Ending Racial Prejudice
Uniting Church involvement
Racism, in varying forms and to various degrees is a significant issue in contemporary Australian society. At times, racism can be subtle, or well disguised, but contributes to the injustice and discrimination experienced by our Indigenous brothers and sisters. The social and psychological consequences of social and institutional racism are of great significance in our multi-cultural society.
In the first review of its constitution since 1977 the Uniting Church acknowledges in the new preamble that some of its members had acted towards Aboriginal people in ways that were racist and paternalistic.
“They were complicit in the injustice that resulted in many of the First Peoples being dispossessed from their land, their language, their culture and spirituality, becoming strangers in their own land,” the preamble now says.
The Uniting Church in Australia has pledged ourselves to seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur, and commits to working for the eradication of racism, in all its forms. The National Director of Uniting Church’s justice and advocacy unit UnitingJustice, Rev. Elenie Poulos said people subjected to racial vilification would be left without appropriate protection.
“Racism is a sin, a denial of human dignity that erodes trust in society. We must do all we can as a society to rid ourselves of bigotry and prejudice.” said Rev. Poulos.
The bible explains that all human beings are equally created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and, that God does not show partiality or favouritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9). The Uniting Church aims to prevent all forms of racism, prejudice and discrimination.
The Uniting Church in South Australia is committed to eliminating all forms of racism, and our task as a church is to learn how to be intentionally and graciously cross-cultural. We seek to be a Church which includes first peoples in all aspects of Church life, fostering respect and unity by celebrating diversity. We are committed to understanding how racism works by listening to the experiences of others and reflecting on different perspectives.
The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to oppose bigotry and intolerance on an institutional level. This includes calling on the government to action to remove racially discriminating policies, promote authentic multiculturalism and create a genuine partnership with Indigenous communities.
In 2014, the Uniting Church in Australia called for the Abbott Government to drop its proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. “The amendments proposed would diminish protections against racial vilification. This is totally unacceptable in a multicultural, multi-faith society,” said then Uniting Church President Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney.
The Uniting Church in Australia through UnitingJustice was one of more than 4000 organisations and individuals that made a submission into a parliamentary inquiry into the Government's proposed legislation. The proposed changes would have deleted the words ‘offend, insult and humiliate’ from the existing laws. According to National Director of UnitingJustice Rev. Elenie Poulos "The amendments would have removed those boundaries and basically given people free rein to racially vilify others."
In August of 2014, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that he would take the proposed changes off the table. The Uniting Church welcomed the decision, "I thank the Prime Minister for his leadership on this matter and pay tribute to all the community leaders who stood together to oppose the changes," said then Uniting Church President Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney.