ESSENDON’S new chief executive Andrew Thorburn has lasted less than 24 hours in the role after resigning from his post.
The former chief of the National Australia Bank has quit his new role as the Bombers' chief executive after being appointed to the position on Monday.
It came to light in the aftermath of the appointment that Thorburn was the chair of the City on a Hill church movement which has controversial views on abortion and same-sex relationships.
Thorburn had steered the Bombers’ external review which has run in recent weeks.
"As soon as the comments relating to a 2013 sermon from a pastor, at the City of the Hill church came to light this morning, we acted immediately to clarify the publicly espoused views on the organisation’s official website, which are in direct contradiction to our values as a club," an Essendon statement from president Dave Barham said.
"Essendon is committed to providing an inclusive, diverse and a safe Club, where everyone is welcome and respected.
"The board made clear that, despite these not being views that Andrew Thorburn has expressed personally and that were also made prior to him taking up his role as Chairman, he couldn’t continue to serve in his dual roles at the Essendon Football Club and as Chairman of City on the Hill."
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Essendon accepted Thorburn’s resignation on Tuesday, with the chief executive having fronted the club at its best and fairest event on Monday night and also done a media appearance on Tuesday before the decision was made.
"I want to stress that neither the board nor Andrew was aware of the comments from the 2013 sermon until we read about them this morning," said Barham.
"I also want to stress that this is not about vilifying anyone for their personal religious beliefs, but about a clear conflict of interest with an organisation whose views do not align at all with our values as a safe, inclusive, diverse and welcoming club for our staff, our players, our members, our fans, our partners and the wider community."
Thorburn later released his own statement on Tuesday evening via his LinkedIn page, saying he was "incredibly excited" about getting started at the Bombers.
"I had seen a picture of a club that was not as broken as feared, and that with leadership and focus, could rebound strongly," he wrote.
"However, today it became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many. I was being required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience allowed. 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. This is all an important part of a tolerant and diverse society.
"Let me be clear - I love all people, and have always promoted and lived an inclusive, diverse, respectful and supportive workplace - where people are welcomed regardless of their culture, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. I believe my record over a long period of time testifies to this.
"Despite my own leadership record, within hours of my appointment being announced, the media and leaders of our community had spoken. They made it clear that my Christian faith and my association with a Church are unacceptable in our culture if you wish to hold a leadership position in society.
"This grieves me greatly - though not just for myself, but for our society overall. I believe we are poorer for the loss of our great freedoms of thought, conscience and belief that made for a truly diverse, just and respectful community."