27.02. The Bishop's agenda

Spindoctoring and hypocrisy at its worst

Letter as a reaction to an article in The Press on 23 February ("Church spat on sad day for city") - which was about the Anglican Bishop's attempt to blame others for the sorry state of ChristChurch Cathedral.

Twisting and turning the truth by manipulative language

I am amazed how the media fall for the cheap and all too obvious attempts of Bishop Victoria Matthews to make the citizens of Christchurch and the rest of the world believe that the Anglican Cathedral is beyond repair (Feb 23). For justifying the desired demolition of the church she uses the art of framing, which is a spin doctor’s PR tool to twist and turn the truth by means of manipulative language.

She tells us that due to the halt of the demolition the Cathedral is being left to die “without the dignity it deserves”. The Bishop and her board have done this in first place. Other than the Catholic leaders who supported the Basilica and then had it deconstructed lovingly, the Anglican leaders left the Cathedral to rot, just like leaving an injured person to die on the roadside.

But a miracle occurred: the Cathedral has not fallen down, despite next to no effort being made to save it. They sent a nibbler in to knock it down, and still the nave did not move. The roof looks fantastic. Reconstruction experts of the world have said the church can be saved – but the Bishop knows better.

And off she comes with her big assistant, allowing TV3 to send in a flying camera to record the damage. Looking at the footage, they voice their shock over how badly damaged, yes, more or less destroyed the Cathedral is.

The two ladies look and speak as if they were performing a role play, and the reporter does not say what everyone can see: No, the Cathedral is not close to death! Most churches that were damaged in WW2 bombings in Germany looked ten times worse, and they were restored and are still standing!

As there is no new evidence that the Cathedral’s state is as bad as they say, the Bishop says for the umpteenth time that “people are more important than buildings”. Of course! And still they want to make the public believe those who fight for the Cathedral to be saved are callous by putting a building ahead of people. No-one does! But one thing does not exclude the other.

Putting the blame on other people for the case treasures are lost is the cheapest trick in the PR book of spin doctoring and not a very Christian virtue. It is hypocrisy at its worst.

Sissi Stein-Abel

More pictures of Christchurch City here.