Christian lobbyist receives high praise after TV interview
FORMER managing director of Australia's Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton, has been ostracised by many people throughout the years.
During nearly 10 years as a Christian lobbyist in Canberra, raising opinions that differ from the majority, he has become an easy target for the masses.
The Wondai-born political activist was in the South Burnett at the weekend to speak at a range of events.
During a talk at the Murgon Baptist Church on Sunday night, Mr Shelton told a story about receiving unexpected high praise from a mystery person.
He had just finished a live interview with Derryn Hinch on Sky television back in July this year.
"Derryn said he'd like me to come on his show," Mr Shelton said.
"He said, 'I'd like you to talk about religious freedom'.
"He said, 'I'll give you a fair go'."
The two shared a thought-provoking conversation discussing some of the consequences Mr Shelton had predicted during his time as a strong advocate for the no vote during the gay marriage debate.
"We chatted about some of things I had predicted during the gay marriage debate were now starting to come true," he said.
"About the pressure that is coming on freedom of speech and freedom of religion."
As Hinch was wrapping up their chat, Mr Shelton said he couldn't help but to interrupt him.
"At the end of our chat, he just put in this little dig," he said.
"He wasn't trying to be malicious.
"There was just this perception some people have that just because Christians have different views on issues like same sex marriage that somehow we hate gays."
Thanks to being involved in a range of live media interviews over the years, Mr Shelton had learnt a few little tricks.
"I knew he was signing off and he got this last dig in and implied that as Christians we were all bigots," he said.
"I thought, no, I am not going to let that go through to the keeper."
"I knew it was live TV so he couldn't cut me off.
"So I jumped in and said 'Look Derryn, I just need to respond to that'.
"I said 'Look, just because we have a different view on public policy doesn't mean we hate any of our fellow Australians'.
"'We just have different point of view'."
Mr Shelton left the television studio, and as he sat in his car to travel home his phone lit up.
"It was from someone who had just seen the interview," he said.
"They said, 'Well done mate, that was really good'.
"'What you said at the end really needed to be said'."
Mr Shelton replied to thank the mystery person and asked who had sent the message.
Mr Shelton did not hear anything back until the next morning.
"I was at work and my phone lit up with two words. Tony Abbott," he said.
Mr Shelton was touched that he would receive such a message from the nation's former leader.
"I know it meant a lot to Tony," he said.
"He is someone who put himself out there in the marriage debate and other culturally sensitive and difficult debates where you are pigeon holed and stereotyped as a hater or some hard-right reactionary."