The Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies has defended the Anglican Diocese of Sydney $1 million donation to the ‘No’ campaign in the same-sex marriage postal survey, saying it’s part of its social justice initiatives.
“Some have questioned whether the money would have been better spent on social justice issues (feeding the poor, Sydney’s homeless, refugees etc),” he says in a new letter to churches.
“The reality is, however, that our participation in the Coalition for Marriage is not at the expense of our commitment to social justice, but because of it.”
Dr Davies said the best way for Anglicare and Christian agencies to do social good was to recruit Christian staff and volunteers.
He argued a legal recognition of same-sex marriage would affect Anglican bodies who sought to keep a Christian understanding of marriage in opposition to law.
“Overseas experience indicates that same-sex marriage leads to government funding and recognition of charitable status being increasingly tied to “equality compliance”.
“Christian agencies overseas have been required by law to hire staff who do not support the Christian ethos of the organisation,” he said.
“Our Anglican bodies make a real difference to Australian lives, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Compare that with an investment of just one million dollars to help ensure that this vital work continues in the future.”
He said the donation came “at a critical moment” to allow the ‘No’ campaign to raise awareness “of the consequences of same-sex marriage for freedom of speech and freedom of religion”.
“We are in a better position now to argue for robust protections, in the event of legislation being passed to enable same-sex marriage.”
It comes after a Sydney priest slammed the donation decision by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
Reverend Andrew Sempell of St James Church says not all Sydney Anglicans support a “no” vote and the decision was made by an "exclusive and secretive" committee of the Diocese.
"In a church, it is one thing to encourage people to donate to a cause... but it is another thing to take funds that are there for the benefit of all and apply them to the interests of a majority at the expense of a minority," he said in a letter shared on social media.
"There was no wider consultation, it was not debated openly and therefore no transparency in the decision-making process."
Reverend Sempell said it was poor governance and a "questionable" use of charitable funds made for political purposes.
"The Anglican Diocese of Sydney has chosen to align itself with the hard-right of politics and allows little room for dissent within its own ranks," he said.
The decision showed the Church’s "obsession" with its politics rather than its mission, he added.
"It is a failed cause as the Church is currently 'on the nose' with the public because of its failure in dealing with child abuse, domestic violence and its treatment of divorcees, LGBTI people and others with whom it disagrees," Reverend Sempell said.
"This action will further alienate the Church from those who hold differing views, especially young people."
The donation to the Coalition for Marriage, made about a month ago, was announced by Archbishop Glenn Davies earlier this week, according to reports.
"I consider the consequences of removing gender from the marriage construct will have irreparable consequences for our society, for our freedom of speech, our freedom of conscience and freedom of religion," Dr Davies said.