Q+A’s Bias Against the Christian Worldview

9 April 2021

3.2 MINS

Panel shows like ABC’s Q+A are a staple of healthy democracies — a great format to thrash out the debates and disagreements of the day. But like an increasing number of Australians, I’m tuning out of Q+A. And for one simple reason: it is no longer the “democratic platform” it purports to be.

The ABC would have us believe that:

“Q+A isn’t endorsing the opinions expressed; it’s providing a safe place for Australians to discuss their differences.”

Yet the reality is, Q+A’s viewership has plummeted two-thirds from where it was a decade ago, despite being moved to Thursday nights in an attempt to attract viewership.

I suspect that one contributing factor to Q+A’s demise has been the way Christians are treated on the program, which has a direct impact on those watching who follow Jesus Christ.

I. The Interrogation of Christians on Q+A

It is my observation that Hamish repeatedly demands Christians on Q+A to provide the source of their statistics and arguments, without requiring the same for other panelists.

For instance, last night, Martyn Iles stated that 90 per cent of children struggling with gender identity disorder grow out of it.

Hamish challenged Martyn Iles:

“I just want to just check — where are those figures from?”

By contrast, Hamish didn’t once ask Aboriginal panelist Teela Reid to provide statistical or factual backing for her claim that Australia is systemically racist and promotes white supremacy.

Nor did Hamish question the sources of the statistics given by Anika Wells concerning the ‘31% gender pay gap’ or the claim that ‘women over 55 are the fastest-growing cohort of homeless people.’

A similar dialogue took place back in November 2020, when a 15-year-old Christian boy — Aryan Ilkhani — asked a question about the negative effects of Biden’s proposed climate policy.

Hamish intimidated the young man:

Hamish: “Where did you get the numbers from?”
Aryan: “It’s according to a White House report released in October.”
Hamish: “OK, but you saw it on Fox, right?”
Aryan: “Yes, I did see it on Fox. I believe it was taken from there and also taken from a petroleum organisation in America.”

One cannot imagine Hamish giving such a confrontational response to a young female questioner promoting the LGBTQ agenda. Examples could be multiplied. But what’s clear is that Q+A has a different set of standards when a guest is a follower of Jesus.

II. Hamish isn’t a host — he acts as a panellist

In last night’s episode, Hamish fired this question at Trent Zimmerman following Martyn’s explanation of salvation by grace alone, and the need for everyone to repent of their sin:

“Do you think it is dangerous to be questioning it in the way that Martyn does?”

This is a loaded question. Moreover, it shifted the dialogue away from the Gospel to the apparent “danger” of Martyn’s approach.

After Martyn explained how Rugby Australia illegitimately sacked Israel Folau, Hamish again cut off Martyn with this remark:

“Look, Rugby Australia is not here to defend themselves, but I’m sure they would assert they weren’t lying. I just want to bring in Chris Breen.”

This sort of behaviour has become a predictable hallmark of Q+A, where Hamish acts as another panellist when a view is expressed that he does not like. It’s no wonder listeners have begun to tune out.

III. The power imbalance against Christians

The panel of Q+A is reliably stacked towards one end of the political spectrum, leaving Christians and/or conservatives in the minority.

The Structure of the Panel

  1. Three left-wing panellists + Hamish (yes, he’s a panellist too) — These panellists generally receive the most airtime, are given the easiest questions to answer, and receive praises from Hamish
  2. One libertarian panellist — This panellist is ostensibly presented as a conservative, though they are actually libertarian in their leaning. More than often, they have fundamental disagreements with the Christian panellist, or conservative values more broadly.
  3. One conservative/Christian panellist — On the rare occasion that ABC hosts a Christian, their role is essentially as the panel’s punching bag. And as we have seen, they are often disproportionately criticised by the panel and the host.

Take it to the bank. This structure, with a built-in power imbalance, is essentially the blueprint for your standard Q+A episode.

So, what do we make of all this?

Honestly, it grieves me, but it doesn’t surprise me.

What is advertised as a democratic dialogue is more truthfully a carefully managed performance — and one that serves as a battering ram against Christians and the Biblical worldview.

All the same, I praise God that Martyn was so bold in proclaiming the Gospel on Q+A last night. His courage and humility shone amidst a panel who seemed quick to speak but slow to listen, proving that when the Gospel’s light shines in the darkness, even the bias of Q+A can’t overcome it.

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  1. JOHN WILLIAM PHILLIPS 9 April 2021 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    The ABC especially Q & A should be considered a commercial Station and not be funded by taxpayers, as it cannot give balanced reporting. .

  2. Edna Tate 9 April 2021 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    That’s why we don’t watch ABC period. They are just a mob of activists, never report the truth & are so biased against truth & righteousness. They never report the news just their biased opinions so we haven’t watched ABC for ages in fact we don’t watch any news because to us they are all tarred with the same brush. So no thank you.

  3. Carol Mann 9 April 2021 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    I agree with James Jeffery’s comments. Watched it last night as wanted to watch Martin Illes. He handled himself exceptionally well despite people talking over him, and I noticed Hamish asking where his statistics were from but didn’t ask Teela Reid where she got her statistics from. Totally biased show.

  4. Helen Cameron 9 April 2021 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Yes so proud of Martyn he held on well! Certainly God gave him the words, he spoke courageously and boldly.

  5. Elaine 9 April 2021 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Well done James! I too watched only because Martin Illes was on the panel. How hard it is for a Christian to express Biblical truths when people have no spiritual understanding. We certainly are in a battle for religious freedom and need people like Martin to continue this work.

  6. Lesley Parker 9 April 2021 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    We all know why the ratings are low for Q&A..It was the same ole debate. 4+presenter to 1. and the 1 that was expected to produce an opposing view was corralled at every opportunity. the first one being the moment Martyn used the words “good and evil”. Wow, the presenter cut him off so fast, and onto the ‘next question’. and that’s how it was folks!!! Same ole, same ole. So much airtime given to the journalist Antoinette. Why was a journalist on the panel? A journalist adapts to whatever the flavour of the discussion is. A journalist’s job is to report and report other people’s opinions not their own. In a debate like this I want to hear from someone who has taken a public position, has taken responsibility for that position whatever its objectives, views are, and has that experience. A journalist doesn’t do that. This was a great opportunity for Q&A to upgrade its regular format of attacking the one person they invite to debate the opposite side. Don’t they know that this is why people don’t want to watch anymore? I haven’t watched it for years, but Martyn was the reason to tune in and I was so disappointed that there is no debate, but just a venue to trash conservative, family, and Christian values. Great they invited you Martyn and so glad you accepted.

  7. Laureen 9 April 2021 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Never watch Q&A as a rule but did so because of my respect for Martyn. He stayed his course in spite of the odds against him. They interrupted,talked over him & cut him off in favour of the rest of the uncouth mob. Still could not stop the gospel being preached in a few simple words. Bravo Martyn.

  8. Yula Donovan 10 April 2021 at 11:13 am - Reply

    I too tuned in to watch Q&A because we have been praying for Martyn as he heads into “The Lion’s den”. We were not disappointed! There is no debate for Christians. It is a show to pull down Christianity ‘s stand for Truth and Righteousness. May God raise up more people like Martyn who are prepared to stand up like Elijah against those in power and say “you have to make a choice. Choose today who you will serve”.we have all sinned. Yes we all do need to repent. We do need to choose God over Satan’s rhetoric. Thankyou Martyn

  9. Steven jeffery 10 April 2021 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Well written James yes we are in a spiritual battle not only on a and a but in the broken world. May young men like yourself and Martin continue to spread the gospel of our lord Jesus. Love dad

  10. Steven jeffery 10 April 2021 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    Well written James yes we are in a spiritual battle not only on Q & A but in the broken world. May young men like yourself and Martin continue to spread the gospel of our lord Jesus. Love dad

  11. Dave Hannmond 11 April 2021 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Some of your points have value no doubt. It’s hard to trust your conclusions though. I was a member of the Presbyterian church in two states and my experience sitting in pew was far worse than you’re claiming QandA’s bias is. Nearly every sermon included denigrating comments about Catholics, Pentecostals and anything left wing. Even prayers from Elders from the pulpit included “We thank God we are not like that church” which is an exact quote when praying about the Saddleback church in the US.
    As a trainee Presbyterian minister you are, at least in my experience simply pushing the company line. The believe that your theology is correct and most others are not. The belief that QandA is left wing may be true but it could also be that the Christian church has moved so far right that QandA now appears far left when it’s closer to the centre.
    I am a Christian of some 40 years with 33 of those years in Christian ministry here in Australia and around the world. I remain dedicated to my faith in God and my love of Jesus. I see you blog and ACL as a subversive force locked into values that are not Christian so much as sub-culture and the poison I have sat through in sermons and prayers in the Presbyterian church only confirms this. If I were in your shoes I’d be writing blogs about your own churches hatful bias and the attempt to cover it up by attacking others. I continue to pray for the reformation needed in the western right wing church. Take care.

  12. Pearl Miller 11 April 2021 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Martyn for PM!

  13. Melinda RauWig 13 April 2021 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Absolutely disgusted at the lowest of low attacks on Christianity & the Bible & The Truth it stands for along with The Life-Saving Message of The Gospel.

    Praise God for Martyn Iles courage, wisdom, knowledge & discernment, perseverance, faithfulness, love & reverence for You.
    Thankyou Holy Spirit for enabling Our Mighty Father God’s Words of Truth, Light & Love to be aired into homes which would have NEVER ever heard it before.

    JESUS Christ – Thank you for The Cross & the Miracle of Redemption.

  14. Lorraine Schroeder 14 April 2021 at 9:26 am - Reply

    Thank you James Jeffery as you have so clearly articulated your observations.
    What a breath of fresh air Lyle will be in the NSW Parliament. His
    critics have, in their comments, modelled so well their intolerance of Lyle. It is
    seriously disturbing that they have failed to recognise in their tone and words their
    blatant hypocrisy as their daily mantra is always tolerance from the rest of us who might oppose them!
    Be much encouraged Lyle!

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