The Queensland Government is planning to introduce "safeguards" to stop the Crime and Misconduct Commission being used as a "political weapon". The government is considering ways to prevent the CMC publicly confirming investigations into individuals as well as fines for politicians who lodge frivolous complaints to fan baseless allegations.
The problem associated with these issues is two fold. First, anyone can make any accusation and there is a requirement to investigate regardless of how frivolous or improbable. Once the accusation is aired in public, regardless of the outcome, some mud sticks. When shown to be what it is, the current process brings disrepute as fanning baseless accusations is an all too common political trick.
The second issue is that there is very little come-back, regardless. Consider rugby league start Brett Stewart. He had everything going for him. He was the 'poster boy' for his sport. For 18 months his life was on hold and it took only a few minutes for the jury to find the whole thing, one of fabrication. How many times has this occurred? An official saying "There is no case to answer" is hardly a just recompense for the turmoil and anguish it bought. (au.christiantoday.com)
Again and again we hear of accusations and when the dust is settled what we find is that it was all smoke and mirrors. Inevitably there was an advantage to someone. Corporate miner Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest was bought before the courts in a claim of misleading his shareholders and threatening his right to be a company director. The High Court dismissed the case. (www.smh.com.au)
What comeback is there for Twiggy Forrest whose reputation was given a thorough going-over, as was Campbell Newman's?
There are endless cases cited in Reverend Dr Rowland Croucher's 'John Mark Ministries' web site of such similar injustices to Pastors on the one hand and to mission leaders where political considerations come to the fore. http://jmm.org.au/topics/ex_pastors
The heartache and anguish that accompany such false and misleading accusations are legion. Dr Croucher recently noted that for decades Pastors and Mission leaders took all this, saying very little, suffering in silence while their reputations were thrashed in the ecclesiastical swill.
Dr Croucher says, that today, a very different story is emerging where it's no longer being tolerated. A type of reverse 'political correctness' is coming to the fore where bad behaviour is no longer tolerated. There will come a time that false and misleading accusations will head toward litigious outcomes. It will not be pretty.
In so many of these situations "across the public spectrum" the false and misleading accusations are made in the heat of political battle (as it were) and it's very difficult to prove malice. Those who have been targeted are aggrieved, in that they had been held accountable, and when cleared, those who made the false or misleading accusations, or who fanned the fire (as it were), simply walked away, without any means to "bring them to book".
In many cases, a public acknowledgement is all that is needed and the anguish and hurt would receive some succour. This aggrieved state of mind is something "senior corporate people" are highly prone toward, particularly when they find themselves pushed aside, yet their top-level performance was never questioned. Christian Leaders likewise. Rather it was political.
A strange debilitation
The outcome for many is a strange debilitation (it's not Clinical Depression) that sees such people withdrawing, a reluctance to go anywhere away from their safe place (such as their home or locked away in their office). There is a genuine fear of further false and misleading accusations in the public space, and that their spotless character will be trundled again.
Yet, at the same time, when left to their work, strangely for many, their output remains top quality. The debilitation is such that it prevents them enjoying all the normal routines of life, there is a reclusive phenomena, it becomes a serious deprivation for themselves and their families. One ex-pastor's wife exclaimed that they don't go anywhere socially: "he generally won't leave the house."
Not a forgiveness issue
Dr Croucher says that many Christian Leaders experience false and misleading accusations, and moreover, it is not a case of forgiveness, that takes place as almost a given. Grace does abound. Being genuinely aggrieved is not about forgiveness.
Rather, the 'aggrievement' was that they were held intricately accountable in every minor detail, and came up clean. But the false and misleading 'accusers' were not held to the same accountability, they continued on their merry way.
They are legitimately aggrieved. They could have lost everything – reputation, good character, marriage, family, grand-children, their home, community standing ….. and the "finger pointers" walk away!
There are complications
Moreover, part of the issue is that any formal complaint might bring into disrepute many good senior people falling as collateral damage. These had little idea (or way to stop them) how the system was being abused by these "clever by-half" types. In Christian service trust and good-will follows a host of 'unwrittens', as many Christian leaders choose pathways of Grace.
Some of the "aggrieved" never get over it. Most will never trust anyone again. They forgive as that is their nature, but the debilitation affects their very soul as their silent aggrievement cries out in despair for someone, anyone, come to their aid, and call for mutual accountability. It never comes.
Dr Rowland Croucher has been dealing for 30 years with ministers and mission leaders who have been "aggrieved." He has 23,000 hours of clinical pastoral care and counselling. Such is his reputation in this highly specialised field that Government agencies have accepted his professional written submissions.
The 2007 movie "Atonement" illustrates the irreversible consequences of a "single lie" and when I saw the movie originally, I left with an abysmal type of emotional pain. I recently bought it on DVD ($8.95) and watched it again, this time with a careful analysis and I recognised the horrific pain and anguish of the aggrieved. (en.wikipedia.org)
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html