The south-western Sydney suburb (or satellite town) of Camden is a beautiful and historically significant part or our world. Lately it has been getting a lot of publicity, much of it no doubt unfair, because of a controversy surrounding a plan to build an Islamic school there. It should be pointed out that there are already several Islamic schools in Sydney. Among the leaders of the pack against the school has been the Christian Democratic Party, formerly known as The Festival of Light, led by the Reverend Fred Nile, a member of the Upper House of the NSW Parliament and a Uniting Church minister.
I will save you much clicking by repeating two recent posts from my WordPress blog.
1. Christmas poem #4: "The Place Where We Are Right" — dedicated to Fred Nile and his like…. 20 December 2007
"The Place Where We Are Right" by Yehuda Amichai I first blogged in August 2005. I read it aloud during a service around that time at South Sydney Uniting Church.
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.
The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.
But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.
How sad I am then to read of the Reverend Fred Nile’s disgraceful exploits* at Camden. I can think of few less Christ-like things the man could have done, his ill-judged bigotry being exactly the same as the reflexive anti-Catholicism of his spiritual forbears, as ill-informed, applying to Muslims standards he would complain about if applied to him. Yes, I can understand the culture shock at Camden, and no, I am not going to be drawn into screaming about either bogans or racists. But Fred Nile has disgusted me, because he is in a church, the Uniting Church, which in general knows better than Fred that such pandering to fear, prejudice and ignorance is totally out of keeping both with the spirit of Christmas and the Holy Spirit of God.
To use your old-fashioned terminology, Fred, you sinned when you went to Camden, you sinned when you said what you did, you sinned big-time. You encouraged hate, not love, judgmentalism not forgiveness, sickness of the soul, not healing. If there is violence, then your conscience should condemn you because you will have been complicit. You may rationalise as you will on that, but before God that will stand.
Where in Sydney, Fred, would you allow an Islamic school? Anywhere? I suggest Seven Mile Beach and Gerroa would be a great place for one. What do you think?
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