I am – as I have written about before – someone who enjoys and celebrates the diversity of Christianity. I actively seek out dialogue across difference, and when I get the chance to listen to and learn from Christians who hold different opinions than mine, I’m glad to have the chance to broaden my understanding by learning from them.
But today, I have found my limit. I have found the point at which I’m not willing to engage any more. I’m not willing to try to listen, or to figure out how what we hold in common has given rise to such different expressions. Today, I found that the Rise Up Australia Party (motto: “Keep Australia Australian!”), whose leader is also the president of Catch the Fire Ministries, has published on its Facebook page an image which is intended to represent the political climate in which the party is operating. I have added the image below.
In the commentary on the Facebook page, they explain the image thus:
“For the fourth time, “The regional conference of the World Congress of Families” has had to be relocated because of the unhappy musings of the 21st Century mobile Munich beer Hall “tolerance” putsch.
Many high profile politicians have fled the nightmare scenario in their mind. The goosestepping stilettos of the “gaystapo” being too much for them. Alas, the Agenda 21 lackeys and unwitting, default “useful idiots 4 Islam” have met their “Alamo”/ “Stalingrad”.
Now, let me be clear. The World Congress of Families might not be my favourite group in the whole wide world and outer space, but I support their right to meet in peace and safety. I also support the right of various venues to decline to host them. I can understand that that refusal might be irritating, and that by the fourth refusal you might be intemperate.
But when that intemperate irritation is expressed in comparing one’s critics to the Nazi party, you’d better be standing on very solid ground. And these guys are not.
The World Congress of Families has speakers who are known for spreading medical misinformation, for their unwillingness to support freedom of religion, for their promotion of rigid gender roles (with all of the social problems that go with that), and so on and so forth. Their position is open to critique on rational and even theological grounds. To lower themselves to dismissing and ridiculing that critique – and the genuine concerns underlying it – by comparing their critics to the Nazis (and implying that it’s driven by the gay lobby, when in fact that is only one voice among many) is beyond being a cheap shot.
It’s intellectually and morally bankrupt.
And it misrepresents the power dynamics that are really in play here; these are not frightened and disempowered people being silenced by threat of death. They continue to occupy their positions of political and spiritual influence with the same protections afforded every other citizen.
Today, I feel I have more in common in outlook with the abortionists, the gay lobby, the “idiots 4 Islam” and all the rest of the people that this group vilifies, than I do with these brothers and sisters in Christ. (And for me, by nature a rather conservative personality, that’s not a small thing to say!) These are my brothers and sisters, and that’s not something I can or would want to change. But until they can grow up a bit, reflect on their own stance, learn to engage with others with some compassion and openness to repentance, I consider them estranged.
Because I can’t hold meaningful dialogue before a Nazi swastika on a rainbow.