THE use of Bendigo’s Anglican cathedral as a backdrop for videos promoting a far-right rally protesting Islam has been panned by the church’s dean.
One of the videos, circulated on social media at the weekend, criticises the church’s messages of acceptance for refugees and tolerance for other religions. In another, shots of the church are used to rally support for the group’s planned protest. Images of Sacred Heart Cathedral are also used.
Dean John Roundhill said St Paul’s would continue to promote multiculturalism.
“We believe God is not just at work in church-going Christians but in all people, especially people of faith. We believe in fostering good, strong, deep relationships with other faiths,” he said.
A response to the use of the cathedral posted by Dean Roundhill on the cathedral’s Facebook page has been viewed more than 16,000 times.
He said while he supported the group’s right to protest, the planned demonstration against Islam and the city’s planned mosque did not reflect Christian values.
“I think almost by definition they are fear-mongering and I don’t see that being in any way Christian,” he said.
Dean Roundhill said there was room in Bendigo for a mosque.
“I think Bendigo will benefit from having a mosque here. I think Australia is a multicultural country and we need to reflect that.”
He said his views weren’t radical but reflected the majority view of the community, which he said was generous and welcoming.
Speaking in Maryborough on Monday, Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria was the “multicultural capital of the world”. He urged anyone planning to take part in any demonstration to do so in a peaceful manner.
“Our state is the multicultural capital of our nation and we're much richer and stronger for the fact that we have people from so many different backgrounds, and in my experience Victorians – particularly in regional communities – are very welcoming,” he said.
“So many people who've come from war-torn parts of the world have been able, through secondary migration, to find a new home and a new community and in my experience they’ve been warmly welcomed in regional communities.
“And that’s something regional communities, including the great city of Bendigo should be really proud of.
“But there are some in our community, a small minority, who don't have that kind of welcoming spirit, but I think they're a very small minority against the vast majority of Victorians, particularly regional Victorians, who are welcoming and open armed and want to see more and more people from all over the world come and make our regional communities more vibrant.”