For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 1 Sep 2013.
Of all the recent criticisms of church leaders for their strong stance against harsh treatment of asylum seekers, one came from an unlikely quarter, asking why media statements ignored the responsibility of churches to evangelise asylum seekers who seek to come to Australia by boat – in other words to encourage them to become Christians and get involved in a local church.
Most statements by churches and church leaders seek to address government policies that are lacking in compassion, or that portray Australians as cruel and uncivilized, and they are for public release.
Talk about how (or why) asylum seekers might come to know, love and follow Jesus is an internal matter for churches and their agencies and members. And one of the best ways to discourage effective evangelism of asylum seekers is for Christians to actively seek their demonisation and exclusion from Australia. Border protection is anti-evangelism.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.