Church leader attacks Margaret Court
Church leader Reverend Alistair Macrae has hit out at Margaret Court for her controversial views on homosexuality as the fallout continues from the tennis champion's Australia Day honour.
Court, who holds the record for most grand slam singles titles with 24, was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia - the nation's highest civilian honour - in a decision that has sparked furious backlash.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews was among those criticising the call to recognise Court, who has come under fire in the past for her vocal opposition to same-sex marriage and support of gay conversion therapy.
Reverend Macrae, a former president of the Uniting Church in Australia, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2017 for his services to the community but joined the growing list of recipients who declared they would be handing back their awards in protest.
"Her public comments in relation to LGBTI people - I won't repeat them here - are damaging to significant parts of our community, and by no means represent the views of many Christians," Reverend Macrae wrote in an opinion piece for The Age.
"As a minister and theologian, I am aware that bad theology kills people. Bad theology underpinned the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. Bad theology supported Hitler's racist ideology and the evil it produced.
"Bad theology underpinned or failed to recognise the racist assumptions behind the destructive program of colonisation not least in this land. Bad theology continues to alienate and oppress sexual minorities.
"The upgrading of Mrs Court's award will rub salt into these wounds.
"Statistics relating to suicide and mental health issues among the LGBTI community are well known and should be of concern to the whole community, not least the community that claims to follow the teaching and life example of Jesus Christ."
Court and many of her supporters have said her personal views should not detract from her tennis achievements, but Reverend Macrae said "it is utterly disingenuous, in this day and age, to claim that Mrs Court's sporting achievements can be separated from her highly publicised comments about LGBTI people".
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Journalist Kerry O'Brien rejected his Order of Australia Medal and transgender woman and LGBTIQ advocate Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo also handed back her OAM as a direct result of Court's award.
However, Court hit back at her critics, saying the honour was for her greatness as a tennis player and "was a long time coming".
The 78-year-old also defended her views, saying she has been misrepresented in the media.
"I was used as a high profile person to get some opinions and views across - but I have nothing against homosexual people or transgender people," she said.
"I've always said what the bible says. And I don't hate anybody. I love people. And I love gay people and I love transgender people."
There have been repeated calls for Tennis Australia to distance itself from the sporting icon, along with a campaign to rename Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park.
Court revealed she has not been invited to this year's Australian Open and on the weekend the tennis legend claimed she has been unfairly bullied for her beliefs.
"Over the years, I've taken a lot, and I think I've been bullied in one way, and I think, you know, it's time to stop," Court told The West Australian.
"Always remember I'm a minister of the gospel and have been for the last 30 years, I always say what the Bible says.
"I love people, people come in from all backgrounds, I'm there to help, I'm not there to put people down in that way but I'll always say what the Bible says."
Originally published as Church leader attacks Margaret Court