I am outraged

I was brought up as a Presbyterian and, culturally, I guess I still am one.  I even still read Presbyterian publications at times. So the lily-livered report below from one such publication is deeply disappointing to me.

The report is from the head of the Presbyterian church in Queensland and his report is of a meeting with  local Muslim leaders. So did the meeting express any concern at all about the large-scale and grievous attacks on Christians in Muslim lands?

Such attacks were not mentioned at all. We read that the meeting was "to express concern about the violence that has been perpetrated against some Muslims simply because they are Muslims".

And in the press release we find out what the "violence" was: "recent negative sentiments expressed toward Muslims and especially Muslim women".  So rape, torture and death of thousands of Christians fades into insignificance compared with a few harsh words about Muslims!

I am flabbergasted.  The man quotes the Bible but he is a Pharisee, a hypocrite, an abomination and a "whited sepulchre".

Has he not read: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matt. 25:40).  Christ had great concern for every one of his followers but the Rt. Rev. Phil Case apparently does not.

He was only one of the church leaders at the meeting but he voices no disquiet about its reprehensible proceedings.

Heads of Churches meeting with members of Queensland Islamic council

By Rt. Rev. Phil Case (Moderator of the Presbyterian church in Queensland)

I attended the Heads of Churches meeting on the 20th October. We met with the Brisbane leaders of the Islamic community.

Some might ask why we would meet with them when our faiths are so different. This was not a meeting about the content of our respective faiths, but a meeting to express concern about the violence that has been perpetrated against some Muslims simply because they are Muslims. It was a meeting to support the Freedom of Religion we enjoy in Australia.

I think it was Evelyn Beatrice Hall biographer of Voltaire who wrote “I disapprove of what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

If we do not speak out against these actions pertaining to people because of their religion, how can we speak out when we are acted against because of our Christian faith? We do not share beliefs with the Islamic Community, but we do share our humanity with them. Our Lord has commanded us to love our neighbour, and to love our enemies.

Speaking out in defence of their right to live in peace as law abiding citizens is doing just this. Aggression toward people arises from fear; fear of that which is different, fear of that which we do not know and understand.

It would be good if we as Christians could take the time to get to know our Islamic neighbours and show them love at the appropriate level. How can we expect them to listen to us if we will not listen to them and take the time to get to know them?

Not only is this an opportunity to live out the commands of our Lord to love our neighbour, but it is an opportunity to share the Gospel with people who desperately need it. God has brought these people to our shores, but the tragedy is that most of these people have no more contact with Christians than they would if they still lived in their Islamic homeland.

They hear no more of the Gospel and know no more of Christianity than those in countries where Christians are not free to share the Gospel. In 1 Peter 3:15-16 we read "...in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience..."

If Christ is Lord, we are to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask about our faith and hope. But no one is going to ask about our hope if we never bother to meet and get to know anyone.

Note also, that we are to do it with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience. We are always to act with care and respect for those we speak to. It is interesting that this is Peter’s command to those who may be afraid of persecution (see verse 14).

We are not to be afraid. We are not to fear anything because our Lord is in control. Let us take the opportunity while it is day to do good to all men and to share the Gospel.

I encourage all Christians to learn not just about the beliefs of Islam, but also to get to know some people who practise Islam. Our common humanity ensures we have much in common with them.

Many of their concerns are our concerns. They are having open days at mosques and are open to invitations to events that we might hold at our churches. This is a golden opportunity to build peace and share the Gospel as the Lord permits.

It will take time and effort to build relationships in which questions can be asked and answered, but let’s not miss out.

Media Release:

Heads of Churches meeting with members of Queensland Islamic Council

by Rt Rev Phil Case

On Monday 20 October, the Heads of Christian Churches met with members of the Islamic Council of Queensland to consider ways of strengthening relations between the Christian and Islamic communities in the State that promote respect and harmony.

The meeting was precipitated by the concern over the recent negative sentiments expressed toward Muslims and especially Muslim women.

The meeting abhorred such actions, and called upon all Queenslanders to respect the right of all Australians to enjoy Freedom of Religion, and seeks to promote ways in which understanding and tolerance between people of different faiths can be increased.

Churches represented included the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Uniting, Congregational Federation of Australian and New Zealand, Australian Christian Churches, Presbyterian Church of Queensland and the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia.

As well as members of the Queensland Islamic Council there were also representatives of the Council of Imams, Crescents of Brisbane and AMARAH in attendance.

Topics discussed included supporting freedom of religious practices and ideas within the Australian community; showing dignity to all people regardless of their beliefs and ways of life; and speaking with a united voice to government and politicians on topics of mutual concern.

As well it was agreed to support initiatives such as the open mosque days, organising forums to educate the wider community about Islam


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