I am a flawed Catholic who was raised by parents, especially my mother who embraced the church.
Throughout my childhood, I was dragged to church each Sunday and each holy day and was sent to a number of Catholic schools. If Mum had her way I am sure we all would have gone every day as she did. While not being a fan of attending church over watching television especially if it meant missing a sports-related show, my experience in the Catholic church has been on the whole a positive one.
My best days at school were at Catholic schools, my three years at a public school was not an enjoyable experience enduring three years of serious bullying while observing teachers who witnessed it turn a blind eye to those events. My Catholic upbringing installed in me a faith in God, in Christ and in life after death, not because of the dogma I was exposed to but because it gave me a base to drawn n when I began questioning the purpose of life when I became an adult.
Since entering adulthood while retaining that faith my observations of it would be far from what my mother would have liked to have seen. I attend church when the mood takes me, most likely on the church’s holy days and sadly these days at funerals. This makes me some form of an idiot as I recognise the faith’s observations about belief in God, Christ and life after death but at the same time ignore the guidelines for entering into that life when I pass. I guess it makes me human but also an idiot as I have been given the gold pass into heaven and keep rejecting the thing.
While I acknowledge that other members of my faith have had vastly different experiences, my time within the church exposed me to Priests, nuns, brothers, sisters, laypeople and parishioners who were fundamentally decent people who I consider persons of far greater integrity and decency than myself. They observed their faith and demonstrated love and compassion for their fellow man that I personally find difficult in many instances and I admire their ability to do so.
Through all those church services and through all my years in Catholic education I was taught to love my fellow human beings, I was taught not to steal, not to be an adulterer, to be generous with my time and any wealth I may enjoy, which hasn’t been much while making other people’s lives better, I was taught to forgive, to reject violence and killing, to welcome all of humanity’s peoples and that everybody had the same pathway and chances in this life and the next one.
That Catholic upbringing installed in me all my good points, my compassion and love for others, my charity when I can afford it and the contribution of my time to better my community. It also instilled in me a characteristic to fight for things I believe in and to stand up for what is right and to stand by others who may be suffering an injustice.
In my life, the Catholic church has been a force for good and I am confident that is the case for millions of others, both of the Catholic faith as well as the many other Christian faiths. It’s also irrefutable that Christianity has overwhelmingly been a positive influence on humanity over the two thousand plus years since the emergence of Jesus Christ himself. Yes, there have been issues in that journey and yes there have been some evil people within the Christian community itself who have inflicted harm and horrendous acts on others as there have in every human institution since Adam met Eve. This is to be expected as Christian denominations are comprised of humans who on the whole are like me, terribly flawed, it would be more surprising if there were no transgressions, which doesn’t excuse the ones we commit.
The Catholic church has charitable programs that assist the poor, the starving, the homeless, the downtrodden, those suffering injustice and persecution and all in some of the world’s poorest countries and where the lives of their clergy and missionaries are under serious threat. Other Christian denominations implement similar programs and expose their people to similar risks.
Despite all of this, today’s society, especially our political elite and mainstream media, increasingly treat Christianity like a pariah, that cannot be recognised, spoken about and is there to be derided and hated.
This has been highlighted this year but especially over the past month. Just look at the contrast in the responses from much of our political leadership and elite both here and abroad after the massacres in Christchurch and Sri Lanka. The media and our political class were all over the Christchurch massacre with statements of standing with Muslims, wearing Hijabs, embracing the Islam call to prayer both in public and through the New Zealand parliament, with our political leaders visiting Muslim places of worship and hugging Muslim community leaders. All of this was justified after the atrocious taking of life by a lunatic.
Worldwide we had leaders such as Barak Obama, Hilary Clinton, Theresa May etc expressing support for Muslim communities across the globe. The media went into overdrive and we had wall to wall coverage of Christchurch for weeks on end.
While Christchurch was an undoubted tragedy and a vile, hateful waste of human life, where is the same outrage at the killing and persecution of thousands of Christians in Nigeria, the Philippines, the Middle East, North Korea, Afghanistan and now Sri Lanka?
The double standard in responses from the mainstream media and our political elite is stark and concerning. After Christchurch political elites had no issue using the word Muslim or Islam in their tweets and announcements, yet after the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks, it seemed as if the word “Christian” had disappeared from the English vocabulary. Barak Obama, Hilary Clinton and many of our own Australian leaders either refused to use the word Christians or even Churches and in the case of Obama and Clinton and other Democrat politicians, such as Adam Schiff, Julian Castro, Greg Stanton and even Canadian Mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman instead opted for the term “Easter worshippers”. Now I am 56 years of age and was baptised a Catholic, I have been to many Easter mass ceremonies and I have to say I have never ever heard that term used to describe us before. Why do those, particularly on the left find it so difficult to refer to anything remotely relating to Christianity? The “Easter Worshippers” tag is not only odd, but it’s particularly odd that a number of democrat and left-leaning individuals seemed to discover this odd term at the same time. It can’t help but make you think that rather this being a coincidence that rather it was a coordinated effort from those on the left, maybe through a talking points memo to do what they could can to not mention Christians.
Why? They have no such reservations in using the words Muslim, Islam, Mosques, Islamophobe etc and they certainly have no issue in associating anybody they feel fits the description of the far right in their eyes with the evils acts of an individual. At the same time, they are extremely reluctant to mention the word Islamic terrorists when an attack from one of these group is obvious. The Washington Post even audaciously or even miraculously turn the Sri Lanka attacks into an article warning about potential far-right attacks on Muslim communities. What? Why the double standard?
— Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) April 22, 2019
Another example the Notre Dame cathedral fire. Across France, there have been attacks of all sorts upon Christian churches and Christians themselves. A number of churches have been the victims of various attacks including arson and the splashing of human excrement on church walls in the sign of a cross. On 26 July 2016, two Islamist terrorists attacked participants in a Mass at a Catholic church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, northern France. They took six people captive which sadly culminated in the murder of the 85-year-old priest, Fr Jacques Hamel when they slit his throat.
What’s most galling is that France for centuries has been a bastion of Christian faith, especially the Catholic one.
France is just one of many countries across the globe that is seeing Christians persecuted. Nigeria, in particular, is seeing horrendous crimes against thousands of Christians. From reports within Nigeria, over the past two years 6,000 Christians have been killed by Fulani Islamist militants and 500 churches have been razed (Click here for a covering article). In January of this year, a Catholic Church in the Philippines was attacked with improvised explosive devices killing 20 and injuring 102, in the Middle East persecution of Christians has been widespread in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan (Click here for a report detailing some of this persecution).
In Australia, Israel Folau is fighting Rugby Australia to keep his spot in the Australian Rugby team, the Wallabies. His crime? quoting a passage from the bible on his private Instagram feed. This post has been framed as homophobic and used in an agenda against Mr Folau. Many of those making that assertion fail to mention that this passage also included drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators. That’s an awful lot of Australians who reside in those groups, yet the only ones being offended apparently are homosexuals, especially it seems a certain CEO of an Australian company. Does this mean the LGBTI community are particularly precious? or that drunks and the rest are not?
Would such a fuss be made if a Muslim rugby player quoted the Koran surrounding these groups of people? Islamic teaching is far more damning of Homosexuals, forget hell, they will put you through hell on earth beforehand. If this happened it would present a significant conflict for Alan Joyce whose company QANTAS has a partnership with Emirates Airlines, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment. It seems by all reports that Alan Joyce has put significant pressure on Rugby Australia through the QANTAS sponsorship of the Wallabies. Would he take a similar stand against a Muslim player expressing similar if not worse quotes from the Koran thereby threatening their partnership with Emirates?
Our political leaders are always willing to get a promo photo of them attending Christian church services, but many of them go missing in action when the faith requires a spirited defence. Shorten and Morrison, for example, both had their attendances at Church services at Easter well covered, but did either of them defend Israel Folau’s right to express his faith via his Instagram account?
After observing the over the top kowtowing by both Morrison and Shorten to Muslim communities and leaders after the Christchurch massacre one wonders as to their response had Folau been a Muslim.
I am not in full defence of Folau as I disagree with much of what he says, as he attacks my faith and church as well and his faith obviously teaches a strict reading and interpretation of the Bible. That is not my belief as many atheists lead a more Christian life than many Christians do. As an example, both Andrew Bolt and Rita Pahini are both self-proclaimed atheists, yet they have been some of the strongest voices defending Christians from persecution. My faith, my belief that I have come to over my life leads me to believe that we all have different conversations with God and we all have different journeys in our lives through God if we allow him to act through us. I also believe that thee conversations and journeys are personal relationships with God that should remain as much between God and me as possible and he will judge me when that journey comes to an end and I can find plenty of bible passages to back that up. I also believe God has a love for us all as we are all his creations both man and beast. We forget that and act against it, then that to me is the most unforgivable sin of all.
My point on Folau is two-fold. First, there is the argument on free speech, which I will cover in another article, my second is once again the double standards applied to Christians and those of other faiths and beliefs.
I am of the firm belief that Christian denominations, especially the Catholic one, across the globe are under attack from many within our governments, our bureaucracies, our institutions and our media. You don’t have to be a Christian to recognise how much good Christian denominations and their people do for our destitute, our poor, our homeless and our sick in this world, you also don’t have to be a Christian to realise that our Western civilisation, society and democracies were built by people, communities and countries of strong Christian faith and have been an overwhelming force for good in Human history.
Blind Freddy can see those targeting Christians and the agenda behind it, but it’s not the enemies of Christianity that annoy me the most, it’s Christians themselves. We are a gentle lot as we choose to acknowledge the parts of the Bible that teach us goodwill to all man, to love your neighbour, forgiveness charity etc. The bible however also teaches a fierce defence of God and Christianity with Jesus himself one of the fiercest Warriors for his Father and his teachings. Jesus was an out and out rebel of his time and he called out those attacking the Jewish faith for who they were, such as him driving out the merchants plying their trade on the hallowed grounds of God’s temple in Jerusalem. Even just hours before his crucifixion and death, he called out Peter for his lack of faith.
Jesus didn’t hide out in churches and cathedrals making sermons to the converted. Instead, he walked among the people and converted them through his deeds, his actions and his teachings knowing it would lead to creating himself enemies and ultimately lead to his awful death for the crime of preaching love, forgiveness and faith. Where are those leaders now in Christ’s many churches? What would he say to them now? What would he say to a failed Catholic like me? I dread to think, but I am sure he would question our lack of courage, our unwillingness or fear to speak out, our lack of action to fight in defending not his only his church, but his name and his faith. I am sure he would question us and he would question me that if he had the courage to face his enemies, to have his skin shredded by Roman whips & torture, to be nailed to a wooden cross and to be mocked whole enduring a slow excruciating and merciless death for all our souls, then why do we not have the courage to speak out? I would not be able to answer him let alone look at him for my shame.
I dread that day when it finally comes if I haven’t done something to change the perception of Christianity and to defend and fight for my faith before my time in this life has passed. Every Christian should think of that day and make a determination that enough is enough, realise that our faith is under attack and even in many instances that we are in fact at War with those who would destroy our church. If I, a failed Catholic, can recognise this, where are our Christian leaders fighting for our faith, for our Christ? Are they too chastened for fear of being singled out by the media, by our politicians, by our enemies? What would Jesus say to them?
For me, it’s time for Christians to stop hiding, to come out to stand up for their faith and to highlight what is wonderful about it as well as acknowledging its errors. It’s time to change and follow Christ’s example and defend, the faith, to fight for the faith, to repel its enemies and to preach its noble message. Christ was a revolutionary in his time, we should embrace his revolutionary spirit in ours.
One thing I have learned in this life is that if you wait for others to defend you, to fight for you, to speak our against your persecutors then you will be waiting a long time. God helps those who help themselves, if Christians keep turning the other cheek before too long they will be opening the gates for the barbarians to flood in. I reject those as evil who have used the Church to hide behind while committing the vilest of sins, but at the same time I resent being referred to as an “Easter Worshipper”, more than resent it I reject it a powerfully as I can. I was born a Christian, I am a Christian today, and will be a Christian until the day I die, which bloody well includes Easter Sunday. More than that, I am proud to be a Christian and to belong to a community that has done so much good for humanity, I am sick of seeing it attacked and ridiculed and pray that God gives me the strength to defend it and fight for it for as long as I can.
Like me you don’t have to be a good Christian to acknowledge this and join me in this fight, you don’t even have to be a Christian you just have to be able to perceive what is right and what is worth fighting for in this life. Our forefathers sure did that.
Finally, I mention the word “Christian” fifty-one times in this article, it’s not that hard!
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