Reverened Canon Dr Gregory Jenks, dean of the Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton lights a candle in preparation for the vigil service to be held in the church.
Reverened Canon Dr Gregory Jenks, dean of the Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton lights a candle in preparation for the vigil service to be held in the church. Adam Hourigan

Church Dean calls for an end to politics of fear

AFTER the frenzy of attention on Grafton in the past few days, a church leader has called for an end to the politics of fear and a return to one of compassion and acceptance.

After linking Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and One Nation parties with the far right extremists on radio this week, Christ Church Cathedral Dean Gregory Jenks responded to criticisms by SFF party candidate Steve Cansdellhe politicised recent events.

In his post, Dr Jenks called out politicians who relied on dog whistling and spreading fear for political gain and said Grafton needed to examine why Muslims practised their religion "in secret".

"When I explained that it was proving very hard to make contact with the local Muslim community, as they meet in secret and do not advertise any community contact persons, the immediate question was: Why?" he said in his personal blog.

"They are afraid of us because of the spread of an insidious virus in the Australian body politic, evidenced in the rise of right wing parties such as Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers."

SFF party candidate Steve Cansdell said the comments by Dr Jenks about the party were ill-informed and an affront to himself and other members.

"His comments were a total insult to myself and the the good family people who have joined the party," Mr Cansdell said.

"This party has evolved from a one issue party to a multi-issue regional party without city masters."

Dr Jenks said there were some groups who traditionally occupied the political left who had swung to the right in an attempt to limit political losses at particular times.

He called on people to read the policy documents of the populist parties as he had, to understand what they were calling for and that the issues raised in his radio interview should be seen contextually.

"For the record, the context of my comments was the sad fact that our small Muslim community in Grafton (and indeed throughout the North Coast) meets secretly for their prayers and had proved impossible to contact as we planned the community prayer vigil at Grafton Cathedral," he said

"It is controversial to name the elephant in the room, namely the rise of populist political movements with policies that oppose immigration, call for the protection of our 'western culture' and seek to reduce or eliminate controls on gun ownership."

Mr Cansdell said the SFF party policies on gun legislation related to the removal of red tape, not weakening laws.

"The priorities are to make the paperwork and administration side easier. The process is convoluted it needs to be simplified," he said.

"No one supports US-style gun legislation. This is about red tape, not making it easier to get guns.

"I would never support weakening gun laws, making the processes simpler doesn't mean it makes them weaker."



Lesley Apps looks at Grafton in a less idealistic fashion in the aftermath of Friday's terrorist attack in New Zealand.