Tag Archives: Asylum seekers

Scott Morrison needs to ‘obey God’s message’

2 Oct 2019, 5:35pm

Family sit against a fence holding a sign that reads: "Thanks you Biloela and people around Australia. You give us hope".

ABC News, 2 October 2019, Photo: The family had been living in the central Queensland town of Biloela. (Supplied: @HometoBilo)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published in On Line Opinion, 4 September 2019.

What will it take for ScoMo to practise what he preaches? I’ve seen the pictures of him with raised hands in worship in his church on Sunday. I applaud him for worshipping the Lord God Almighty and allowing the mass media cameras to see a demonstration of his faith.

His faith needs more than lifting hands in praise. Australians need to see him practise his Christian faith with Priya, her husband Nadesalingam (Nades), with daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2.

They have become household names as they challenge the deportation orders to return them to Sri Lanka.

The small regional town of Biloela, Qld, wants them to stay. They have integrated well into that region and Nades has been employed in the meat works.

Morrison resists: ‘I do understand the real feeling about this and the desire for there to be an exception but I know what the consequences are of allowing those exceptions’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2019). Based on the 10 Daily report in September 2019,

(Australian Border Force officials) have told the family they need to learn to adjust to what they’re got on Christmas Island because they’re not going to be brought back to the mainland,” Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam told AAP after speaking to the family….

“Priya, she is saying that she came from the war zone and regardless of how difficult it is, she’s able to put up with it.

“But it’s the children that she’s worried about, who were born here”….

It’s expected to be months before a trial decides whether Tharunicaa’s (the youngest child) bid for a protection visa should be accepted by the Australian government. Her parents and sibling have already been denied refugee status (10 Daily).

This is not about ‘real feeling’ towards this family but about a demonstration of real Christianity by Morrison and his Christian colleagues in government.

Both Morrison and I are evangelical Christians. We have this divine responsibility,

‘Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Help people who are in trouble. Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and those who need help’ (Proverbs 31:8-9).

This is a special time when ScoMo can act for this family that does not have the political voice, clout or the emotional strength to stand up to the assertions of Peter Dutton that they are not owed protection’ because they ‘are not refugees’.

Morrison claimed ‘they didn’t come to the country in the appropriate way. They have not been found to have an asylum claim’.

Neither would I if I were fleeing persecution. It was reported in the Liverpool City Champion (Narellan, NSW) that ‘Priya told AAP she saw her fiancé and five other men from her village burned alive before she fled. Her entire family now live as refugees in India’.

Prime Minister, it’s time to step up and demonstrate your genuine Christian convictions.

‘Someone might argue, “Some people have faith, and others have good works.” My answer would be that you can’t show me your faith if you don’t do anything. But I will show you my faith by the good I do’ (James 2:18).

Your Bible-based Christian faith will live up to this requirement, ‘’If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and he will repay you’ (Proverbs 19:17).

The two children of asylum seekers Nadesalingam and Priya.

Photo: The two girls were born in Australia but are not Australian citizens. (Supplied: Tamil Refugee Council)

Morrison’s heartless comment was, ‘They can return to Sri Lanka and they can make an application to come to Australia under the same processes as everyone else, anywhere else in the world. And I would hope they do. I would hope they do’ (SMH).

Sending people on meagre wages back to Sri Lanka and hoping they’ll make application to come to Australia as everyone else does is not practising Christianity’s Golden Rule: ‘In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you’.

Is that how you want to be treated, Mr Morrison? Do you want this harshness inflicted on you? ‘The prime minister says he cannot “in good conscience” allow a Tamil couple and their Australian-born children facing deportation to stay in Australia’.

That’s not a ‘Christian conscience’ based on the Golden Rule’ and God’s care for the needy.

Now Ray Hadley joins with the Honourable Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs, in choofing the family back to Sri Lanka. Why?

“It’s very simple… they lied,” says Ray (on 2GB, 3 September 2019).

“The woman came from Chennai, which is in India. That’s where she set sail from and she’d been living there for an extended period.

“The now-husband had travelled from Sri Lanka to the Middle East on three separate occasions and had returned on three separate occasions”.

ABC News confirmed, ‘He frequently travelled between Sri Lanka, Kuwait and Qatar between 2004 and 2010 for work, during the civil war that ended in 2009’.

Ray: Why was Niya in Chennai? She has made it clear her persecuted family in Sri Lanka had sought asylum in India. The Guardian reported, ‘She initially fled to India, not a refugee convention country and which does not offer protection, with family members’.

Contrary to Ray Hadley’s statement, she was not lying about her circumstances when she left the Indian city of Chennai to seek asylum in Australia. She had fled Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2000 to India, which is not a signatory of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

The UNHCR stated although India was not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, India’s national refugee protection framework ‘continues to grant asylum to a large number of refugees from neighbouring States and respects UNHCR’s mandate for other nationals’.

In 2018, Mr Dutton intervened to prevent two European nannies (au pairs) from being deported from Australia.

‘”It’s quite clear if you look at the ministerial intervention guidelines, this case [of the Tamil family] meets those guidelines more clearly than the two au pair cases in which the minister [Mr Dutton] acted within hours,” said Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the Immigration Department’ (ABC News).

Mr Rizvi was more compassionate towards this family than Morrison, Dutton or Hadley. He told the ABC, ‘We have a clear contest between human decency and appropriate use of the ministerial intervention powers and the minister’s ego’.

Some will be shouting: Keep religion out of politics. That’s impossible to do because all people see life thorough their world views. A world view is like lenses through which we look at reality. Our beliefs about all aspects of life colour our perspective of what happens in the universe.

A Christian world view includes: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’ The Scriptures I’ve quoted in this essay demonstrate how the Christian ScoMo, as our national leader, ought to be treating this Tamil family. Instead, his government has put the family through 18 months of trauma, which is hardly a demonstration of Christian kindness.

Glen Campbell’s song comes to mind as I consider what the Coalition government should be doing to the Tamil family,

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you’re going the wrong way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

(composers: Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin)

This is what we need from the government led by a Christian Prime Minister.

The Tamil family is in our country so we can act christianly towards them. Prime Minister Morrison, you are a Christian. This is how you can demonstrate your Christianity to this family: ‘God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient’ (Colossians 3:12).

Please intervene immediately. What could be more pointed than this call to you Mr Morrison?

‘Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves…. But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard’ (James 2:22, 25).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 January 2020.

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British Home Office shocking Bible interpretations: Rejected Iranian Christian asylum seeker

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(image British Home Office, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Image result for British clipart public domainLiving in a country of the British Commonwealth, Australia, it shocked me to hear that the UK Home Office (HO) refused to grant asylum to an Iranian convert from Islam to Christ. The reason given was that the asylum seeker claimed in 2016 that Christianity is a peaceful religion and it is not.

According to The Telegraph (UK), 21 March 2019, the HO rejected the application because

government officials said his conversion from Islam was “inconsistent” with his claim that Christianity is a peaceful religion.

In order to reiterate the point, the Home Office wrote a lengthy and “unbelievably offensive” refusal letter referencing six Bible passages and claiming that the book of Revelation is filled with “images of revenge, destruction, death and violence”.

The Home Office rejection, below the quoted verses concludes: “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”

I strongly object to the HO’s process and final judgment for these reasons:

1folder The rejection for asylum included verses from the books of Leviticus, Exodus, and Revelation that the HO claimed demonstrated Christianity was not a peaceful faith but one of violence and revenge. Faulty biblical interpretation of these verses was only one of the deficiencies in the decision.

2folder The HO quoted Matthew 10:34 to try to demonstrate Christianity was not a peaceful religion: ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’ (NRSV). In context, what does that mean?

Messiah would be the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6-7) but the people will violently reject Him and His reign (hence the crucifixion and resurrection). Jesus taught His disciples, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you’ (John 14:27).

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27

(image courtesy Pinterest)

Before the consummation of all things (Jesus’ second coming), there will be peace in the midst of a hostile world where there will be violence. With Jesus’ first coming, he warned his disciples that they would experience His peace but it would be mixed with violence (the sword), not from His followers, but by others.

Don’t you see the irony of this asylum rejection? This person has experienced the violence in Iran (the sword – not from Christianity) and is fleeing from that to a country of relative peace, the UK. However, the HO does not want to grant him peace but wants to send him back to persecution in Iran?

You don’t realise it, but you have helped this person experience Matt 10:34 (when properly interpreted).

It’s time for the HO staff to take a basic course in biblical hermeneutics (interpretation).

3folder Profound biblical misunderstanding by the HO leads me to support Bishop Butler of Durham who said of the HO, ‘I am extremely concerned that a Government department could determine the future of another human being based on such a profound misunderstanding of the texts and practices of faith communities‘.

a. Leviticus not for Christians

One of the HO verses given for rejection was the line from Leviticus 26:7, ‘You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you’.

To whom was this verse directed? It was addressed to the Israelites (Lev 25:54-55) and all of Leviticus 26 deals with what will happen for obedience or disobedience by THE ISRAELITES.

Lev 26:7 does NOT deal with laws for Christians.

The HO staff has fallen into the hole of misrepresentation and eisegesis. A course in basic hermeneutics is needed by those staff who made the final decision.

b. Christianity and peace

Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matt 5:9). This does not contradict Leviticus 26:7 (What is the context? Who will fall by the sword?) Jesus did not teach, ‘Blessed are the violence pertrators’.

The almighty God whom Christians worship has one attribute in which he is the God of peace (Phil 4:6-9 NLT). However, he’s also the God of wrath (see John 3:36), which demonstrates the judgment of God.

c. The apocalyptic Book of Revelation

It’s a shocker what the HO has done with the interpretation of the Book of Revelation in rejecting this visa application.

I join with Bishop Paul Buttler in condemnation of the HO’s actions: ‘To use extracts from the Book of Revelation to argue that Christianity is a violent religion is like arguing that a government report on the impact of climate change is advocating drought and flooding’.

Your HO staff don’t seem to know how to interpret apocalyptic literature.

Of the three points above, why has the HO engaged in biblical interpretation at all? If they want biblical interpreters, there are many in the Church of England who have done much better jobs than that demonstrated in the rejection letter.

4folder I understand that a Home Office spokesperson said:

“This letter (of asylum rejection) is not in accordance with our policy approach to claims based on religious persecution, including conversions to a particular faith.

“We continue to work closely with key partners, including the APPG (All-party parliamentary group) on International Freedom of Religion and a range of faith groups, to improve our policy guidance and training provided to asylum decision-makers so that we approach claims involving religious conversion in the appropriate way” (Premier, 21 March 2019).

I sent the basic content of this article to: (a) The British High Commissioner, Canberra, ACT Australia, email: australia.enquiries@fco.gov.uk; and (b)  The United Kingdom Home Office, London UK, email: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk. When and if responses come, I’ll add to this topic.

Conclusion

The British Home Office (HO) entered the voyage of biblical interpretation in its rejection of a visa for an Iranian asylum seeker who converted from Islam to Christianity because the latter is a ‘peaceful religion’.

The Iranian claimed that Christianity was a peaceful religion. The HO said in its letter of rejection that it wasn’t and quoted passages from the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the Book of Revelation. The HO claimed the Book of Revelation was filled with “images of revenge, destruction, death and violence”.

It cited Matt 10:34 to try to confirm Christianity’s violent intent. To ram home the point of Christianity’s violence, it used Leviticus 26:10.

I tried to show that the HO engaged in eisegesis – imposing its own meaning on the text – instead of obtaining the meaning from the text, when taken in context. The books of Exodus and Leviticus were written to the Israelites and demonstrated what God would do to that nation if it obeyed or disobeyed God’s commands.

The HO officials who wrote this letter of rejection to the asylum seeker should hand hermeneutics (interpretation) over to the theologians and exegetes. The rejection letter contained pathetic biblical interpretation that a Hermeneutics 101 student would be failed for.

Anger after asylum seekers given just 80p a week extra in Home Office ruling

(photo courtesy The Independent: ‘Anger after asylum seekers given just 80p a week extra in Home Office ruling’)

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:01 April 2019.

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