Tag Archives: civil disobedience

Non-violent civil disobedience

22 Mar

Some people who I have a lot of respect for recently staged a sit-in, prayer vigil in Immigration minister Scott Morrison’s office. They prayed for Scott Morrison and the government for around 2 hours before the police came and asked them to move on. They refused and, ultimately, five of the party were arrested (still without violence).

Less than 48 hours earlier, one of them had asked me about whether non-violent civil disobedience was appropriate both as a Christian and in relation to the issue d the Australian government’s policy on handling asylum seekers.

My answer, which I stand by, went something along the lines of ‘I think there are times when it is appropriate for individuals to be involved in this kind if action, but it is very rare. Also, if you are considering this kind of thing, it is worth taking time out to think about both the impact that you may (or may not) have – I.e will it actually achieve anything! – and whether the implications of being arrested may close doors in the future which you may actually want to stay open. But if, having considered those things, you still feel it’s the right thing to do, go for it! I may not join you myself, but I may still agree with what you’re doing.’

What these guys did at Scott Morrison’s office gave them a chance to say some really helpful things. (The media article with the most comprehensive quotes is here:http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/christians-hold-prayer-vigil-inside-office-immigration-minister-five-arrested)

What I like about this action, as opposed to some of the actions taken by others who claim to be advocating for refugees and asylum seekers, is that it didn’t cause any harm to asylum seekers themselves (as encouraging lip sewing and hunger striking does) and it raised the issue without violence.

imageFurther, their actions served to encourage a more positive response in the Minister, highlighting the truth of the Christian faith (that it calls us to care for the vulnerable) and how that gospel message can be brought to bear on this area of public policy.

The danger of the action would be that it would be taken by the general public as evidence of a schism in the church. However, even though it highlights an important divide in the politics and thinking of the church, it didn’t come across as an adversarial action or argument, but rather a respectful invitation by some believers to some others to join in prayer for the issue.

I have to be honest, a part of me wishes I had gotten involved. I don’t often feel this way about advocacy action, but in this case, it just seemed so right.

Thanks to those friends of mine who had the courage, grace and intelligence to conduct themselves so well.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 431 other followers