Where to now for the Australian Christian Lobby? updated

Posted on February 25, 2023 
Filed under Culture wars, People

You may have heard the news yesterday that Martin Isles, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, is moving on.

His e-mail to supporters began:

“I write with significant news that will provoke mixed reactions.

After five incredible years as managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, my employment has been terminated by the Board.

I hasten to add that there is no question of misconduct. Rather, the Board has reviewed ACL’s strategic direction and decided I am not the right person to lead the revised strategy, which focuses more primarily on political tactics, less on the gospel. Having heard this articulated, I absolutely agree with them that I am not the right person for that vision. I have always been a preacher first, a politician second (or third……).

Please pray for the Board as ACL passes through this process, that their decisions would advance God’s will.

Although I think the strategy isn’t the right one, I leave without bitterness. God’s providence works through all things, including our own disappointments. …”

– At Culture Watch, Bill Muehlenberg shares his reaction:

“I too have long been involved in political lobbying and the like, and I know of its importance. But the more I have done this, the more I have come to believe that unless there is a strong gospel feature, unless there is a strong Christian connection, it will be all rather limited in its effectiveness and long-term success. …”

Read it all here.

(We should add, as sometimes there can be confusion: The Anglican Church League and the Australian Christian Lobby are not the same – we just share the same initials.)

Update, 27 February 2023 from Jim Wallace, Chairman of the Board

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2)

I write reluctantly following Martyn’s email of Friday, 24 February 2023. I apologise for the delay in this official response, but we on the Board did not want to act reflexively to what has been a huge disappointment.

We are, and always will be, committed to Truth Made Public. This is the foundation on which the ACL was established and continues to operate. By the grace of God, we will continue to do this into the future. On behalf of the ACL, I want to thank you for your continued prayerful support and engagement, that has strengthened and propelled the work of ACL into the public square, over these many years.

Allow me to reiterate, that the objectives of ACL have not changed. As the Australian Christian Lobby, it is the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that drives every aspect of the work that we do – from phone canvassing to our Board decisions. It is the Gospel that compels us as Christians to participate in the political discourse and to petition governments, so that Christian principles find expression in legislation and public policy. Our focus will always be on following and obeying Jesus, which requires that the Gospel message underpins our political engagement.

We believe that engagement must be on two levels, the relational and campaigning. In our view, political engagement, and relationship-building in the parliaments should be reflective of the same humble relational style modelled by Jesus Christ.

We know that many of you are sorely disappointed by Martyn’s departure from ACL. We are too. And we, the board, regret any unintended hurt that has been caused either to Martyn, or to any of our supporters. While we cannot go into specifics, we thought we were in a discussion which would have led to a resolution. However, this did not proceed as we expected.

We will do our best to continue the work set before us and we sincerely ask that you continue to pray for us and share in the vision of the ACL of Making Truth Public, so that as Christians, we act to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Pr 31:8-9), and so resist evil and proclaim liberty (Pr 28:4, Is 61:1-3) and truth (1 Cor 13.6).

Australia desperately needs this vision to be implemented and we appreciate and need you as part of the team, please stay in fellowship with us.

God Bless,
Jim Wallace AM
Chairman, ACL Board.”