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The road to hell

By Peter Kurti - posted Thursday, 30 October 2014

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately the Anglican Church of Australia seems to have set out on a journey of its own to that fiery destination.

Campaigners in the Anglican Diocese of Perth, led by convicted Hilton bomber Evan Pederick, have followed national church policy adopted earlier in the year and forced the Perth synod to dump all its fossil fuel investments.

Other dioceses, as well as Anglican National Super which provides superannuation for the wider church, have now followed Perth's lead. Some diocese such as Canberra and Goulburn have pssed similar resolutions and other dioceses may yet join the throng.


According to Pederick, the decision to sell off coal, gas and oil holdings was an entirely moral one taken to protect God's creation and the livelihoods of human beings.

The Perth campaigners were obviously not persuaded by the Abbott Government's restated commitment to attain a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. Instead they have hitched their diocese to the ideological green campaign which is intent upon closing down the fossil fuel industry.

But any effective divestment strategy would not simply threaten the existence of the industry. It would also be likely to increase the cost of power to all Australian households and so further disadvantage the poor for whom clean energy solutions are already very expensive.

Just who is the church trying to help? Fuel costs are already on the rise, hitting poorer people hard in the hip pocket. Now church activists want to hit them harder all the while claiming to be acting in the best interests of all humankind.

In reality, the church doesn't seem to care that much about the poor at all. Nor is it concerned to protect the jobs of those who work in the fossil fuel industries, such as coalminer James Zammit, based in the NSW coalmining town of Denman.

Fortunately for James, he has his wife, Jody, to speak up for his livelihood. Jody is a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle where coal has been the lifeblood of the region for years.


"At the heart of this issue is people, people with mortgages, people with families, and that's the issue we need to be mindful of," she says.

There is little sign the church is being mindful of this issue or any issue that is concerned with the well-being of families, communities and people.

When Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you," he was making an observation about one of the perennial problems of human society. Jesus was certainly not issuing a policy objective for the church to pursue by means of its own social activism.

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About the Author

The Reverend Peter Kurti is a research fellow the Centre for Independent Studies.

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