The Institute for Religion and Democracy: Stephen Crittenden's new Opus Dei?

The award for the most biased journalist in the ABC has to go to Stephen Crittenden. One only needs to take a look at last week’s Religion Report and compare it to this week’s edition to see that in Crittenden’s estimation there are good guys and bad guys in the world of religion.

Amongst the good guys are the Primate elect of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anglican Canon Gideon Byamugisha from Uganda. Amongst the bad guys are Dr Thomas Oden, the Institute for Religion and Democracy, and the new Uniting Church Assembly of Confessing Congregations.

From the way he goes on in this week’s program, you would think that the Institute for Religion and Democracy was the new Opus Dei of the Protestant world. In fact, I have very high regard for the work of Thomas Oden and have in the past and written about his proposal for “a new ecumenism.”

Crittenden seems to think that the only way to get people to listen to the show is to comment on religious matters as if he was commentating on a World Cup soccer match. But not even a soccer commentator would be tolerated, who showed such undeniable bias.

In the end, his journalistic style suffers because he ends up patting on the head those he should be interrogating, and interrogating those to whom he should simply give us an opportunity to listen. He could take a leaf out of Andrew Denton’s book, or even Michael Parkinson’s. At least from those two we learn more about the opinions of the person being interviewed than of the interviewer.

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3 Responses to The Institute for Religion and Democracy: Stephen Crittenden's new Opus Dei?

  1. malleebull says:


    I happen to think Syephen is a fine journo. His knowledge is vast and he knows what he is talking about.

    He may well have a bias…but don’t we all? With the emergence of podcasts…I think if what one hears on mainstream radio is not to our cup of tea…we as discerning listeners have now, probably more than ever before, the option to tune in elsewhere.

    It is a wonderful thing.

    What are your thoughts on Phillip Adams? ;-)

    Nice talking again.


  2. Schütz says:

    Hi, Matt! Welcome back to “Sentire cum ecclesia”!

    Philip Adams is a good example of a bloke who is highly informed, dreadfully biased, but nevertheless able to conduct a balanced journalistic interview. The best example I can think of is once when he had some Mormon theologians on LNL and he not only gave them the time of day, but his interview enabled me to come away much enlightened about the developing maturity of Mormon theology in the states.

    Nb. I still think they’re loony–and so does P.A., but the point is that this didn’t stop him doing a damn fine interview.

    Mr Crittendon on the other hand would have conducted the interview by starting: “Most of the sane world thinks you’re all a bunch of loonies. What do you say to that?”

    As for Crittendon’s “information”, it is no better than anyone can have from reading Cathnews every morning. If you really want someone who is informed, read John Allen’s “All Things Catholic” column each week (used to be “Word from Rome”), or Sandro Magister’s site http://www.chiesa .

  3. Matt Reiner says:


    John Allen does good work.

    Go well.


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