by Greg Spearritt
In the 1989 Queensland State Election the Toowoomba-based Logos Foundation under Howard Carter and Ian Shelton funded a campaign based on what it saw as key moral issues – ‘family’ values, abortion, pornography and homosexuality.
The Fitzgerald Inquiry had not long shone a devastating light on corruption in the former National Party government of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, but political corruption apparently didn’t rate as a moral issue for Carter and Shelton et al. Indeed, Sir Joh was their blue-eyed boy:
“In our view Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen epitomizes the traditional values of Christian commitment, family life, strong leadership and personal sacrifice.”
(Howard Carter & Ian Shelton, ‘The faith of Sir Joh’, Logos Journal June: 12, 1987 – cited in the article ‘The Logos Foundation: The rise and fall of Christian Reconstructionism in Australia’ by John Harrison)
The Goss Labor government came to power in 1989, ending over 30 years of conservative rule in Queensland. In 1990 Howard Carter was found to have been having an affair with a parishioner and Logos collapsed. Shelton and others regrouped, however, and Shelton continues to this day as Senior Pastor of Toowoomba City Church.
Ian Shelton’s son Lyle, as Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, has followed the Logos methodology of attempting to influence the political process in favour of those same moral issues. The ACL explicitly aims “to see Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed, do business and relate to each other as a community.”
The campaign for the ‘Christian principles’ of the Logos Foundation, it should be noted, were strongly opposed in 1989 by, among others, Uniting Church Moderator Don Whebell, Anglican Archbishop Sir John Grindrod, Lutheran Church president Pastor Paul Renner and Baptist Union head, Pastor Fred Stallard. Toowoomba Uniting Minister Rev. Ray Lindenmayer is quoted from that time as commenting on Carter’s “extreme social, political and religious views” and claiming that “his organisation exploits people's anxieties and insecurities to push their far right-wing agenda".
A feature of the 1989 crusade by Logos was a set of questions on key moral issues targeted at candidates. The ACL in 2013 is proving itself a true heir of the Logos Foundation: its key issues are the familiar ones of ‘family’ values, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and prostitution and it is intending to widely publicise the opinions, especially on gay marriage, of local candidates. Despite its claim that it aims “to foster a more compassionate, just and moral society”, there is not a word on the ACL’s ‘Make a Stand’ page about asylum-seekers.