Bullick: My Response

Now I have the important stuff out of the way (namely the Glenmanus report), I suppose I should comment on Richard Bullick’s response (Newsletter p 56, 28th July 06) to my post (30th June) on the media response to the latest Sunday football debate.

Firstly, the post was a round up of various news reports / stories, and what they said in favour of Sunday football, and against Biblical Christianity. I’m not out to review the writers or to provide summaries of their whole articles! Not that I accept Bullick’s claim that his article was ‘actually pretty balanced’ – it is clear from his comments that Bullick rejects the authority of the Bible, and if you do that, you’ve already chosen sides. As for his assertion that his original article was ‘broadly sympathetic towards their position’, the title ‘Watching the Hypocrites’ suggests otherwise. (And if he doesn’t write the titles, that would just mean that some sub editor has scanned the article and come up with that title based on what they read!)

Mr. Bullick and I do actually agree on certain points. I can’t fault the sentence ‘We aren’t accountable for the actions of others and you can’t impose your will and beliefs on the wider society’. I don’t know anyone who would disagree with that first part, and if I was trying to impose my will and beliefs on the wider society then rugby would be illegal and Bullick would be out of a job! (one following on from the other, not that I have a desire that he would suddenly lose his job for disagreeing with me!). It is an entirely different matter to say ‘Our Creator tells us to live like this, doing the opposite is wrong’. Incidentally, I hope I’m really not as ‘smug’, ‘sanctimonious’, ‘self-satisfied’ and ‘piously presenting [myself] as religious’ as this columnist suggests. I don’t go about in the belief that I’m doing God a favour by my posts, and I know full well that I break the fourth commandment all the time, just as I do the other ones. By God’s grace however I am relying on a Saviour who kept the whole law perfectly (as only someone who was both God and man could) and then died to take the punishment owed to scumbags like me. My concern is that others would also realise how stupid it is to try and live our lives against the Maker’s instructions, and that our nation as a whole would stop thinking that we know best.

The views expressed were my own, not those of some non existent horde of ‘bible-bashing bloggers’ or ‘holy mob’ that run this site. A quick glance at this site will show that it is not some sort of group blog! (the post before the one in question began ‘I took a tour down to Synod…’!) Bullick also complains that I didn’t have the courage to put my name to my ‘religious rants’, ignoring the fact that none of the articles have any name on them (at the bottom – my name is in a few), and the phrase ‘A weblog by Stephen Steele’ appears at the top of this page (and if you can’t see it now, it should appear after a few clicks round the site). For one so concerned about being misquoted, Bullick doesn’t feel the need to include the address of either the post or this website in his article. However, anyone wanting to follow up his comments who sticks ‘Shall we Sing a Song for You’ into google, will, under the first result, be presented with my name! Plus, the site contains loads of photos of me!

On to the actual quotes in his column. I stand by what I said that the ‘article is based on the assumption that those who voted against Sunday Football will happily sit down and watch the World Cup Final on Sunday week.’ It really wouldn’t be in line with an article based on supposed hypocrisy to leave the reader thinking that there’s only a possibility that some of the delegates might indeed be hypocrites – and that’s certainly not the impression I got from reading it. The question ‘I wonder will any of those who objected to the IFA lifting the ban be sitting down to watch the World Cup final on tv next weekend?’ is not one that it is intended for the reader to disagree with (if it had been, it would have been a rather poor start for an article). Ok, I suppose Bullick does leave room for the possibility that they’re not ALL going to watch it, fair enough, but to me that question, along with the headline emblazoned above, are designed to leave the reader thinking ‘those against Sunday football = hypocrites’. Because, after all, what football fan isn’t going to watch the World Cup Final?!

Bullick branded my comments on his next point ‘more blatantly bogus, a deliberate distortion’ unless I was ‘simply dim’. Well, they certainly weren’t the former, and I would suggest to Mr. Bullick that if he’s going to write a column for rugby fans, he better make sure his comments can’t be misinterpreted by those in the latter category. Here’s his original statement:

“It’s just like Sunday opening in shops – once it’s been brought in, it isn’t always that easy for the conscientious objectors to opt out without losing out financially or in other ways.”

Here’s what I wrote:

“He also suggests that shopowners are less likely to keep their status as conscientious objectors if they are going to be hit financially in the face of Sunday trading.”

It really doesn’t seem to me from the first quote that he’s saying that every single conscientious objector will stand firm in the face of financial pressure, however if Bullick says that his comments were ‘almost a nostalgic lament for the good old days’ then I’ll accept what he says. However I think that it would be pretty easy to take the meaning out of them that I took, especially in an article about hypocrisy.

Next we move on to Andrew Trimble. I said that the picture of Trimble implied that he was the example Christians should be following. According to Bullick, ‘this is staggering stupidity and absolutely laughable paranoia’. Really? Bullick protests that he doesn’t choose the photos. But that doesn’t change my point at all. As I stated at the start, I was reviewing the media coverage of the Sunday football issue – I’m not out to provide a review of Richard Bullick. The fact is that the media gave us an article against Sunday football, accompanied by a picture of Trimble. Hardly a fluke! Was it just a fluke that his second article was accompanied by a picture of a cross?! Don’t think so! The accompanying images aren’t just chosen at random! Bullick then states that Trimble is ‘not some silly stick to beat people with’. Well, maybe Bullick doesn’t see him that way, but many people do. I don’t think there’s been a single thread on ILF about the issue of Sunday football since Trimble came to prominence, that hasn’t featured people asking the Christians why they can’t be as open minded as big Andrew T! Bullick clearly thinks that I was being harsh on Trimble. However regular readers will know that I have posted about him in the past, saying ‘he seems a really nice guy’. The fact remains that Trimble is in a public and privileged position, and with that position comes responsibility. Trimble is happy to tell the world he’s a Christian (which is great!) while playing rugby professionally on the Lord’s Day, in clear breach of the words ‘Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy…On it you shall not do any work’. (Exodus 20:8,10). The argument about whether having a kick about in the park is keeping the day ‘holy’ doesn’t even come into it – Trimble is working (and if not getting paid for playing for Ireland, forcing other people to work).

Then on to the last part of Bullick’s argument. He puts in caps the points he feels I shouldn’t have left out of my quoting of him. Firstly ‘SOME PEOPLE WILL TALK ABOUT TAKING A STAND FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN BUT, LIKE THE PASSPORTS SAGA, THIS IS AN ISSUE ON WHICH THE IFA’S CROSS-COMMUNITY CREDENTIALS WILL BE JUDGED.’ What the craic?! What has that to do with anything? I may not be able to claim space constraints, but I can claim time constraints (I couldn’t find the original article online so was having to type out all this stuff). I really don’t see how not quoting that makes Bullick look worse – and on top of everything else, I put 3 dots where I left out some of his quote to show that I wasn’t pretending to be quoting everything he said!

Bullick does have a point with his next line: “If it supports policies or practices which APPEAR TO pander to beliefs almost exclusively rooted on one side of the divide here”. If those words were in the original, I really wouldn’t have tried to leave them out – I can only claim that typing while balancing a newspaper is pretty hard so I must have missed them! (Not that ‘appear to’ was really needed in the original sentence – no-one’s going to start claiming that Catholics are big up on Sabbath observance!) So far then I have ‘deliberately omitted’ 2 words which at all affect what he was saying.

Then on to the last quote in by which Bullick feels he has been wronged: “the IFA will have given Northern Ireland’s enemies within another rod with which to beat the Association AND SPURIOUSLY CLAIM CATHOLICS ARE DISENFRANCHISED FROM FULL MEMBERSHIP OF THE LOCAL FOOTBALLING FAMILY. After all the efforts to give sectarianism the boot, the Sunday soccer issue has the potential to make the IFA look like bigots, which would be most unfortunate.” I feel that leaving in the words ‘which would be most unfortunate’ clearly show Bullick’s own stated views on the matter, and that there was no need for me to include the stuff in caps as well. If the claims has not been ‘spurious’ (as anyone can clearly see they are!) then Bullick wouldn’t have been calling this potential rod ‘unfortunate’. (And once again, I left the 3 dots to show that I had left out part of what he was saying).

However the whole point is that no matter how far Bullick distances himself from actually believing such nonsense, he’s linking believing the Bible to being at least perceived as sectarian. Which is nonsense! Surely it says more about how far Catholicism is from the Bible it claims to believe!

Anyway, enough! I just felt I had to respond. In lighter News Letter news, there’s a picture of Willy in today’s Farming Life!

2 thoughts on “Bullick: My Response

  1. Hi Steve,
    I just wanted to say way to go! I dont know much (anything really) about the current events there, but do know that God’s law is timeless, and football doesnt come before it. I cant wait for revival, wherein we’ll (all nations and the church) call the sabbath a delight.

  2. Stephen, interesting response and I thank you for the time taken to do so. I was, I admit, irritated by your response to my initial column as I genuinely felt my initial views were being deliberately misrepresented. I realise the opinions I expressed may have seemed pretty liberal for someone so devout as you but I still stand by the view that my stance on these matters is a lot less sneering than most journalists/columnists. I will reiterate I have nothing to do with the choice of headline or accompanying pic. Sorry if you were offended by any of my sarcasm/hostility in the second piece but I don’t have that Christian forbearance :)

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