No sacred cows in dean’s tirade

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Mar. 10, 2003
By Kelly Burke, Religious Affairs Writer

Sydney’s new Anglican dean has lived up to the controversial reputation which preceded him into St Andrew’s Cathedral.

On Friday night, the 11th Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, installed his brother, the Reverend Phillip Jensen, as the 11th Dean of Sydney. To mark the occasion, the new Jensen in the cathedral delivered a broadside attack on secularism, religious tolerance, political correctness and the media in a 40-minute sermon which ended in spontaneous applause from some quarters of the cathedral.

What started as a declaration of love for Sydney and the Sydney Anglican diocese soon progressed into an argument outlining why the world’s religions are mutually incompatible. More than half an hour later, Mr Jensen turned his wrath on the media, its hypocrisy and the way it sought to censor Christianity out of public discourse. He went so far as to prophesise his own crucifixion at the media’s hands.

“Do not be surprised if [the media] hate me,” he warned the packed cathedral. “I am expecting it.”

Early on in the sermon, Mr Jensen had asked the congregation to pray for him – to give him boldness – “the freedom to speak as I ought, fearlessness to speak as we ought.”

It appears those prayers were answered almost instantaneously.

“If one view is right the others must be wrong. We must stop the stupidity of stretching social tolerance into religious or philosophical relativism,” he said.

Mr Jensen spoke of his anger at a Hindu student who had talked of Jesus as one of history’s great spiritual leaders. But rather than forsake his Hindu gods, he simply wanted to “add Jesus to the list”.

“Therefore he did not like the exclusiveness of Jesus. In fact he tried to argue that all religions were right,” he said. “He left me very disturbed by our conversation, but so far has continued in his Hindu religion not because of what is true or right but because of tribal family pressure. We must not be Christians because of tribal family pressure, but because it is true.”

Mr Jensen said there were many “lovely wonderful Hindus and Muslims and Jews and atheists” in Sydney.

“But their different religions cannot all be right. Some, or all of them, are wrong. And if wrong, [they] are the monstrous lies and deceits of Satan – devised to destroy the life of the believers.”

After a brief foray into the stupidity of astrology, Mr Jensen criticised the media, saying the ABC’s religion department should be renamed the ABC’s “irreligious affairs department”. He condemned the liberal press for turning its attention to Islam and Hinduism and ignoring the evangelical Christian message.

“Liberals sometimes show more intellectual curiosity about the religion of Afghanistan than that of Alabama, and more interest in reading the Upanishad than the Book of Revelation.”

Mr Jensen said yesterday he believed his sermon – an abridged version of which is on the Sydney Anglican Media website – had been well received.

He dismissed suggestions that his comments might inflame religious intolerance.

“All I’m saying is that both [Christianity and Islam] cannot be right. That’s not attacking Islam, that’s just saying the truth.”

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