“98% fat free” versus “2% fat” is technically saying the same thing, but is a very good example of positive versus negative spin. Neither statement is a deception, but depending on context, both statements can be used deceptively and as building blocks for entire deceptive alternate realities. Access Ministries know this very well and it is an invaluable aid to their finely honed art of simultaneously blurting black lies while indignantly proclaiming their irreproachable “honesty” with a straight face and without their heads exploding.

It allows them to publish glossy propaganda blurbs that state things like –

98% of principals support chaplains in schools

Which, if you remove their bright-sided, think-positive twist, actually means –

98% of principals don’t immediately want to run their chaplains out of their schools and/or press charges

– and covers the whole range of assessments from “approve” to “barely tolerate” and “it’s better than nothing”. Technically, this isn’t lying and how dare anyone suggest that… It would be fascinating to see the actual responses of the remaining 2% – but unfortunately, that’s not the sort of data Access are interested in collating and even if they did it would never see the light of day.

This magic number is allegedly drawn from a report by Edith Cowan University which I have previously discussed as having no such figure in their polling data – which the human tape-loop has disputed with me, pointing out that-

Perhaps you should have read page eight of the report, Mr Hoggle:

“Ninety-eight per cent of principals said that chaplaincy is important and want government funding to continue.”

Which I will concede: that line can be found, only not on page 8 (which begs the question of how many “official” versions of the report there are1), nor is it under the section discussing principal’s assessments – it is in the general discussion “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” overview at the start – and for many of the reasons discussed previously (like that chaplaincy is “wanted” in preference to the alternative of having nothing at all) is a completely bogus assertion.

Bishop Stephen Hale - jesus saved him from being a used car salesman

An early figure in the Access CRE circus, in fact the first to speak up vociferously to tell us that lies from Access aren’t really lies at all, was The Chair of ACCESS Ministries, Bishop Stephen Hale.

Bishop Hale fed us this line 2 weeks ago, apparently without smirking –

Bishop Stephen Hale said there was no evidence Access Ministries breached federal and state guidelines that prohibit proselytising in government schools.

Bishop Hale, so proud of his association with Access that he has humbly declined listing in their who’s who2, was at it again yesterday with the same denialist nonsense, but with the added twist of blame shifting –

Access Ministries unfairly blamed over classes: bishop

”We believe we’ve been unfairly caught up in an issue that at heart is a government responsibility,” Bishop Hale said.

Uhuh, Access is blameless – the government did it. Forget the sleight of hand distraction and focus on the statement: what that really implies is that wrong doing did occur – otherwise, such a statement would be irrelevant and superfluous. It further implies that the wrong doing was knowing and premeditated – because if the government wasn’t looking, or interested in looking, the rules could be safely ignored because the government could always be blamed later. The cynic inside me tells me Hale knows this and he’s just stating this now in order to dig himself an escape tunnel. It’s really the government’s fault – they let us do it. Reminds me of El Hilaly and uncovered meatwe’re only rapists because they’re sluts.

What bottom-of-the-barrel nonsense. This is a sneak tripping over his own shoe laces – he’s spun so many grey lies and half truths he no longer knows which way is up, and so is hedging each way bets.

There is a further apparent deception deeper in the article, but we should not rush to judgment –

But Bishop Hale said Access Ministries had received no complaints about proselytising, despite the barrage of media coverage since The Age first reported the discrimination complaint in March.

I think this is more sloppy (or conspiratorial) journalism from The Age and the statement was truncated. It probably meant to read –

But Bishop Hale said Access Ministries had received no complaints about proselytising that they had acknowledged

If only you could laugh. What can you do, seriously, in the face of such blatant, relentless deception that is so unshakably convinced of its own rightness and divine entitlement to treat the rest of society with such absolute contempt? All of the social contracts that we respect and consent to abide by in our dealings with each other that glue society together are simply shredded and discarded. By supernatural covenant.

Imagine Bishop Hale’s and Evonne Paddison’s faces while you read these –

Michael Jackson: I have never had any plastic surgery (that was not voluntary)

Emperor Bokassa: I swear I never consumed human flesh (of anyone who was not a citizen)

Richard Milhous Nixon: I am not a (conventional) crook (because I am the president)

What is necessary at this point is to hear Bishop Hale in his own words speaking directly to the the Anglican Church’s Melbourne diocese via their official newsletter. It is worth quoting at length –

Anglicans speak out as CRE’s value questioned

The Chair of ACCESS Ministries, Bishop Stephen Hale, said ACCESS was only in schools because it was mandated by government.

Bishop Hale said that only five years ago, the previous State Government had a full review of the Education Act under which provision of Special Religious Instruction was considered. Submissions from the wider community indicated “overwhelming support” for the program to continue.

“We recognise that it will be a matter of contention for some people in our community who don’t believe there should be any religious education,” Bishop Hale said.

“We respect the fact that some people feel that way but we would argue that at the same time there is a pretty high level of support for what we do.”

He said schools that had Christian Religious Education were “in the main” very supportive, though he acknowledged there was some tension in the way it was implemented. The process of handling children who opted out “has not been handled as well as it could be”.

“We recognise that it will be part of an ongoing debate and in the context of a largely secular society, it will be seen to be anomalous by some people,” he said. “But a lot of people would like to know that their children get some exposure to the Christian story and to the values it promotes.

Bishop Hale said ACCESS was “not out there to evangelise kids”. “But at the same time, kids are being informed and that elicits a response sometimes.”

He said there were increasingly virulent attempts in some parts of the community to have any church involvement or influence expunged. But religious education had been supported by the previous Victorian Labor Government and was supported by the Baillieu Coalition Government.

The bishop said there should be no confusion between religious education provided by ACCESS, under which Christian instruction in state schools was given explicit permission, and the Federal Government-funding school chaplaincy program, which explicitly excluded Christian instruction.

He said an unfortunate aspect of the debate was the impression “that we invite anybody who turns up to go into a classroom — nothing could be further from the truth”.

Volunteers were thoroughly trained and the curriculum was very strongly supported by the State Government. And a teacher was present for every religious education class, and a supervisor for every school, so there was built-in supervision.

“I can’t say that there are not volunteers who have not overstepped the mark as to what they do, who have not become too enthusiastic, but there is a pretty clear procedure for dealing with that,” Bishop Hale said.

 “Schools are very dependent on volunteers to do all sorts of things, whether it be sport coaching or whatever, so it’s not as if we are the only ones going into schools as volunteers.”

What is immediately noticeable is the recurrence of the words “some” and “in the main” in place of “98%” and absolute statements such as there have been no complaints or issues – which is the line being played relentlessly in all other media on the subject. I’ll let the reader savour for themselves the plethora of the general fallacies in the extract – but what is important is this differentiating language. Instead of absolute support, its now just general support from what may or may not be a majority – it religiously avoids terminology that can be independently verified or taken to task. What it does show is that Bishop Hale, either through guilt, conditioning or knowledge that the people he is addressing are not stupid, chooses his language far more carefully than he does for the media or the public.

My only question after reading that newsletter is – what sort of internal discipline options do the Anglicans have for chronic, premeditated deception? Because Bishop Hale, you have a mighty liberal idea of what being honest is.

1 – Just flicking back through those references and it is also curious to note that the “official” Access Ministries published version of the Social Compass report and the original document from Social Compass don’t appear to have much of a real relationship to each other either – other than the harvested testimonial sound bites.

2 – Very odd that the chair of such an organisation gets only the most incidental of mentions at the Access site –


But given the truly paranoid incriminating document purging exercise Access have performed, it’s understandable.