Anti-gay marriage Christian charity head blames pro-equality MPs for car bomb
The head of a Christian lobby group in Canberra, Australia has said its staff have received death threats, and a ‘car bomb’ targeted the group’s headquarters.
Lyle Shelton, the director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said he cut short his holiday in Brisbane to return to the lobby group’s headquarters to find windows had been blown out and furniture burned.
He said the car bomb took place after staff members received death threats over the lobby group’s opposition to same-sex marriage and to the Safe Schools program which hopes to stop bullying of LGBT students.
But Shelton appeared to blame political opponents in favour of same-sex marriage for the incident where a van was rammed into the headquarters, despite police explicitly saying the crime was not politically motivated.
Deputy Police Chief Mark Walters told 9News that “investigations are ongoing”, but did say that “as a result of our conversations with the male driver of the vehicle, we have established that the actions of this individual are not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated.”
Police have said the 35-year-old man who was driving the van remains in critical condition in hospital.
Shelton also said that the Eternity House building had needed to be locked this year for the first time due to the threats.
He also blamed Australian Parliamentarians for describing the organisation as a “hate group”, and said that it had left them open to attacks from “unhinged” people.
“When members of parliament, particularly on the extreme left, refer to us in the parliament as hate groups, as bigots, I’m sure that doesn’t help the situation,” he told AAP.
“If there are people who are a bit unhinged out there, that sort of rhetoric doesn’t help.”
Despite the attacks, Shelton says the group will continue to lobby against equality, and against efforts to stop LGBT kids from being bullied.
“I’m sure it’s a message to intimidate us and cause us to be silent in the public square and that’s something we’re not prepared to do,” he adds.
“It’s more important than ever that we have our voice involved in the public discourse.”
The ACL has attempted to block efforts to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia over a bitter battle which looks likely to end with a plebiscite, or public vote, on the issue, despite that polls suggest that 70 percent of people are in favour of legislation to legalise it.
The debate over the funding for the campaign has brought more criticism from the opposition, with Labor frontbencher Terri Butler saying this is another reason the issue should not be decided by a plebiscite.
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In a surprise twist earlier this year, an Australian church leader broke with the pack to say Christians who feel in their conscience that they should vote in favour of same-sex marriage should do so.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has broken an election pledge he made to hold a public vote om same-sex marriage by the end of the year, announcing that it will take place in 2017.
The Prime Minister said that he could not just hold a parliamentary vote on equal marriage because “he is not a dictator” – so a public vote is being held.
Labour have criticised the move calling it expensive and pointless. The vote is estimated to cost $160 million of taxpayers money, or as much as half a billion dollars, according to estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The liberal party remains divided on equality issues and Turnbull himself has been a vague supporter of equal marriage.
He previously came under fire for removing LGBT content from a sex education campaign.