Australia Where was Andrew Thorburn’s Christian faith when he was NAB’s CEO?

05:51  05 october  2022
05:51  05 october  2022 Source:   crikey.com.au

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Is it the case — as blink-and-you’ll-miss-him former Essendon Football Club CEO Andrew Thorburn insists — that one’s “personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many”?

(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media) © Provided by Crikey (Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

“I was being required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience allowed,” Thorburn wrote yesterday, explaining his rapid exit from his new position at Essendon. “People should be able to hold different views on complex personal and moral matters, and be able to live and work together, even with those differences, and always with respect. Behaviour is the key.”

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Behaviour is the key.

The objections to Thorburn’s appointment stem from his chairmanship of City on the Hill church, a religious body that opposes abortion even for rape victims, describes same-sex attraction as something to be “survived”, and criticises women who “attempt to prove themselves, to gain control using their femininity, to usurp men”. Sermons on the church’s site compare abortion to the Holocaust and condemn non-heterosexual sex as sinful.

  Where was Andrew Thorburn’s Christian faith when he was NAB’s CEO? © Provided by Crikey

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Bearing in mind Thorburn is not merely a member of this church but its chairman, he says he disagrees with things that are said in the church (though not which ones), but that he believes “strongly in the right of people to say them, especially when taken in context. Reducing complex matters to a sentence is dangerous.”

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Is Thorburn a martyr to intolerance, pushed to compromise his conscience because of his religious beliefs? Is Christian faith no longer tolerated in the public square?

The person who first excluded Christian faith from the public square, in this instance, was Thorburn himself. What was the record of the National Australian Bank (NAB) during the nearly five years Thorburn was CEO?

  • Widespread charging of fees for no service
  • Charging fees of dead people
  • “Serious and systemic” breaches of the Corporations Act
  • Failure to alert the corporate regulator to those breaches in violation of the law
  • Knowing fees were being charged for no services and failing to stop it
  • Failing to alert the corporate regulator to a fraud ring operating within the bank
  • Continuing to pay executive bonuses while fees for no service were being charged
  • Failing to cooperate fully with the Hayne royal commission, with the bank’s lawyers seeking to avoid providing documents which revealed its culpability from the public

NAB has now repaid $1.247 billion to more than 770,000 people that it took from over the years. Thorburn had to quit after being singled out for criticism, along with his chairman Ken Henry, in the royal commission report.

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Behaviour is the key. At what point as NAB CEO between 2014 and 2019 did Thorburn allow his Christian faith to intrude on his management? Not alleged Christian principles like opposing abortion, or calling LGBTIQA+ people sinful, or demeaning women, but more basic principles like admitting wrongdoing?

  Where was Andrew Thorburn’s Christian faith when he was NAB’s CEO? © Provided by Crikey

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Strange that Thorburn has chosen his religious faith over his latest CEO gig as head of a football club, when there’s so little evidence that he chose his faith over being a bank CEO.

This isn’t really a question of whether Christianity, or any other faith, is permitted in the public square. It’s a question about the selectivity with which many religious people choose to apply their faith in the public square. There are plenty of people of strong faith who live out that faith, who try, in their imperfect, human way, to embody the religious principles they believe in. No one side of politics, profession or walk of life has a monopoly on them.

But there are many others, including some prominent politicians, for whom core religious beliefs are to be cherrypicked according to self-interest, for whom beliefs such as goodwill, charity and love are only ever to be applied selectively, not universally.

Behaviour is the key. Or, as the Gospel of Matthew says, “by their deeds you will know them”.

The post Where was Andrew Thorburn’s Christian faith when he was NAB’s CEO? appeared first on Crikey.

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This is interesting!