In this section, we’re featuring articles, talks and speeches about various aspects of Interfaith and related subjects. Our hope is that this will provide both support and challenge to the growing Interfaith and wider communities – a place where ideas can be discussed in a context of solid academic study and/or religious practice, but also, deep listening, where the spirit of the words is as rich as the text.

We hope you enjoy it.

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3 responses »

    • Dear Brookes,

      You may wish to do something with that below. It is a speech I made at a rally countering that called by Reclaim Australia to oppose a mosque in Cessnock.

      Peace and love,

      John Queripel

      A TIME FOR BRIDGE-BUILDING (Rev) John Queripel

      There are enough walls in this world. That in Berlin may have been taken down some 25 years ago but we are busily erecting new ones; walls being rebuilt in Europe, walls between Israel and Palestine and of course that shameful wall we are constructing around our own country in a certifiably paranoid reaction to people coming on boats.

      The alternative course to building walls is to build bridges. This world needs more bridge-builders today than ever before, bridge-builders in the line of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mandela.

      Fear of the outsider has a long and shameful history in our land. Historically it has been seen in the fear of those not born white, especially the original inhabitants of this land who had to be cleared by ‘the drive’, a euphemism for genocide (yes I choose the word carefully as it was policy to ‘breed them out’ while in Tasmania the policy of extermination was even more direct), fear of the Irish Catholics, fear of the yellow hordes and fear of the Asian Reds. Of those last two categories it was thought that somehow they would run down upon us like treacle for being north they were ‘up there’ and we down here in the south were under them. I grew up with all this especially with the nightly television news of war in Vietnam, a necessary war we were told to protect ourselves from those dangerous outsiders.. Strange to say that land is now a leading tourist destination for Australians. Those Australians, and of course the many more Vietnamese, who gave their lives for that war are mocked by such.

      Fear of the outsider still strikes deep in the psyche of to many Australians always being available for unscrupulous politicians and others to use for their own devious purposes. I have certainly seen enough of that in my lifetime.

      Now the ‘outsider’ has become Islam, that term become something to mean fanatical terrorists bent on destroying our way of life. What of course is conveniently forgotten is the rich history of Islam, the keeping alive and the development of the Greek philosophical tradition of inquiry when much of Europe had sunk into a mire of superstition, the development of mathematics, astronomy and the list could go on. All of this developed in sophisticated societies, societies open to dialogue and debate, even interfaith dialogue at a time when Europe had closed itself to any such thing. A few examples will suffice; the Umayyad and Ottoman Caliphates empires which rivaled or even surpassed Rome in their extent, the Mughal Empire in India. We know nothing of these great societies and the extent of tolerance they granted to those not sharing the ruler’s Muslim faith.

      Visit Spain as I have done and understand the richness of the culture of the Moors where Christian, Jew and Muslim lived together in magnificent cities like Granada and Cordoba, before the barbarity of the re-conquest under Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, that date being the beginning of another genocide by the West of course. In Spain itself it meant the end of the tolerant society and the bringing of enforced conversions to the true faith, the exiling of those, Jews and Muslims, who would not convert to the ‘true faith’, and the Inquisition to ensure you got that faith ‘right.’

      Understanding, education, knowledge are all things which liberate us from the dark cave of fear. It really is time we began to educate ourselves about Islam and what it in truly means. Of course there are Islamic fundamentalists. Fundamentalism gathers around many things, religious or irreligious. The best way of dealing with that is to engage the mainstream. That is what we need to do with Islam not ostracize and alienate people of that faith. I welcome a new presence of Islam in this area and I look forward to meeting and dialoguing. Let us all commit ourselves to that, to being bridge-builders and in so doing break down those walls of prejudice, misunderstanding, ignorance and fear. Isn’t that the Australia we really want to be?

      Rev John Queripel is a Uniting Church minister without placement resident in the Hunter. This is a speech given at Cessnock at a rally for racial tolerance and inclusion in response to a rally being held by ‘Reclaim Australia’ opposing the building of a local mosque.

      Like

  1. Hi,
    I am not too sure if I am in the right direction. I want to join interfaith dialogue meetings & don’t know how to find out where they are in Sydney. I have been to churches interfaith events & keen to participate in more groups. Would you mind replying with some information regarding this.

    I will be grateful to you.

    Thanks & Regards

    Hussain Sherazi

    Liked by 1 person

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