The church and I don’t normally agree.

I am an agnostic and it’s my belief that a dogmatic adherence to religion has been one of the biggest encumbrances to human harmony since faith became organised.

However this poster, hanging on the facade of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, struck a chord.

It’s a direct reaction to the politicisation of refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

Both sides of politics, in an attempt to win favor with the electorate, have demonised people escaping the horrors of war, famine and persecution.

They aren’t criminals, they are just people trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) reports that there are currently 45 million refugees worldwide. This year people arriving in Australia, to claim asylum, rose to 15,800 people. That, according to UNHCR, is about 3% of the total asylum claims made in the industrialised world.

The politicised fear of immigrants in Australia isn’t new.

The Chinese were welcomed in the gold fields in the 1850s, until the gold ran out, and then they were sent packing. In the late 1940s the Ten Quid Poms, although sponsored by the government, were despised by the average Aussie, who believed they would take their jobs. Then there were the original ‘Boat People’ – the refugees from the Vietnam War who came here in the late 1970s.

With the civil war in Syria and sectarian violence in Egypt, the flood of refugees will continue.

It’s about time both sides of politics developed a bipartisan policy to welcome these people rather than ostracise them.

I agree, Australia can do better than this.

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