First, Christians everywhere stand with all New Zealanders at both the outrage and shock at what happened in Christchurch last Friday and we send our condolences to the families of those who died and are seriously injured in these senseless attacks.
Secondly, we are troubled that the rise in many countries, New Zealand included, of a form of ‘nationalism’ that claims to be based on Christian roots, and that carries references to ‘Christian values’ or ‘Christian heritage’.
I would like to clarify that most Christians in NZ believe that Christian values are not compatible with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and xenophobic discourses. Nationalism, when it stirs up a sense of victimhood, grievance, and blame against other groups in society, when it stokes fear and hatred of ‘the other’, is anything but Christian.
We believe that Christianity means loving our neighbours and welcoming the stranger. We have to admit that over the centuries, we have failed this principle and at times we have failed miserably. But the principle still stands and continues to inspire believers across the globe.
In order to counter rising nationalist populism, we have to recognize that before being citizens of any country, we all belong to the human family, made up of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation around the world.
While we affirm the right and need for every nation to provide for its own security, we are concerned that so-called Christian values have been leveraged to foster hatred, and discrimination against those adhering to other religions, or from other nationalities and regions of the world.
We would like to reaffirm the unique value of each and every “member of the human family”, as stated in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Without such a bedrock, democracy is at best the rule of the majority, and at worst the rule of the mob.
Alan Vink is Christian leader and a former Baptist Pastor. He works with church groups across the denominational spectrum. He blogs at http://www.leadershipworx.org.nz/browse/category/blog/
Ph. 021 562 743