Indigenous Anglican pastor Ray Minniecon has confronted the head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and those he represents for not doing enough to denounce the way Indigenous people are treated in Australia.
Pastor Minniecon dominated the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, where he spoke passionately on numerous occasions about injustices he felt Aboriginal people had endured.
In an episode devoted to Christian views, whenever his fellow white panellists sought to focus exclusively on matters of religion, philosophy and morality, the minister steered them back to Indigenous issues from a religious perspective, even using the Bible to make his point.
“Look at the intervention in the Northern Territory,” he said. “Where were you then, Lyle [Shelton], and others to help us get rid of that intervention that demonised every Aboriginal man and made us paedophiles overnight?
“The Church needs to understand too that every church in this country is built on stolen land. And the Bible clearly says ‘thou shalt not steal’ and it says ‘thou shalt not kill’.”
Australian Christian Lobby spokesman Lyle Shelton did not get a chance to respond directly to Pastor Minniecon’s comments, but did later explain his commitment and views on bettering the lives of Indigenous Australians.
“ACL has been very engaged on this issue of indigenous recognition for some time now,” Mr Shelton said.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) April 25, 2016
“There’s been several government inquiries, expert panels, we’ve submitted each time and our desire is to play a constructive role and to support the move to see recognition in the constitution.
“I think the ‘sorry’ thing by Kevin Rudd was a great step but I do think there needs to be forgiveness and atonement both ways to move forward on this issue.”
On another occasion, when the panel was discussing the morality of war, Pastor Minniecon contributed by arguing that Indigenous land was invaded by white settlers — an example of immoral, unbiblical war.
Church elder and journalist Julie McCrossin accepted more needed to be done to help Indigenous Australians.
“We as Christians have a duty to listen to Aboriginal people and what I hear and have heard for many, many years is sovereignty,” Ms McCrossin said.
“We need to talk about sovereignty. We need to talk about a treaty. We need to share property.”
While Pastor Minniecon argued for proper recognition of land rights, better treatment of his people and less Aborigines in jail, he explained improving circumstances began with a simple concession of respect.
On several occasions early in the program, the minister steered debate back onto the plight of Indigenous people when his fellow panelists, all white Christians, were more interested in discussing the rights of Christians to air unpopular views, such as opposition to gay marriage.
“It would be nice to have that [freedom of speech] but I know for Aboriginal people every time we speak out we’re vilified,” he said.
The cause for religious expression was most passionately argued by Mr Shelton who said “Christians are under pressure for their beliefs”.
teaches about certain issues [are being silenced].”