GAFCON thunders. The media yawn.

Paul Handley of the Church Times writes about being the only journalist at the news conference held last week by the GAFCON primates to announce the foregone conclusion that they were going to recognize the churches of the conservative Americans who pay their bills.

I think he may have been the only journalist at this meeting because the rest of the media recognizes that these folks have fired all of their guns and not very much has happened. But he makes an argument worth reading, though I have to disagree with his conclusion:

The upshot is that the GAFCON revolution, the minibus, what you will, will continue to progress with or without an audience of journalists. Conservative Christians don't, by and large, worry what other people might think.

I think this is exactly wrong. The Anglican schism is an ongoing media event, and as soon as the media stops paying attention, the schism will lose momentum. In media terms, the American branch of the schism is entirely parasitical. As soon as Martyn Minns, Robert Duncan, etc, are no longer the scourges of the Episcopal Church, they are nothing more than the leaders of a very small American denomination that may have more bishops per square congregant than any church in Christendom. What then? The same may hold true for Peter Akinola and Henry Orombi. If they aren't fighting the western dragon, the media will ignore them, they will become less useful to the Western conservatives who now support them, and that support will gradually dry up. (This process may be hastened if breakaway congregations continue to lose in court and have to begin spending money on acquiring new places of worship.)

The GAFCON strategists recognize this. That is why Martyn Minns employs the same public relations firm that masterminded the Swift Boat Veterans campaign against John Kerry. I don't quarrel with his right to get good professional public relations advice, and I am aware that most public relations firms have an unsavory client or two, but let's not pretend that the Anglican right doesn't care about public opinion.

Comments (3)

That is why Martyn Minns employs the same public relations firm that masterminded the Swift Boat Veterans campaign against John Kerry.

That is a very interesting--and telling--piece of information, Jim. Thanks.

I wonder if anyone is "following the money" that is being used to pay that PR firm? I'd love to know who is underwriting that...

Paige Baker

As an accredited public frelations practitioner, I certainly won't argue with anyone's right to seek "good professional public relations advice."

I do note, however, that "good professional public relations advice" will never include being dishonest. "Good professional public relations" practitioners realize that lying a) is wrong and b) doesn't work.

Oh, I grant you that a lie can work for a while - and a big lie can even work a little longer. But in the end, the liar is always caught out - and loses credibility. Effective public relations is all about credibility.

Minns and the other schismatics are doubtless receiving public relations advice. That advice is professional in the sense that they are paying money to get it. Since the advice is predicated on maintaining a series of demonstrably false assertions, then it cannot possibly be classed as "good professional public relations advice."

Malcolm French

Dave Walker provides an apt image of the news conference.

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