The Anglican Diocese of Sydney certainly has gold in its coffers, but it’s got a tin ear when it comes to how the decision to donate one million dollars to the No campaign will go down.
The announcement that the diocese had taken that step was accompanied by prescient comments by the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, about the nature of marriage and the future of free speech in our country that could come about if the Yes campaign gets up.
But where’s the headline? Where’s the takeaway? It’s this of course:
Doubtless we’ll hear why that was a good use of money (a million bucks in case you hadn’t heard) at some stage. But those facts will be lost on pretty much anyone outside the dyed in the wool No voters and those who attend Anglican churches in Sydney.
I must say I just sighed a little. A million dollars doesn’t sound like much. It wouldn’t buy you a house, half a house, a third of a house in inner Sydney. Two and a half houses in Perth’s eastern suburbs, perhaps, given the current bust we’re experiencing.
How does this help the cause? I’m genuinely asking that question. How does this do anything but prove foolish the claim that the Christian church is being marginalised in our secular frame? How does it prove anything other than another powerful lobby group can rustle up a cool mill and throw it in the direction of a campaign that has pretty much run its course and has a 62 per cent uptake already?
Alan Joyce pulls out a million from his personal purse for the Yes campaign, the Sydney Diocese equals his offer in a stare down of the big boys, the elite end of town that is doing all of the running.
Don’t agree? Well that’s how the whole message comes across:
Archbishop Davies was quoted in The Australian newspaper saying this about marriage, and they are wise words that we should all take in:
Get that? Neither did most people. Here’s what they heard:
How does the average young person in the Anglican Church who wishes to remain faithful to a Scriptural ethic on sex, but who mixes with and engages with gay friends and colleagues feel about this move? I’d be interested to know.
The questions that will be asked will be to do with how the church spends its money (did you know the same fund gave a million dollars to Syrian refugees? No you did not, but then again that’s not the hot button topic for the church at the moment).
As I said, it all gives the impression, once again, that the church is a well endowed power broker that, with enough money thrown at something, can push an agenda. Is that what I think in particular? No. But then again it’s not what an insider who reads everything, speaks to plenty of people in those circles, and who has a more than passing interest in the topic, thinks; it’s what the average person to whom we want to showcase the gospel thinks. It’s the fog it brings to the clarion call of the gospel.
I reckon a million dollars made that evangelistic task, which is hard enough, just that little bit harder.