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