A roadmap outlining how the religious right can “infiltrate” the Liberal Party with “good godly” candidates has been linked to a controversial former Liberal candidate and current member of the party’s state assembly in Victoria.
Peter Killin made headlines in 2019 as a former Liberal candidate for the Federal seat of Wills and was forced to resign over his comments about homosexuality.
In a submission to the former federal government’s 2018 religious freedom inquiry, Mr Killin endorsed the views of Presbyterian minister Campbell Markham, who wrote in 2011 that the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ was ‘extremely dangerous and posed “appalling health risks”.
Mr Killin also denounced the election of “homosexual MP” Tim Wilson.
The roadmap, a version of which circulated online and on Twitter without attribution, shows a global strategy to take control of branches of the Liberal Party and influence the choice of candidates.
Mr. Killin’s name is listed in the lower right corner of the document, with the date of January 24, 2019.
A handwritten private email address linked to Mr. Killin’s business is also listed on the back of it.
The ABC contacted Mr. Killin on several occasions, but he did not respond to written questions about the flyer or denied being the author or involved in it.
Despite being ousted as a candidate in 2019, Mr Killin was elected in August to the party’s internal national assembly, which influences the general functioning of the party.
Liberal Party State Director Sam McQuestin said the document was not a Liberal Party document.
The number of religious conservative candidates is increasing
In other cases, there was growing unrest within the ranks of the Victorian Liberal Party over the party’s ties to certain religious right-wing religious groups.
In September, a regional ABC investigation revealed concerns among members in Gippsland that local branches were stacked with members of Pentecostal groups, including Sale-based City Builders Church, to influence pre-screenings.
The party’s Upper House candidate for Victoria’s East, Renee Heath, is an active member of the church where her father, Reverend Brian Heath, preached against abortion and same-sex marriage.
She is also a shareholder in a church business.
Pastor Heath, a former Family First candidate, has called on his congregation to “produce the next generation of godly leaders” and is currently vice president of the Morwell State Election Conference branch of the Liberal Party.
Ms Heath did not respond to questions from the ABC about her stance on abortion, same-sex marriage or assisted dying laws, but publicly affirmed her belief in the separation of church and religion. ‘State.
She declined repeated requests for an interview, but said in a previous statement: “I am not my father. To suggest that I am is offensive because it demeans me.”
“Alliance of Nation Builders”
Internal concerns have been raised by other members of the Liberal Party that some religious groups are using the party as a vehicle for their own ideology elsewhere in the state and consolidating their power through affiliations.
Pastor Seyi Oluwasola, of the Pentecostal City of Refuge Church in Keilor Lodge, Melbourne’s northwest, gave guest sermons at City Builders Church.
Videos on Facebook show him joining members of the Liberal Party during campaign efforts at Fraser’s headquarters – based in Melbourne’s mid-west – ahead of the federal election.
In a March YouTube sermon, Mr Oluwasola bragged that a few years after joining, he had become the president of Fraser’s federal electoral conference branch.
“God brought us to the table,” he told his congregation.
“And what we’ve done is we’ve encouraged our church members to be a part of what we’re doing there as well.”
In his sermon, Mr Oluwasola described Mr Heath as “a very good friend” and a “covenant partner”.
“The reason God connected us,” he said, was to connect him to the “ruling party.”
“And I joined the Liberal Party.”
Mr Oluwasola and Mr Heath are both directors of a company called Nation Builders Alliance, along with Heidi McIvor, a City Builders pastor who was a face of the ‘no’ to same-sex marriage campaign.
The ABC understands that it was set up as a political pressure group similar to Advance Australia to push a conservative agenda in politics.
Mr. Heath and Mr. Oluwasola have both been linked to the ISAAC (International Strategic Alliance of Apostolic Churches) network, which follows the doctrine of Malaysian pastor Jonathan David.
The doctrine appears to be consistent with the “Seven Mountains Dominionism” belief that church members should advance their religion through business and politics.
Mr. David’s website states, “We will use churches with an apostolic mindset to coordinate the region for a divine attack on the nation.
“We are currently building apostolic bases in many countries for an end-time launch into the harvest.”
Mr. Oluwasola, his wife and daughter now hold three of the four delegate positions representing Fraser’s federal electoral conference on the Liberal Party’s internal state council.
A party member told the ABC that existing party members of the Fraser electorate had opted to join neighboring electoral branches instead, and that half of the attendees at the Fraser Conference’s annual general meeting of 2022 belonged to the pastor’s family.
Mr Oluwasola was contacted for comment but declined an interview.
Life member ousted
Fred Ackerman has been a lifelong Liberal Party member and has traditionally aligned himself with centre-right conservative politics.
Before his resignation from the party earlier this year, he helped campaign for Fraser Liberal candidate David Wood alongside Mr Oluwasola.
He said it was not healthy for family members to “dominate” a local branch of the party, but that declining party membership had allowed the influence of religious groups to grow.
He thinks there should be a range of views in the party.
“They raised their hands and they were elected, and that’s democratic,” he said.
“However, [federal electorate conferences] for seats like Fraser are very small, probably about 50 members—probably only 10 or a dozen active.
“And size allows dominance, I guess.
“Because it is on such a small scale, the party leaves itself open to domination by one person, one group, one family especially in this case.”
Mr Ackerman lost the Liberal Party shortlist to controversial candidate Moira Deeming for the Victorian Upper House ticket for the Western Metropolitan area this year, and said his views on abortion and gender were “so extreme that they are not acceptable”.
He is now running as an Independent in the Upper House.
“Rather successful” strategy
Mr. Ackerman said he has watched the composition of the Liberal party change over time.
“If you can recruit like-minded people into your conservative group within the Liberal Party, then you can become quite strong and very influential, obviously, through pre-screenings,” he said.
“In terms of results, if you look at recent pre-selections, it’s been quite successful.”
Mr Ackerman said this was done with the full knowledge of party authorities.
“There are certainly people in leadership positions and so on within the party who supported this, there’s no doubt about that,” Ackerman said.
Ms Deeming, who replaced Mr Ackerman on the ticket, said in an email:
“If you can give me a good explanation of why the so-called ‘religious right’ does not conform to the Liberal Party constitution, I would definitely consider speaking to you.
“I have been slandered relentlessly by people claiming to be journalists and I am in the process of taking legal action against them.
“I hope your article doesn’t end up being of the same caliber.
“I find the term ‘religious law’ offensive; it does not apply to me. I am a proud First Nations Maori woman. »
Liberal Party headquarters did not respond to questions about Mr. Ackerman’s allegations.
“Progressive” legislation under threat
Liberal Party sources say there are a growing number of candidates and MPs from the religious right, including Ms Heath, Ann-Marie Hermans, Cynthia Watson, Nicole Werner and Briony Hutton.
All were contacted for comment but declined or did not respond. The ABC does not know its position on abortion or euthanasia laws in Victoria.
Reason Party MP Fiona Patten said there was a real chance these candidates could influence established legislation on key issues.
“We expect to see Labor numbers dwindle in the Upper House, where we know that a number of secure Liberal seats in the Upper House will now be held by very religious Tory MPs,” she said.
“And the crossbench could also be largely conservative.
“So that means the progressive legislation that we need in this state, that reflects the community of this state, will not go through the upper house, it will be blocked.
“I can’t imagine how we would have handled this if we were debating assisted dying next term, or if we were debating something like abortion rights next term.
“I suspect we’re going to debate it, but in fact, to push them back.
“And that’s a huge concern for me. And I think it should be a huge concern for the community.”
Ms Patten took issue with what she saw as an over-representation of religious conservatism within the wider Liberal Party.
“We see an inordinate number of elected MPs, especially in the Liberal Party, who come from Pentecostal backgrounds, who come from Mormon backgrounds, who come from very conservative religious backgrounds,” she said.
“And that doesn’t reflect the position of the community.
“These organizations represent a very small percentage of Victorians and Australians, but they are remarkably, I would say, overrepresented in the Liberal Party shortlist.”