Are you an extremist?

Man carrying political sign

The dictionary defines an extremist as “a person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.”

Search for photos tagged as “extremist” (as I did for this post) and the majority of the photos are of Americans protesting against their government, especially their President. The one I used is one of the milder and least extreme!

But ask Americans what actions they think are “extremist” and you’ll get some interesting, and perhaps surprising, answers.

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Christmas, christians and a deep sense of foreboding

Flowers in Martin Place

This last week has been a disturbing one for many Australians. A hostage siege in Sydney, that left two hostages and the gunman dead, made a deep impression.

Of course other countries have experienced far worse senseless killing and atrocities. This week has also seen the shooting of about 140 people, mostly school children, in Pakistan and further killings by Boko Haram in Nigeria, as well as ongoing killing in the Middle East and North Africa.

But I want to think for a moment about how people, especially christians, react to such events when they touch us personally.

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Asylum seekers: a long journey for many of us

Love Makes a Way

Desperate people fleeing persecution in their home countries make long journeys, overland and by boat, to reach the safe haven of Australia, hoping to be granted refugee status and residency. They don’t receive a welcome.

I have travelled a long journey in my thinking about asylum seekers, and it seems our country is on a similar journey.

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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.

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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?

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