Geoff Hutchison produced a solid story on Wednesday night for The 7.30 Report on the so-called cult which has finally been tackled at the Trinity Presbyterian church in Camberwell.

Whilst some former members of The Fellowship opened up on camera
for the first time, Hutchison baulked at mentioning either JB Were or
Bruce Teele, the reputed head of the controlling group since 1996.

The mixing of religion, business and politics is getting pretty
interesting at the moment, especially in Melbourne. We all know that
Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews is a devoutly religious man
and Peter Costello also attends church most weekends, which is not
surprising given the prominent role his brother has taken in
Melbourne’s church community over the years.

However, Terry McCrann has this morning gone into bat
defending Professor Ian Harper, the devoutly religious new head of the
Fair Pay Commission, who was presumably championed around the Cabinet table by Costello and
Andrews. McCrann’s column included the following:

Appointing a “practising Christian” in Harper to head the
FPC ratcheted the controversy up a decibel or 10. Quite why, defies the
most basic common sense. First off, the fact that his Christianity
raised a single eyebrow confirms a virulent and persistent form of
secularism in our society which so easily and so often degenerates into
what might be termed religionism.

But especially bizarrely in this context. For heavens sake, he isn’t becoming
the arbiter of abortion or homosexual marriage. But one of five to set the
minimum wage. But further, if anything, you would think the suggestion of being a
“God-botherer” would appeal. That such a person would seem likely to be more
compassionate than a completely cold-blooded analytical secularist.

McCrann might live in Camberwell but despite the passion displayed in
today’s column, he’s no regular church goer. However, it would be
interesting to know what if any dealings Costello, Andrews and Harper have had
with Bruce Teele or other members of The Fellowship over the years.

We’re not for a moment suggesting they were members, but this
comment from Reverend Rob Thomas, the moderator-general for the
Presbyterian Church, to The 7.30 Report was interesting:

Another factor in it is that this group is a group of
highly intelligent and highly placed and influential men. We’re talking
influential doctors, academics, stockbrokers, lawyers and they know how to
operate.

There’s a lot of speculation around Melbourne at the moment about just
how far The Fellowship’s tentacles reached. Who exactly are all these
influential men?

Peter Fray

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