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Christian Truth Claims Scandalize the Sydney Morning Herald


Is this story from the Sydney Morning Herald the worst religion news article of the year? While a late entry may see the SMH pipped at the post, John Sandeman of the Bible Society of Australia has little doubt.


There’s probably no point waiting to the end of the year to award the prize for the worst media monstering of a Christian for 2014. Because the Sydney Morning Herald has published such an egregious story on Dean Phillip Jensen (the minister in charge at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral), that any other winning entry is unlikely.

“Anglican Dean blames Islam for the rise of Islamic State” is the headline. This is only news if you thought that maybe the Buddhists are to blame. Or Hinduism, or Christianity

Is this criticism fair? Yes. This SMH story falls far short of the standards of reporting expected from a quality newspaper.

Its genesis was an opinion piece written by Phillip Jensen and posted to his blog following President Barack Obama’s recent claim that ISIS was un-Islamic. Jensen has not been alone in lambasting the president for this claim, yet the SMH appeared to have been astounded by Jensen’s claims.

The lede stated:

The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen, has described Islam as "false" and attacked the religion for the rise of Islamic State. "It's time to face the truth that Islam itself is part to blame," Dean Jensen wrote last week in his blog titled "From the Dean". "Islam is false."

The SMH then comments:

Despite the possibly inflammatory comments, the Sydney Anglican Church has stood behind the 70-year-old minister's comments.

Followed by comments from the diocese which noted:

"There is nothing remarkable in stating the fact that the ISIS militants claim to be Islamic."

The article goes on to offer a few quotes from the blog post. Notes the newspaper had attempted to contact the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils for a comment, but was unsuccessful, and closes the story out by noting Jensen has said, from a press perspective, some extraordinary things in the past.

The outgoing Dean, who is due to step down from his role next year, is no stranger to controversy.  He has previously described Mother Teresa as an instrument of the devil and Prince Charles as an adulterer. In 2011, he came under criticism for comments that described Muslims as "loved slaves of Allah".

When did the SMH become the anti-Republican paper for Australia -- defending Prince Charles against all comers. Does not the quote about Allah conform to Muslim understandings of their relationship to Allah? Let's set Mother Teresa aside for the time being.

For Sandeman of the Bible Society, the SMH seems to be stoking controversy where none exists.

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