Andrew Thorburn

Andrew Thorburn: Hung on the Woke Gallows He Helped Build

7 October 2022


The mob now attacking Andrew Thorburn for his faith was first discipled by Thorburn while he was NAB’s pro-LGBT chief executive.

I don’t think there’s a Christian in Australia who wants to be Andrew Thorburn.

His story is now a familiar one. A day after his appointment as Essendon’s CEO, decade-old teachings on homosexuality surfaced from the church Thorburn chairs. The Bombers swooped, demanding Thorburn choose between his footy and his church. He chose the latter.

It is open season on Aussie Christians who let the Bible — not the culture — dictate their beliefs. As such, I have no desire to add to Andrew Thorburn’s grief.

But there are lessons in his story that most in the Australian church have yet to hear.

Andrew Thorburn’s Tenure at NAB

When Andrew Thorburn was CEO of NAB from 2014 to 2019, he oversaw and promoted a vast range of LGBT initiatives.

During the same-sex marriage debate, NAB proudly supported the undefinition of marriage.

Throughout Thorburn’s tenure, NAB was the principal sponsor of Midsumma Festival, “Victoria’s premier gay and lesbian arts and culture festival”.

NAB was also the major sponsor of the AFL’s first “pride match” back in 2015. The AFL website still boasts of the event and quotes Thorburn as saying,

“At NAB we believe in diversity — we want everyone to be themselves at work, home and at the footy… regardless of their gender diversity or sexual orientation.”

City on a Hill’s Stance on Sexuality

On learning of Thorburn’s glowing LGBT credentials, many an Australian might wonder why he got the boot from Essendon’s top job.

Me? I wonder how he got the role as chairman of the board at his church.

City on a Hill is a member of Acts 29, a church planting network that affirms “the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice”.

Their stance on sexuality is the same as that of the mainline Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.

Nevertheless, Thorburn’s appointment on the board at City on a Hill, despite his LGBT advocacy, might have a sensible explanation.

Though City on a Hill has affirmed the biblical position on marriage and sexuality on many occasions, founding and Senior Pastor Guy Mason has sadly promoted woke orthodoxy on transgenderism.

In a recent sermon, Mason, who also sits on the church’s board, affirmed the use of ‘preferred pronouns’, said Christians “must lean into the rights of those who identify as transgender,” and promoted “gender-inclusive bathrooms.”

The Rainbow Mob Will Not Be Appeased

Again, my purpose is not to put Thorburn, Mason, or City on a Hill through more trouble than they have already endured. They are responsible to God and Scripture for what they teach, not to me.

However, the Thorburn affair does provide every Christian with a sobering lesson. Pandering to the rainbow mob is pointless, since that same mob will only turn and attack you. We now have years of evidence testifying to this.

To switch analogies, in his years at NAB, Thorburn helped build the gallows from which he now swings.

Those viciously attacking Andrew Thorburn for his church’s (albeit shaky) views on sexuality were first discipled by him and others promoting the LGBT agenda in the public square.

Christians must know that “leaning in” to the woke cult, as mainstream as it might be, is a futile endeavour. Accepting its vocabulary, its assumptions and its games is an exercise in self-defeat for followers of Jesus.

Loving transgender people is possible without capitulating. More accurately, loving transgender people is impossible by capitulating.

A Braver Response Was Required

To his credit, Andrew Thorburn made a praiseworthy statement when forced out of his new post at Essendon. “They made it clear that my Christian faith and my association with a Church are unacceptable in our culture if you wish to hold a leadership position in society,” he said.

Bravo. He was right to hold a mirror up to the culture to reveal how intolerant it has become. Even with Thorburn’s mixed record in view, his detractors were still wrong to assassinate his character the way they have.

What would have been braver — and what would have set a legal precedent to help other people of faith down the road — is if Thorburn had refused to quit and made Essendon sack him.

The courts would have ruled this an open-and-shut case of wrongful termination. Essendon would have been firing Thorburn, not even for statements he made, but for his mere association with a church. To win that case would have given legal protection to a whole new generation of religious Australians in like circumstances. God knows we need it.

As a former bank executive and a leader at a big church, Thorburn had the money and the connections to secure legal victory. It would have been a Christ-like act: helping a lot of little people who can’t afford to lose their jobs like he can.

Instead, churches are now in retreat mode, with pastors deleting their online catalogues of sermons, and younger believers more fearful of speaking the truth in the workplace than they were last week.

A City Set On a Hill

Being a Christian in today’s Australia doesn’t require triumphalism, but neither does it call for surrender to the world’s underhanded schemes. To quote the words of Jesus from which Thorburn’s church derives its name:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Jesus’ command doesn’t get any easier with time. But isn’t it more relevant and urgent than ever?


Photo: SuperFooty AFL/Twitter

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  1. Kaylene Emery 7 October 2022 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Thank you for providing the balance to this story Kurt our human inclination seems to be that if we like someone then we want to make/keep them ‘all good ‘which of course raises them/us above their/our human status.
    There is only one, who is good and He is Jesus Christ and He alone is all good.
    Can we love each other enough to say…….” this far and no further ” ? Can we love our children and grandchildren enough to suffer for the salvation of their soul’s ? Can we this time – not fall asleep ?

  2. Warwick Marsh 7 October 2022 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Sadly Kurt is right. Once you get involved in pushing the moral relativism of wokeness and the LGBQTI agenda you will never be good enough. We are now entering the French revolutionary period called the “Reign of Terror.”

    The first set of marxist cultural revolutionaries (and anyone else for that matter) will be murdered by the last as in Russia and in France in the 1790s. For the moment this is just figuratively. Now they are just losing jobs and material income but Murder is not far away.

    Our nation is ripe for judgement. Australia needs a miracle. We need a sovereign infusion of Gods unmerited favour. That’s why we are praying and fasting through October for revival.
    Please join us!

  3. El Syd 8 October 2022 at 1:08 am - Reply

    Thanks for that well-put perspective Kurt. It is indeed a pity Thorburn didn’t stay to fight cancel culture, for the benefit of all Christians in the workplace.

  4. Kaylene Emery 8 October 2022 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    The woke gang have been operating covertly for a long time -until recently they were very understated just as they were before, the vote on same sex marriage . I wonder what it is that brings these bullies out into the open ?
    Have others seen that song they brazenly sing on YouTube called ” We’re coming for your children “?

  5. Kon Michailidis 9 October 2022 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the background information on Thorburn. I wonder what would really have happened if he stayed to fight. Given his record at NAB I wonder whether he could have sustained a believable case. The barristers would have had a great time with him.
    And would his church have stood behind him. What was their position when he resigned?
    it makes me wonder also how these days churches have very orthodox and conservative evangelical beliefs, but do they really reflect the beliefs of the people in them, even their chairpeople, in the pastors, and the sermons they preach.

  6. John Keegan 9 October 2022 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    It may be my ignorance, but there seems to be a gap here in the narrative. Did a personal shift in faith happen to Andrew Thorburn between being NAB CEO and becoming Essendon CEO? And what has been his personal faith stance on the City on a Hill board? I hope I do not need to labour on detail in those questions, but that their intent will be obvious. Some clarification would be appreciated.

    • Tom Kent 11 October 2022 at 9:38 am - Reply

      I see two possible explanations.

      1. He found a way to separate the secular from the non-secular. He may well have regarded homosexual practise as sinful, while putting on a secular hat while at work, which recognised there is money to be made by pandering to the LGBT communities.

      2. The gay pride initiatives may not have been his. They may have been driven by another manager, and maybe all he needed to do was not object.

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