A Christian school in Sydney’s west that believes members of the LGBTI community should suffer “everlasting punishment” for being a ‘‘perversion of the natural order’’ has promised to “review” its policy on LGBTI people after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott came under immense criticism yesterday for using the pentecostal Christian school as the site for his education policy launch.
Soon after arriving at the school on Thursday morning, the leader of the Coaliton said in a speech that the “great thing in a school like this” was the values imparted upon the students.
“In a school such as this it is very important that we have the right values to live by, and I guess the best value that we can live by is that golden rule to ’do unto others as you would have them do to you’,” Abbott said.
In its statement of faith, the private school openly declares “’homosexuality and specific acts of homosexuality are an abomination unto God, a perversion of the natural order and not to be entered into”.
The school also openly advertises its dislike of transgender people while suggesting LGBTI people who go against God will be subject to eternal and everlasting damnation.
“We believe the practice of attempting to or changing ones gender through surgical and/or hormonal or artificial genetic means is contrary to the natural order ordained by God,” the school’s policy states.
“We believe in the everlasting punishment of the wicked (in the sense of eternal torment) who wilfully reject and despise the love of God.”
When asked by reporters yesterday if he agreed with such beliefs, Abbott said he did not but refused to criticise the school for its anti-gay views or answer questions on whether he was offended on behalf of his sister, who publicly came out as gay a year ago.
“Look, this is a good school and it is a school which has been supported by people like [Labor MPs] David Bradbury and Peter Garrett,” Abbott said.
“I respectfully disagree with lots of things that are said on that particular subject and obviously I disagree with that one.”
The principal of the 720-strong school, Bruce Neville, told reporters yesterday morning the statement was based on faith and would not be changed.
“We are not considering renewing our statement of faith at the moment,” Neville said.
However that seemed to be contradicted a few hours later by senior Christian education bureaucrats with Stephen O’Doherty, the CEO of Christian Schools Australia, telling the media the school would now review its policy.
“Because of the capacity for it to be misunderstood, the school is going to review the way in which the policy is worded,” O’Doherty said.
“The language that they’ve used in that statement comes from an older translation of the Bible, it’s not in step with modern language and doesn’t reflect the attitude that the school has to the treatment of people who identify as homosexual.”
Following O’Doherty’s statement City of Sydney Liberal councillor and Tony Abbott’s sister Christine Forster declared she was happy the ensuing publicity on Penrith Christian School’s policy had forced senior Christian school officials to re-assess its views on homosexuality.
“I’m glad that having the spotlight thrown onto Penrith Christian School has quickly prompted a rethink of their views on homosexuality,” Forster tweeted.
Earlier this week, independent state Sydney MP Alex Greenwich declared he would be working towards introducing a bill that will overturn exemptions under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act which allow private schools to discriminate against or expel students simply for being LGBTI.