Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Christian anxiety

Understandably, security concerns post 9/11, the media's instance on linking terrorism with Islam and the predominance of primarily Muslim boat people arriving in our country of late appears to have added to existing anxieties many of us have about people from other nations and their possible threat to our existence and livelihood. Extreme reactions, such as vilification, overt prejudice, stereotyping and acts of violence upon Muslims, especially Muslim women caused many to recoil from Australian culture and become isolated and fearful, adding to the notion that they were somehow separate from the rest of multicultural Australia. Petitions, such as the one lodged in the House of Representatives by the Hon Paul Murphy, Labor Member for Reid (NSW)  on Monday 21 February this year certainly don't do anything to smooth the waters between Christians and Muslims. The petition asked that the Parliament of Australia:

1. Review our Commonwealth Immigration Policy to ensure the priority for Christians from all races and colours, especially from persecuted nations, as both immigrants and refugees.
2. Adopt a ten year moratorium on Muslim immigration, so an assessment can be made on the social and political disharmony currently occurring in the Netherlands, France and the UK, so as to ensure we avoid making the same mistakes; and allow a decade for the Muslim leadership and community in Australia to reassess their situation so as to reject any attempt to establish a Muslim nation within our Australian nation.

The preamble to the petition drew upon the very foundation of the Australian parliament and I quote:

That we re-affirm our support for the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia which states “Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth” (Constitution Act 9th July 1900) and the affirmation of 69% of our Australian population that they are Christians, and the statement of one of our founders that “this Commonwealth of Australia from its first stage will be a Christian Commonwealth” (Sir John Downer 1898), and the Opening Prayer of the Parliaments “Almighty God we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory” and recognizes the importance of these beliefs in ensuring the ongoing stability and unity of our Christian nation.

Murphy also lodged on the same day a petition, which expressed concern about the Islamisation of Australian schools.The book in question is: Learning From One Another: Bringing Muslim Perspectives into Australian Schools, contracted by the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies at The University of Melbourne (previously called the Melbourne Institute for Asian Languages and Society).The Centre brings together established expertise in teaching and research at the participating universities, and plays an important leadership role in public debates on contemporary Islam, particularly in the Australian context.

From my memory Jesus Christ (Jesus of Nazareth c. 5 BC/BCE – c. 30 AD/CE), said Love One Another, As I Have Loved You - Lesson 23 – Luke 22:1-38; John 13.So, would it be too much to expect those who say they are Christians to actually follow the teachings of the personage they purport to follow and begin to accept other peoples' differences?

I find it extremely interesting that the people of Melbourne actually applaud the fact that we have little enclaves of different cultures, which we love to frequent. Vietnamese restaurants line Victoria Street, Richmond.China town in Little Bourke Street actually dates back to gold rush days and is a tourist destination. Lonsdale Street is known for the array of Greek coffee, cakes and food shops.  Lebanese food and culture abounds in Brunswick and Lygon Street, Carlton is well known for its Italian culture and cuisine. I'm sure that they are many more and within each suburb there are prayer groups, churches and community centres that cater for the diversity of different peoples, their culture and religion and non-one is complaining that these people are not like us!


  1. In Australia people have a right to petition parliament that is outlined in the Australian Constitution.

    This particular petition has been tabled 48 times in the Senate and the House of Representatives since 2007. I don't know how many signatures were on the petition in question, the last one I heard about in February had three.

    An elected representative can refuse to table a petition, and some do. However, petitioning parliament is a constitutional right linked to overarching ideas about free speech and democracy which most, if not all, Australian politicians espouse.

    It would be unusual, therefore, for a petition not to be tabled in parliament by someone.

  2. I wasn't questioning an individual(s) right to petition the government, I was making a point about the divisiveness of the wording, since clearly the amount of people who identify as Christian is dropping with each new census. There are currently - 68% Christian, 1.9% Buddhists,1.5% Muslims,0.5% Hindu,0.4% Jewish,0.1% Sikh,0.4% as 'other' and 11.7% no religion. Agnostics,humanists,and atheists make up 15% of the population. Really! Why are we so worried about the 1.5% that identify as Muslim? Appears utterly crazy to me.

  3. Hear hear to Julie's comments. The cops getting off scot-free has nothing to do with democracy


  4. The post named the politician who put the petition to parliament. Since it didn't say that he did so on a matter of overarching principle while not agreeing with the sentiments expressed I thought I would post some balance. Libertas nostra, nostra cura (our freedom, our responsibility I hope) :)