Seeing the phrase “mission from God” on the front page of one of Sydney’s Sunday papers (June 26, 2011) sounds great until you realise it is a tongue-in-cheek reference to an evangelist crashing his car on the Pacific Highway after downing a few double-shots of Scotch.
Jason Hooper is an American evangelist touring parts of Australia with a New Zealand born Australian evangelist Ben Hughes. Hooper crashed into a parked Hyundai in Macksville and was found to have a blood-alcohol level of .206.
He later appeared in court and was disqualified from driving in NSW for three years but otherwise escaped penalty, much to the chagrin of locals, motoring organisations, the police and the Sunday Telegraph.
The magistrate took into account Hooper’s remorse and good character but the Telegraph was not impressed with Hooper’s reported claim that God had already forgiven him for his error.
And true to form with Sydney papers, the Telegraph found a way to inculcate Hillsong into the story saying that Hooper was touring with “Hillsong protegé Ben Hughes” – a claim that made it into the second paragraph.
As far as I can see, the only connection between Hughes and Hillsong is that he studied at Hillsong Leadership College at some stage, along with many thousands of other people. Keep in mind, Hughes has done nothing wrong and Hillsong isn’t even involved, so why were they mentioned?
It’s very unusual to see people defined by a place of study when describing traffic incidents. I don’t recall former-Judge Marcus Einfield being described as a “Sydney University protegé” when his traffic indiscretions were reported.
But to bring Jason Hooper and Marcus Enfield together for a moment – they both have learned the special retribution we save for people who make a career out of saying one thing, and then doing the opposite.
No wonder James in his New Testament letter warned against becoming a teacher because you would be “judged with greater strictness”. In both these cases, the men involved may have not been judged by the courts over-strictly, but certainly they will be by the public and the media. (Einfield has had another traffic scrape this week.)
A good reason to remain humble, accountable and realistic about your state of well-being – and driving! And let’s hope the next time God get’s a mention on the front page, it’s for something positive…