Most Australians are as unsurprised by skullduggery in the church as by double-dealing in government. It's almost like they expect it. Yet even that low bar has stumped the church of late.
Screws in tyres? Disappearing pets? Trolls? Threats? Cover-ups? To those who despise Christianity but claim to live by its values, I say, terrific. Never have we needed truth and compassion more. But what if the church itself forsakes those values? Can a moral code survive without its core players? What if the Pharisees are back in charge?
The Pharisees, you recall, were a bunch of domineering, hypocritical and intensely tribal priests who prioritised appearance over truth, corporate advantage over noble deeds and stifled all dissent. "Blind guides," Jesus called them, polishing the cup's exterior while ignoring its putrid contents. In short, they pretty much epitomise the Australian view of authority.
It's not just the ongoing nightmare of institutionalised child-sex abuse and the decades-long connivance that implies. Nor even the antediluvian opposition to women preachers and same-sex marriage. Exacerbating all that is an increasingly aggressive stamping out of dissent.
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