Before the commentariat, Christian and other, condemns the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace as a loony fundamentalist bigot, let’s all take a deep breath and consider …
This is the Twitter age, and we’re all still meeting its perils along with its undoubted benefits. Staff and readers of The Age should be especially attuned, given the dismissal last year of an outspoken journalist after a similarly careless post on Twitter, amidst the frenzied online banter occasioned by the ABC’s weekly Q&A program.
If, as one of the anonymous millions, you forget who you are while tweeting in under 140 characters at the speed of light, you should consider yourself lucky merely to see red cheeks in the mirror. The same misfortune bears the sword of instant professional death if you happen to have a very public profile. Catherine Deveny and Jim Wallace make the strangest of bedfellows. But they merely share the doubtful honour of learning a most common lesson before a million judges. Let’s be slow to condemn either.
Let the twitterer without sin cast the first stone.
Given the currency in the Australian media of phrases like “the religious right” with reference to any public expressions of orthodox Christian morality, it’s little surprise that both the ABC and The Age (26/5) would list “religious groups” generally and the Australian Christian Lobby in particular, as natural sources of right-wing audience fodder for Q & A.
However the assumption is simplistic to say the least. No doubt the ranks of the ACL (formal members and the much wider support base) do comprise quite a few people with conservative political leanings. But the association is far from universal. Not least, our current (Labor) Prime Minister is clearly on the public record not only as a thinking, praying and practising Christian, but also as an admirer of self-professed “Christian socialist” and labour leader, Keir Hardie and of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism. The ACL’s own webpage records a recent interview with Mr Rudd, highlighting his faith journey and spiritual practice.
Q & A’s audience may be less “balanced” than intended.