Things are moving so fast in the world of News Corp. and the phone-hacking scandal in Great Britain that what we write today will be out of date tomorrow.

But now Rebekah Brooks has been arrested, two senior Met policemen have resigned, the British prime minister is under pressure, and by the time these words are read who knows what will have happened.

It would be easy enough to join in the chorus of outrage directed at Rupert Murdoch and his cohorts, and to approve or disapprove of the effective sacking of Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates.

A good case could be made for either, and already oceans of ink and its electronic equivalent have been spilt over the rights and wrongs of this whole affair.

But Christians need to be very wary before they pronounce, as Christians, on such issues. The moral high ground doesn’t necessarily imply good visibility.

If the church is too quick to pronounce on wrongdoing in high places – or, indeed, nuclear disarmament, withdrawal from Afghanistan or the details of economic policy – it can make itself look foolish and irrelevant.

Instead, we should be looking to bring something distinctive to the national debate. Very often this means attempting to interpret what is happening rather than passing judgment on it, and asking questions rather than giving answers.

It is not generally our job to tell government how to govern, except in those rare cases where issues of right and wrong are so very clear that “Here I stand” is the only Christian response.

The co-option by Republican ideologues in the U.S. of the evangelical vote is one example of where the relationship of the church to the state can go terribly wrong.

What, then, can Christians usefully say about News International? Well: “How are the mighty fallen” is one response, and everyone would say “Amen” to that.

But one of the tests of how Christian a position is might be how many people are offended by it.

Clearly, the current of public opinion is running against News Corp., and Brooks has taken over from Sharon Shoesmith as “the most hated woman in Britain,” by some accounts.

Parliament is baying for Murdoch blood, and even News International’s directors are essaying some timid yelps for James Murdoch’s.

Now everyone has discovered how opposed they were to Murdoch rule all along, and they are outdoing each other in proving it.

“We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality,” wrote Lord Macaulay. He might have added, or more dangerous.

The herd mentality has been responsible for some deep injustices in the past. We suddenly decide that a particular group of people is responsible for whatever ails us, particularly at times of national crisis or community stress. They, and everyone connected to them, are wicked beyond redemption, and a clean slate is the only way we will all get through this.

So Christians should ask awkward questions. For instance, were two senior policemen, whose services preparing for the forthcoming Olympics were vital, sacrificed just for the look of the thing?

Was the closure of the News of the World not an act of deep injustice to its staff rather than a cause for rejoicing?

Is it a good thing, commercially, culturally or ethically, that Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB has been halted because of the storm of outrage surrounding the hacking scandal? Is this really how this country wants to do business?

And perhaps most of all: Where, in this wholesale abrogation of natural justice and the presumption that someone is innocent until they are proven guilty, is it all going to end? Will everyone who has ever worked for the Murdochs be guilty by association?

Will we now stop buying Bibles because Zondervan is a News International company?

Mark Woods is editor of Britain’s Baptist Times, where this column first appeared.

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