Thursday, 28 July 2011

Newsletter reflection: Living with other faiths

Newsletter reflection 24 July 2011

Good morning,

I had an interesting phone call the other day. A heavily-accented male voice (and the accent is important for what he was doing) said, “I'm from the Department of (something unintelligible).”

I said: “Sorry, I didn't catch that.”

He said, “I'm from the Department of (something unintelligible). We are sending you $3658.”

Before he could ask for my bank account details, I said, “OK. Thanks.” I hung up the phone. After all, any actual Government Department likely to send me money already had all of my details. And the last I heard, the Department of Mumble, isn't actually giving tax refunds, centrelink payments, or anything else likely to result in me receiving money. (If this money should suddenly appear, I will revise my scepticism.)

Sometimes, it's healthy to be sceptical about things.

For example, not everything you see on current affairs programs meets the journalists' code of ethics requirements for fairness and balance.

There was one report recently about Moslems in Australia putting Sharia law ahead of Australian law. What it failed to mention is that to Moslems, Sharia isn't a rival legal system – it's God's law. It's like the Torah for Jews, or like “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself,” for Christians. Strangely, all the Moslem people they asked said they would, in fact put Sharia law ahead of Australian law. None of them were given a chance to go on and explain what they meant by that.

If you ask me whether I'd put God's law ahead of Australian law, I'd have to be honest and say “yes” as well. Does that mean it's dangerous to have me here? Or that I should be banned from practising God's law?

According to 100% of the kind of people who respond to current affairs programs phone-in polls, Moslems should be banned from practising Sharia law in this country. I'm going to guess that most of these people didn't bother to find out any more than the current affairs program told them about what they were voting on. But think of the implications if they actually got their way:

If Moslems were banned from praying, how long before Christians were banned praying? If another woman is banned from wearing a veil to show her faith, will I be banned from wearing a cross to show mine? If the mosques were closed down, would the churches also be closed down?

In a world with people of many faiths, and also many secularists, we have as much in common with our Moslem neighbours as we have distinct from them.

Grace and peace


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