WHEN asked whether his community supports a mosque in Bendigo, the leader of the city’s Jewish community simply looks to the guiding principles of his faith.
“We believe in a guiding principle of ‘tikkun olam’, which translates to ‘repairing the world’,” the Honourable Howard Nathan said.
“The mosque is absolutely welcome from our community. We have a very active commitment to religious expression.”
The Kehillat S’Dot Zahav Jewish congregation of Bendigo is one of the many religious groups to overwhelmingly support the mosque.
In fact, there was no question as to whether or not they would support the proposal. It was a non-issue.
On Friday morning, the Honourable Nathan stood shoulder to shoulder with the city’s other religious and civic leaders to promote Bendigo as a multicultural and welcoming city.
Opponents of the mosque have sought to use specific aspects of the Quran to paint the proposal in the worst possible terms.
But leaders from the Buddhist, Catholic and Jewish communities each called out the naivety of this approach.
The Venerable Lhundrup, of the Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery, said it was dangerous to pick and choose from religious texts to form an opinion.
“Picking certain passages to match your views is not a very enlightened way of doing it,” he said.
“It even happens a bit in the teachings of Buddha – certain parts can be interpreted any way you want.”
He pointed to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his work spending a third of his time touring the world and speaking to leaders of other faiths.
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly called for an improved understanding of each religion to end violent conflict and animosity.
Bendigo Tibetan Buddhist, the Venerable Chopel, said religious tolerance was clearly a part of their teachings.
“Australia is a multicultural society and so in this day and age it’s important that we try to promote religious harmony and differences of opinion,” he said.
Based at the site of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, the monastery is accustomed to co-existing with those of diverse faith.
This diversity of faith in Bendigo and the inclusion of Islam has been welcomed by the city’s Catholic Church.
Father Tony Shallue, of Sacred Heart Cathedral, said in the end, Abraham was a shared tradition of a number of faiths.
“We all come from the same roots. Culture and time has shed a different light, and shaped traditions, but not to the extent where they’re in opposition to one another,” he said.
“All people have the freedom to worship. The city was built on that concept.”