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Big News: PM Out Of Touch With God

“Please Prime Minister – keep reading your bible, keep saying your prayers, keep listening to God” – Anglican clergyman.


Big News With Dave Crampton

Well its official, sort of. The Prime Minister is out of touch with God. The leader of the nation has been publicly accused by a prominent Anglican clergyman as being “out of touch with God” and was told to “spend more time with the Bible looking for guidance from Jesus”. Ha! The clergyman who made the accusation was told by the PM he should not presume to interpret God’s will too narrowly. The clergyman’s response: “ Hey, it was meant to be an encouragement.”

Now before you decide to question Helen Clark’s relationship with Jesus, (or lack of one) you need to know it was Aussie PM John Howard who was the subject of the accusation. The comments were made by Anglican Archbishop-elect Peter Jensen just 48 hours after his election - made as a result of Howard’s constant refusal to apologise to the Aboriginal “stolen generation”. He didn’t muck around. Told Howard he should apologise for the stolen generation and to stop calling asylum seekers “illegal immigrants”. Said he’d tell him to his face later on, too.

The whole Jensen, the Howard and God scenario made the front pages of Aussie papers for a week. Now when was the last religion made the front pages of an Australasian newspaper for a week? In NZ- never! Well, maybe a sex scandal may do it. Mind you, what right has the Anglican leader telling the PM what to do, politicians ask? Why can’t he keep Church separate from state?

Well, for a start Howard is part of the flock. He, too, is an Anglican. So is Jensen’s brother who stood down from election. Howard has been one of his parishoners. Secondly, if politicians don’t want the church to stick their nose into their own political affairs, they should keep their nose out of church affairs – like the unsuccessful attempt in stopping the Uniting Church in opening a heroin injecting room for Kings Cross addicts.

When Jensen was asked by reporters if Howard was out of step with the community in refusing to apologise to the aboriginal people, he replied “ it doesn’t concern me whether Mr Howard is out of step with the community, the question is, is he out of step with God?”

But Jensen may well be out of step with his Primate Peter Carnley. Like most Anglican leaders Carnley is dead against against laity administering holy communion. He is against gay marriage, women bishops, and anything else the Archbishop of Canterbury says he should be against. Jensen seems to have the line that any male can administer communion, so can any woman as long as they’re not a priest. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay and celibate or straight and sexual, as long as you’re not a woman you can be a priest. In fact Sydney, the richest, most conservative, and one of the biggest dioceses of the Anglican Church almost got kicked out of the Anglican Communion a while back on the issue laity administering communion. Gee, if that happened the priests wouldn’t be able to do it either! Jensen says the issue is being treated with more seriousness than women bishops. “There is nothing whatever in the Bible about who should preside over Holy Communion,” he says.

At least he appears to be leading the Prime Minister by example in reading his Bible.

Jensen is not the only Anglican leader to have been in the news lately. The Archbishop of Brisbane is to become the next Governor General. The Archbishop of Adelaide led cricketer Don Bradman’s funeral service, the Archbishop of Sydney retires, and the Archbishop of Perth wrote for The Bulletin about Easter. Only Melbourne’s Archbishop misses out.

Sydney -sin city to some – has now two new conservative Archbishops. Catholic Archbishop George Pell transferred from Melbourne to Sydney earlier this year, and all the gays chanted “go to hell, George Pell” outside one large Christian rally recently to welcome him to his position. He’s so conservative he’d have to get assistance to change a light bulb.

Mind you, at least Jensen is not smoothing the pillow of a dying church without the intellectual guts to publicly stand up and speak what he believes to be the truth in a way which people can respond favourably to. Which is more than I can say for NZ priests and church leaders.

God, the Bible and Christ have been on every front page in Sydney. Meanwhile in New Zealand God, the Devil and Bob are on afternoon TV, and the BBC’s Son of God claims Jesus was born in a cave. Well, as long as it was a “stable” cave. It’s as close to religion as it gets down here – apart from Samoans in Auckland being locked out of their church and going to court over it. But that’s politics, not religion. Seeya.

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist, in addition to writing for Scoop he is the Australasian correspondent for newsroom-online.com. He can be contacted at davec@globe.net.nz

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