Christians and asylum-seekers

  (16 August 13)
  by Greg Spearritt

The bidding war is heating up as politicians from the major parties attempt to heave overboard what is left of Australia’s reputation for decency on the issue of asylum seekers.


Few patriots amongst those who are normally quickest to raise the Australian flag are willing to sing the second verse of our National Anthem these days: ‘For those who’ve come across the seas/We’ve boundless plains to share’ is a bridge too far, it seems.


The latest shot across the bows from the Coalition is described by The Age’s political correspondent Mark Kenny as “aimed at xenophobic voters whose shaky grasp of arithmetic has them quaking over the absorption of a group of people - many of whom are already located in the community.”


Kenny is one of several secular voices protesting the dirty business of demonising those seeking asylum in Australia. There is no shortage of protest from Christian leaders either. The CE of World Vision, Rev. Tim Costello urges Australians to be generous and “pro-people”:


It's intellectually and morally lazy to allow our fears about the economy and jobs and debt to be projected onto human bogymen in the form of asylum seekers…Our wealthy, free and culturally diverse society is something which should not be hoarded - tightly guarded, wrapped in plastic and gathering dust.


The Uniting Church has spoken out (and here), as have the Anglicans and Catholics.

The Australian Christian Lobby, on the other hand, is much more vexed by those demonic Greens and gay marriage than by policies that contradict biblical injunctions to care for one’s neighbour and for the needy (Exodus 23:9, Ezekiel 16:49, Hebrews 13: 1–2, Luke 10 25–37, Matthew 25:35 and many more). Where the ACL does deem to make mention of the issue, it supports off-shore processing, buying into the stereotype promoted by the major parties that asylum-seekers are economic refugees, and voicing concern for the safety of those travelling by boat: no mention of the despair and self-harm they are driven to in the off-shore processing centres, however.





If anyone is still in doubt about the reality of the asylum-seeker experience they could try reading 'The People Smuggler' by Robin de Crespigny, a speaker at the recent BWF. And now three weeks after the election Australian voters are being told it would be better if this whole issue were handled secretly, They must think we are all fools.

Posted by judith bore

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