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.