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Church Closes Language School Over Marriage Equality Advocacy of Founder

On May 1, one of Australia’s leading newspapers, The Age, published the following story about Keith Paulusse, a Spectrum community member: School closed over gay message.

A SEVENTH Day Adventist church has closed down a language school for international students, migrants and refugees because its founder publicly supported gay marriage.


Gateway Adventist Centre, the church’s university outreach, closed the English-language school on April 15 as soon as its leadership became aware of Keith Paulusse’s support for gay marriage, published on his Facebook page, Mr Paulusse [pictured] said yesterday.


Gateway’s chief elder, Johnny Wong, told Mr Paulusse, a celibate gay man, in an email that he would give the church a bad name. Mr Paulusse, 62, a retired pyschologist, said another Gateway elder later told two friends that he was a paedophile, which he intended to pursue in court. He said church leaders also asked his former business partner, a psychiatrist, whether he had psychological problems. . . .


”Head elder Johnny Wong was dismayed at the robust discussion on my Facebook page,” he said. ”The other point the SDA Church did not like was that nearly all the six teachers were gay or lesbian, and not Seventh Day Adventists.”


Mr Wong emailed Mr Paulusse to remind him that the church was committed to a biblical view of marriage as solely between a man and a woman, and could not be associated with supporting same-sex marriage.

In the email he said: ”Recently I noticed you have been getting involved with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues, that is a concern to me personally. Directing your energy to soul winning will be more profitable, e.g. getting Bible students and bringing them step by step to Jesus.”

In a press release, noting that it was his advocacy that led to this break and that this was a local church board issue, the church responded

Keith Paulusse was an active participant at Gateway. He informed the leaders he was gay, but celibate. Rather than react with hatred or homophobia, Gateway continued to embrace Keith. He served as a religious teacher on Saturday mornings and Gateway permitted Keith’s conversational English language school to operate on its premises free of charge.


It came to Gateway’s attention, however, that Keith was advocating for the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples – both on social media and in person to visitors to Gateway. The Adventist Church in Australia, with which Gateway is affiliated, has publicly defended marriage against efforts to redefine it. Gateway’s leadership, therefore, informed Keith that his advocacy in opposition to the Church’s position was incompatible with him continuing in his current capacity. Keith was unwilling to alter his advocacy.


There is no Adventist region-wide policy on how to interact with local church members who support the redefinition of marriage. Rather, precisely who can serve in various church capacities is a question for the local church board. Gateway’s board decided to end its relationship with Keith’s language school.

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