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Blog // Thoughts
December 13, 2005

Australian Churches Endorse Cronulla Riots

OK, probably not. However, I have been rather underwhelmed at the lack of clear and loud condemnation of the riots on Australian church websites and blogs. In fact emerging church bloggers seem to have remained startlingly silent on the topic. At least Duncan Macleod at Pacific Higlander has weighed in with a very insightful comment. […]

OK, probably not. However, I have been rather underwhelmed at the lack of clear and loud condemnation of the riots on Australian church websites and blogs. In fact emerging church bloggers seem to have remained startlingly silent on the topic. At least Duncan Macleod at Pacific Higlander has weighed in with a very insightful comment.

“Was racism behind the attacks on Lebanese men at Cronulla? John Howard says that this behaviour is unacceptable but earnestly tells us that Australia does not have a problem with racism. We have politicians telling us that it was alcohol that made this happen. Talkback callers start by saying they’re not racist but go on to make blanket statements about these Lebanese people who are behaving badly and need to be pulled into line.

Such denial of racism reveals a disturbing lack of self awareness. Having lived in Australia for five years I’ve heard a lot about being multicultural. We have many cultures living here. That’s about as far as it goes. I have met very few white adults who have any interest in the language or customs of other ethnic groups. In the Uniting Church we talk about multicultural churches as the ones who are made up of ethnic migrant groups. They’re the ones who must make the effort to maintain their ethnic identity in a predominantly British Australian culture. The majority of Australians have no need to engage with the ‘other’.”

To me mainstream Australian Churches may not actively promote racism, but they are all too often dangerously uncritical about it. The Sydney Anglican Diocese’s call culture to account piece is a clear case in point. The desire to approach the issue with prayer and dialogue is comendable, but when we read things like,

“Miranda‚Äôs scripture teachers have been encountering these ‚Äòus and them‚Äô attitudes, based on religion at the youngest levels. ‚ÄúThe last two weeks we‚Äôve had kids in class assuming that if you‚Äôre a Caucasian, you‚Äôre a Christian, if you‚Äôre Middle Eastern you‚Äôre a Muslim,‚Äù Mr Howell says.”

it seems clear there is already a major breakdown. Moreover, Bishop Jensen’s comments that,

“It is quite clear that tension has been building under a surface of apparent community harmony for some time. We must look to the root causes of this social disharmony, seek authentic information about them, and deal with those matters.”

are right, but we have to ask; why has the church not been actively engaging this issue before the recent flare-up? My experience is that evangelical churches are very good at looking for evangelistic “opportunities” amongst new immigrants, but very poor at practicing Christian cosmopolitanism within their congregations. My hope is that the sad events of the past week will spark a new desire to examine this and build a more robust and multicultural ecclesiology within Australian churches.

Technorati Tags: Racism, Australia, Cronulla, Theology and Culture, Emerging Church

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Responses
Matt Stone 17 years ago

Fair comment about the non-comments. My only excuse is blogging burn out. Personally I am disgusted by the whole episode – the underlying racism in our community, the denial that racism was involved by our ‘Christian’ Prime Minister, the ‘moderate’ Christians who buy into rightwing agendas then act surprised that stuff like this happens. But what else is new? Need I say Tampa? I am so disgusted with conservative doublespeak – “I’m not racist, I just don’t like wogs” – that I refrain from firing up for fear of sinning in my abject anger. I find it difficult to talk to other Christians about it. I find it hard to believe we are worshipping the same Jesus. It makes me want to vomit. I think I can hear God retching now.

I was ashamed of my country when Tampa happened, I was ashamed when the war broke out, I was outraged when the sedition laws were passed and I am increasly becoming convinced that democracy and consciousness of ‘the other’ is slowly but surely being corroded with the active complicity of our government and the church. I am ashamed of my church and my wider community. Let God do with us as he may.

jamie(cronulla) 17 years ago

you know we are constantly told australians are a tolerant group of people willing to share and easy to get on with but to me it would seem that all we are a bunch of spoilt racist bigots, i mean australia is truly the lucky country and with all the beatuiful things we have and a population a fraction of most countries we can,t even deal with some minor problems of some youths playing up without having a massive embarrising racial war fueled by alcohol and lead teen pin heads that don,t understand halve of what there protesting for and against ,i mean apparently the live savers were punched for nothing ok, say that,s true and that caused all of this, we should be angry for that but how does 5000 youth yelling racist chants and bashing lebanese youth for nothing, and get this throwing rocks and full beer bottles at police and ambulance officers injuring many ,how is that justified they,ve ultimataly done worse than what the people they came to protest about yet everyone has seem to miss this fact,oh yeah the other point of the neo nazi the fact that some of these people seem to think hitler was some great person obviously don,t know that hitler predicted australia would be over run by asians thus ordered japan to attack us if he had his way we would be an asian country not to mention alot of these rioters would have some ethnic heritage that would have been on hitlers wrong side and most probably would have been one of millions killed it seems to me that australia need a heritage lesson maybe some aborigonal elders could teach them of how europeans came to australia 218 years ago and set about killing the aboriginals breeding them out stealing there land and identity ,stringing them out on european drugs and then sitting back and labelling them a drain on society ,the list goes on and on white australia policy,the stolen generation ,speak to anyone about how australia was 30 yearsago and they will tell you boring nothing going on other than the pub and club i remeber it being ok as a kid but really there was nothing happening it was a real bore now we have multicultrilism good for shopping thus keeping us competitive economy wise and just a really enjoyable place to live i think some of these people that think rioting over a few bad eggs should really think about the big picture and stop acting like racist red necks ,,,,,AUSTRALIA, a tolerable accepting society hahahahah…………………………………………………………….

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