Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Christian Thing To Do

The decision by an unnamed bureaucrat to remove the cross and the bible and all religious paraphernalia from the chapel at the Royal North Shore hospital has been described as political correctness gone mad. In fact, it’s worse than that. It is offensive and insulting and bigoted and only adds to the vilification of religious minorities who inevitably suffer the backlash from such ill considered decisions. Nobody gains anything from the intellectually bankrupt and morally perverse depiction of any religious faith as offensive.

Such a decision is insulting to everyone. It is insulting to Christians who are told that they cannot be permitted to display the symbols of their faith for fear of offending somebody else, while efforts to accommodate other faiths mean that all of us witness daily the symbols of minority faiths in public places. Somehow the majority faith has been turned into something that has to be hidden away, while at the same time members of that faith are instructed to be tolerant of all others. It is hypocrisy, and it is insulting.

It is also insulting to the Muslims, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Hare Krishnas, The Shaolins, and even the atheists who are not in the least bit offended that Christians might wish to display Christian symbols. Worse than being insulting, the claim that Christian symbols must be hidden away because it offends non-Christians only serves to incite resentment against people who were not offended in the first place. The innocent get the blame for idiotic decisions made by people who possibly don’t even have a firm grasp on religious concepts anyway. Certainly it’s clear they don’t have a grasp on basic common sense.

The truly ridiculous thing is that many people of other faiths cannot understand why supposed Christians are not more active in displaying the signs of their faith. They cannot understand why Christians act is if they are embarrassed about who they are or what they believe in. Many of them even realize, quite rightly, that if the right to be openly Christian is gradually undermined then it is only a matter of time before the right to be openly displaying any other faith will also come under attack.

The Chapel in question at the Royal North Shore Hospital is used as a multi-denominational place of reflection and worship. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with displaying the symbols of a number of different faiths, but to display none seems to rob it of any kind of significance or sense of purpose. It is a fact of life that our community is shared by people from a variety of faiths, and a public amenity such as a Chapel at a hospital will be too.

That means all who share that space must accept and tolerate each others’ differences, which ultimately mean very little in the light that most of them are there for very similar reasons in the first place. Muslim or Christian, Hindu or Jew, they are all there because somebody they care for is sick or dying and they are seeking a place of spiritual comfort. That is something we all share, and that is why a place such as this should not be made sterile and meaningless. It should instead be filled with care and compassion and love for each other. Oddly enough, that would be the Christian thing to do.

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