Ethics Podcasts

Critical Witness, more Lessons from Premier and Playing the Race Card

The fallout from the Premier Cancellation continues –

I wrote to Peter Kerridge, the director of Premier, asking for an apology  and received a somewhat disappointing reply.

“When the article was removed, care was taken with the wording not to mention you at all. Only those who had seen the original article would have known who wrote it. You have used your own blog to draw attention to the matter, as you are entitled to do. We have not damaged your reputation in any way. ” 

This is at best disingenuous – my name was on the article.  Premier had asked me to write it and had approved it, without any thought of it being racist.  24 hours later not only did they pull the whole article for being racist, but the editor tweeted out an apology with my name tagged on to it.  But Peter says ‘care was taken with the wording not to mention me at all’ and then in effect goes on to hint that I should have kept quiet and it would all go away.  He ‘regrets any distress caused’ to me.  These are all weasel words and show a level of dishonesty which I find disturbing in any Christian organisation.

Why does this matter and why do I think it has caused damage?  Because todays world (including the Christian world) is filled with prejudice and feeling, fuelled by gossip.  Reputation and ‘name’ is so important.  That’s why we are not to take the Lord’s Name in vain, nor are we to cause damage to others by lying about them or misrepresenting them.    Premier did that to me and it has consequences (consequences that are not overcome by disingenuous weasel words and apologies that are not apologies).

For example one church I was due to speak at got in touch because some of their leadership had concerns that I had had an article pulled by Premier for racism.  I explained the situation and it’s sorted. But I wonder how many others that will affect whom I will never hear from.    Then I found myself having to defend what I said in this lengthy interview with a podcast called ‘Critical Witness’.   The part that deals with this is from 55 minutes.

I had no objection to my hosts discussing this or disagreeing – in fact they were excellent and I would recommend their podcast.  What was disheartening to me was to hear that it had been discussed with others who were unhappy etc – and again I knew that my instinct that my reputation had been trashed by this, was correct.  Perhaps the simplest way to explain it is this.  Have you ever listened to one of those comedy routines about misheard lyrics? The comedian takes a well know song and tells you what he ‘misheard’.  The trouble is that when you hear the song that is now what you hear.   Likewise when you are told that a phrase or an article is ‘racist’ then that is invariably what you hear.   In todays world it doesn’t matter what the author wrote or intended – it just matters what the reader hears.

Leaving aside the personal what strikes me is how much of the Church is prepared to change language and accomodate some sections of society – ie. what is the current ethos of the elites and the media, must be adhered to.

The phrase ‘played the race card’ was apparently the only offensive thing in the article – although even after that it was removed, pressure was still put on to have the whole thing removed.   The reason for objecting to the term ‘played the race card’ is not whether it was true or not.  Meghan did play the race card – she claimed that she was a victim of racism within the royal family and offered no substantive evidence.  The question is not one of truth but of perception.  Because ‘play the race card’ is a phrase used as a ‘dog whistle’ by Far Right groups, then if you use it you must be Far Right.    But that is as logical as saying that because Far Right groups use phrases against abortion and for Christianity, that we should not use them.

I just refuse to let the devil determine either our language or our agenda.  Because Hitler was a vegetarian, liked dogs and built motorways does not mean you should not be a vegetarian, like dogs or build motorways!    When people use ‘dog whistles’ or are dishonest with language then we should use the truth to call it out, not ban them or keep silent or grant them control of the language.   Speaking of dog whistles there is no question that Premier blew the ‘he’s a racist’ whistle and many heard it!  But, as is typical of this world, some people matter more than others.   (ie.It is beyond belief to me that so many Christians, instead of speaking up for the poor, are defending a priviliged millionaire as some kind of victim).  That’s not the Christian way.

When we allow others to determine what we say by accusing us of ‘dog whistles’ it becomes a form of bullying which leads to self censorship.  So take for example my most recent article on paedophilia  – Premier would never carry that because someone would complain that it was a dog whistle to homophobes who want to equate homosexuality with paedophilia – so we have to be silent.  In other words people use the threat of being offended in order to silence.  And we far too often go along with that – because its the easier road.

Premier have chosen to go down a particular road.    Just because its a well trod one with lots of people on it, does not make it right.  They will never challenge the predominate culture, they will just be a baptised expression of it. I think that they will continue to manipulate the Church by having token conservatives on (because apart from the corporates that is largely where the money comes from), but what they are permitted to say will be confined to the agenda set by the culture. Or they will be cancelled.  That’s not the Christian way.   That to be honest is a form of bullying – the pressure to confirm is phenomenal.

If this was the world, then I would sue.  But that’s also not the Christian way.  I have explained what I said and what happened.  There is nothing more that I can do. I leave it with the Lord. My card is marked back home.  I think I will claim political asylum and live in exile in Australia until I get to my real home!  

Cancelled – An Interview with Eternity Magazine

 

18 comments

  1. I agree with all you write, David. I hope you will come back to the UK, though! Praying for your reputation to be restored.

    1. Thanks – I hav enn intention of being silent – or of giving into ‘prescribed speech’. But it is incredible just how many Christians think I should. They don’t grasp that those who are determining how we should speak are those who are the powerful and who think they are in control. I am not going to give them that control.

  2. The new word Post-truth celebrates its 5th birthday this year since first appearing in the Oxford dictionary in 2016. Up to that time I would never have guessed that much of the Church and Christian organisations such as Premier would ever be a part of this nonsense!
    Governor Pilate asked Jesus Christ at His trial, ‘WHAT IS TRUTH?’ Sadly, I imagine the same question with the same cynicism would be asked by many today who claim to know Him as their Lord. Jesus the Son of God is the very embodiment of truth. But the woke followers of His day decided; ‘Away with this Man! Crucify Him!’
    Two millennia later, what’s changed? Be encouraged my brother, let us have the truth and nothing but the truth even when it’s inconvenient……

  3. Premier Christianity appears to be a postmodern publication.

    The OT , according to a friend of mine , warned about postmodernism in Isaiah 5 : 20 .

  4. David, thank you for you courage in speaking up and speaking out on contentious issues in our culture. Seeing your courage and determination to be faithful to our Lord is an encouragement to others like myself to likewise be faithful and hold the line. There are times in my ministry when I have similarly addressed the kind of issues you talk about and I have provided links to your material for members of my Kirk Session as a way of showing that I am not alone in saying these things (believe me it does get very lonely theologically here in New Zealand.) The fact that you say them better than I do is regularly a bonus and gives backbone to others in their determination to be faithful. Keep up the good work.

  5. “The comedian takes a well know song and tells you what he ‘misheard’. ” There does seem to have been this emergence in the last ten or twenty years of the comedian rock star – of something unknown before of filling stadiums. So where the best comedy is done with compassion, with some saying that comedians are modern day prophets, there can also be some truth about comedians being modern day Hitlers. There’s good and evil in everyone.

    Yes, reputation is important and it is devastating when it is destroyed by things said that are untrue. I believe Megan and Harry have experienced difficulty and you would have to have a heart of stone to not empathise wiht Megan’s sharing of suicidal thoughts and Harry’s fear of the same thing happening to Megan as happened to his mother. However, they have gone about it by putting up a wall. And this will play out in their lives in the coming months and years. I do hope for them, that these walls come down and they can be reconciled with the rest of their family. It is unpleasant for anyone to have the kind of family difficulties they are experiencing.

    I do hear what you say David about there being a form of bullying going on. Or why I would call cry-bullying, elsewhere known as victim Olympics. This oppressor / oppressed narrative can be quite persuasive and if you are male and in your 50s it’s likely that many will assume you to be the oppressor where differences exist.

    So – who has control over the narrative? Well, the care-free who don’t mind destroying someone else’s reputation may seem to have the upper hand. But truth is freeing and love never fails. And none of us have been crucified and died – yet. It is the heroic narrative that receives hate and returns with love.

    The haters, fakers and players are delusional in thinking they can control the narrative. Jesus wasn’t backward in coming forwards about religious leaders who were like that, calling them whitewashed tombs, blind leading the blind, making people twice as fit for hell as they were.

    I think you are right David, about William Wilberforce and “the reformation of manners” – the golden rule of treating others the way you would like to be treated. Also with “moral truths – love, justice, truth”. There is a wider narrative in this with these prevailing sooner or later. And finally with meaning – living with meaning and purpose for good enables anyone to endure difficulties that inevitably happen in life without becoming bitter and resentful, but with hope. And it’s with such life affirming choices that Megan and Harry will heal, and for all of us in our difficulties, not with damaging other’s reputations by manipulation and saying things that are not true.

  6. The question all Christians need to ask ourselves is “Is my faith God-centred or human-centred?”. All of the progressive Christians I know don’t seem to be able to see the vast difference between:
    (1) a Christian worldview that puts God at the centre with all humans subject to him and with human morality based on love and loyalty to him
    (2) a secular worldview that puts humans at the centre with our morality based on our own wellbeing and happiness.

    Clearly there is some overlap between the moral values and duties in the two worldviews, but in other areas they are light years apart.

    In my experience most progressives appear to be well-meaning people who for a long time accepted traditional Christian teaching without really ever thinking for themselves about why it’s true, then for some reason became personally disenchanted with the traditional church (or realised the traditional church is no longer seen as “nice”) and so latched on to progressive/secular teaching, again without really thinking for themselves about why it might be true.

    Some progressives (including all of the popular big-name writers) are obviously cynical frauds just in it for money, (the justification of) sex and power, but most seem to be “nice” people who haven’t realised they are supporting the new establishment rather than opposing the old one.

  7. Totally agree with all you have said David.
    Also…if anyone cancels a speaking engagement, or you are not invited to some churches to speak without finding out or checking all the facts, you are better off dusting of your shoes and walking away!
    I have cancelled my subscription to Premier over the withdrawal of your article & wrote to them about it, as yet, no response….no surprise there though!

  8. Brilliant interview ,boy’s . You let your guest speak , and he had so much worthwhile to give to us as listeners. Thank you !

  9. I empathise with you brother. I moved back to Africa last year and I now feel like I could never go back to the UK, but who knows.. I was at a cafe in an African city yesterday lunchtime and a table of young UK foreign office staff next to me spent their lunchtime mocking and insulting christians and Jesus among themselves, with no doubt other Christians around not just me. What a weird experience it was, and to see the way representatives of the country I love behave like that. The UK is going down a dark path but we must remember that those closest to us, like Judas was to Jesus, can betray us with a kiss. Our home is not here and we must be prepared to handle whatever comes our way with the grace the Lord gives us. More Lord! Maranatha.

  10. Thank you David! Quantum always worthwhile listening! the comments about Black Sabbath and their song “Paranoid” sadly so prophetic, and could be sung as an anthem by so many today.

  11. Christian missionaries in Africa had , historically , little to do with what was almost entirely a commercial Imperial Presence. and , indeed , often objected to the traders’ “exploitation”.

    In theory , Africa should have been , conversion – wise , a “dripping roast well garnished ” ( to borrow from Robert Louis Stevenson ) , mainly because, in a continent of believers in Spirits , one more Supernatural presence , especially endorsed by the immensely powerful White Man’s technological ( railways etc. )magic , deserved tribal respect and reverence.

  12. Sorry you’ve/yours have had this skubalon to deal with. Very happy to discuss this in a few weeks on the podcast if you’d like. I lost all respect for Premier in 2018 following their defence of Michael Curry. I would argue that you can’t be both politically correct and prophetically correct and I know which one I would rather be when stood before the Risen Lamb. Let’s make some British noise together ( I am 3/4s Scottish by the way!). Maranatha. NF

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