The Swastika-Shaped Mote in the ACL’s Eye – Melbourne’s Homophobic Poster

“Homosexual partners who lack conjugality [the joining of complementary sex organs by persons properly disposed to do so] cannot raise children as competently as heterosexual partners who possess conjugality.

… you probably all know this, this is bedrock Catholic teaching on this topic …

As a recent Catholic teaching document on this topic expresses, quote, ‘The absence of sexual complementarity in homosexual unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children such that,’ quote,  ‘allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children.’

…. Now I could be accused of hate speech in lots of settings just for reading that but here, that should be kinda background knowledge to what I’m going to cover.’

Fr. D. Paul Sullins: Gay Parenting and the Conjugal Ideal: Implications for Research – Franciscan University of Steubenville, 21 December 2013, quoting from Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Prefect, Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Titular Archbishop of Sila, Secretary. 

This week, in the heat of the debate about the marriage equality ‘plebiscite’, a vile poster appeared on the streets of Melbourne. The poster took its inspiration from a ‘study’ by D. Paul Sullins:

The study cited on the poster is: D. Paul Sullins, “Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents,” Depression Research and Treatment, vol. 2016, Article ID 2410392, 8 pages, 2016. doi:10.1155/2016/2410392.

Last night, Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby appeared on The Project on Network Ten. Asked about the poster, Shelton said:

“I don’t know who put that poster up. I can’t imagine anyone from our side would do that. … I know the people on our side of the debate and we’re not like that and nor would we be like that.”

Instead, Shelton suggested, the poster may have been put up by those involved in the “Yes” campaign, as a means of proving our point that a public referendum would lead to hate speech.

“[The poster] may have even come from people wanting to prove the sort of point you’re making,” Shelton told The Project host, Waleed Aly.

But, Mr Shelton misspoke; not to say, lied. Lyle Shelton’s people ARE like that. Exactly like that.

As I have shown above, Father Sullins, the ‘academic’ who provided the propaganda for this poster has publicly acknowledged his view on homosexual parenting amounts to hate speech. And Lyle Shelton’s Australian Christian Lobby website promoted exactly the same study cited on that hateful poster just last year:


Make no mistake. The ‘findings’ of this piece of trash research are complete and utter fiction.

Not disclosed on the ACL website or on the hate-poster is that D. Paul Sullins is a married Catholic priest from the Catholic University of America. He is “the Director of the Summer Institute of Catholic Social Thought; a longtime board member of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists; a Fellow of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute; the Ignatius Loyola Fellow for Catholic Identity at the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education; Associate Pastor of the Church of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Hyattsville, Maryland; and (not least) a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.”

Father Sullins works at the Catholic University of America. A pontifical university founded by the US Catholic Bishops. For the past 17 years, the CUA has been under censure from the American Association of University Professors for failing to honour the AAUP’s Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

In 2013, the CUA severed links with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) because of that organisation’s well-considered, evidence-based policy in favor of legalized abortion.

The CUA does not engage in a robust search for truth. Instead, as a college endorsed by the conservative Catholic Cardinal Newman Society, it conforms to the society’s aims to support education that is:

‘faithful to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church; producing and disseminating research and publications on developments and best practices in Catholic education; and keeping Catholic leaders and families informed.’

In accordance with that aim, the Cardinal Newman Society demands that:

“Priority is … given to those means which will facilitate the integration of human and professional education with religious values in the light of Catholic doctrine, in order to unite intellectual learning with the religious dimension of life.”

The aim is not to participate in honest and open research in order to uncover the truth. Rather, it is to create documents which will pass as ‘research’ but are actually propaganda designed to rationalise Catholic ideology in a secular world.

Fr D Paul Sullins and the university he works for do not approach the subject of marriage equality and same-sex parenting from a neutral stance. Both are openly homophobic. An LGBT group within the CUA, CUAllies has repeatedly had its application to be an official student club denied on the basis that “officially recognizing the group would be supporting advocacy work against the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

A former student described the university’s attitude towards LGBTIQ students as ‘hostile’.

Credible academic journals no longer publish Father Sullins’ work. Instead, he has to pay to have his work published in ‘open access’ online journals with dubious peer review processes.

Sullins work is discredited by his peers. In a brief to the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Obergefell et al v Ohio Department of Health, the following organisations spoke out against the inadequacy of Sullins’ research on homosexual parenting:

The American Psychological Association,

Kentucky Psychological Association,

Ohio Psychological Association,

American Psychiatric Association,

American Academy of Pediatrics,

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy,

Michigan Association for Marriage and Family Therapy,

National Association of Social Workers,

National Association of Social Workers Tennessee Chapter,

National Association of Social Workers Michigan Chapter,

NationalAssociation of Social Workers Kentucky Chapter,

National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter,

American Psychoanalytic Association,

American Academy of Family Physicians,

and American Medical Association

They said, in part: “Recently published papers by Donald Paul Sullins … have similar methodological flaws.”

No less than three articles on same-sex parenting by Sullins are critiqued by America’s leading mental health, social work and medical bodies:

“Sullins fails to adequately take into account children’s histories of family disruption; he combines all children residing with same-sex couples into a single heterogeneous category, while creating more differentiated categories of children of opposite-sex couples (children residing with married versus single or divorced parents); he fails to acknowledge known coding errors in the NHIS data set, which resulted in the misclassification of many heterosexual partners as same-sex couples; and – in one paper – he attempts to correlate a largely heritable condition (ADHD) with variables related to children’s upbringing. In addition to these problems, none of the journals in which Sullins’ papers were published are indexed in major, reputable social science databases.”

His many detractors point out that Sullins’ academic peers, after decades of research, concluded in 2004 that:

(a) “there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: Lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children” and (b) “research has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children are unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish.”

They continue:

“The APA has continued to monitor the state of the scientific research and confirmed that this conclusion continues to be accurate.

Similarly, the AAP has concluded that “[t]here is extensive research documenting that there is no causal relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and children’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral development. Many studies attest to the normal development of children of same-gender couples when the child is wanted, the parents have a commitment to shared parenting, and the parents have strong social and economic supports.”

Of the journals that have published Sullins’ shoddy research, his peers say:

“the review process used by these journals appears to have been perfunctory and conducted by reviewers without relevant expertise or any familiarity with the NHIS. Even a cursory examination of the reviews, which are posted on each journal’s web site, reveals that they raised few substantive concerns at all.”

Even the shonky pay-to-publish journal that published Sullins work has since tried to distance itself from the fallout, adding a disclaimer to the article:

“In June 2016, several readers raised concerns about this article. At that time, we evaluated the article’s peer review process and brought several concerns to the handling editor’s attention. These included: the study’s small sample of same-sex parents, the lack of discussion of other influences such as family breakup on the wellbeing of the children included in the study, the implied causation in the title ‘Invisible Victims,’ and the potential conflict of interest implied by the author’s position as a Catholic priest.”

All of this information is readily available on the internet. It took me a morning to research it. And yet, with all of the financial resources of the Australian Christian Lobby, they clearly never bothered to employ a researcher to fact-check the data they put up on their website.

Why? Because like the Catholic University of America and Father Sullins, their aim is not to disseminate the truth, but to create propaganda – no matter how much harm it does to members of the LGBTIQ community.

There are many legitimate, mainstream peer-reviewed studies from credible academic journals which show exactly the opposite to the filth disseminated by Sullins. But the Australian Christian Lobby rejects those mainstream studies because they do not mesh with their ideological bias against homosexual parenting. The Australian Christian Lobby has no interest in the truth; only in shoring up their own harmful, hateful, outdated and disproven ideas.

Father Sullins’ study is indefensible. It is not research; it is ideological, religious propaganda. Yet, the Australian Christian Lobby was not content just to promote that propaganda uncritically. When it surfaced on Melbourne’s streets as a hate-speech poster, Lyle Shelton accused supporters of marriage equality for disseminating it in order to make his side look bad – because his side wouldn’t put out material like that.

That, of course, as I have shown, is an outright lie.

The origins of the poster have been traced to a neo-Nazi organisation, called Iron March. The poster was designed by someone using the name “Regnum Dei” – literally “Kingdom of God”. Again, there are far more ideological links between that name and the ACL than between those of us campaigning for marriage equality.

“I got some new hate facts here, fresh off the press.

“Should I be putting “” on these? I’ve been debating the idea since the first one I made. On one hand, these aren’t explicitly fascist, on the other, it might attract fagbashers to this site,”

… says Regnum Dei above a graphic showing the same poster which appeared in Melbourne.

Interesting, that just like Father Sullins (and potentially the ACL), “Regnum Dei” is also fully aware he is disseminating hate-speech.

“Hey Jereb,” he says, elsewhere on the site, “I’m Regnum Dei (aka Regnum KAY KAY KAY). I’m here in NW Florida, and I want to start the Pensacola Division. I’m a high speed low drag 250 lbs, as per ROF regulations, and I have a T H I C C SHEWOLF QT GF that will redpill more STRONG INDEPENDENT WAMEN to our cause, which is SEXY.

… National Socialism? Fascism? More FACism amirite? That is NOT what our BASED MASON founding fathers wanted! Getting married through the Church? Naw, christ don’t know SHIT about my ETHNOSTATE, I’m getting married through ROF. Practicing sexual self restraint for spiritual health and not contributing to the impurity of my Kinsmen’s future wives? Naw, as stated by #5 of the Codes of RoF, recreational sex is fine so long as you use contraceptives (wouldn’t want any reponsibilty for may actions, let alone children, that is what KIKES want), and don’t worry, my T H I C C SHEWOLF QT GF uses contraceptives when out “recruiting” 😉

I’m ready for all out war, with all my TACTICAL BLACK 5.11 gear, which really blends into all the black trees, black dirt, black foliage, and black sand that makes up the Floridian biome and terrain.”

This is the kind of thinker Lyle Shelton and the Australian Christian Lobby align themselves with when they disseminate D Paul Sullins’ hate speech on their website. This is the kind of person who agrees with their perverse, extremist views on same-sex parenting.

And while suggesting links between an American neo-Nazi member of the Ku Klux Klan, a Catholic priest and the Australian Christian Lobby may seem to be drawing a ‘long bow’,   it is not as long as the link Lyle Shelton tried to draw between the hate-speech poster and those of us who advocate for marriage equality.

The Catholic Church has shameful historical links with fascism. Their ideologies and modus operandi mesh well. Throughout modern history, the Catholic Church has supported fascist regimes. It is almost needless to say, also, that the Catholic Church’s fears about ‘violence to children’ did not extend to protecting the many thousands of children under their care who were sexually and physically brutalised by their own nuns and priests. Nor that barely a whimper has been heard from the Australian Christian Lobby on this topic, other than to blame homosexuals.

But, what is less well known is that Mr Shelton’s own family and the Australian Christian Lobby are closely connected with fascism and right-wing extremism.

The Australian Christian Lobby evolved out of a religious cult called the Logos Foundation. Logos continues to this day, according to some, in the Toowoomba City Church, which operates under the auspices of Shelton’s father,  Ian Shelton,  in Toowoomba.  Lyle Shelton was raised within the Logos cult and his father was a cult leader along with Logos founder, Howard Carter. When Logos fell apart, Ian Shelton ‘regrouped’ with the formation of his Toowoomba City Church, and what had been ‘Logos’ reformed as the Network for Christian Values – later to evolve into the Australian Christian Lobby.*

It has a fascinating history, retrievable for those of us who like to trawl through internet archives and obscure books.

According to David Greason (in Faces of Hate, Cunene et al, 1997), the Australian Christian Lobby’s predecessor, the Logos Foundation,  and the fascist, ultra-nationalist, League of Rights worked in alliance during the 1980s. The League of Rights was described by the Federal Government’s National Inquiry into Racist Violence as “undoubtedly the most influential and effective as well as the best organised and most substantially financed racist organisation in Australia.”

In 1994, Derek Brown, previously the national co-ordinator of the Logos Foundation, was the director of the Network for Christian Values, later to rebadge as the Australian Christian Lobby (Source: Sydney Morning Herald, December 12, 1994).

During its heyday, Logos, had close links with both Ruis John Rushdoony’s theocratic Chalcedon Foundation and Australia’s extreme-right wing, anti-semitic League of Rights (Canberra Times, August 1994).

Today, the Chalcedon Foundation is listed as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, principally because of its support for the death penalty for homosexuality (Schlatter, Southern Poverty Law Centre, 2010). That is not to say the Australian Christian Lobby holds that view today, but its dubious history certainly traces back to an organisation with close links to those who did.

There is a strong history of homophobia running through the history of Logos, the NCV and the ACL. For example, during  the campaign to decriminalise homosexual sex in Queensland, the Logos Foundation (with Lyle Shelton’s father as one of its leaders) campaigned against any change to the law, branding homosexuality as ‘unnatural, unhygienic and unproductive’ (Clive Moore, Sunshine and Rainbows, 2001; Courier Mail, 7 November 1989).

Toowoomba Uniting Minister Rev. Ray Lindenmayer commented at that time on Logos leader, Howard Carter’s “extreme social, political and religious views” and how “his organisation [LOGOS] exploits people’s anxieties and insecurities to push their far right-wing agenda” (Greg Spearritt, Sea of Faith, August 2013).

The links between Logos, the Network for Christian Values (later the Australian Christian Lobby) and the fascist League of Rights are too numerous to ignore.

ACL founder, John McNicoll was a contributor to the League of Rights’ journal, “The Strategy”, although he later sought to distance himself and the Network for Christian Values (later the ACL) from the organisation and claimed NCV director, Derek Brown, had since resiled from Logos’ anti-semitic views (Canberra Times, September 1994).

Jeremy Lee was the Queensland and northern NSW director of the League of Rights and acted as the ‘defacto deputy’ to the League’s founder, Eric Butler. Lee was also a founder of the Logos Foundation.

After the Logos foundation was dissolved in the wake of founder, Howard Carter’s, sexual indiscretions it was reborn as Shelton’s Toowoomba City Church, an entity which continues to operate today.

Shelton’s son, Lyle, worked in his father’s church as a youth pastor for a time and is now the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Lyle Shelton maintains ties with his father’s church and preached there as recently as August 2015. In his sermon, Shelton describes himself as “very much a product of this church” and says he wouldn’t be doing what he is doing in Canberra today if it were not for the vision of his father’s church. Far from advising the congregation from toning down their extremist views, he advises, “Don’t settle for comfortable church existence – stay on the edge.”

“The edge”?  Considering the history of the ACL and the Toowoomba City Church and Lyle Shelton’s upbringing in a fascist-linked cult, one might wonder whether that’s a thinly veiled exhortation to religious and/or political extremism.

Let me be clear, I am not saying the Australian Christian Lobby produced or put up the poster in Melbourne. What I am saying is that for Lyle Shelton to suggest supporters of marriage equality had any part in a ‘false flag’ campaign linked to neo-Nazi propaganda is disgraceful.

Shelton would do well to remember the Australian Christian Lobby, his family, and the Catholic ideology he disseminates have far more links with neo-Nazis and fascists than those of us campaigning for the simple right of two people who love each other to have the right to marry in a civil ceremony.

The Australian Christian Lobby evolved from a cult that was intimately linked, through ideology and personnel, with the racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, fascist, League of Rights. That is its history. If Lyle Shelton wants to draw links between marriage equality activists and neo-Nazi propaganda, he would do well review his own history and remove the rather large swastika-shaped mote from the ACL’s eye.

Chrys Stevenson

See also: The Christian Right’s Roots in Rural Queensland by Dr John Harrison, UQ.

* The Australian Christian Lobby was started in 1995 under the name of the Australian Christian Coalition, which was developed by two Network for Christian Values board members: former Townsville Bulletin editor John Gagliardi and Canberra-based Baptist minister John McNicoll. – 

8 thoughts on “The Swastika-Shaped Mote in the ACL’s Eye – Melbourne’s Homophobic Poster

  1. William Maxwell

    By claiming that “92% of children raised by Gay Parents are abused” ~ does Ironmarch actually mean that “92% of children raised by Gay Parents ARE ABUSED BY CHRISTAIN BIGOTS?”

    1. Dhanu Veganethos

      The link is one to an anti-marriage-equality page, that basically opposes marriage equality in three foundations, all faulty.

      The first is that “children have a right to be raised by biological parents. This is not a right, anywhere. Nor is it an issue of law. Nor is it reality. Single parent families are legal. Adoptive families are legal. IVF is legal. Step-children are legal. Nor is biological parenthood a universal ideal. Children are regularly removed from biological parents, to protect children. Divorce is legal, and one parent may get custody. The other may even be denied visitation, where contact is deemed harmful to children. In family law, in relation to children, welfare of the child is deemed most important. That is not assumed to be based in biological parenthood. Most importantly, marriage is not about parenthood. The two are separate issues, and many biological parents are not married, many married people have no children, or have non biological children. Biological parenthood has nothing to do with marriage.

      The second claim is that of religious freedom. Preventing marriage equality in the name of a millenia old faith is a violation of religious freedom. It imposes the religious doctrine of some group on everyone, including those Christian denominations that are happy to marry same sex couples. Current law violates the religious freedom of those religions. More importantly, it imposes the doctrine of a specific religious group on civil law, and a population that in the 2016 census saw 48% of people say they did not believe in God. Religious freedom includes freedom from religion. It opposes the imposition of any single religious viewpoint.

      The third foundation is the right to freedom of speech. Firstly, marriage has nothing at all to do with speech, full stop. It has no impact on speech. It has to do with recognition of commitment, with rights and duties. Secondly this is Australia, not the US. There is no legal right to freedom of speech, though some right might be a good thing. The US law is problematic, in supporting many things: invasion of privacy, pornogrphy, the rights for Nazi demonstrations. But speech, even in the US is not free. There are laws against slander, libel, hate-speech. There are increasingly laws against political views, and things deemedn “fake news” by a government that recently repealed laws against government propaganda (lies) directed to a domestic audience. But fundamentally, marriage has zero to do with freedom of speech.

    2. Dhanu Veganethos

      What is truly humorous is that you complain the acts of conscience (refusal to serve gay people) might be subject to litigation. Yet David Van Gend, whose self published book you recommend, complained because the first printer he tried refused to print it, based on an act of conscience. Your notions of freedom and consequences seem to be applied unequally.

      Personally, I believe private businesses have some rights, unlike public sector employees or organisations that receive public funding. I do also believe it is appropriate to pass laws, through Parliament, to protect minorities from discrimination. Going through Parliament allows due debate and consideration.

  2. warriorwomyn2

    Great, well researched article on Marriage Equality.
    To Sam 23/08/2017 at 2:02 PM please stop calling it SSM or same-sex marriage. This term is considered inappropriate, thank you.

  3. Pingback: Lyle Shelton – With God on his Side? | Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

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