I feel ashamed that immigrants to our beautiful country would be bullied into not even being able to attend church, writes the leader of the Evangelical Alliance Ireland.
Last night I preached at one of our Roma churches in Dublin. The congregation was several hundred people less than the previous Sunday as so many, particularly women and children, felt so intimidated by the racist nature of the rioting that they were afraid to leave home after dark. I feel ashamed that immigrants to our beautiful country would be bullied into not even being able to attend church.
The riots were an expression of frustration by people, largely from the lower socio-economic sectors of Irish society, who feel that their standards of living have been eroded over recent years by the effects of Covid, rising prices, and a lack of affordable housing. These people have been cynically exploited over a period of time by a small, but vocal far-right element who use conspiracy theories and disinformation on social media to make immigrants scapegoats for all the nation’s problems.
[destacate] Christians need to consider our words carefully, that we don’t inadvertently sow disunity and anger that would inflame tensions
[/destacate]The far-right are opportunistic at seizing on any number of issues to recruit anyone who is disaffected to their cause. For example, after years of propagating anti-semitic theories, they are suddenly supporting Israel against Hamas. Ireland has never had any politician elected to office, even at town council level, from a far-right party. That has, perhaps, led to complacency as to how their tactics on social media are working.
The riots involved violence, looting, the burning of public transport, and a great deal of racism.
Christians need to pray peace over the nation, and we would welcome those from other nations who would join us in this prayer. Evangelical churches are probably the most racially integrated spaces in Irish society today.
Christians also need to consider our words carefully, that we don’t inadvertently sow disunity and anger that would inflame tensions. We are facing moral issues in society, including gender ideology being pushed in schools. There are those on the far-right who see this as an opportunity to align themselves with some Christians.
Please do pray for Ireland and the Irish church.
Nick Park, Executive Director of the Evangelical Alliance Ireland.