Sydney clergy slams Anglican church's $1M donation to campaign against same-sex marriage

(Reuters/Steven Saphore)People participate in a march for marriage equality of same-sex couples in Sydney, Australia, September 10, 2017.

Some members of the Anglican clergy in Sydney have criticized their diocese's decision to donate AU$1 million (US$780,000) to the campaign against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia.

The Anglican Diocese of Sydney announced the donation on Monday and warned of "irreparable consequences" for society if same-sex marriage becomes legal in the nation.

Archbishop Glenn Davies said he made "no apology" for his support of the "no" campaign in the country's ongoing postal poll to advise the government on whether to introduce a legislation to legalize such unions.

"Brothers and sisters, the stakes are high and the cost is high. Yet the cause is just and it is a consequence of our discipleship to uphold the gift of marriage as God has designed it — a creation ordinance for all people," the archbishop told a Sydney synod of churches on Monday.

According to Christian Today, the clergy in Sydney are not pleased with the decision, with some highlighting the variety of views on the controversial topic within the Church and saying the money could have been spent elsewhere.

Fr. Andrew Sempell of St. James said that he was "surprised" by the announcement, adding that there was no consultation or open debate before the diocese made the donation.

"We haven't let go of Christendom all that much. We still think that we have a right to tell people what to do. This is one of the reasons we're on the nose," Sempell said.

He claimed that the diocese had made poor choices in the management of its finances in the past, saying, "they did everything wrong that you could possibly do," and adding: "Which sort of begs the question: why are they throwing money around like this?"

Rev. Michael Paget of St. Barnabas on Broadway said that the donation to the "no" campaign was "out of proportion" amounting to "poor financial stewardship" and was close to "indefensible."

The Christian Post noted that the Anglican Diocese is a founding partner of the Coalition for Marriage, an Australian group that aims to convince citizens to vote "no" on the ongoing same-sex marriage referendum that ends on Nov. 7.

Other major partners in the coalition include The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Marriage Alliance, the Australian Christian Lobby and 80 other organizations.

Tiernan Brady, who is advocating for a "yes" vote on gay marriage, contended that the large donation was evidence that the "no" campaign "have radically outspent the Yes side."

"But what they have in buckets of cash, we make up with in hundreds of thousands of Australians making the case for a fairer, more just and inclusive society," said Brady, who serves as the executive director of the Equality Campaign.

Despite Brady's claims that the "yes" side was being outspent, it was revealed last month that Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce also personally donated $1 million in support of the campaign in favor of same-sex marriage.

Coalition for Marriage advocate Jon Malota said that the vote may be closer than many believe despite projections that the "yes" campaign is winning, noting that many "no" voters are keeping their opinions to themselves.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, 10 million votes have been cast in the nonbinding, voluntary poll so far.

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