Sports Executive Ditches Team After They Discover Where He Attends Church


When I was a kid, we used to play something we called “Australian Rules Football,” which basically meant we could do whatever we wanted to get the ball to the end zone (which was often marked by a jacket on each corner — we were going to be too hot from playing to wear them anyway).

It wasn’t until years later that I realized that Australian Rules Football was actually an organized sport Down Under and that — contrary to our 10- and 11-year-old conception of Australian culture, it was played with a well-established set of rules on the field.

Apparently, there are rules off the field, too.

Andrew Thorburn found that out after only one day as the new CEO of the Essendon Football Club, the Bombers, when he was apparently forced to resign because of his association with a church that espouses traditional Christian beliefs, according to The Christian Post.

Thorburn wasn’t found to believe that Christian men should own their wives as property. He wasn’t handling snakes or advocating that women found not to be virgins before their wedding day be taken outside the camp and stoned.

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He is chairman of the City on a Hill Church in Melbourne, Australia, a church that holds orthodox, biblical Christian views on homosexuality (it’s a sin) and abortion (it’s murder).

That was enough, apparently, to offend the delicate sensibilities of the Essendon Bombers Australian Rules Football team.

Thorburn took the new role at Essendon on Oct. 3. The anti-Christian, regressive left immediately pounced.

“Deputy Mayor of Port Phillip Tim Baxter said that he would be resigning both his and his children’s Essendon FC memberships ‘due to the Essendon board’s decision to appoint the chair of a homophobic and anti-health care church to the position of CEO,’ urging all others who ‘care about queer rights’ to do the same,” according to the right-leaning Spectator Australia.

Do you think that religious persecution is on the rise?

Tornburn resigned the next day.

Note that Thorburn didn’t lose his job because of a poorly worded statement or ill-conceived behavior. It happened strictly because of the church he attended.

Of course, given that Thorburn is chair of the Anglican church’s board, it’s safe to assume that he ascribed to its statement of faith. Still, it’s that faith that led to Thorburn’s ouster, not anything he did or didn’t do.

“A Rubicon has been crossed in Australia,” wrote David Robertson for Evangelical Focus. “For the first time, someone has lost their job not because of something they said or did, but because of the church they belong to.”

Coming from a more decidedly leftist viewpoint, “[r]evelations in the Herald Sun that Thorburn was also chairman of a church organisation with controversial views on abortion and homosexuality made his position untenable,” is how Australian sports website CODE Sports described the issue.

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Men shouldn’t marry other men; women shouldn’t kill their unborn children. What amounted to obvious common sense not too long ago, even in the public square, is now considered “controversial” doctrine.

“I believe that there are many Australians who fear the implications for their livelihoods, aspirations and participation in community life,” Thorburn wrote in a statement cited by “It is troubling that faith or association with a church, mosque, synagogue or temple could render a person immediately unsuited to holding a particular role. That is a dangerous idea, one that will only reduce tolerance for others and diversity of thought and participation in our community and workplaces.”

“True tolerance, inclusion and diversity also includes people of faith,” he added.

No. No, they don’t. Not if you’re being employed — or governed — by members of the cult of woke leftism. They should, certainly. But they don’t. Thorburn’s situation is ample evidence of that.

For worshipers at the altar of spirit of the age, there are rules — rules that must not only be followed, but rigidly enforced on others. Even in Australia.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
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Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics