Yesterday, a group of yobbos known as the Party for Freedom staged a noisy anti-Islamic protest during the Sunday mass at the Gosford Anglican Church. I wasnâ€™t previously aware of the existence of the Party (whose slogan is â€œMake Australia Great Againâ€, so make of that what you will) but I imagine it is inspired by Geert Wildersâ€™ (he of the magnificent blonde coiffure) Dutch party of the same name, seeing they seem to share a very similar outlook on life. I was, however, certainly aware of the Gosford Anglican parish, under the leadership of Fr Rod Bower. Almost a century ago, suffragette Maude Royden famously described the Anglican Church as â€œthe Conservative Party at prayerâ€; times change, and Gosford Anglicans can nowadays be more accurately labelled as the Greens on their knees. Never having attended a service there, I perhaps shouldnâ€™t comment, but of what I have seen of Fr Bowerâ€™s social media output, Iâ€™m repeatedly tempted to launch some sort of publicity campaigns along the lines of â€œKeep Christ in (Gosford) Christianityâ€ or â€œLess Refugees, More Resurrectionâ€. Perhaps itâ€™s time to call for the separation of church and anti-state.
Anyways, disagreeing with Fr Bowerâ€™s stance on immigration, multiculturalism and Islam, the Party for Freedom activists dressed themselves up in Islamic garb and disrupted the mass by staging a mock Islamic pray-in to the amplified sounds of a pre-recorded muezzin.
As Henry Kissinger once said about the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s, itâ€™s a pity that both sides canâ€™t lose. Fr Bower is a dill (I have not that long ago written about the idiotic moral equivalence he preaches), but the â€œFreedom-fightersâ€ are morons too. Even without getting into arguments about the point they were trying to make (the Islamisation of the West), basic decency in a democratic society would suggest you donâ€™t gate-crash and interrupt a religious service. This applies to nationalists disrupting Anglicans as much as it applies to gay activists disrupting Catholics. For that matter it applies to protesters of any shape (though they mostly seem to come from the left, what with its deep commitment to freedoms of speech and association) trying to noisily and often violently shut down meetings, speeches and lectures. This simply shows low class (not in the Marxist sense, as those most guilty are most commonly drawn from the lumpen-intelligencia). If you disagree with someone, you have a perfect right to make yourself heard about it, but you can do it outside the venue, and do it peacefully. Thus I wouldnâ€™t have a problem with the Party of Freedomâ€™s fake Muslims making their point on the public thoroughfare outside the church, if only they could spell thoroughfare.
Fr Bower and his parishioners were justifiably not impressed with the protest. This, however, didnâ€™t stop Father Rod using the occasion to make some predictably silly remarks:
â€œIt was very distressing,â€ he told news.com.au.
â€œThe congregation was traumatised.â€
The Party for Freedom group members loudly played recordings of the Koran and Father Bower said it was a form of extremismâ€¦
He said Party for Freedom renewed his commitment to building a safe and functional multicultural society.
â€œWe have two choices. Learn to live together or die. I want to learn to live together,â€ he said.
Father Bower believed there was a high level of low level racism in his community and said the act of hate reiterated the importance of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Actâ€¦
â€œI support their (Party for Freedom) right to prosecute their particular view but I support the right to do that by setting up and protesting in a part,â€ Father Bower said.
â€œTo invade a sacred space and traumatise people is utterly unacceptable and indicative of a form of extremism.
â€œSection 18C gives us a mechanism to at least manage and contain extremism and if we lose that than we lose one of the mechanisms we need to have safe and respectful dialogue.â€
A few things spring to mind:
1)Fr Bowerâ€™s congregation seems to be very easily traumatised. Perhaps after the next service, watching a documentary about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East can steel their nerves, as well as provide some perspective on life.
2) If being exposed to recordings of the Koran and the sight of (albeit fake) Muslims at prayer traumatises members of the Gosford Anglican church, perhaps they need to take a deeper look inside themselves and reflect on their Christian privilege, and perhaps even their subconscious Islamophobia.
3) Iâ€™m not surprised that Fr Bower is a fan of s 18C, but the object of the section in this context would be to prevent the Party for Freedom from, and penalise them for, spreading their message in general, and not just inside Fr Bowerâ€™s church. And perhaps thatâ€™s the whole point of the good Father’sÂ â€œsafe and respectful dialogueâ€, and by dialogue I mean monologue.
4) â€œWe have two choices. Learn to live together or die.â€ What in heavens does that even mean? That if the Australian society wonâ€™t accommodate Islam, we will all perish? If thatâ€™s the case, at whose hand? And can I ask that question under s 18C?