A House Divided

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Hi Fighter,

“A house divided against itself cannot stand”

If I were to ask you who said that, you’d probably recognise it as a quote from both Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. Jesus definitely said it first, but it was Lincoln’s use of the image in 1858, which he applied not to an individual (as did Jesus) but to his own divided country, that most resonates with me now.

Lincoln saw his country as being divided over the issue of slavery. “I believe this government cannot endure”, he said, “permanently half slave and half free.” Our issue in Australia is not slavery (certainly not the slavery of African Americans, at any rate) but we are in a country that is divided, and one that I believe is becoming increasingly divided. How long can we stand?

We’ve been divided for the last 18 months over how we should respond to the pandemic – whether we should wear masks, whether we should have lockdowns, whether we should really be worried about the virus at all? Now those divisions are becoming more focused on the issue of the vaccine:

  • Should we take it?
  • Should anyone be coerced to take it?
  • Should those who refuse to take it be penalized?

The Australian people are at odds in their opinion on these issues, and our politicians (for reasons I don’t understand) seem to be stocking the fires of division!

I have included my video appeal below, addressed directly to the Premier of New South Wales. I believe her language of antagonism towards the unvaccinated is not only unhelpful, but is unprecedented in this country.

Never have I heard any Australian political leader target a minority group in the Australian community and threaten them in the way the Premier has the unvaccinated. It motivated me to sign a petition for her resignation (which I note now has more than 50,000 signatures). Even if she does resign though, I have no idea whether her replacement will do any better. It seems that discriminating against people on the basis of their vaccination status has become an acceptable practice in our culture!

I think this should be a red line for all religious people. We can disagree over lockdowns, social distancing, masks, school closures and curfews, but can any person who loves God really believe that it’s OK to make second class citizens out of people who refuse to get vaccinated?

The only possible argument to support such an action would be that unvaccinated people put the rest of the community at serious risk of illness or death, which is simply not the case. If anyone is at risk from the virus, it is surely the unvaccinated and not the vaccinated. I cannot make any sense of the government’s restrictions targeting unvaccinated people, except as a form of punishment for their refusal to comply with government mandates.

Come on, believers – Christians, Muslims, Jews, and spiritual people of all persuasions. It’s time to stand up for one of the few things that we can all agree on – namely, the fundamental equality of all people!

We cannot accept a two-tiered society, with one law for the vaccinated and one for the unvaccinated. We cannot allow businesses to open their doors only to one group and close them to the other. We would not allow this sort of discrimination against Indigenous people or gay people or any minority group within Australian society. We cannot buy into this form of medical apartheid!

Revved Up

discussing the weekly Bible readings with Rev. Joy Steele-Perkins

Our first reading last Sunday was from the last chapter of the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 31:10-31). It’s a eulogy to ‘the good wife’.

The passage reminds us that the book was written for men – primarily for men who were trying to climb the social ladder of business and government – but this crowning eulogy also testifies to the significant role that a woman could have in Israelite society at the time. The ideal wife cares for her home and children, and she also buys land, cares for the poor, and is a significant player in her own right.

Our epistle reading from James (James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a) has the Apostle too extolling wisdom, but it’s specifically the wisdom from above, which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” (James 3:17). This is in sharp contrast with contemporary wisdom, which tends to be all about grabbing and accumulating.

Our Gospel reading (Mark 9:30-37) gives us Jesus’ second prediction of the violence that awaits Him in Jerusalem. Once again, the disciples aren’t able to hear what He is saying, as it runs so contrary to their narrative. It doesn’t seem to matter how often Jesus warns them that things aren’t going to end well. Their heads are so full of the ‘wisdom of the world’ that they can’t see or hear the truth, even when it’s told to them plainly. Some things change. Some stay the same.

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Having said that, if I’m going to be able to keep going like this, I’m going to need a few more good souls to get on board. If you can’t afford a subscription yourself, please consider recommending me to someone who can.

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Please join me this weekend for our livestream. I will be back at Binacrombi (thanks be to God). I don’t think we’ll be allowed to do any boxing on the Saturday, but we will have our Eucharist at midday on Sunday.

I hope to be streaming simultaneously (through Streamout) to YouTube and Facebook (though if the technology fails, it will be just Facebook). Either way, you can sign up here to receive a reminder just before we start.

Please continue to pray for me as I do for you.

Your brother in the Good Fight,


About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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3 thoughts on “A House Divided”

  1. Dear Father Dave,

    You have my full respect for your extraordinary bravery in troubled times. Your analysis about the situation is full of common sense although that is not wanted any more by some.
    Your solidarity with the discriminated by default might be normal for your profession but we never thought that we will have people discriminated by choosing to decide about themselves.
    Please keep all your courage (you will anyway).
    Cheers from Berlin


  2. I strongly disagree here:
    “The only possible argument to support such an action would be that unvaccinated people put the rest of the community at serious risk of illness or death, which is simply not the case.”

    We as a society are not going to reach herd immunity unless a very high percentage of the population are immunised. Herd immunity will protect those who cannot be immunised for medical reasons such as being vulnerable after chemotherapy.
    People choosing against vaccination are people choosing selfishness and ignorance. They are choosing to keep a deadly virus in circulation, to mutate into new strains, and they are pro-death.

    The opposite is choosing hope. Polio was eradicated because of a huge effort to immunise the world. Covid-19 will only be eradicated if the world is immunised to herd immunity.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Elwyn. I’d ask you consider a couple of things:

      Firstly, herd immunity is not normally achieved through any mass vaccination process. It’s normally achieved through people getting it and getting over it. The danger, as I understand it, with seeking herd immunity through mass vaccination is that this can encourage the development of variations on the original virus (delta, epsilon, etc.), which some suggest is exactly what is happening.

      Secondly, the comparison with the rollout of the polio vaccine is instructive. Joseph Salk confidently used his polio vaccine on his family in 1953, after which it was cautiously trialed alongside other vaccines, but then stopped completely two years later after 11 deaths were recorded from the vaccine. In 1963 the U.S. Surgeon General recommended licensing of Sabin’s vaccine, though Salk’s vaccine was reconsidered in 1997 and is now the standard. In other words, there were 44 years of trials before the vaccine was fully approved.

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