Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meanwhile, down under...

How about this - in Austrailia too:
Two Australian pastors in the province of Victoria will go to jail if they do not apologize for publicly comparing Christianity with Islam according to their beliefs. One organization attempting to come to their rescue is The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington-based international non- profit law firm renowned for protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.

Arguments are being presented today in the Appeals Court of Australia. A team of Australian lawyers is seeking to have overturned the 2004 ruling of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal which found that public expression of the pastors’ beliefs incited hatred against Muslims in violation of Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act because the pastors’ beliefs were deemed “offensive” and “unreasonable” interpretations of Christian and Islamic teachings. The Becket Fund is a member of that team, counseling the pastors regarding their rights under international law dealing with religious freedoms. [More]
The Victoria state Islamic Council took offense at statements raised during a seminar led by the two pastors that "the Koran promotes violence and killing; that Muslims lie; and that Muslims intend to take over Australia and delclare it an Islamic State."[Crosswalk]

A simple show of hands will probably reveal few Christians who disagree with that, forgetting that history records similar christian impulses and ambitions and their tragic consequences. If anything, the incident illustrates the need to exercise restraint and care when dealing with other faiths. Christians tend to be careless and I must confess that I too have a tendency to generalise or speak too hastily - whether it is about Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism. As someone who's living in Muslim-majority Malaysia I know too well the inherent dangers of hurting Islamic 'sensitivities.'

The study of comparative religions is tricky, but absolutely critical in a multicultural nation such as ours if you want to have a clearer understanding of spirituality in all its complementary and divergent shades. The question is, how do you do that in cynical times like this?

>The Becket Fund link to this story


MaoBi said...

Heh. Found your post really funny...

You claim to follow a chap who got crucified for pissing his neighbours off (ignoring intent for the moment). Then here we have you wringing your hands about sensitivity for Muslims who feel pissed off about being called terrorists.

This Sunday, when its time to head off to church, plop your ass down in a comfy chair instead and flip on "queer eye for the religious guy". I believe they are doing a special on how to be sensitive.

Siva said...

Living in a multi racial country we need to be sensitive about the cultures and religions of those around us without compromising our own. It is easier said than done, when others may not be as sensitive as we are, neverthless it has to start somewhere. Otherwise we will have a situation like the one in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, etc.... kill and be killed. Warmongers love this kind of situation.

David BC Tan said...

I think fear of reprisals (or chaos) is not the primary motivation. What I find daunting is the whole idea of modeling after our 'suffering servant' Lord and not be fuzzy headed about what's right and wrong.