LCA President Mike Semmler Must Apologise For Anti-Gay Comments.

A post on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again… and again…

The President of the Lutheran Church of Australia, in a public submission to parliament, equated homosexuality with polygamy, incest and bestiality. He needs to apologise to the LGBT members of his church and their families for the deep hurt and offence that his words have caused.

Now the call for the President to apologise has taken on a new urgency. President Semmler recently announced that he will not be standing for re-election at the Church’s National Synod in April this year. This means that he only has  2 months to speak those Godly words…

I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

“But,”  I hear you say,  “surely there is time for him to reflect and repent after a new president is installed. Why the urgency?  Why now?”

Well, dear reader,  I agree that his personal repentance is of value whether he is in office or not. But in these circumstances much more is needed.

His offensive comments were made in the public forum as the President of the Church. He used the power of the office of President to lend weight to his words. He claimed, as President of the Church to speak on behalf of all of the Church, all of its members. So the offense of his remarks and the damage that they have done goes much wider even than the LGBT members and their families. He has damaged the reputation of the whole constituency of the church. It is important therefore that he formally and publicly apologise…

as president of the church…

while he is in office.

Let the same office that gave power to the words of offence now empower the words of repentance and healing.

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Such an apology is not only an in-house matter for the church.  What is said about the LGBT members of our community matters a great deal to the wider public. The patience of the community  has worn very thin indeed. People are simply no longer  willing to accept prejudiced, ignorant and hurtful statements against their LGBT friends. Those who havent caught on to that fact haven’t been listening very carefully to the community mood.

In October last year I blogged on the dismissal of the opposition leader’s parliamentary secretary, Cori Bernardi,  after he made identical remarks to those made by Rev Semmler. (You can read the blog here.) The community response was swift and telling. Malcolm Turnbull, a senior member of the secretary’s own party, quickly went before the press gallery to put his objection on public record.

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

By the end of the day the secretary had lost his job. Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition said of Mr Bernardi’s anti gay comments…

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 community repugnance at such statements was on full display again late last month.

A member of a fledgling, minor political party in Australia, Tess Corbett was forced to withdraw her candidacy for a seat in parliament after making a statement that equated homosexuality with pedophilia. Within hours another member of the party, Bernard Gaynor, had made similarly offensive statements and was eventually suspended from the party.

You can read more details here.

The most telling moment of that day was when the leader of the party, the very conservative Bob Katter, appeared on a national news television program.  Mr Katter wanted to talk about other policy issues but, predictably, the interviewers’ questions focused on the anti-gay slurs made by the members of his party.

The national mood was reflected in how the panel questioned Mr Katter and responded to his dodging replies. The interview took on the nature of a verbal stoush. The panel were obviously angry and didn’t try very hard to disguise their feelings.

I don’t think this was good journalism. (But what do i know of such things?) It does, however, show the depth of feeling about the issue. It shows the public mood. Comments such as those made by Bernardi, Corbett, Gaynor and Rev Semmler are simply unacceptable.

I quote Charlie Pickering from the panel. His words to Bob Katter apply equally well to Rev Semmler.

If your list of priorities don’t begin to include things like the way we treat everyone equally in this country then your (church) will remain what it is, a fringe group that is viewed as a fringe group.

Sigh.

Will he apologise? Hmmmm.

I’d like to think that he might.

It could be the greatest moment of his entire Presidency. It could be his moment of courage and the measure of his humility. It would be a wonderful public display of what is the very essence of our church.