What would Jesus say about ‘boat people’?

By  |  0 Comments

By: Daniel Wilson

Noah, the big-budget epic starring Russell Crowe, might be doing well at the box office, but here in St Kilda Rev. John Tansey has produced his own religious work of art.

Deterrence is an art installation and sculpture comprised of three large wooden crosses and three crucified figures made of barbed wire – a child, a pregnant mother, and in the centre a figure adorned by a crown of thorns.

Rev. Tansey explains, “The cross in the Christian tradition was used by the Roman imperial power as a tool of deterrence, and as a political weapon to reinforce their power over an occupied state.”

Each cross in the installation is labelled with the name of an offshore detention centre: Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Island, where 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed during February riots.

As Rev. Tansey describes it, “Jesus was crucified due to his persistence in acting and speaking against the oppressive system and the status quo. This points to a theology of the cross that sees it not simply as a symbol of generalised suffering, but much more as a symbol of political resistance against injustice.

“The work reflects on the way the cross was used in the past as a tool for political expedience, fear and intimidation and the way Australian governments are currently treating men, women and children, in offshore detention centres.”

The installation was revealed on April 10 at the Uniting Church’s St Kilda Parish Mission, with an introduction by Sister Brigid Arthur of the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project. It stands next to the St Kilda Town Hall.

It was revealed in the lead-up to the Palm Sunday march (April 13), a walk for justice for refugees, which was organised by the Refugee Advocacy Network.

Organisers believe everyone has the right to a life that is free from persecution and life-threatening situations. They want a society that is shaped by compassion and justice for all people including those seeking asylum in Australia.

Refugee Advocacy Network is calling on the government to be more generous and provide resettlement and permanent protection to many more refugees and asylum seekers.

At the time of writing the Abbott government has not changed its policy on asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat.

Find us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on FacebookFind us on Facebook