This week in the outer Melbourne municipality of Casey, a new Mayor was elected and sworn in for a 12 month term of office – nothing unusual about that – except that Mayor Sam Aziz is an Egyptian born Coptic Christian. In his remarks upon taking office, having been elected by his fellow Councillors, Mayor Aziz noted that his appointment to office would have been impossible in his country of birth. Why? Simply because he is Christian.
As we reflect on the ongoing persecution and even murder of Christians in Egypt, supposedly undergoing an “Arab Spring”, we ought to pause and give thanks for the Judeo-Christian heritage that gave birth to so many of the freedoms we take for granted here. Like anything taken for granted, religious freedom can so easily slip way while we are not paying attention. Take for instance the recent case in Victoria where a Christian campsite was not allowed to function based on its founding values, punished by the courts for believing that promoting homosexuality to young people was wrong. Take a look at the way anyone who promotes a biblical understanding of marriage today and the flak they will get as a result. Freedom is being eroded by bad laws, media bias and is often aided and abetted by our own lack of courage.
So to Mayor Sam Aziz, well done! Your election helps remind us of our values. May we not allow our freedoms to be forgotten or removed.