Virtually all federal politicians in Australia have now cancelled their plans to attend the World Congress of Families convention after it was announced that the event would be hosted by the far-right After The Fire Ministries, a group which recently claimed that God sent devastating wildfires to the state of Victoria in anger over the legalization of abortion.
Kevin Andrews’ decision not to speak at the controversial World Congress of Families conference is a cop out, the event’s new host says. The Social Services Minister [pictured] and Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark today cancelled their speeches on the eve of the Melbourne conference — run by pro-family religious body the World Congress of Families — because it’s now being hosted by the right-wing Christian group Catch the Fire Ministries. The evangelical group is hosting the conference after three other venues refused to hold it, with critics attacking the World Congress of Families because of its stance against gay marriage and claims of links between breast cancer and abortion. Mr Andrews has been under unprecedented and sustained pressure to pull out but attacked the “intolerance” of the “Greens and the left” for trying to shut the forum down as he confirmed he would not attend. “The calls for me not to attend demonstrate the intolerance of the Greens and the left — instead of arguing their case in the public arena, they seek to shut down debate,” Mr Andrews said.“Equally, I cannot support intolerance from other quarters. As I have been informed today that the event is now to be hosted by Catch the Fire, I have decided not to attend.”Mr Andrews said he would release the speech he planned to give at the event.
The location of the convention, which begins tomorrow, has not been disclosed. More from the Sydney Morning Herald:
The political arm of Catch the Fire Ministries is the Rise Up Australia party led by Danny Nalliah. Mr Nalliah said Mr Andrews’ withdrawal from the conference on the grounds that it was being hosted by his organisation was a “cop out”. “I think the real reason that he is pulling out is because of the protests,” he said. “I think you just look for a scapegoat to try and get out of the situation. I’m not surprised in that sense because our politicians are gutless.” Mr Nalliah said several senior Coalition figures had addressed Catch The Fire functions in the past. He said as prime minister John Howard had recorded a message for a Catch The Fire event, while former treasurer Peter Costello and former deputy prime ministers John Anderson and Mark Vaile, as well as former governor-general Peter Hollingworth had spoken at Catch The Fire functions while in office.
The controversy over the convention has earned daily national headlines across Australia. We need to make very sure that the exact same thing happens next year when the convention comes to Salt Lake City.
(Tipped by JMG readers Str8 Grandmother, Lezhow, Michael, and Ken)