Liberals dump faithful Christian soldier

Andrew Robinson

The NSW Liberal Party has dumped Upper House moderate and Sydney Anglican John Ryan in what he sees as the party's recent shift to the right.

Mr Ryan, an outspoken evangelical Christian who attends St John's, Camden, has served in the NSW Parliament for almost 16 years.

He has served as Shadow Minister for Disability Services and Community Services and currently as Deputy Liberal leader in the Legislative Council, but failed to make preselection for the party's Upper House ticket last month.

He told that he is disappointed about the preselection loss, but not "bitter and twisted'.

"I thought there was more that I could do, and it's a pity that I won't have a chance to fulfil the policies I'd designed for the Liberal Party."

Coming from a disadvantaged background, he became a Christian while living in the Charlton Homes, an Anglicare boys' home, during the 1970s.

"I was never going to be a politician without strong views of social justice," he says.

He has campaigned vigorously on disability issues, including playing a key role in securing funding for Anglicare's Kingsdene special school.

Mr Ryan has attracted the ire of other Christian politicians for his moderate position on safe injecting rooms and his support for legislation lowering the age of consent for homosexual sex.

"While I respected other views, I supported the changes because it presented an opportunity to enact stronger and more workable consent laws that protected children better than the previous law," he says.

"Similarly, I supported the Kings Cross injecting rooms because they saved lives and helped direct some into treatment."

He says that Christians in public life like the Rev Fred Nile are "mistaken' in thinking that they need to legislate Christian morality.

"Jesus acknowledged" that this was not always possible," he says. "Moses had to introduce divorce laws because human behaviour falls so short of God's standard."

Mr Ryan is concerned that the dogmatic approach of the party's so-called "Christian Right' is confusing people about Christianity and could result in a backlash against Christians in public life.

He says that many of those aligned to the Right are attached only "tribally' to a Christian church.

"They believe themselves to be constrained by Christian values, but don't understand the difference between being a church member and having a personal faith in Jesus."

"The kingdom of God lives in the hearts and minds of men and women," he says.

"We're not going to make the world Christian by changing laws but by preaching and changing hearts."