Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Jim Wallace on ABC

Jim Wallace, head of the conservative Australian Christian Lobby, was featured recently on the ABC's Difference of Opinion panel.

The topic was Muslims in Australia, and Mr Wallace was joined by three other panel members - a Muslim woman activist, an ex-Muslim psychologist and a non-believing Jew.

While the discussion was generally positive about how to reach out to moderate Muslims, bridge cultural differences in society and so forth, Mr Wallace made two comments that should be investigated further.

Firstly, he condemned moderate Muslims for not speaking out against the hard-right of their religion. Good and well, but Mr Wallace did not at any stage in the course of the debate speak out against the hard-right of his own religion, either. It seems a little arrogant to criticise Muslims for being silent when it comes to the radical fundamentalists of their religion, when Mr Wallace has chosen not to distance moderate Christians from groups such as the Christian Democrats. When Fred Nile issues press releases with "No More Muslims" plastered across the top, and calling areas where Muslims live places where "Aussie values are despised", the Australian Christian Lobby has a duty to speak up and censor this kind of inflammatory, bigoted, ignorant garbage. After all, they claim to be representing moderate Christians.

Secondly, Mr Wallace made the claim that the problem was with Islam itself - that if someone was taken through the teachings of the Koran, they could either become a peaceful loving person, or a hard-right fanatic. But if someone was taken through Christianity - more specifically the teachings of Jesus - then they could only end up a peaceful loving person. Well, firstly I'm not sure where Mr Wallace has been living for the past few years, but as a member of the audience pointed out, Christians have been plenty responsible for the violence in the Middle East (this lady was herself a Christian, and had lived in the Middle East for the past 10 years). They've just recently put the civilian death toll in Iraq at 250,000 conservatively, but probably more like 600,000. A war that was justified and lauded by the Religious Right.

The Bible has been used to justify slavery, murder of homosexuals, torture...the list goes on. To a certain extent I agree - the teachings of Jesus are peaceful and loving. I only wish Christians would pay a bit more attention to what Jesus actually said. But they don't, and therein lies the problem.

So come on, Mr Wallace. If the Australian Christian Lobby doesn't want to be seen as just one more step in the rise of the Religious Right, speak out against the fanatical right of our own religion, and own up to some of its ugly truths. Only then can true change occur.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

On this Jim Wallace is right. And extreme right Christians don't go around bombing others much less other Christians.

As for the Iraq casualties, again, most of them (Muslim and Christian) have been killed by other Muslims. You can't blame Americans for the 1000 year hate between Sunni and Shia much less the legacy of Saddam's Iraq.

And I'm not a hard right Christian or fan of ACL BTW

--saint

Ash said...

Saint,

When I read your reply about extreme right christians not bombing each other much less other christians, I could not believe my eyes!! You must have been asleep or on another planet during the late 1960's, 70's and 80's. For your information, below is an excerpt about the Troubles in Norther ireland:
"violence erupted again in the late 1960s; bloody riots broke out in Londonderry in 1968 and in Londonderry and Belfast in 1969. British troops were brought in to restore order, but the conflict intensified as the Catholic IRA and Protestant paramilitary groups carried out bombings and other acts of terrorism against each other and against civilians in Northern Ireland". Are they not christians fighting, maiming and killing each other?? Or have you just omitted to mention this gruesome and tragic internecine conflict?

As for your assertion about Iraq, you are just as wrong about that as the first comment. One year after the invasion of Iraq, the Washington Post carried this article:
"One of the first attempts to independently estimate the loss of civilian life from the Iraqi war has concluded that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians may have died because of the U.S. invasion.

The analysis, an extrapolation based on a relatively small number of documented deaths, indicated that many of the excess deaths have occurred due to aerial attacks by coalition forces, with women and children being frequent victims, wrote the international team of public health researchers making the calculations"

If you want to be an apologist for the Coalition of the Killing who invaded a sovereign ountry based on a lie and broke the International Rule of Law, that's one thing but do not try and justify the appalling situation in Iraq by calling it a Sunni on Shiite conflict. To do that is to ignore or change history. Despise Saddam Hussein as much as you want to, but when he ruled Iraq there was no Sunni\Shiite murders, there were no car bombs and there were certainly no Al Quaeda terrorists. Actually it is not 1000 years but a 1300 year rivalry and hatred between Sunni and Shai, but it is the imbecile in the White House and his two chief co-morons, Blair and Howard who let the genie out of the bottle by invading Iraq which has led to the present appalling situation. Now they are unable to fix the situation as they do not have the appropriate strategies, General Petraeus himself said that there was no military solution to the violence in Iraq.

I suspect you have not attended a sermon given by Jim Wallace, but I have and I can attest to the fact that his anti Muslim bias stood out like a beacon. The religious right (totally fanatical people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson) supported the White House in the invasion of Iraq. What is occurring is that the ACL is trying to gain support by pandering to right wing Christians in this country so that it's own moral agenda will influence Federal and State government policy.

I would suggest that you check your facts before commenting otherwise you will be like most politicians in this country, long on rhetoric but short on facts.

Ciao,


Ash