Hypocrisy pays. Reading about the foibles of the great and good, the rich and famous sells newspapers. When you have a story that combines religion and hypocrisy you can count on a nice bump in circulation.
Market forces determine newspaper content. It is difficult to sell church stories to an editor. A story on the dodgy theology of the head of the Episcopal Church may generate 125,000 views on a religion news website (earning it the church newspaper equivalent of double platinum status) but most secular papers will not touch it. However, if a church leader has been caught in a bad act (think sex or money) or if religious hypocrisy is involved, the newspaper that turned down a serious story will snap up the latest Jim and Tammy Faye escapade. Yes, I know I sound like a cynic, but I plead experience in my defense.
The Independent thought it had a winner last week with its story entitled “Church of England has up to £10m invested in arms firm”, as it combined the Church of England (always a soft target) with money and hypocrisy. But I am afraid the story will not pay. The Independent‘s hypocrisy charge does not jell because the complaint is weak and it does not distinguish between the different strands of Christian moral teaching on war and ethical investing.
The headline states the CoE has invested its money in an “arms firm”, and the accompanying photo shows a man inspecting a display of automatic weapons. Who is it? The lede does not tell us:
The Church of England has invested up to £10m in one of the world’s major arms firms, which supplies systems and technology for unmanned drones and jets to conflicts around the world. The discovery, on the eve of what is set to be the biggest day of protests against DSEi – the UK’s leading arms fair — in Docklands, London, tomorrow, has led worshippers to accuse church leaders of profiting from conflict.
Strong stuff. The Independent has made the “discovery” that the Church of England has enriched itself by financing the merchants of death. From the photo accompanying we might think it was Kalashnikov. Are they now in the drone business? Maybe — the Russian government last week sold a 50 per cent share of the rifle manufacturer to private investors. Could these investors be the C.o.E.? Are we seeing a modern twist on the church militant?
The identity of the modern day Krupp is given in the story’s second paragraph.