Thursday, September 10, 2015

Archbishop Fisher & the Selective Samaritan

Meet the Catholic cleric (Gorgeous George Pell's successor) who's pushing the "persecuted minorities," aka Christians first/only, line:

"[Catholic] Archbishop [of Sydney Anthony] Fisher was meeting Syrian Catholic leaders and the heads of church welfare agencies and parishes to discuss what might be done to provide housing in families, parishes and convents... He said the current persecutions were the worst against Christians in history, including those under maddened Roman emperors: "It's estimated 100,000 Christians are now martyred every year, 11 killed for their faith every hour'.' ('Fleeing Christians should go to the front of the queue', Tess Livingstone, The Australian, 8/9/15)

Given the context, anyone reading the above would be forgiven for assuming that Fisher was talking about 100,000 Middle Eastern Christians (Hey, maybe he was!). In which case, the above comment, trotted out in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis, is grossly irresponsible.

But it's worse than that because, wittingly or not, Fisher is recycling a wholly fallacious and discredited claim:

"The number comes originally from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (GSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the US state of Massachusetts, which publishes such a figure each year in its status of Global Mission. Its researchers started by estimating the number of Christians who died as martyrs between 2000 and 2010 - about 1 million by their reckoning - and divided that number by 10 to get an annual number, 100,000.

"But how do they reach that figure of 1 million? When you dig down, you see that the majority died in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 4 million are estimated to have been killed in that war between 2000 and 2010, and GSGC counts 900,000 of them - or 20% - as martyrs. Over 10 years, that averages out at 90,000 per year.  

"So when you hear that 100,000 Christians are dying for their faith, you need to keep in mind that the vast majority - 90,000 - are people who were killed in DR Congo. This means we can say right away that the internet rumours of Muslims being behind the killing of 100,000 Christian martyrs are nonsense. The DRC is a Christian country. In the civil war, Christians were killing Christians." (Are there really 100,000 new Christian martyrs every year? Ruth Alexander, BBC Magazine, 12/11/13)

That BTW was only an excerpt. Feel free to read Alexander's expose in its entirety. But back to Archbishop Fisher.

He appeared on Radio National's Breakfast program this morning, interviewed by Geraldine Doogue (Catholic church calls for preference of persecuted minorities in Australia's refugee intake: Archbishop of Sydney).

Instead of simply stating his preference for NO MUSLIM refugees, he hid behind the following formula:

"Syrian and Iraqi Christians and other persecuted minorities should be given preference, so it wasn't just for Christians."

Which, face it, was basically just code for NO MUSLIM refugees. 

And when Doogue invoked the parable of the Good Samaritan, her formula for raising the question of discrimination against MUSLIM refugees, Fisher replied (somewhat Jesuitically for a Dominican I have to say) that: "The Good Samaritan only had one man on the road to deal with. I suspect if he'd seen a dozen, he would've gone to the one who was most desperate."

And that, need I say, was good enough for Geraldine.

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