AUSTRALIAN Christian Lobby (ACL) Managing Director and former Special Air Service (SAS) Commander Jim Wallace has used Anzac day to criticise gay marriage and the spread of Islam in Australia, saying it wasn't what Australian soldiers fought for.
From his Twitter account he posted:
"Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for - wasn't gay marriage and Islamic! (sic)"
The comment was circulated throughout Facebook and Twitter, which led to hundreds of angry responses, including comments from Christians distancing themselves from Wallace's comment.
"@JimWallaceACL unfortunately statements you put out detract from the true gospel message, and hinder those of us seeking to share Gods love (sic)", said one Tweet.
Wallace apologised an hour after his initial comment, saying "Ok you are right my apologies this was the wrong context to raise these issues. ANZACs mean to much to me to demean this day,not intended (sic)".
His apology also prompted angry responses, some of which accused Wallace of apologising for the timing of the comments, but not the sentiment.
Mr Wallace later issued a statement where he said he made the comments after he had been sitting with his 96-year-old father, a World War II veteran.
"My ill timed tweet was a comment on the nature of the Australia he had fought for, and the need to honour that in the way we preserve it into the future," he said in a statement on Monday.
"While of course and rightly there have always been gays and Muslims in Australia, many of whom have fought for the country, the nature of the country they fought for and arguably what made it worth fighting for, has been largely drawn from Judeo-Christian heritage and values."
When asked to comment, Islamic Council Queensland President Mohammed Yusef said "In case [Wallace] does not know, let me tell him that there were many Muslims who fought in the two wars and Muslims were in Australia and made valuable contributions to this nation long before Jim Wallace was born."
Ben Cooper of Gay Marriage Rights Australia stated "These statements are not only harmful and offensive to the gay, lesbian and Islamic communities, but they are also offensive to the majority of Australians.
"There are plenty of Muslims and gays and lesbians who since federation have and continue to serve and die for our country.
"ANZAC day is a day where we can give thanks to these brave men and women, and celebrate our multicultural democracy and our belief in fairness, justice and equality. It is not a day where people vilify our fellow Australian or play politics. I'm appalled at Jim Wallace's statements"
Luke Arms has called for Christians to speak out against the ACL's representation of Australian Christians by signing an online petition.
"The Australian Christian Lobby claims to represent the interests of Australian Christians in its operations throughout our federal, state and territory parliaments," he said.
"We believe it is much more influential than it deserves to be, and that it represents only the most conservative Christians in Australia. The Christian political agenda in this diverse country is much more nuanced than the ACL's agenda.
"We would like our respective governments to spend less time listening to and seeking to appease the ACL."