A person I know, Akos Balogh, recently wrote this letter to the Essendon AFL Club after the Andrew Thorburn fiasco. Akos’ family moved to Australia from Hungary when he was young and he thanks God for that. This extract of his letter expresses legitimate concerns and thoughts that might be on your mind —

“Dear Essendon FC, your actions leave me (and no doubt other refugees and migrants) with two urgent questions:1) You say, ‘everyone is welcome and respected’, but many refugees and migrants have the same views on abortion and marriage as Andrew Thorburn. Will we be excluded from your club like he was? And we came to this country because we believed Australia doesn’t persecute people for their political, religious or cultural views – unlike many of the places we left. I came from a Marxist country that preached equality but excluded those who didn’t hold to the regime’s politically correct beliefs. Unfortunately, I see a parallel between what my people experienced under such a regime and what Andrew Thorburn experienced at the hands of your club.Will we be treated as second-class citizens, excluded from your club, because of our views on abortion and sex?  My second question goes to the heart of this painful saga: 2) What does true inclusion look like in our culturally and religiously diverse society? This is a critical question for our diverse society.

Does acceptance and respect for other people involve affirming everything about them? Can we accept other people, even if we differ with their deepest beliefs, desires, views and identity?

When it comes to LGBTQIA+ issues, there seems to be little room for disagreement. Either you affirm everything the LGBTQIA+ community stands for, as per Essendon values, or you’re a bigot. But by that definition, Jesus was a bigot (as were prominent Christians like Mother Theresa & Martin Luther King, Jr).

While Jesus was crystal clear about how God designed us to live (e.g. he reaffirmed marriage as the lifelong monogamous union of one man and one woman), he nevertheless loved those who didn’t live up to this standard.

Jesus loved the prostitutes without affirming prostitution. Jesus loved those caught in sex outside marriage without affirming sex outside marriage. Jesus showed love to all people – without affirming all their desires and actions. I call that authentic inclusivity. But if our definition follows Jesus’ model, we’ll forge inclusivity that allows us to live with our deepest differences while respecting each other’s humanity. Now that’s an inclusivity that welcomes everyone – not just those we agree with. I urge you to ponder how such authentic inclusivity could become a bedrock value of your club. I look forward to your reply.”