Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mandaean baptism objected to by local residents in Australia

I find it so disheartening that we cannot find a solution to support the Mandaean community more than we have. This is a minority religion, the only living Gnostic religion left. Because these people are not Jews or Christians or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus or something we commonly recognize, they remain unknown and their practices suspect to many of people.

The Mandaeans are Gnostics whose movement was connected with John the Baptist. They use multiple baptisms in flowing rivers as part of their ritual life. These rituals are not what Protestants think - only symbols. These rituals must be performed exactly as they always have been, because, as in the Catholic tradition, they actually affect the soul. So it saddens me to read in an Australian newspaper that a local community is hindering the Mandaeans who live there from baptizing in the Nepean River because 50 residents have complained about the color of a cloth they use.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

A RARE and ancient religious culture is battling for survival because residents in Sydney's west do not fancy the group's chosen shade of white.

The followers of John the Baptist were all but wiped out after 2000 years of oppression that reached a genocidal crescendo during the Iraq war.

But it could be Wallacia locals who inadvertently finish what fanatics started, by objecting to a Mandaean baptismal pool for reasons such as the colour of shade cloths.

For more of the news story click here.

1 comment:

Judy Redman said...

This is indeed depressing, but I don't think in this case that it's because they're not Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus, but because they're not orthodox Christians. As news article suggests, we have recently had objections to planning permission being denied for an Islamic school and a Hindu temple in the same sort of areas of Sydney. I didn't know about the Hillsong stadium - Hillsong is an evangelical Pentecostal megachurch.

It may also simply be that the local residents believe that they've paid enough money for their land so that they don't want the sight lines disturbed by white shade-cloth and they don't want the peace of their suburb disturbed by cars arriving for the baptisms. It would be interesting to see what reaction there would be to the construction of a sporting facility of some kind in the same place!

It's actually interesting that the Daily Telegraph has reported this in a way that is sympathetic to the Mandaeans. I would have expected that they would be more sympathetic to the local residents - they are normally fairly "red neck" in their attitudes to things.