The last few weeks seems to have had a number of stories in the press of slightly off the wall statements by vicars and ministers. Whilst some of their comments have been controversial a lot of them have been taken out of context.
For example Bishop Stephen Venner, who I knew as Bishop of Dover working together with Kent Children’s Trust, now Bishop to the Armed Forces. He was quoted in The Telegraph as saying that the Taliban “can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and sense of loyalty to each other”. His comments sparked great debate on what it is to admire something in your enemy. But more importantly highlighted the issue of a comment being pulled out of context. Supposedly his comments were from a profile interview done over 12 weeks ago, which wasn’t fully published, and the journalist then used one answer to spark an entire article in a very different context.
Secondly, Father Tim Jones from York, whom the BBC News and many others have reported that he said people should steal from big chains rather than small businesses. He said society’s attitude to those in need “leaves some people little option but crime”.
I think he was on the line but was he out of order – difficult to say. Read his full sermon here, don’t just let yourself be influenced by a media soundbite.
To me there are lessons for clergy to learn in how they work with the media, but there are also lessons for us to learn in what do we take as truth from our media.