The Rationalist Society of Australia has written to Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to urge him to state publicly whether he supports the Seven Mountain Mandate and to outline his position on the separation of church and state.
Despite council’s newly appointed spiritual advisor having claimed that she and the mayor both support the fundamentalist ideology, Mayor Tate has told the media that he does not recall voicing support for it.
In a letter to Mayor Tate on Thursday (see the letter below), RSA president Meredith Doig urged the mayor to address the central question of whether supports the Seven Mountains Mandate – a dominionist movement seeking to gain control of the key institutions of society.
The appointment of the spiritual advisor, at the expense of ratepayers, has sparked outrage in the Gold Coast community over a number of weeks, as media reports have revealed more about the views of Pastor Sue Baynes.
Earlier this month, the ABC reported that Pastor Baynes had claimed that a “demonic stronghold” had been established at a council arts venue and that a “spiritual battle” had begun. It was also revealed that the mayor had dedicated to the Lord a new bridge leading to the venue.
Dr Doig told Mayor Tate that ratepayers deserved to know whether he supports the Seven Mountains Mandate ideology.
She also rejected Mayor Tate’s suggestion in recent media reports that Pastor Baynes’ views were a “private” matter.
“We reject the assertion that the views of the spiritual advisor are a ‘private matter’, given the claims made by Pastor Baynes in relation to you and the Seven Mountain Mandate, and given that she is being paid by the ratepayers of the Gold Coast to fulfil this role,” said Dr Doig.
Dr Doig also noted that the overwhelmingly public sentiment of Gold Coast ratepayers was that the appointment breached the separation of religion and the state. In her letter, she asked Mayor Tate whether he believed in the separation of church and state.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman
Images: City of Gold Coast
Letter to Mayor Tate, 14 April 2022
Dear Mayor Tate,
I’m writing to you on behalf of the Rationalist Society of Australia in regards to the appointment of a ‘spiritual advisor’ at the Gold Coast council.
We agree with the overwhelming opinion of Gold Coast ratepayers that such an appointment, paid for by ratepayers, is inappropriate and a breach of the norm that supports keeping the functions of religion and the state separate.
We share the concerns of Gold Coast ratepayers about the fundamentalist Christian ideology espoused by the spiritual advisor, Pastor Sue Baynes.
We are also concerned that you have not publicly answered the central question of whether you support the Seven Mountains Mandate ideology – a claim made by Pastor Baynes.
We note that you have told the media that you “don’t recall” voicing support for the Seven Mountains Mandate. At other times, you have, reportedly, declined to answer the question when asked by journalists.
The ratepayers of the Gold Coast deserve to know whether you, in your public role as leader of the city, support the Seven Mountains Mandate.
So we put these questions to you:
- Do you support the Seven Mountains Mandate? Yes or no?
- Do you believe in the separation of church and state?
- Do you believe it is appropriate for public officials to use their positions to implement religious precepts?
We reject the assertion that the views of the spiritual advisor are a “private matter”, given the claims made by Pastor Baynes in relation to you and the Seven Mountain Mandate, and given that she is being paid by the ratepayers of the Gold Coast to fulfil this role.
This fundamentalist ideology, imported from the US, poses a great threat to the social and cultural fabric of the Gold Coast community, which is a diverse mix of people of many religious backgrounds and non-religious beliefs. At the 2016 Census, just 53.4% of Gold Coast citizens identified as Christian, 4% were of other faith backgrounds, and 42% were either not religious or chose not to state a religious affiliation.
We look forward to your responses to these questions, which will be important in assuring the ratepayers of Gold Coast City that you respect the fundamental precept of separation between church and state in this country.
We trust your fellow councillors will be equally interested in hearing your answers to these questions.
Dr Meredith Doig
President, Rationalist Society of Australia