As the culture wars continue across the United States, a leading Australian public relations specialist who deals with churches and faith-based organisations across the world has urged American churches not to be afraid to speak out about their values.
Lyall Mercer, Managing Director of Mercer PR revealed that Australian schools are increasingly taking gender-neutral positions on issues like names, dress and behaviour despite the opposition of the vast majority of Australians, and believes that "America isn't far behind."
He said that many churches seem reluctant to stand up for their traditional values because they are too afraid of the potential backlash on social media and in the mainstream media.
"As a public relations adviser, I would say this concern is reasonable and churches must be careful what they say, however there is an argument that churches should take a stand because it is the right thing to do.
"If public comments are made in a respectful and measured manner, any criticism will be countered by the vast weight of public support."
Mr. Mercer said the so called "silent majority" is real and are just waiting for someone to take the lead.
"Unfortunately in Australia - and increasingly in the USA - labels like bigot, dinosaur, homophobe and intolerant are tossed around, usually by those who are displaying their own intolerance against any position they don't agree with and are trying to prevent a legitimate debate of issues that everyday people care about."
He said churches and faith-based organisations are still held in high regard in America and should use this position to influence the debate.
"I lived in the USA for almost seven years and I was amazed at how much respect the church still has compared to other parts of the western world, so when the American church speaks it does so from a position of strength not weakness.
"The lack of a voice by the church continues to cede ground to those with alternative agendas and views, so church leaders should not be fearful of standing up for what they believe."
About Lyall Mercer:
Lyall is a media and public relations consultant to leading companies, organisations, churches and ministries across Australia and internationally. He was a media adviser to Australia's major conservative political party and has advised politicians at local, state and federal government levels. He lived in the USA from 2002 to 2008 and trained church leaders across the USA and Canada. A respected strategist in reputation and issues management and crisis communications, Lyall is called to deal with situations across the world, and in 2010 was engaged by the family of American teenage sailor Abby Sunderland to assist with the global interest and criticism after her world voyage ended in the Indian Ocean.
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