SBS Revision: 1 step forward

They said the Titanic couldn’t be raised; it appears as though the same is true of SBS’s attacks on a group of Churches.


Looking toward the Central Coast from Melbourne!

This afternoon (July 6) SBS published a revised article by Robert Burton-Bradley, concerning alleged “homophobic” Churches in the Central Coast of NSW.  The original article was removed from the SBS website. Two newspapers used the story to write their own pieces, one whom later apologised to FIEC.

One needs to acknowledge that the new version of the article is an improvement on the original, however there remain enormous problems.

First, there remains the issue of selective quotations. Half a story is not a full story; it is a false story.  Why hasn’t Burton-Bradley included in his article all the bits in these sermons that speak of love and grace? Why has he neglected the trajectory of these sermons which point to good news of Jesus Christ?

Second, contrary to implications in the article, these Churches are not teaching the death penalty for gays and lesbians. That the Bible speaks of the death penalty is a literary fact, and it would be quite strange for anyone to suggest otherwise. But were these preachers arguing for reinstating the death penalty upon homosexuals? The answer is no. In fact, are they not following the direction determined by the Scriptures, whereby the Old Testament finds its fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ?

If the churches were preaching hate then we would all have reason to be concerned, but this is simply untrue.

Third, according to the article, both the NSW Department of Education and the Schools have explored the complaint made by Darrin Morgan, and the outcome is that the churches were given a green light to continue renting their facilities on weekends.

Given this is the case, readers are still left wondering, where is the story here?

I don’t know what relationship Darrin Morgan has with the schools, if any at all. The story is sounding increasingly like a local atheist has an axe to grind with Churches, and he’s gone fishing and enticed a journalist to join him, and they’ve come back claiming to have caught a snapper…except there ain’t no snapper to be found.

Finally, who is the Human Rights Advocacy Australia (the organisation quoted repeatedly by  Burton-Bradley)? The name sounds impressive, but I can’t find a website for them, only a small Facebook group and a couple of comments from ‘spokesman’, Darrin Morgan. If anyone can point me to some helpful information, thanks.

My  response to the original SBS story can be read here


6 thoughts on “SBS Revision: 1 step forward

  1. Dear Murray Campbell,
    Your four “enormous problems” demand comment.
    First, you ask why Burton-Bradley neglected to include the bits in the offensive sermons of which he complains that speak of love and grace, and ignored referring to the “good news of Jesus Christ”. The answers are simple and obvious. They have no relevance whatsoever to the thesis of his article, namely that public school premises are being used, against departmental rules, regulations and codes, to preach a brand of hatred that directly contravenes the values on which public school education is based, values which, by the way, Jesus subscribed to.
    Second, if the preachers were not intending to terrify their congregations with the fear that some kind of death is the consequence of homosexuality, why did they use the expression? If, as you imply, the New Testament has reconceptualised all that is evil and monstrous in the Old Testament, why continue to use cherry-picked, unreconceptualised bits of the Old Testament when it suits? And only when it suits? In fact, why retain any of the Old Testament (and that is almost all of it) that is at odds with “the person and work of Jesus Christ”? And how can you suggest that no churches preach hate when the language that many of them resort to when discussing homosexuality, or even any sexual practice other than missionary-position, husband-on-wife, baby-producing intercourse, is riddled with hateful terminology?
    Third, the NSW Department of Education has most certainly not given the churches the green light to continue renting their facilities on weekends. All it has so far done, though admittedly it has done it determinedly and possibly under direct governmental direction, is seemingly to obfuscate in the hope that the HRAA will give up calling upon it to uphold its own rules and regulations. I remind you that these regulations ban school principals from renting premises to organisations whose values conflict with those of public education, irrespective of whether students are likely to hear those conflicting values proselytised. Let me moderate that a little: if the Department of Education has privately given the green light to these churches to continue preaching hate speech on public school premises, it has not bothered to let the HRAA, or other complainants, know. Nor has it had the honesty to change its existing codes and regulations.
    Fourth, while you are right to say that the HRAA does not yet have a high national profile, you would be very wrong to think it is a one-man band. I am one of several mainly retired, highly educated members of this and similar bodies with studied social consciences proud to be its members. And as its spokesman made clear, HRAA acts when asked for help by parents deeply worried about and fearful of religious advances into supposedly secular public schools.
    Glen Coulton


  2. Glenn, thank you for your comments.
    If I may respond briefly,
    1. The context in which words are spoken does matter. To ignore their context is to misrepresent their meaning, something I’m sure you would not want others doing with your own words
    2. Are Christians not permitted to teach the Bible as a Christian text, which is what the very Bible itself teaches? BTW your insinuation about ‘cherry picking’ the Old Testament is way off the mark. The Bible has a trajectory, both a historical and theological one; it is all important for reading and it is all interpreted in the light of Jesus Christ. That is known as careful reading, not cherry picking.
    3. I did not say HRAA was a one man band, only that information about such this ‘formidable’ national body was almost impossible to find. Can you point me to their website? To their values statement? How does one become a member of HRAA? it would be great to read their constitution and to see the application for joining. Any information that proves HRAA is anything more than a facebook group? Thanks


    • Dear Murray Campbell
      Thank you for your response. Being an octogenarian judged by his grandchildren to be a technoflop (which is not exactly how they express it), I was not confident that you would ever see my comment nor, assuming you did, and for different reasons, that you would respond to it. But you have and I must applaud your opening sentence and explain why it informs the question of why my HRAA colleagues have been moved to try to provide such succour as they can to parents distressed by the inroads that certain views are making into public schools.
      All words spoken in (the context of) public schools, whether by teachers and students on school days or other authority figures on weekends, contribute to the ability of the school — both as a community and as a physical haven —to protect minority groups from assault from without— both psychological and physical. Public schools are a precious context. The words spoken in them matter profoundly — whether students hear them, or only hear of them.
      There are many reasons why sermons pointing out the shortcomings of people who have no choice but to be as they were born must be banished from public schools, but just one of them is sufficient justification for banning them. School principals are forbidden to make public school premises available to anyone who propounds views inconsistent with the values of public education. HRAA and I are simply pointing out that implying that homosexuals qua homosexuals are displeasing to some god who will surely punish them is to thumb the nose at one of the basic values of public education. You are simply not allowed to do it in the context of a public school. A pastor on a Sunday is no more allowed to do it than a maths teacher on a weekday. And, in both cases, for very good reasons.
      Students in public schools are entitled not only to protection from overt persecution during their times at school, but to be free of doubt about whether their school, which seems to treat them as equals Monday to Friday, really means what it says. Please imagine for a moment the effect on minority group children who, having dared to believe that their school would never do anything to hurt them, learns that it nevertheless rents out the very rooms in which they feel safe Monday to Friday to groups who grasp their Sunday opportunity to preach that they are really lesser beings after all. Seriously lesser, at that.
      I’ll resist the temptation to engage your other comments as they are irrelevant to the very simple point at issue which is that some churches, having been permitted to use a school building on a Sunday, are flouting the conditions attaching to the permission. In this circumstance, one of two things needs to happen. Either the offending churches should guarantee to cease undermining the basic values of public education while in public school premises (and, preferably, everywhere else), or the Department should withdraw their access to those premises.


  3. Glenn,
    When engaged in a frank discussion with FIRIS on their Facebook page about HRAA’s motives and methods, I pointed out I believe people can hold beliefs that I find distasteful or derogatory, but still have the right to use a school building for public meetings to discuss those beliefs.

    As an example of beliefs that I personally find distasteful or derogatory I pointed some of the publically accessible posts on HRAA President Dr Darrin Morgan’s own personal Facebook page, where he had postings of

    • the Catholic Pope photo shopped as the evil Emperor from Star Wars
    • Many sarcastic endorsements of the parody religion Pastafarianism
    • The statement “believer beware…and beware of believers” in association with a post about a new church opening in the area
    • and a personal story by Dr Darrin Morgan where he “broke a rule I’ve held for twenty years and engaged in a discussion with a Christian” wherein he equates the Christian’s belief to insanity

    I pointed out these public statements would most likely be found to be derogatory to people of various different faiths, but I was happy for Dr Darrin Morgan to hold and discuss them in a rented public school building out of hours if he so chose.

    Much to my chagrin my comment was deleted, I was immediately blocked from the FIRIS page and the HRAA page and Dr Darrin Morgan’s personal Facebook page seems to have been deleted!

    Based on HRAA and FIRIS’s position on the churches republishing their material, I can only assume this deletion of his publicly available statements was an error on Dr Darrin Morgan’s part!

    As I’m no longer able to directly contact Dr Darrin Morgan via the HRAA page and you are a member of his organisation, could you please let him know I have an extensive photographic backup of his statements on his previously publicly accessible Facebook page, and that I’d be happy to forward them to him in the event he wants to re-publish those statements.

    Kind regards,
    Matthew Potter


    • Matthew,
      I’m assuming that the comment I posted to Murray Campbell’s response will be available to you so I won’t repeat it here.
      I remind you of the huge difference between disagreeing with people for believing what they freely choose to believe and devaluing people for being what they have no choice but to be.
      I’m happy to convey your advice to the spokesman of HRAA that you have “an extensive photographic backup of his statements on his previously publicly accessible Facebook page”, though I doubt that it will surprise him.
      I choose not to engage with your other comments.


      • Glen,
        Though I disagree with your conclusions and the characterisation of what occurred – I commend you for commenting so politely, rationally and reasonably.


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