Broad­caster won’t let facts get in the way of war on Chris­tian­ity

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

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.

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