Broadcaster won’t let facts get in the way of war on Christianity
WHAT a coincidence. The ABC steps up its war on Christianity just as Cardinal George Pell returns to Australia to face court over alleged historic sexual offences.
Pell strongly denies those allegations and we cannot discuss them.
But that doesn’t stop the ABC from vilifying his church and his faith.
On Monday, the ABC ran a long program about historic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Philadelphia — way off in the US — as if we really needed to know this here and now.
But the ABC’s most ridiculous attack on Christianity came yesterday, with a co- ordinated campaign to persuade us that “the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians” who occasionally go to church.
ABC presenter Julia Baird and ABC journalist Hayley Gleeson published an essay on the ABC’s site which gave just one source for this astonishing claim: “As theology professor Steven Tracy wrote in 2008: ‘ It is widely accepted by abuse experts ( and validated by numerous studies) that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group ( and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives’.”
ABC Radio National presenter Fran Kelly accepted this without a flicker of doubt in interviewing Baird, asking: “Is it a matter of belief system?”
And they agreed the problem was “patriarchal” churches — male led — which encouraged men to bully their wives by preaching the Biblical passage: “Wives, submit to your own husbands.”
Baird, who has since repeated her attack on the ABC’s 7.30, suggests this could be a scandal to rival priests abusing children.
But anyone remotely familiar with Christianity and Australia should have instantly realised there’s no way “the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians”.
First, our worst rates of domestic violence notoriously occur in Aboriginal families, where women are at least 31 times more likely to be hospitalised by violent partners. Second, it is not the Bible but the Koran that licenses domestic violence. Christ stopped the stoning of a woman accused of adultery, but Mohammed said men could hit disobedient wives.
And, third, Baird herself concedes deep in her online article that her American source says “regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence”.
That suggests Christianity actually protects women, exactly the opposite of what the ABC implied. But check further and it becomes clear Baird missed clear evidence that contradicts her anti- church theory.
Her single source for her big claim is Steven Tracy, a theology professor at a Phoenix seminary, who did indeed in one essay claim “conservative Protestant men who are irregular church attendees are the most likely to batter their wives”. But when you check Tracy’s own sources you’ll find the evidence is against him.
Tracy cites a paper by Professor Christopher G. Ellison which actually finds that other groups experience greater incidences of domestic violence. The paper claims: “African Americans in particular have higher levels of domestic violence.” What’s more, Ellison says that men who often go to a Christian church “are 72 per cent less likely to abuse their female partners than men from comparable backgrounds who do not attend services”.
The conclusion is clear: “Our findings … suggest that religious involvement, specifically church attendance, protects against domestic violence”. Christianity literally saves.
Tracy also quotes in his footnotes a New Zealand study by Emeritus Professor David Fergusson which confirms that Christianity is a civilising influence. Tracy writes: “11.2 per cent of husbands who never attended church assaulted their wives. But only 2.2 per cent of husbands who attended church at least monthly assaulted their wives, while 6.2 per cent of husbands who attended church sporadically assaulted their wives.”
This is not what Baird reported and what the ABC yesterday claimed.
Why didn’t the ABC report the truth: that Christianity actually saves women from abuse?
The ABC is not merely at war with Christianity. This proves something worse: it is attacking the faith that most makes people civil.