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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you know that since the horrific school shootings at Newtown in the USA in December last year, more than 4000 people have died from gunshots in the US? Let’s try to put this statistic into context.
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.
Christianity is changing. Of course it has always been changing – I read once that christianity owes a lot of its success to its adaptability to circumstances and culture. But like most other things, it seems to be changing faster these days.
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.