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Written by The Very Reverend Anne Mills, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, in response to recent comments made by Destiny Church leader, Brian Tamaki, against the Muslim community in New Zealand.

Destiny Church leader, Brian Tamaki’s controversial advert this week slamming the Muslim community in New Zealand is but another example of the daily acts of aggression by a person who believes they belong, against those who they believe do not belong.

It is a voice and opinion that as the Dean of Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral in Parnell I oppose. Everyday people around this country are told that they do not belong because of the colour of their skin, the way they dress, the way they talk, who they love and countless other reasons. Each of these actions, each of these remarks that we observe daily, large or small, says “You do not belong here; you are not part of us.”

Intolerance of difference is unfortunately part of who we are here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Intolerance is often aimed at a minority group and in this instance our Muslim community.

Tolerance as a narrative is premised by a belief that there is a ‘normal’ way to be, and that we are willing to ‘tolerate’ difference. That is not inclusion, and that is not diversity. It simply polarises and divides a society that desperately needs healing.

For many Christians, faith in God is the inspiration for a positive change and a deepening of love which we experience in our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is not a political agenda; it is the simple answer to the love of God shown to all humanity.

For many of us, our faith inspires us to walk together with our Muslim friends in those hard moments, as we know they walk with us too.

That same journey we share with our Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh friends, and indeed with peoples of all faith and none, with whom we share a passion for justice, for peace, for hope and for mutual acceptance and understanding.

I believe that the time of tolerance is behind us – I dream and pray for much more than that. For many of us, we will stand as proud Christians for whom our common humanity matters, for whom peace, justice, care of creation and love of neighbour motivate our prayer and action. Being inclusive and proud of our diversity here in New Zealand does not make us lukewarm or less committed to Jesus the Christ who told us to “love our neighbour as we love ourselves.”

If we as Christians are prepared to accept the dominant discourse that is present in our New Zealand society that says, “You do not belong here, you are not part of us because you look or sound different,” then daily acts of microaggression or worse against ‘the other’ will continue.

To love as God loves us is to be deeply committed and in deep relationship with my neighbour. This is Jesus’s greatest command to us his disciples. To take this instruction seriously means much more than mere tolerance or no tolerance at all.

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