Friday, 22 May 2015

The "silence of churches"

was the topic of a piece by columnist Andrew Bolt in the Downunder media yesterday. I am waiting for some reactions to it.
Bolt is a controversial columnist and often stirs strong reactions. 
There was nothing in this morning's state paper. People were too busy complaining about the rise in the Emergency Services Levy - some  with some interesting mathematics attached.
But Bolt does not mind stirring the pot and there must surely be some reaction. Why don't the churches speak out more about the persecution of their fellow Christians?
The Senior Cat and I have discussed the question of why people don't go to church. It is an interesting one.
When I was a kitten many more people did go to church. I was baptised  into the Presbyterian church wearing the christening gown made by my great-grandmother. It was an "occasion" - not that I remember it. I do remember the subsequent christenings of my siblings and my cousins - all in the same christening gown. I suppose people who never went to church turned up for the occasion, just as they do even now. (The Senior Cat, who does still go to church, assures me this is the case.)
Perhaps things changed back in the sixties when the pubs were allowed to open on Sundays. Sport began to be played on Sundays. Some shops were allowed to open on Sundays. There were more families where both parents went to work so other things were done on Sundays. 
But does the declining church going population explain the silence? Because yes, at very least, the voice of the church is muted. 
I don't think it is the declining population - although that may have something to do with it. I think it is something different. 
I think the media has much to do with it. The very thing that should make it easy for churches to speak out about the things they should be speaking out about has effectively silenced them. 
Headlines about sexual abuse - a subject which is of the utmost seriousness - and corruption within some sections of the Christian community have tainted everyone. The good work being done by many has been ignored by the alleged and actual behaviour of a few. 
Yes, it's the way the media works. The good cannot be acknowledged along with the bad. If someone does speak out then  it is not going to make the sustained headlines that the alleged or actual vile misbehaviour of someone else will make. As Bolt pointed out sections of the media are not even going to acknowledge those doing the persecution and killings are targetting Christians. 
There is also a fear of offending Muslims. Will it lead to a terror attack? Remember the Charlie Hebdo affair - and more? That the vast majority of Muslims are ordinary people going about their ordinary business in exactly the same way as anyone  else is not a message the media finds convenient to portray.
So are the churches silent? My view is that they don't say nearly enough. Failing to speak out is surely like Peter denying Christ? 
Perhaps it is time for them to overcome their fear - the fear of retaliation, of legal action and abusive headlines - and speak out more. 
I doubt they will do it though - any more than I am likely to go to church.


Frances said...

Andrew Bolt seems to suggest that a man who was for mankind, like Jesus Christ, should now take a sectarian role. He seems, by doing this, not to understand christianity.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that is what he was suggesting at all. I think he was suggesting that the churches are failing to care for members of their own (the Christian) family by remaining silent with respect to bullies and murderers and those who are, through their reporting, effectively condoning that.
(Found this blog by accident today. Fascinating take on the subject both of you, Thanks, Peter Marsh

catdownunder said...

Is there something sectarian about speaking out against murderers?