The Sydney Morning Herald reports…
“Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has defended the right of a Christian commentator to make controversial statements concerning homosexuality, which have included likening the advancement of gay rights to the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany.
“I respect everybody’s opinions, I just hope and wish others would do the same,” he said, after speaking at the Australian Christian Lobby conference. “I have always respected everybody else’s faith and always sought to respect everybody else’s view.”
The ACL has been criticised for inviting conservative American commentator Eric Metaxas as keynote speaker at Saturday’s event in Sydney. The author and radio host has drawn parallels between the current push for equality and the Church failing to stand up to the Nazi party.
He is also a supporter of gay conversion therapy and claims “normalising” homosexuality is an attempt to break down all sexual boundaries.
The Treasurer’s speech to the 600 people attending the ACL’s “Cultivating Courage” conference focused on the importance of marriage and the family, which he called “the most sacred national institution”. “To protect our country, to protect our society, to protect our economy and to protect our children, we must protect the family,” he said.
He thanked the “millions of people … who I know pray earnestly for our political leaders”.
“I’m a big believer in prayer, I’ve seen the impact of it in my own life and I know it works,” he said.
But the Treasurer declined to discuss further his own strong Christian beliefs. “My faith is not my politics. My faith is an important part of who I am, as it is of every human being, whatever their faith might be. Judge me on my policies. My faith is my business.”
ACL managing director Lyle Shelton told the conference that it was becoming harder to be a Christian in Australia. “We face false slurs and labels, designed to demonise us into silence,” he said.
“Bigot, homophobe, hater, are just some of the pejorative terms that have been used to characterise us ordinary Australians, who simply believe that marriage [should be] between a man and woman.”
A small group outside the Wesley Conference Centre staged a protest in favour of same-sex marriage and gay rights. Cat Rose, from the Community Action Against Homophobia, criticised Mr Morrison’s decision to speak at the ACL event. “We’ve got no problems with the Christian lobby but all they do is talk about gay rights and how to stop them,” she said.
Conference attendees were asked to “refrain from going outside at any time” to avoid protesters.
Mr Shelton also criticised public support from large corporations, including Telstra, for marriage equality. “If you work for a big corporation like Telstra, you’d better keep your head down because you might end up with a tap on the shoulder by the diversity officer,” he said.
“Such has been the capitulation and capture of corporate Australia by rainbow politics.”
In 2014, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used his appearance at the ACL conference to make a case for marriage equality and argued that freedom of worship did not mean freedom to vilify.”