Christian political candidate under attack

Liberal Party candidate for Victoria Park in the Western Australian state election, Amanda-Sue Markham, was speaking to media about her work in intensive care at a nearby Perth hospital when she was ambushed by aggressive questioning on homosexuality.

A Channel Nine reporter challenged her about her husband’s so-called “extreme views” about homosexuality.  Her husband, Rev Campbell Markham, is studying for a PhD at the University of Western Australia. He had explained in his blog some standard Christian teaching on homosexuality.

Before she could answer the belligerent reporter, WA Liberal leader Zak Kirkup stepped up to the microphone saying that was not the purpose of the media conference.

After checking Campbell Markam’s blog, Kirkup said that he and the Liberal Party rejected his views. However, Kirkup considered them irrelevant for Amanda-Sue’s candidature, adding that he believed she was an excellent candidate for the Liberal Party.

Kirkup was no doubt aware of the media furore surrounding Israel Folau and Margaret Court, due to their public comments on homosexual behaviour.

Until relatively recently, people who rejected Christian morality may have merely disagreed with people like Israel Folau, Margaret Court or Campbell Markham.

No longer. In recent times people are attacked personally and condemned as “haters”, and sacked, removed or “cancelled”. Amanda-Sue, a committed pro-life campaigner while living in Tasmania, is facing a media onslaught.

Two days later, she responded to questions about her views of religion and homosexuality.

On religion, she said, “I don’t believe my faith – which I have never sought to make an election issue – should be the subject of constant interrogation by the media.”

She said the issue of homosexuality was addressed in Tasmania during the 2019 Federal Election, when she was asked whether gay people went to heaven or hell. At that time she said the answer was simple: “The basis of Christianity is that we are all sinners, we are all sinful people, and that’s a fundamental teaching of Christianity. It’s not specific to any one group of people, it’s just the foundation of Christianity.”

As a candidate in the current WA election Amanda-Sue said, “I believe in the values of individual responsibility, the importance of volunteering, caring for those who need help, and the freedom of religion.”

She said she should be judged on her own merit – “I am ready and able to represent the people of Victoria Park.”

Amanda-Sue’s husband, Rev Campbell Markham is familiar with hostile attacks.

Like Tasmanian Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous, Markham was hauled before Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner in 2017 for explaining why he opposed legalising same-sex marriage. It took a year of stress and legal costs before the complaint was ultimately dropped.

Back in July 2018, Campbell Markham wrote a confronting article: “Australian Church Leaders, Prepare your People for Persecution”.

He said we should expect persecution for our faith. It is, in effect, “the new normal”.

He began: “Last year [2017] an 18-year-old Australian Christian named Madeline was dismissed from [her job] after putting an ‘It’s OK to Vote No’ filter on her Facebook profile …”

“The ACT Fair Work Ombudsman upheld Madeline’s dismissal, and said that it would ‘pursue no further action.’ There was no outcry against this decision. In fact there was no response at all …

“We live and worship within a growing hostile environment … How must we respond to this change?”

Clearly, we need to prepare for this “new normal”.

Peter Downie is National Director of FamilyVoice Australia

*Eternity covered Campbell Markham’s case with the Tasmania Anti Discrimination Commissioner: Pastor, Street Preacher face anti=discrimination complaint; and, the outcome: Anti-Discrimination case against preachers dropped