When Churches Go Bad
You can always tell when churches are losing the plot when they start making the headlines – but for all the wrong reasons. When they stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and instead start pushing the latest trendy lefty political causes, then they make the news, and have clearly gone off the rails.
Of course when a church does faithfully stick to its core business of proclaiming the life-saving news of Jesus Christ, the media will tend to ignore it. But when a church, or church leader, or denomination, becomes a regular feature of the MSM, then the warning signs should be going off.
We had a great example of this yesterday. Making front page headlines we read of how a major church body is so worried about population growth that it wants to can the baby bonus. Here is how the Herald Sun story begins:
“A leading church body wants the baby bonus scrapped and migration cut to curb Australia’s rampant population growth. The Anglican Church’s key advisory group also wants migration cut. In a submission to a federal population inquiry, the general synod’s public affairs commission has described population growth as a taboo subject and ‘the elephant in the room’. The commission has proposed a halt to ‘any policy that provides an incentive specifically and primarily to increase Australia’s population, notably the baby bonus’.
“Last year there were 278,000 baby bonus payments, including almost 67,000 in Victoria. The $5294 baby bonus is paid to families who earn $75,000 or less for the six months after the child’s birth. A spokesman for Melbourne’s Anglican diocese said a recent resolution by the general synod called on the Government to ‘avoid any reliance on continuing population growth to maintain economic growth’.”
There are plenty of problems with all this. The first one I have already mentioned: it sure would be nice to see churches making the headlines for the right reasons, like actually preaching the gospel. And if it does insist on getting involved with political and social issues – and there certainly is a place for that – then I wish they would pick the right ones.
If I read a headline in tomorrow’s press about 35 church leaders arrested for standing up for the rights of the unborn, that would be a better sign of the vitality of the church. The taking of human life is – or should be – a major concern of the church.
The sanctity of life and the blessings of children should be loudly proclaimed by the Christian churches. But what do we find here? It seems that this church body actually views children as a curse, not a blessing. Instead of running with the biblical line here, they prefer instead an unbiblical one.
Another problem is this: what population problem? Do we have one? Well yes, but not as these folks imagine. Australia, like almost all of the rest of the Western world, has a major under-population problem; not an overpopulation problem. Our biggest problem today is our birth dearth.
We are below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman, and in other Western countries this is reaching disastrous proportions. A number of European nations are hovering around 1.1 children per woman. This is a recipe for big trouble.
Indeed, things are so bad in Russia, for example, that they are now talking about restricting abortion and taking other harsh measures to turn things around. One press report said this: “In a speech last week Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that measures must be taken in the Russian Federation to boost the birth rate.
“Putin said that 1.5 trillion roubles will be invested in ‘demography projects,’ to improve the average life expectancy and to boost the birth rate by 25 to 30 percent over three years. Following Putin’s speech, the Russian parliament, the Duma, introduced a bill to disqualify abortion as a medical service in the national health plan. It would also allow doctors to refuse to commit abortions.”
As Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families put it, “It’s not Russia alone that’s experiencing demographic winter. Worldwide, birthrates have declined by more than 50 per cent since the late 1960s. By the year 2050, there will be 248 million fewer children under 5 years old in the world than there are today. This birth dearth will be one of the greatest challenges confronting humanity in the 21st. century.”
Finally, these churchmen are quite wrong to say that governments should “avoid any reliance on continuing population growth to maintain economic growth”. The fact is, people are our greatest resource and our greatest form of capital, and a healthy economy is the best answer to poverty and the sorts of social concerns most churches have.
As the secular newspaper The Australian editorialises, this call “is symptomatic of the short-sighted ‘small Australia’ mindset that both major parties pandered to at last year’s election. The suggestion that our vast, richly resourced and innovative nation is somehow nearing capacity is as foolish as it is selfish. Clearly we have the space and resources to expand our population, and a charitable, even Christian, interpretation of our global responsibilities might suggest we have a duty to share our prosperity with as many people, native-born and immigrant, as possible.”
These calls for population reduction are just part of foolish and failed leftist political policies, which see both humanity and capitalism as the problems instead of the solutions. These clerics are living in a time warp, and are out of step with proven successful policies.
But I guess we shouldn’t expect our trendy churchmen to come out with sensible policies based on a biblically-informed worldview.
20 Replies to “When Churches Go Bad”
What percentage of the Anglican Church in Melbourne is evangelical as opposed to theologically liberal? I know that during the time of Leon Morris’s teaching at Ridley College, it had a strong evangelical emphasis.
What’s happening to evangelicalism within Victorian Anglicans?
Good questions Spencer.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Thanks be to God we can count on Cardinal Pell to put a solid message out there:
“We believe the baby bonus appears to have a level of bi-partisan support as a medium for encouraging and supporting families who choose to embrace the wonderful gift of human life,” the archdiocese said in a media release.
Thanks for your work, Bill. God bless.
I couldn’t agree more with your article Bill. When I saw that clergyman on TV with gloom and doom all over his face, I thought here’s another dunce who probably worries that Mr & Mrs not forgetting Ms Struggle Street (with apologies to my old mate Allan) think that church people are out of step and not “with it”, so consequently, in an effort to get some attention and prove that they ARE “with”it, they parrot proclamations by other dunces, such as Dick Smith, who have no qualifications or basic understanding on the subject matter, only weak opinions. One of our greatest resources is the arrival of our locally born babies. Apart from some of the horrible anti-baby moral philosophy stifling the grey matter of some of our middle aged citizens, who do they think will support them with taxes in their old age? Surely they don’t expect support from the gate crashers, landing on our shores in leaky boats, many of a similar age to the dunces.
Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld
Also, isn’t it true that the religion of Islam spreads by populating? With an evangelical worldview wouldn’t the Anglican Church be better suggesting followers of Jesus to ‘be fruitful and multiply?’
Yes quite right Scott
In many respects, Islam is winning while Christianity is losing simply because of demographics. They are having large families while the “Christian” West is aborting itself out of existence.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
What should be of concern to Christians is that the baby bonus doesn’t discriminate in favour of marriage. As it is the baby bonus, being available to non-married couples, is a clear cut example of government rewarding evil which is the exact opposite to what they are supposed to be doing!
Ewan McDonald, VIC
I agree Ewan. The baby bonus is quite a clumsy way to promote bigger families. Five thousand is a lot of money to a schoolkid, but hardly a decision point for established and responsible families who are plan their future schooling. Babies grow up, so you are bringing up a person. The best way to do this is in a traditional family. A better way to promote family life is to give tax breaks, where tax is based on combined (family) income. Tax by individual income but benefits on combined income is a direct way to promote single mothers and defacto scammers.
Though note this article, too: http://goo.gl/t3fhd
I think this situation reveals more about journalism than about churches.
Yes, as someone who has dealt extensively with the media for two decades, I am well aware of how journalists can massacre stories. At least in this case the HS (and I) mentioned it was a group within the church, and not the entire Anglican church, which has been pushing this. Hopefully most Anglicans don’t buy this, but it is sad that such a group exists if it is coming out with this kind of stuff.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
If governments follow the evidence based on proven objective results, they should actively encourage marriage and babies – whether via baby bonuses and/or by allowing income splitting so that mothers could choose to stay at home looking after their kids (which is what at least 70% of mothers want). They should actively discriminate financially in favour of marriage and deny similar benefits to unmarried parents and homosexual relationships which are proven to be inferior in outcome for the community and for the people in such relationships. This would greatly reduce health and welfare costs as well as increase general wellbeing.
Unmarried and single parents would then have positive monetary incentives to marry – and there should be incentives to stay married (like income splitting). That’s a pragmatic approach based on studies of what works and what doesn’t work rather than kow-towing to political correctness.
From a Biblical perspective we are told to ‘multiply and fill the earth’. And we are also told that never again will the earth be wiped clean by a flood and that the seasons will not cease – so we don’t have to worry about 2012 or about rising seas or climate change!
Yet the whole world’s current population could comfortably sleep in Tasmania so that no person had to touch another person – and in Queensland there is plenty of living space for every person now alive on earth. So no way are we in danger of overfilling the earth. Read Lomborg’s the Skeptical Environmentalist for assurance that we will not run out of resources and that history demonstrates that increasing population beyond a certain density actually decreases pollution and increases food production per person.
So pragmatically and Biblically, we should increase population.
I spent some time with a woman who managed a large division of Angli-Care, and Anglican Church’s welfare division, the woman was no more saved than the devil and was for the period of time we spent together terribly defensive and wary of me based on my humour and job description alone, I had not so much as mentioned issues of the day or faith at any time but i suppose she thinks all ministers must be a certain way which is not according to scripture, nevertheless i was happy to teach her otherwise through my example. Eventually the subject came up about the dangers of pornography, immediately she ran for cover disagreeing with the Bible’s clear views rather defending and advocating it’s freedom and use within a relationship and ended the conversation abrubtly. Is this how the Anglican Church operates? allowing baser sorts of depraved of faith God opposers to ‘manage’ divisions of their denomination? My Bible tells me otherwise and i am known to be of it because i obey it 1 John 2:3-6, 2 Thess 3:6.
Rob Forsyth from the Sydney Anglican church makes it quite clear that this Synod Anglican Public Affairs Commission does not represent the view of the Anglican Church. As a Melbourne Anglican, I couldn’t disagree with the Commissions point of view more sharply. With the exception of some great Melbourne Anglican evangelical churches, the Melbourne Anglican scene is depressingly unbiblical. I wish this commission would be discontinued as they can be mistakenly interpreted as representing the the views of Anglican Christians.
More to the point how many of these mums encouraged to have babies by the baby bonus are fit enough parents to bring children into the world and what kind of adults are these children growing into? The bursting point of our prison system is testimony of people who have grown up godless, loveless, lost and bewildered. This issue needs some serious thinking.
Proverbs 14:28 A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined. (NIV)
Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (NIV)
Based on this Commission’s submission, I don’t expect any of its members to be in the headlines as you suggested Bill. They have sold out completely. I hope that the average Anglican “pew-warmer” can do something to derail the Commission in the future.
Another example: Reverend Tim Costello lost my respect years ago. Very evangelical about the alleged evils of gambling when a Liberal government was in power – but very shy when it came to defending the unborn.
So points taken. I recall the Labor premier Joan Kirner first rolling out pokies but it was Costello’s silence on prolife issues that made me cringe.
Perhaps part of it too is a real need in some secular Christian circles to be loved by the world. It certainly sends a confusing message: Kill a baby, cry over a flashy game.
I totally agree with Scotty and Dorian’s points. Our God is far greater than those false shepherds, and it was He who gave the dictate “to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue” it Genesis !:28 (Genesis 48:4)
Those Anglican ministers should start reading their Bibles instead of relying on their own futile thinking!!! Let God be true but every man a liar.(Romans 3:4)
However, the Government could distribute the money more effectively!!!
I was glad to hear that there will (hopefully) be some lives saved in Russia. According to statistics, in 1967 (the same year that I was born), 73% of babies in Russia were aborted.
I wasn’t born in Russia.
Annette Nestor, Perth
Putin … “It would also allow doctors to refuse to commit abortions.”
Wow, maybe I should start learning Russian, da?
The Anglican professor made his point on talk back radio in Brisbane last week. I rang in and pointed out similarly to Bill above that the birth rate in Australia is insufficient for any population growth in Australia. The interviewer tried to change the subject, but I was able to just re-iterate the above. I was shortly thereafter cut off, but I think I got the point across.
Well done Graeme
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch