Bates, objectivity personified, is at it again in his latest piece, “Vicious hot air currents”, subtitled, “Homosexuality is a useful unifier for the conservative flocks who agree on very little else”.
Stuff like this only goes to prove what we claimed a while ago, that Bates really doesn’t like people who get serious about their religion, not enough to represent them fairly, anyway.
Here’s a little sample:
Maybe it’s being in a company of saints - a most un-Anglican communion of the like-minded. But the rhetoric of the gathering of conservative churchmen in Jerusalem seeking to wrest control of worldwide Anglicanism from the woolly nuances of Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the wicked, gay-friendly liberalism of the Church of England and US Episcopal Church is already spiralling upwards on a vicious current of hot air.
Two days into the great realignment, we’ve already had the archbishops of Nigeria and Uganda denying that gays are ever persecuted in their countries - and failing to find the words to condemn the violence if they are; voices calling for biblically lethal punishment for homosexuals; and lip-smacking assertions that the old church has fallen prey to apostasy, brokenness and turmoil, in its attempt to “acquiesce to destructive modern, cultural and political dictates”.
Now we’ve been through this before. When did you stop beating your wife, Stephen? If you go to the press conference he’s referring to you’ll see ++Jensen make a very clear statement on this issue and, as he does so, watch ++Akinola and ++Orombi - they’re nodding vigorously in agreement. But, of course, that doesn’t make good copy for Bates.
But I think what is most comical about this sort of piece is that, for a journalist, it’s just bad journalism. Here’s Bates’ central thesis:
Theirs is an insurgency united in what they don’t like - homosexuality - and elevating it to a litmus test of orthodoxy in a way that other divisive theological issues - divorce, say, or women’s ordination - have not been. The thing is that many conservatives know women - some have even married them - and not a few of the righteous have been divorced as well. They don’t know gay people, and what they think they know of them is viscerally distasteful.
Homosexuality is a useful unifier for conservative flocks. The little-noticed irony is that those meeting in Jerusalem agree on very little else: some American conservatives are more high church than the Pope, whereas the conservative archbishop of Sydney says he could never see himself attending mass.
Now that’s hilarious. Let me tell you why.
I’ve seen a draft of the communiqué. I can’t tell you what’s in it, for very obvious reasons, but here’s something I will tell you: there is an incredible level of unity across the theological spectrum represented at GAFCON. A level of unity that blows Bates’ thesis out of the water. What’s more, the communiqué hardly touches on the sex issue - it is far more interested in general questions of authority and doctrine.
Now, of course, those of you who have spent even a small amount of energy watching all this Anglican stuff over the past few years will not be surprised by that. When Greg posts articles such as this or this none of us exclaim “but we want to talk about sex!!!”. No, on the contrary we recognise what the deeper rot is.
And so it’s hilarious that Bates, quality journalist that he is, doesn’t get it.
And so, ultimately, his article demonstrates that either
- He’s that bad a journalist that despite covering this whole thing for years he still hasn’t a clue what it’s all about . or
- He’ s that bad a journalist that even though he knows what the truth is, he has no intention of reporting it because it gets in the way of his agenda.
Either way, if I were on the editorial board of the Grauniad (UK joke) I’d be wondering where my money was going and what I was getting for it.
Especially since when the Communiqué is released on Sunday all the UK press, currently touching down in Heathrow and Gatwick, are going to be kicking themselves that they didn’t hang around. They waited for a “schism” that never arrived and then, having not got what they came for, nicked off. Shame really, but that’s what you get when your story is inconvenient enough not to match the facts.