It seems like Christian Democratic Party founder Fred Nile and his would-be successor Lyle Shelton have had a doozy of a barney. Five months after a NSW Legislative Council seat was promised to Shelton, former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby and a protagonist in Australia’s marriage equality debate, Nile has apparently had a change of heart.

On Friday, Nile announced that he was dis-endorsing Shelton, who had moved from Queensland to Sydney to take up the post, due to ‘irreconcilable differences’.

Christian Democratic Party Gets Divine guidance 

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In a statement released on the CDP website on September 10, Nile called out Shelton’s social media and website posts as some of his reasons for the dis-endorsement. Nile said he decided, after a quick chat with the main man upstairs, that he should keep himself in the top job until 2023.   

“I do not agree nor have supported many of Mr Shelton’s opinions that he has shared on his Facebook Page and his E News. Lyle often acted without consultation with my team. Consequently, I do not feel comfortable that he succeed me.”

“I had high hopes for Mr Shelton and am sorry it has come to this. As a result of this division, I have sought God’s guidance. Therefore, I will complete my democratically elected term as a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) of NSW until the next State Election in 2023,” said Nile.

It was not clear which of Shelton’s social media posts offended Nile. Shelton, one of the leaders of the ‘No’ vote campaign against marriage equality, has regularly targeted LGBTQI+ people, drag queens, trans persons, the rainbow flag, Courtney Act and even The Wiggles.

It’s a stunningly quick turnaround for the CDP. Star Observer had reported Nile’s brief shot at retirement back in April.  Five months later, after Shelton had taken the time and expense of moving from Brisbane to Sydney for the position, the news of his downfall was met with glee by some on social media.

Glee And Barely Disguised Schadenfreude… 

Social media welcomed the news, with the hashtag #eatsh*tLyle – that had last trended the day after Australia voted for marriage equality – trending again on social media.

MP Alex Greenwich termed the development as “good news”.

MLC Fiona Patten wanted to know what Shelton had done to offend Nile.

Many wondered which of Shelton’s posts, Nile had found too toxic.

Shelton Calls Out Factionalism In the CDP

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Shelton responded to the news of the dis-endorsement with a statement of his own on his website. “Today it was reported that The Reverend Honourable Fred Nile has chosen to withdraw his endorsement of my candidacy to succeed him in the New South Wales Parliament in November.”

“As the Christian Democratic Party emerges from receivership and its present legal troubles, it has an opportunity to move forward. It is clear that over recent years, the party has been riven with factions and divisions that should have no place in a Christian organisation.”

“A truly Christian political movement ought to look very different and behave differently than the major parties.  Yet sadly, the behaviour that has been on display in the party’s organisational wing in recent years has fallen well short of the standard expected of a Christian organisation,” Shelton mused.

Shelton also appeared to be sticking with the CPD, for now at least, saying at the end of his statement, “I pledge my ongoing service to party members and supporters as we build a political movement that truly reflects Christ’s character.”

The Christian Democratic Party has had a rough 2021, with news breaking in June that the party had been placed into receivership. The administrator pointed to “litigation as the reason the party is likely to become insolvent”. There are east two lawsuits on the ticket, including one brought by Charles Knox, a former party treasurer.

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