There’s probably no point waiting to the end of the year to award the prize for the worst media monstering of a Christian for 2014. Because the Sydney Morning Herald has published such an egregious story on Dean Phillip Jensen (the minister in charge at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral), that any other winning entry is unlikely.
“Anglican Dean blames Islam for the rise of Islamic State” is the headline. This is only news if you thought that maybe the Buddhists are to blame. Or Hinduism, or Christianity.
But most of us will think that Islamic State is the creation of Muslims. Not all Muslims. But certainly all those who created it are Muslims. Possibly not good Muslims but that argument is outside the scope of a media column.
And yes, there are those in the Islamic world who think that Islamic State was a creation of the CIA. But you can always find someone, somewhere who thinks almost anything is the creation of the CIA.
In comparison with the headline, the Dean writes on his regular ‘From The Dean’ blog, “It’s time to face the truth that Islam itself is part to blame [for the rise of Islamic State].”
That seems to be rather a more moderate statement.
“They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.”
That the Caliphate comes from a religious impulse—it is a theocracy after all, is just another moderate statement of fact.
At this point the reader might be wondering what the fuss is about. But then the Dean is reported as making a radical statement.
“Islam is false”.
The scandal of particularity rears its often-described-as-ugly head.
The Dean is saying Christianity is right about who Jesus is, among other things, and Islam has it wrong. In fact the sentence quoted above, “It’s time to face the truth that Islam itself is part to blame” finishes “and to help our fellow Australians, especially those from Islamic background, to understand that Islam is false.”
To a Christian minister wanting to help Muslims discover the real Jesus as God and Saviour, this should not be news. That it has become news is news.
It’s worth noting that the SMH adds, “Despite the possibly inflammatory comments, the Sydney Anglican Church has stood behind the 70-year-old minister’s comments.”
There’s one too many “comments” in that sentence. But apart from this crime against syntax, the reporting of the Dean’s age is ageist. References to a person’s age is quite uncommon in news reporting these days. The only reason to include it is to make the man sound doddery.
Phillip Jensen has spent his life being politically incorrect but there’s no excuse for the Herald.