Personal Reflections on the LCA President and the Sacking of a Parliamentary Secretary

A Post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

What do I think of the President of the Lutheran Church of Australia? Personally?

Mike Semmler is a  good bloke.

I used to live 2 doors down from him when i was a seminary student and he was a pastor of a local congregation. He was friendly and supportive not only of me and my family but of all the seminary students who attended his congregation.

One incident is telling. A friend of mine had recently graduated from the seminary and was serving as pastor to a congregation where some troubling things occurred. Some people associated with the congregation got themselves messed up in some stupid and criminal activity. The press were quickly on the scene. As pastor to the congregation in a small rural community my friend found himself needing lots of wisdom to help these people work through the situation and to deal with the press.  This recently graduated  pastor had been one of the seminary students attached to Mike’s congregation.  So,  what did Mike do when he heard of the trouble? He dropped everything and drove 100s of kilometres inter-state to be with my friend-in-need to offer him support and counsel.

What do I think of Mike?

Hes a good bloke.

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In the recent parliamentary debate over the Marriage Equality Bill something quite interesting happened. The point of interest was not in the outcome of the vote.  The bill was defeated but that was entirely expected. The Coalition were instructed by their leader to vote as a block against the Bill so it was always going to fail. The point of interest occurred during the discussion on the Bill in the Senate. The Parliamentary Secretary to the leader of the Coalition made some inappropriate comments which had significant consequences.

Although the members of the Coalition voted against the Marriage Equality Bill it did not stop them from voicing their personal dismay at  Mr Bernardis statements.  By the end of the day the leader of the coalition had sacked his parliamentary secretary. Mr Abbott said…

They are views that I don’t share and they are views that many would find repugnant…we have to conduct this debate in a civil way and I don’t think (his) contribution added to that.

The Leader of the House called the statements “bigoted and disrespectful”.

As the events of this day unfolded I couldn’t help but be reminded of the small part that the Lutheran Church has had to play in this marriage equality debate. The President of the LCA sent in his submission on behalf of all the members of the Lutheran Church of Australia. The full wording of the submission, together with my critique,  can be seen here and here.  It included the following paragraph.

I repeat the words of our parliamentary leaders from both sides of the house who  reflect the views of the majority of decent Australians.

These are bazaar statements. They are offensive, they are hysterical, they are extreme…they are repugnant,,,they are bigoted and disrespectful.

When Tony Abbott announced that he had accepted the resignation of Mr Bernardi he prefaced his remarks by saying…

Look…Hes a decent bloke…

And no doubt he is. But being a  decent bloke, even being a really good bloke, doesn’t change the fact that influential people in positions of power and trust have a responsibility to speak words that are factual and helpful to the debate.

Surely that is also the very least that we should expect from religious leaders who claim to speak not only for their members but also claim to be the voice of God.

The fact that he is a decent bloke not withstanding,  it was appropriate that he resign.