin. Lust is a sin, sex outside of marriage is a sin, practising homosexuality is a sin, but same-sex attraction is not a sin.

"The Christian walk is one of struggle with sin yet in the gospel we can find forgiveness and grace. We ought to find our true love, satisfaction, and acceptance in Jesus."

Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Andrews strongly denounced those views.

"Firstly, the appointment of a CEO to a football club is a matter for the board of that football club," Andrews said.

"Secondly, those views are absolutely appalling.

"I don't support those views, that kind of intolerance, that kind of hatred, bigotry, is just wrong.

"Those sort of attitudes are simply wrong and to dress that up as anything other than bigotry is just obviously false."

Andrews' comments came soon after City of Port Melbourne Deputy Mayor Tim Baxter tweeted: "I've made the difficult decision to resign my Essendon FC membership, and those of my children, due to the Essendon board's decision to appoint the chair of a homophobic and anti-health care church to the position of CEO.

Ex-Dons boss blasts AFL club's leadership

  Ex-Dons boss blasts AFL club's leadership Paul Little says Essendon's bungled CEO appointment process is just one of a number of issues negatively affecting the AFL club.The Bombers have been plunged back into crisis after Andrew Thorburn stood down as CEO a day after he was appointed, due to his role as chairman of a church with divisive views around abortion and homosexuality.

"I urge anyone who cares about queer rights to resign also... While the decision to appoint Brad Scott as coach was, in my view, a good one, the decision to appoint Andrew Thorburn as CEO is spitting in the face of every queer Essendon member, as well as any member or supporter who supports women's rights to reproductive healthcare... As a bisexual man I cannot feel welcome in this club. @essendonfc your decision, when the club has desperately needed a solid, uncontroversial path forward, has instead ripped the club back to the dark ages, and alienated your members."

Speaking at the Crichton Medal night, Barham described Thorburn as a "man of great integrity and exceptional vision".

"His experience at being the CEO of the NAB, one of the country's largest organisations and the AFL's major sponsors will be invaluable as we further relationships with governments, the AFL, valued members and sponsors," Barham said.

Essendon President David Barham says Andrew Thorburn is very upset after stepping down as club CEO a day after he was appointed. Essendon President David Barham says Andrew Thorburn is very upset after stepping down as club CEO a day after he was appointed.

"To my knowledge no other AFL club has ever secured the services of an ASX-listed Top 10 company CEO to run its club."

Thorburn served as chief executive of NAB from 2014 to 2019 and was forced to resign from his position at NAB due to findings made by the Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking industry in 2019.

"In Andrew, we have secured a highly credentialed leader, with a proven track record in development and building the leadership capabilities of his people," Barham said of his appointment.

"Andrew's focus will be on running Essendon like a club, with a renewed focus on our members and the core reason which we exist – football.

"Andrew is a man of great integrity and exceptional vision."

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

Calls grow for end of special treatment for religious charities .
'Does any of the money donated to these organisations end up being used to pay compensation for victims of abuse?'Former Labor senator Chris Schacht is leading calls for the federal government to abolish the special tax treatment granted to religious institutions. His call comes in the wake of a Crikey investigation this week that revealed how large, well-heeled churches have been able to run their financial affairs in secret and with little or no accountability by signing up as a “basic religious charity” (BRC).

See also