Beware of prejudice displayed against all Muslims for the sins of the fundamentalist few, says AnglicareSA CEO The Reverend Peter Sandeman in an article published in The Advertiser.
It’s hard to live the way Jesus asks us to, and we all fall well short of the Sermon on the Mount. So I usually try to err on the side of forgiveness of actions which hurt others, being acutely conscious of my own needs in that department.
But the actions of some professing to be Christian while threatening Pastor Brad Chilcott of the Activate Church in Bowden with graphically described injuries, shows how far from Jesus’ example the path of prejudice can take us.
Brad, for those who do not inhabit cyberspace, is the founder of Welcome to Australia, the popular national online campaign that seeks to give a welcome to refugees. Welcome to Australia has unleashed the underlying decency of Australians stirred to action by the prejudice displayed against all Muslims for the sins of the fundamentalist few.
Brad’s offence is that he has taken Jesus’s words too literally in loving one’s neighbours as oneself. Brad’s latest provocation has been to oppose the shameful hounding of the Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company by the anti-Halal social media campaign.
In our sophisticated foodie market we now cater for all sorts of dietary habits; Halal is just another means of respecting another cultural identity and it’s good business for SA.
But now threats of violence are attempting to silence the clarion call to follow the teachings which underpin so many of our assumptions about justice and what is simply right.
As well as completely contradicting Christ’s teaching, the intolerance and intemperance displayed by Brad’s detractors plays into the hands of those seeking to radicalise Muslim Australians.
It is the inclusion of all Australians and their culture and religious beliefs within the broad parameters of Australian democracy which is our best bulwark against terrorism.
These fundamental freedoms include the equality of all people, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression, freedom of movement, assembly and association, and the rule of law.
By attacking these fundamental freedoms by seeking to impose discrimination against religious expression, the anti Halal movement undermines the very basis of our society.
Our Australian multiculturalism, within the framework of human rights, is what makes our community strong and protects us from the terrible tensions that so many around the world are fleeing from. We shouldn’t be naïve about the potential of home grown terrorism, but Brad and his supporters are helping to strengthen Australia and build our defences by their interfaith inclusion.
Those who threaten him with violence are our own worst enemies within.