Church leaders stay silent on Barnaby

It’s the sounds of silence about Joyce’s public/private fall

The Canberra press gallery, the Opposition and even members of Barnaby Joyce’s Nationals are still talking about the very public failure of his marriage. It has become tangled up with the #metoo protests, even as many others, including the PM, urge privacy.

But there is one group that has been very silent. Church leaders. A quick check reveals no Catholic Bishop (and the family concerned are Catholics) has spoken on the topic. No Anglican bishops. No mention from the stage at the Hillsong churches. Nothing from the Uniting Church leaders.

Groups that link Christian leaders have also been quiet. The Gospel Coalition Australia, led by a team of prominent conservative Christians, has been silent. (Please let Eternity know if any of this changes). Update: The Gospel Coalition posted a piece by Murray Campbell on Friday 16 February.

There’s a small flurry on blogs, naturally and some sharing of the News Limited coverage (including by Lyle Shelton).

The silence from official church spokespeople has been quite striking.

So, to take a random assortment: for once, Anglican newshound David Ould and Baptist firebrand Mike Frost have made similar comments. Quite possibly, it’s rare to see these two in agreement.

Frost: “Why do I waste energy being annoyed at our politicians’ hypocrisy?! The guy claims he’s a champion of the sanctity of traditional marriage while he’s leaving his wife, moving in with a woman young enough to be his daughter and getting her pregnant.”

Ould: “For the Christian, a story about a prominent leader falling from grace and ending up with a baby out of wedlock isn’t unknown.” (Ould cites the David and Bathsheba account from 2 Samuel in the Old Testament).

NSW Christian Democrat Fred Nile has also commented. “The conservative side of politics often complains of a double standard when these matters are covered by an admittedly sensationalist press. However, if a politician professes a high standard of moral conduct, and makes that standard part of his political philosophy, it is only to be expected that he will be held up to that standard.”

The Australian Christian Lobby’s new leader Martin Illes has commented: “The truth is, the private/public divide doesn’t exist when it comes to matters of character.”

“If a man is not faithful to his family, one might well ask whether he is faithful at all. To country, to God, to friends, to office, to truth… As a question of character, it permeates a person’s whole life and all that they do.”

It is not uncommon for churches to allow lobby groups to take the heat in public debate. Perhaps the response to Barnaby Joyce is no different. But the silence from official church spokespeople has been quite striking.

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