Advent and Religious Apartheid

Advent is one of those strange times in Australia. A time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. With Easter and Lent, when many people use Lent as a time of reflection, going without, giving things up. Advent, unfortunately, is often filled with end of school plays and presentation, work Christmas functions. You are maybe trying to catch up with those people you haven’t seen all year, Christmas shopping, getting the family arrangements made and preparing the Christmas meal. Some might even try to fit in a visit or two to Church.

A time when we reflect on families — are you happy for your family members to be discriminated against?

When you do have a brief moment to reflect on Advent, some exciting things can come to mind.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, there is very little about the birth of Jesus, but a lot about his genealogy, a quick calming down of Joseph (the assumingly also virgin Dad), a quick introduction of the Wise Men, who provide the backdrop for Kind Herod and the first real event that Jesus has in his life, becoming a refuge.

When we look at the genealogy of Jesus, we are faced with several things. Some in the list are people who don’t really fully understand and wrestled with God. Some of them were not faithful in the multiplicity of that meaning, other less than desirable characters, and of course, there are women listed. All of this would have been dramatically confrontational to the people of the days it was written and scandalous.

Very rapidly, we head into Jesus Ministry, which again for those early Christians much of what they would have heard would be scandalous.

Jesus meeting in public with women, visiting the lepers, being with the outcast and giving sermons encouraging his followers to be with the sick, those in prison, without clothes or food. Praying in private without drawing attention to yourself, loving your enemies, and so on. Then ultimately saying that everything that went before was brought together in two statements, love God and love one another.

Advent is a time for reflection.

This Advent, Christians and non-Christians are undertaking a lot of reflecting and soul searching in Australia. The Australian Prime Minister has introduced another exposure draft religious discrimination bill. This bill is not solely about protecting religious people from discrimination, but more about providing religious people and organisations with the right to discriminate against others.

The bill effectively creates a system of a #religiousapartheid in Australia.

What are we discovering:

The list of examples is growing and will continue to grow.

Christian Porter has named religious-based organisations who will receive benefits from the government’s legislation, around the ability to hire and fire employees on religious groups. Many religious organisations are saying they don’t need these powers.

The original exposure draft was said to be friendless, and PM Morrison believes the new draft is much better after listening to the responses from the exposure draft. Unfortunately, it appears that they have only listened to the conservative religious voices and very few others, and this exposure draft is worse and more dangerous than the first.

Scott Morrison talks about this bill bringing greater harmony to Australia. The legislation is nothing more than introducing a system of state-funded religious apartheid into Australia. This will bring greater disharmony and many negative social and health consequences for our society.

In Advent, when we are reminded about the birth of Jesus, the refugee, the preacher man who disrupted the religious and political elite, he would not be calling for a system of religious apartheid, he would be calling for inclusion rather than exclusion.

This Advent, it is time for Christians, people of other faiths, and the rest of society to spend some time reflecting. Do we want to introduce a system of religious privilege, of religious apartheid into Australia? If not, then the action is required to let your local members and the Prime Minister know that this is not the Australia we want.

Let’s remember that Jesus was a refugee, and advocate for the poor and the outcast, the people of different nations and ethnicity. He was not an advocate for the religious and political elite.

It is time that the people of Australia became more prophetic, rejecting the political and religious elite and take back Australia for all humankind.

Business leader, LGBTIQ Advocate, Gay, Christian, Author, Occasional Blogger, Father, Traveller

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