Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, July 18, 2003
IF YOU THINK THE UNITING CHURCH is in trouble over ordaining homosexual ministers, you should listen to its retiring head, Haire.

The problem's much deeper.

You may recall that Haire left the church's national conference with a resounding denunciation of the "political depravity" of both (all?) sides of Australian politics. And he wasn't talking religion, of course, he was referring to our foreign policies, especially Iraq, and our bipartisan approach to irregular immigrants.

Stephen Crittenden: In other words, you’re saying that there is an increasing climate of lying going on?

James Haire: Effectively that’s what it is. Harold Wilson in Britain once said that public relations was simply “organised lying”,

You can see that the pollies Haire disagrees with are not just wrong, they're immoral.

Uncle has often wondered at the imprudent boldness of clerics who enter arenas of political debate that may well involve deep moral issues, but where your Faith is about as useful as wishing for your dinner.

Auntie's God-botherer, Stephen Crittenden, is no slouch.

Stephen Crittenden: A lot of church leaders these days have spin doctors working for them.

James Haire: That’s true.

Stephen Crittenden: Public relations firms, even.

James Haire: Yes, that’s certainly true, but not to the amount that the government has at its disposal.

He's only five minutes in the political arena, and already Haire is in deep trouble. But too righteous to recognise it.

So what is his political program?

James Haire: The primary responsibility lies with all of us. That is to say it lies with government, it lies with opposition in being an effective opposition, and it lies with the community in allowing such governments to exist. I simply am calling on our church and the wider community to declare truth. We’re good at declaring war, we’re great at declaring peace, but what about declaring truth?

What indeed!

It seems things are so hopeless with religion that to Haire politics is the best hope for holding the warring factions of his church together: we have to relate mission and social justice. Young people today will not buy Christianity if it is not grounded in the issues of the day.

Meanwhile, on one of those social issues of the day, the role of practising homosexuals in church ministries, Haire's own church is right now tearing itself apart.

Perhaps Haire should have listened to what those politicians know about holding factions and nations together.