#1145 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 1 November 2015
Presenting the second annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture in London on Tuesday, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed Europe’s compassion toward refugees fleeing war in Syria was misguided, and Australia’s policy of “stopping the boats” was “the only truly compassionate thing to do.”
His apparent dismissal of a central principle of Christian faith left Australian religious leaders appalled and offended.
Mr Abbott said while the imperative to “love your neighbour as yourself” was “decent and humane,” and at the heart of every western polity, it was “leading much of Europe into catastrophic error.”
What Mr Abbott overlooked is that loving one’s neighbour, no matter how different, is not a dispensable policy option but a command from the lips of Jesus.
Politics and faith are not separate realms that rarely overlap, and loving one’s neighbour is not “misguided altruism” when it comes to caring for refugees, but one of the finest examples of faith in action.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.