‘I was a stranger and you took me in.’

Mar 5, 2013

‘I was a stranger and you took me in’ (Matthew 25)

 Well not really, according to Scott Morrison.

In her article in the SMH on 3 November 2012, Jane Cadzow describes Scott Morrison as ‘a devout Christian who worships at Shirelive, an American style Pentecostal Church. The Shirelive website says its members believe the Bible is the ‘accurate authoritative word of God’.

Formerly, Scott Morrison belonged to Hillsong. In his maiden speech to the House of Representatives in 2008 he said ‘from my faith I derive the values of loving kindness, justice and righteousness’.

I am confused.

The Torah, which is a key part of the Jewish/Christian tradition places great store on welcoming the stranger. The Torah repeats its exhortation more than 36 times. ‘Remember the stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt’.  This caring for the stranger is repeated more than any of the other biblical laws, including observance of the Sabbath and dietary requirements…

As Leviticus 19 puts it, ‘When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You should treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the native born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were aliens in the land of Egypt.’

The Gospel of Luke asks ‘Who is my neighbour?’ and then tells us the story of the Good Samaritan. Matthew’s Gospel tells us about the Holy Family’s flight from the ‘slaughter of the innocents’ to safety in Egypt. They were indeed fortunate asylum seekers in that the Pharaoh was generous and did not play to public prejudice by calling on his subjects to ‘stop the donkeys’.

Scott Morrison has been hostile to strangers and demonises asylum seekers and refugees at almost every opportunity.

  • He has said that they bring disease ‘everything from tuberculosis and hepatitis C to chlamidya and syphilis’. This assertion was rejected by an infectious diseases expert, Dr Trent Yarwood.
  • He told 2GB Talkback radio audiences that he had seen asylum seekers bringing in ‘wads of cash …and large displays of jewellery’. Desperate people will bring whatever portable assets they have.
  • According to leaks from the Shadow Cabinet, and according to Jane Cadzow, Scott Morrison suggested that the Coalition ‘ramp up its questioning to … capitalise on anti-Muslim sentiment’. He used the dog-whistling defence that he was only listening to what people are saying ‘we’ve got to listen to what their concerns are’. But please, lend me a megaphone!
  • In early 2011 he complained about the cost of holding funerals in Sydney for asylum seekers who died in a shipwreck off Christmas Island. An eight year old, whose parents had both died in the shipwreck, was one of 21 people flown from the Christmas Island Detention Centre to attend the funeral ceremonies. Scott Morrison said these were ‘government-funded junkets’ and that the relatives would be ‘taking sightseeing trips and those sorts of things’. He later apologised for the timing but not the content of his remarks.
  • Only last month, he called on the government to suspend asylum seekers being released into the community on the basis of a single violent attack. Fairfax Media pointed out that these people were about 45 times less likely to be charged with a crime than a member of the general community.

Time and time again, Scott Morrison injects hatred towards the ‘stranger’.

Perhaps he reads a different translation of the Bible.

That other biblical scholar, Tony Abbott has supported him every step of the way.

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