Four Corners “Cult of Horrors”

What a horrible situation! Four Corners – Cult of Horrors

Leaders in Christian churches should watch this and ask themselves difficult questions? Because some church leader at some stage must have been complicit with Scott Williams in allowing this dreadful saga to start; and the damage it is causing!

I thought Caro Meldrum-Hanna reported this really well. Maybe two questions!

Was anything paid by The ABC for interviews, pictures, information or stories. If not, this could be an ethical point of difference with other media organisations. Best for viewers to know!

The other question… did the Production Team consider interviewing another ‘Christian’ to test whether the portrayal of ‘Christianity’ by Scott Williams, was a truthful representation. Otherwise, it could place unnecessary and false emphasis on the religious beliefs¬† of many good Christian people.

But, good job Four Corners!

Another area interests me. I hear people in media say they do the awful stuff, because their audiences want it. Demand it! Or, they’ll turn off. Media organisations are very good, thanks to good writers and other content producers, at communicating the things that go wrong with people. Scott Williams and the Christian Assembly International are an excellent example.

However, if Australian society is to integrate greater fairness, well being and shared prosperity, which is the goal of AMEP, we need narrative that helps make things go right.

Now, respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Australian journalists are actually called describe Australian society to itself; the good, bad and ugly. Journalists prophetically convey information, ideas and opinions to Australians. Whether we’ve thought about it or not!

Journalism is a privileged role! They inform us and animate our sense of democracy.

They have great public responsibility. While they scrutinise power, they also exercise it. Because of this they need to be primarily accountable to the Australian people; well ahead of media organisations that employ them.

On the plus side for journalists, accountability engenders trust, and without trust, journalists can’t fulfill their public responsibilities. With high levels of public trust they can work to the ideals of their calling.

And, what would engender trust more than helping to make things right?

Therefore, independent, fair and honest journalists need to work to their calling; at all times ahead of the business case demands of media organisations.

Returning to Four Corners “Cult of Horrors”

Having determined the facts behind the reality of what went wrong, further questions might help make things right:

Who is currently on the board of Christian Assemblies International, and who retired or resigned in the last 5 years?

In what ways have the board and church members of Christian Assembly International removed Scott Williams from all pastoral and teaching activities of this Church? Otherwise, what stops them? And, are these reasons valid? Not only is this a matter of good secular governance, isn’t it, the right thing to do?

What would enable the board to redeem all assets, owned by, or under the control of Stewart  and/or Ree Williams, and bring them back under the proper control of the Church?

How will the board effectively release people from the Church, with appropriate compensation and spiritual and psychological support?

What evidence is needed to bring appropriate criminal and civil charges against Scott Williams, Ree Williams and past and present members of the Board who directly, or indirectly abused Church members?

What governmental and bureaucratic oversight failed? And, who needs to be accountable? What processes already exist to bring these people to account?

Who, in Coffs Harbour and outside the Christian Assemblies International, would stand with Scott and Ree Williams on the challenging path that (should) lies before them; to facilitate restitution, forgiveness and the redemption of relationships?

Who, in Coffs Harbour and outside the Christian Assemblies International, would stand with others from the Church on the challenging path that lies before them; to facilitate restitution, forgiveness and the redemption of relationships?

This is not about retribution and judgment. It’s about doing the right thing to make community, and Australian society, fairer, and with a deeper sense of well being, and shared prosperity.

Would Four Corners follow this through? Probably not! The ABC business case might stop them. But are there fair-minded, honest and independent civic journalists who would do this for the Coffs Harbour community and Australian society?

We do need to understand the good, the bad and the ugly in Australian society. But it will be for the better of Australian society, if journalists work from the different mindset of helping to make things better.

About Bob Simpson

Bob is project manager of The Australian Media Engagement Project (AMEP). He believes that ethical and independent journalists are vital to the continuing freedom of Australian citizens. You could argue that In recent decades media organisations have subtly subverted journalism to their own private commercial interests, and away from an integrated sense of fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australian society, especially for the disempowered. AMEP aims to change general media narratives towards greater fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australia.
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