Australian Christian Lobby

Australian Christian Lobby
Australian Christian Lobby
Founded 1995
Location 4 Campion Street
Deakin ACT 2600
Canberra, Australia
Phone +61 (02) 6259 0431
Key people Chairman, Tony McLellan
Managing Director, Jim Wallace AM
Chief of Staff, Lyle Shelton
Area served Australia
Motto Voice for values

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is a Christian political lobby group having a head office in Canberra and branches in six Australian states and territories. Its motto is "Voice for values". Its managing director is Jim Wallace AM.[1]

The Australian Christian Lobby has three main functions. These are: supporting politicians who uphold Christian values, lobbying and thirdly informing, educating and activating Christians.[2] As an example of the first two functions, Jim Wallace has twice organised meetings between leaders of 20 major Christian churches and Prime Ministers.[3]



Three men from different denominational affiliations and backgrounds founded the Australian Christian Coalition (ACC) in 1995. At the time of the founding, two of them resided in Canberra and one in Brisbane. The lobby group was the brainchild of John Gagliardi, a lay leader of a large Pentecostal church in Brisbane, who stated that the vision was to create an organisation that would have influence in the political arena, on behalf of all Christians, no matter what denomination. Gagliardi’s background was in journalism, and he held positions as Editor of the Townsville Bulletin and as anchorman for the Channel 10 news. John McNicoll was a retired Baptist Minister turned lobbyist in Canberra before becoming involved in the Australian Christian Coalition. John Miller, who worked with a number of community and government organisations and held leadership positions within his independent, community-based church.

The name of the organisation was changed to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in March 2001.[4] The ACL has been described as already having "made its influence felt on a state and national level" at this stage.[5]


According to the ACL's website, "The vision of the Australian Christian Lobby is to see Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed, do business and relate to each other as a community. The ACL aims to foster a more compassionate, just and moral society by seeking to have the positive public contributions of the Christian faith reflected in the political life of the nation."[6]

The ACL also operates the 'Make A Stand' website which the ACL claims "is a service provided to assist the Australian public to respond to political issues in a timely and effective manner."[7]


The Australian Christian Lobby is an Australian Public Company, Limited By Guarantee, registered (having an ABN 40 075 120 517) with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).[8]

ACL files political expenditure returns with Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).[9]

Details regarding the Australian Christian Lobby’s Board [10][non-primary source needed] and the ACL Staff [11][non-primary source needed] are available. ACL issues publications such as the magazine, “Viewpoint” which is provided to each Parliamentarian in Australia free of charge.[12] It provides Media Releases[13][non-primary source needed] and it communicates with its supporters via emailed newsletters.[14][non-primary source needed]

Some current issues on which ACL lobbies

Issues related to family

In September 2011, during Child Protection Week, ACL released a report, For Kids’ Sake, in response to increasing levels of abuse, neglect and self harm surrounding children, for which it is claimed sliding marriage rates are partly to blame.[15]

While Australia does have established protocols for the classification of films, computer games, publications and music[16] and for advertising standards[17] this remains unresolved for outdoor advertising with one example showing, "a naked couple provocatively entwined next to a packet of condoms . . (in) proximity to a Catholic primary school".[18] Australia's Prime Minister says, regarding this type of billboard they, "cause me to worry".[19] Responding to a proposed regulatory change in the United Kingdom where, "billboard images of scantily clad models are to be banned in a bid to prevent the sexualisation of children" [20], a televised debate was held between Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party and Wendy Francis of ACL.[21]

ACL advocacy for the homeless has included a submission to the New South Wales Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues Inquiry into homelessness and low-cost rental accommodation.[22][non-primary source needed] ACL has consistently supported marriage as, "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life". In 2004, ACL jointly organised the National Marriage Forum to support this amendment to the Marriage Act and the Family Law Act.[23] The current Australian Prime Minister has said, under her government "the Marriage Act will remain unchanged".[24] ACL continues to advocate for marriage, as defined in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004.[25] [26]

A document on marriage, as linked to the needs of children, was prepared by the Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian Churches, under the auspices of the Australian Christian Lobby. The document was endorsed by 50 of the national church leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, Christian Reformed Churches of Australia, Lutheran, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Uniting Church.[27]

The Australian Christian Lobby has congratulated ACT Greens Party Convener, Meredith Hunter, on moves to introduce a voluntary code of conduct for retailers to help combat the sexualisation of children.[28]

Issues relating to life

ACL is opposed to abortion and works for the repeal of legislation that sanctions abortion on demand. ACL jointly organised a March for the Babies[29] to commemorate the second anniversary of the passing of Victoria’s abortion laws which allow abortion up until birth for any reason. ACL has also sponsored Gianna Jessen, an 'abortion survivor' to come to Australia to talk about her experiences.[30] ACL has campaigned on a number of occasions in response to moves to legalise euthanasia by various territory, state and federal jurisdictions.[31] ACL has highlighted how some legal Australian brothels have ties to human trafficking and sex slavery.[32]

Issues related to poverty and justice

In an endeavour to minimise harms associated with poker machines, ACL has supported a trial for mandatory pre-commitment scheme.[33] ACL has worked with Micah Challenge to 'Make Poverty History’ and to achieve the 'Millennium Development Goals' on halving global poverty by 2012.[34] In regards to refugees, the Australian Christian Lobby called for all parties to stop playing politics and to co-operate on a solution.[35] "ACL supports the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the preamble of the Constitution".[36]

Regarding the situation in Egypt, the ACL has called on the Federal Government to pressure Egypt to protect religious minorities such as the Copts.[37]

Issues relating to youth and education

ACL has established a training program for young people with the target group being 18 to 26 years. The Compass program was a "joint-initiative between ACL and the Compass foundation, which is based in New Zealand”. The program includes mentoring and coaching.[38] ACL has provided input into the formulation of the proposed Australian National Curriculum.[39] ACL lobbied against proposal to replace the terms Before Christ (BC) and Anno Domini (AD) with Before the Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE). [40] That proposal was subsequently dropped.[41] ACL hosted the Make It Count event on 21 June 2010, where then-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott spoke about their positions on a range of issues affecting Christians. Prominent Christian leaders of major denominations attended the Make It Count event.[42] Prior to the Australian 2007 federal election, ACL hosted a Make It Count event with the then Prime Minister John Howard and the then Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.[43]

Issues relating to censorship

The ACL is one of the primary supporters of Senator Stephen Conroy's mandatory Internet Blacklist.[44] The ACL seeks to extend the blacklist to filter all pornographic materials and not just materials which are considered inappropriate for children (the original reason for the blacklist's creation). An Australian citizen who wants to download pornographic material via the internet would then have to request that their internet service provider unblock the filter.[45] One day prior to the government announcement of a delay to the implementation of the filter scheme, the ACL was briefed leading to some criticism of their "disproportionate influence" on the filtering policy.[46]

Australia is currently the only developed nation that does not have an R18+ classification for video games. The ACL has been in constant opposition to introducing an R18+ classification.[47] The ACL's stance has been heavily criticised by the video gaming community,[48] including Christian gamers.[47] 98.2% of 58,589 submissions to a government run public consultation supported introducing the classification,[49] as does the Catholic church.[50] Commentators noted this shows the ACL does not represent all Christians.[50]

Issues relating to gay rights

The ACL actively opposes various political moves to grant specific gay rights, particularly those regarding gay marriage, gay adoption and parenting, and has campaigned for the rights of religious organisations to legally discriminate on the basis of sexuality. However the ACL has supported some rights for LGBTI people, such as the legal rights of same sex couples to access Medicare, inheritances, superannuation benefits and social security income support.[51]

The ACL called for the Government to rule out repealing the Marriage Act after the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission confirmed the commission supported same-sex marriage. Jim Wallace has stated that the claim that there is discrimination against homosexual couples is a "myth".[52]

The ACL is of the view that religious institutions, including religious schools, should have the right to apply discrimination on the basis of sexuality, though Jim Wallace has stated he would expect that any school conducting an expulsion on such a basis would do it "in the most loving way that it could for the child".[53]

With Australian gay rights activists advocating an expansion of the "definition of marriage to include a range of relationship models",[54] ACL has raised the possibility that if gay marriage rights were granted, the next push will be for marriage to include polygamous relationships.[55] The ACL also cite the hiding of genetic parental information to children as a reason to prevent gay marriage and prevent gay adoption.[56]

The ACL has criticised the government for working with a gay advisory body to assist its decision making as "disgraceful and pandering to a minority".[57]

Miranda Devine wrote in the Herald Sun that Jim Wallace "has copped more than his fair share of abuse when it comes to defending traditional marriage".[58]

Controversy and criticism

The ACL's policies on censorship, abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality are all strongly opposed by free-speech, pro-choice,[29] pro-euthanasia[59] and gay-rights advocates respectively.

The ACL has been described by a critic as "extremist Christians" and "dominionists",[60] distinctions which the ACL deny and have countered.[61][62]

Greens MP Colleen Hartland has stated "I would think [the ACL's] hatred of gays is un-Christian."[57]

The ACL have been accused of double-standards for criticising people who ridicule opponents of same sex marriage, yet allowing Bob Katter to ridicule same-sex marriage at a rally they co-organised,[63] and for criticising tactics used by gay-rights activists when they have previously used similar tactics themselves.[64] They have also been accused of being misleading regarding survey results,[64] and posting factual inaccuracies on their website.[47] A high ranking Australian Catholic Bishop claims that the ACL is "often driven not to change policy per se, but simply to make noise. To satiate those who support and fund the group."[47]

Anzac Day 2011

The ACL attracted controversy after Jim Wallace tweeted on Anzac Day in 2011: "Just hope that as we remember servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for -- wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!"[47][65] Critics responded immediately with statements such as: "Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby should be ashamed, using Anzac Day to push a homophobic and racist agenda." Wallace later apologised for the comments and deleted them.[65]

In direct response to the controversy Australian Christians started a petition stating that the ACL does not represent their views.

“We are Australian Christians, and we’d like you to know that the Australian Christian Lobby does not speak for us.
—Part of the petition to Prime Minister Julia Gillard

The petition was signed by over 250 people in its first 24 hours.[66]

Adshel advertisements

In May 2011 the advertising agency Adshel pulled a series of billboards from circulation in Brisbane following what has been described as a coordinated campaign from the Australian Christian Lobby.[67] The advertisements, which were encouraging safe sex, featured a fully clothed, hugging gay couple holding an unopened condom packet.[68] Adshel's CEO stated they removed the billboards after receiving around 30 complaints and that "None of the complaints indicated any liaison with the Australian Christian Lobby, so Adshel was made to believe that they originated from individual members of the public".[68]

The ACL expressed concern at the cyberbullying of a staff member from some activists, which they stated followed Adshel’s decision to remove the advertisements.[69]

The billboards were reinstated following counter-protests of their removal and revelations that the ACL was responsible for the campaign. When the ACL was accused of homophobia an ACL representative publicly stated their complaints had nothing to do with homosexuality and that they opposed "the sexual nature of the ads". However several of the individual complaints to Adshel suggested the ads would "encourage homosexuality".[68]

Both the major political parties voiced support for the ads; State Treasurer Andrew Fraser said complaints about the ad were homophobic[70] and Healthy Communities executive director Paul Martin accused the ACL of trying to have gay people "erased from the public sphere".[71] Over 80,000 people joined a Facebook group supporting the ads following the ACL's actions.[72][70] The ACL's actions backfired further with several advertising agencies deciding to run the ads free of charge.[73]

See also


  1. ^ Lydia Kinda, Review of Breakfast Address by Jim Wallace, The Christian Legal Society,, retrieved 14 November 2011 
  2. ^ Robert Law (2004), Australian Christian Lobby, Trowel and Sword,, retrieved 18 November 2011 
  3. ^ Dennis Shanahan (5 April 2011), Julia Gillard reaches out to Christian leaders, The Australian,, retrieved 18 November 2011 
  4. ^ Historical details for ABN: 40 075 120 517, Australian Business Register (historical details),, retrieved 14 November 2011 
  5. ^ Kameel Majdali (2004), Christian leadership in the twenty-first century: An Australian perspective, Teach All Nations Inc.,, retrieved 14 November 2011 
  6. ^ About ACL, 2010,, retrieved 23 October 2010 
  7. ^ Who Are We? (Make A Stand), 2010,, retrieved 24 September 2010 
  8. ^ Historical details for ABN: 40 075 120 517, ASIC,, retrieved 15 November 2011 
  9. ^ Political Expenditure Return - 2009-2010, AEC,, retrieved 15 November 2011 
  10. ^ Our Board, ACL,, retrieved 15 November 2011 
  11. ^ Our Staff, ACL,, retrieved 15 November 2011 
  12. ^ Viewpoint, Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship,, retrieved 15 November 2011 
  13. ^ Media Releases, ACL,, retrieved 15 November 2011 
  14. ^ Newsletters, ACL,, retrieved 15 November 2011 
  15. ^ Falling marriage rates hurting children: report, The Age, 6 September 2011,, retrieved 27 October 2011 
  16. ^ How to comply with classification laws, Australian Government,, retrieved 7 November 2011 
  17. ^ , The Advertising Standards Bureau,, retrieved 7 November 2011 
  18. ^ Fresh controversy over bus stop condom ads, Brisbane Times, 11 October 2011,, retrieved 7 November 2011 
  19. ^ Make it Count 2010 Ms Julia Gillard Questions (at 19:45 min), ACL, 7 August 2010,, retrieved 7 November 2011 
  20. ^ Goodbye boys! Crackdown on sexual imagery in outdoor advertising will see provocative underwear poses banned, Daily Mail (UK), 10 October 2011,, retrieved 7 November 2011 
  21. ^ yahoo.7.TV,Sunrise (18 October 2011). "Billboard Battle". Seven Sunrise.;_ylu=X3oDMTEwamhxcDBuBHBvcwMxBHNlYwN2aXNmZWN0BGNvbG8Dc3AyBHZ0aWQD/SIG=12r01vj8i/EXP=1319305111/**http%3a// Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  22. ^ Submission to the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues Inquiry into homelessness and low-cost rental accommodation, March,, retrieved 23 October 2011 
  23. ^ The National Marriage Forum - Social Issues briefing #021, Anglican Diocese of Sydney, 6 August 2004,, retrieved 5 November 2011 
  24. ^ Make it Count 2010 Ms Julia Gillard Questions (at 12:08 min), ACL, 7 August 2010,, retrieved 5 November 2011 
  25. ^ Nicholas Tonti-Filippini (6 September 2011), Marriage is about rights of the children, The Age,, retrieved 4 November 2011 
  26. ^ Joe de Bruyn, National Secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (16 October 2011), The fight against same-sex marriage, ACL,, retrieved 4 November 2011 
  27. ^ Institution of marriage is linked to needs of children, Aust Christian News, August 2011,, retrieved 17 November 2011 
  28. ^ Christian lobby congratulates ACT Greens on first steps to combat sexualisation of children, ChristianToday, 2010,, retrieved 27 October 2011 
  29. ^ a b The abortion issue is alive and kicking, OnLine Opinion, 12 October 2010,, retrieved 27 October 2011 
  30. ^ Abortion survivor joins debate, The Age, 31 August 2008,, retrieved 27 October 2011 
  31. ^ Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee’s Inquiry into the Rights of the Terminally Ill (Euthanasia Laws Repeal) Bill 2008, APH, March,, retrieved 23 October 2011 
  32. ^ Legal Australian brothels linked to human trafficking, sex slavery and organized crime, Life Site News, 12 October 2011,, retrieved 27 October 2011 
  33. ^ Christian lobby attacks Tony Abbott over poker machine reform, The Australian, 27 October 2011,, retrieved 27 October 2011 
  34. ^ Micah Challenge, ChristianToday, 2010,, retrieved 23 October 2010 
  35. ^ Christian Lobby: with compassion and justice, both parties' refugee solutions could work, ChristianToday, 2010,, retrieved 23 October 2010 
  36. ^ ACL Submission to the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, Sept, 2011,, retrieved 26 October 2011 
  37. ^ Australia must pressure Egyptian Government to protect Christians, ACL says, Australian Conservative, 18 August 2011,, retrieved 18 November 2011 
  38. ^ Interview - David Yates, Compass Australia Coordinator, Christian Today, 3 Dec 2007,, retrieved 27 October 2011 
  39. ^ Submission - Draft K‐10 Australian Curriculum, 28 May 2010,, retrieved 1 November 2011 
  40. ^ No more 'Before Christ', 6PR - Perth, 8 September 2011,, retrieved 1 November 2011 
  41. ^ Christian group applauds saving of AD, BC, Ninemsn news, 21 October 2011,, retrieved 1 November 2011 
  42. ^ Here God is anything but dead, SMH, 2010,, retrieved 23 October 2010 
  43. ^ Transcript – Australian Conference, National Library of Australia, 2007,, retrieved 24 October 2011 
  44. ^ ACL Confirms Porn Filter Stance - Christianity Today.,, retrieved 2009-04-01 
  45. ^ Christians upset at Conroy's net policy 'backtrack',, retrieved 2009-07-03 
  46. ^ Fran Foo, Concern at lobby group's influence as Christians get filter plan tip-off, The Australian,, retrieved 2010-07-20 
  47. ^ a b c d e Serrels, Mark (13 May 2011). "The ACL: Why Do They Exist, Why Do We Listen, And Why Should We Care?". Kotaku. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  48. ^ Allen, Danny (9 August 2011). "Australian Census: A Vote For Jedi Is A Vote For Jim Wallace". Gizmodo. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  49. ^ "Overwhelming support for R18+ games rating". The Australian. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  50. ^ a b Serrels, Mark (26 May 2011). "Australian Catholic Bishops Welcomes The Draft R18+ Guidelines". Kotaku. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  51. ^ ACL Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission - Protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity, November 2010,, retrieved 2011-10-26 
  52. ^ Government should reject Australian Human Rights Commission’s suggestion to repeal Marriage Act, Christian Today, 2011,, retrieved 2011-10-23 
  53. ^ David Marr, 'Appalling' law lets schools expel gay students, Sydney Morning Herald,, retrieved 2011-02-13 
  54. ^ Katrina Fox, Marriage needs redefining, ABC,, retrieved 2011-03-02 
  55. ^ Patricia Karvelas, Same-sex first, then polygamy, The Australian,, retrieved 2011-10-27 
  56. ^ Katherine Spackman, Senate’s donor conception report highlights issues ignored in gay marriage debate, Australian Christian Lobby,, retrieved 2011-02-13 
  57. ^ a b Willingham, Richard (N0vember 5, 2010). "Christian lobby rails against gay advisory body". The Age. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  58. ^ Devine, Miranda (22 October 2011). "Gays must curb vile vitriol". Herald Sun. Herald Sun. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  59. ^ Gordon, Josh (31 October 2010). "Christians target death bill". The Age. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  60. ^ Stevenson, Chrys (23 September 2011). "Is the Australian Christian Lobby Dominionist?". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  61. ^ Benson, Rod (19 September 2011), "Faith and Politics: Dismantling Stevenson's Dominionist Conspiracy", Australian Broadcasting Corporation,, retrieved 25 October 2011 
  62. ^ Wallace, Jim (23 September 2011), "Exposing Chrys Stevenson's Blind Faith", Australian Broadcasting Corporation,, retrieved 25 October 2011 
  63. ^ "Gay marriage ridicule 'damages youths'". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  64. ^ a b Lemon, Geoff (9 September 2011). "Jim Wallace is Optimus Prime". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  65. ^ a b Packham, Ben (16 April 2011). "Christian lobbyist sorry for gays, Islam tweet". The Australian. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  66. ^ "Christians turn back on lobby". 28 April 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  67. ^ Canning, Simon (1 June 2011). "AdShel backtracks on billboard ban". The Australian. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  68. ^ a b c "Adshel reinstates gay HIV awareness billboard ad after Michael O'Brien's Facebook campaign". 1 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  69. ^ "ACL QLD director receives abusive language and cyberbullying for campaigning against sexualized billboard". Christian Today. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  70. ^ a b Sheldrick, Drew (7 June 2011). "Storm in a bus shelter". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  71. ^ "Adshel reinstates safe sex ad after removal sparked online backlash". Herald Sun. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  72. ^ "HIV campaigners outraged as safe sex ads pulled from Brisbane bus shelters". The Courier-Mail. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  73. ^ Nancarrow, Dan (6 June 2011). "Bid to ban gay safe sex ad backfires further". Retrieved 1 June 2011. 

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