Truth in Journalism

The Church responds to Channel Nine's "A Current Affair"

While television current affairs programs often perform a community service by unveiling unethical and criminal behaviour, sometimes innocent bystanders get caught up in the web of accusation.  The result is that truth is a casualty of the process.  

Channel Nine's “A Current Affair” on Thursday 9th April included a segment on the controversy surrounding Brisbane-based Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

The report made a rather sensationalist link with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the "Mormons") because a few of the staff in the colleges are members of the faith.  

"What we've discovered," the journalist Leisa Goddard said at the beginning of the segment, "is that some of these colleges have links to the Mormon Church.  Those links they don't want us asking questions about."

Towards the end of the program, Ms Goddard revealed the not particularly startling information she said was hard to ascertain.  Some of those employed by the colleges actually make personal donations to the Church from their own pay-packets. 

The Church, the bystander in this story, believes it is quite a stretch on the part of "A Current Affair" to connect this story to the Mormons when only a very small number of Australian Church members are associated with these organisations.  

And, the fact that some may have donated to the Church is far from extraordinary.  No doubt many a faithful Anglican or Catholic who works for a training organisation in Brisbane and elsewhere has made donations to his own well-respected Christian faith, too. 

In the busy day-to-day operations of a current affairs program it is hard to cover all the essential bases for a story.  One, in particular, was missing in this case.  No-one from the program contacted the Church to find out the reality behind the unusual claims in the segment. Here are some other relevant facts that did not gain air-time on "A Current Affair": 

  • The Church knows nothing of the Registered Training Organisations referred to in the program apart from what has recently been presented in the media.  The Church has no formal or informal relationship with any RTO in Australia.
  • Church members are employed in a variety of industries across Australia.  There are university professors, TAFE teachers, accountants, full-time homemakers, company chairmen, security guards and plumbers. The Church does not dictate a member’s profession or their business interests.
  • Members of the public are free to donate from their earnings in any way they see fit.  Some donate to churches, others to charities, others to sporting groups or community organisations.
  • No Church member is compelled to give money to the Church.  All donations are given freely.  
  • As a church which follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, tithing and other offerings are used for our international humanitarian aid programs to those not of our faith, disaster relief, the welfare of local poor and needy, the construction of worship buildings, the creation of teaching materials for youth and adults, our international missionary effort, and so forth.
  • The Church does not have a paid ministry, so donated funds are devoted directly to the betterment of mankind.

And, finally,

  • Our name is not "the Mormon Church".  It is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".

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Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.