OPINION | Pastor accuses church leaders of blatant hypocrisy in same sex marriage plebiscite

Occasionally a letter is sent to The Mercury that is so powerful, so heartfelt, that it deserves highlighting. We received this letter from Pastor Bob Cotton of Maitland Christian Church. We have decided to run it in its entirety.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP HAS FAILED US: Pastor Bob Cotton believes the church's handling of child sex allegations against priests has been woefully inadequate and accuses them of blatant hypocrisy in trying to influence opinion on the same sex marriage plebiscite.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP HAS FAILED US: Pastor Bob Cotton believes the church's handling of child sex allegations against priests has been woefully inadequate and accuses them of blatant hypocrisy in trying to influence opinion on the same sex marriage plebiscite.

OPINION

The most important issue facing Christianity today is not that of same sex marriage but the issue of sex crimes committed against children by those within the church and the deliberate and intentional concealment of these crimes by their leadership.

While I totally support the traditional definition of marriage and every Christian’s right to do so, I refuse to ignore the blatant hypocrisy of denominational leaders who are running organised campaigns to influence the outcome of the forthcoming plebiscite.

There is something fundamentally wrong when the church’s hierarchy turn a blind eye to the rape of children in their care yet seek to dictate to and control the lives of consenting adults who are outside the church’s jurisdiction and who are part of a free and democratic society.

Church leadership has failed miserably. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has shown that every denomination investigated protected the perpetrators of abuse and heaped further pain on the victims.

How can this be acceptable to anyone who claims to follow Jesus Christ? Would Jesus molest a child? Certainly not, nor would he protect a paedophile – he would protect the child, nothing can be more certain. Would Jesus protect the victim or would he protect the cash, assets and reputation of the institution that destroyed the child’s life? Sadly, those who claim to represent Jesus do the exact opposite to what he would do.

These leaders are no different to the Pharisees that Jesus rebuked 2000 years ago and they have effectively discredited the voice of the church in matters related to morality.

Until recently, ordinary churchgoers have had no idea of what has really happened within their denominations but thankfully the RC has shone the light on the depth of corruption that exists within the hierarchy. Tragically, here in the Maitland/Newcastle Diocese we have the highest incidence of Child Sex abuse in the state. Case Study 42 exposed how local Bishops actually kept records of the sex crimes committed by clergy but never reported the matters to police as required by NSW law.

It is not just the Catholics and the Anglicans but also every other denomination that was scrutinised came up with blood on its hands, including my own. Case Study 18 showed how the leadership of my denomination also failed to report a powerful, high profile minister who had confessed to crimes committed against multiple victims. His crimes were successfully concealed until exposed by the Royal Commission. The perpetrators escape justice, the suffering of the victims is compounded and those who concealed the crimes continue on in prestigious positions.

The hypocrisy continues as church leaders of every denomination now speak out against the crimes of the past and tell of their great efforts to protect children from here on in while many of them are guilty of concealing these very crimes.

A QUESTION OF HYPOCRISY: Pastor Bob Cotton asks whether the church is in a position of judging anyone on questions of morality.

A QUESTION OF HYPOCRISY: Pastor Bob Cotton asks whether the church is in a position of judging anyone on questions of morality.

If the church’s leadership were truly honest, they would not be trying to force their opinion on others who don’t share their beliefs but would clean up their own backyard first. In the light of the Final Recommendations recently handed down by the Royal Commission all Christians should be pushing for law reform that will bring the criminals within their ranks to justice.

Sadly, the hierarchy of the church will never join such a noble cause as they would be tying a noose for their own necks.

As we approach the postal plebiscite, ordinary Christian people would do well to remember that the Bible commands us to examine ourselves and to judge those within the church, not those outside. Christians are well within their democratic rights to vote for what they believe is best for our nation’s future but they must also accept the responsibility to demand accountability from corrupt church leadership who have not only betrayed them and the victims whose abusers they have protected but also the good name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob Cotton (Pastor), Maitland Christian Church 

The story The shame of church leaders first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.

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