Easter Saturday prayer vigil for refugees

Christians welcome refugees

9 of 12 members of our church who attended the vigil.

I have blogged before on the plight of refugees from war-torn or unstable countries like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Iran arriving in Australian waters by boat and Australia’s somewhat callous attitude to them – see links below this post.

Australia outsources some of its nastier policies to poor surrounding nations such as Papua New Guinea, which allows Australia to transfer detainees awaiting assessment of their claims (which will be very slow, quite possibly deliberately to discourage others) to a detention centre on Manus Island.

About 2 months ago Reza Barati, a 23 year old Iranian asylum seeker, was murdered in the Manus Island detention centre in circumstances which our Government either keeps secret, or doesn’t care to find out (so far at least).

More than anything else I think, this violent death of an apparently peaceful and innocent man in the prime of life, seems to have catalysed many Australians, including many christians, to protest that enough is enough and whatever the merits of the Government’s policy objectives on asylum seekers, the moral price of the present approach is too high.

On Easter Saturday, 125 people gathered in front of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s office to pray and protest. I was there.

Continue reading

If you don’t laugh, you cry!

While we are on the subject of Australia’s attitude to refugees arriving by boat, here is a telling sketch by Aussie satirists John Clarke and Bryan Dawe. (Actually John comes from New Zealand, but works in Australia.)

For those not familiar with Aussie politics, the sketch presents hardline Australian Government Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, who is a christian, as a schoolboy before the headmaster.

It is very galling when non-believers (I presume) have more christian standards than self-confessed christians do.

Enjoy!

Refugee mistreatment makes me sick at heart

Crowd protesting

These are difficult times. For many in our world, the difficulty is surviving poverty, or escaping from a murderous regime.

I live in Australia. I don’t live in poverty, and while our government has some very bad features, it isn’t a direct threat to my life. For me, some of the difficult issues are ethical.

Like whether my country’s government is pursuing a murderous policy towards others.

Continue reading

Christians, prejudice and love for ‘enemies’: living in the opposite spirit

Girl holding sign

Last post I looked at how some studies show that many christians are prejudiced towards groups such as gays, atheists and Muslims, and are less likely than other people to show love to members of these groups.

How can we start to bring about change?

Continue reading

Christians, prejudice and love for ‘enemies’

Girl holding sign

Jesus told his followers, quite definitely, to love their enemies, and warned them against hatred. Yet today, the public image of christians is somewhat tarnished – some christians are seen to be loving and caring, but others are seen to be prejudiced and intolerant, especially towards groups like gays and Muslims.

What is the evidence for this?

Continue reading

Wealth, poverty, inequality …. and Jesus

Coins

Try this brief quiz (if you haven’t seen my other blog):

  1. Which country is the richest in the world in terms of median wealth?
  2. Which countries come close?
  3. Which countries have the greatest and least disparity between the rich and the rest?
  4. In the richest country, what percentage of people live in poverty?

Have a guess, then check out the answers.

Continue reading

CS Lewis

CS Lewis

CS Lewis, christian, author, apologist and academic, died 50 years ago last week, and many assessments of his life and work have been made in commemoration.

I think he was, arguably, the most influential christian in the western world in the last century. And, definitely, he has been the most influential writer and teacher in my life.

Continue reading

Tim Keller, gay marriage and Bible interpretation

Gay marriage demonstration

A few weeks back, influential New York minister Tim Keller spoke at a forum run by the US Ethics and Public Policy Centre, during which he made some comments on the issue of gay marriage. What he said attracted a lot of discussion, but was apparently misunderstood by some, and he subsequently issued an explanation.

His comments merit further thought.

Continue reading

Tony’s Chocolonely – serious chocolate!

Tony's Chocolonely

Regular readers will know that one of my ’causes’ is ethical chocolate – chocolate that is grown by free farmers who are paid a fair wage, and not by trafficked children working more or less as slaves. (For background, see Ethical chocolate update.)

So it was with great delight that I received a weighty package in the mail recently and discovered a story of dark criminality and desperate legal actions.

Continue reading