”Christians need to own the fact that we are a faith with exclusive claims of revelation, truth and integrity. We possess little explicit scriptural evidence of a call for freedom of religion. If we are to make the case for the right of others of different views and traditions to worship freely or not at all, then we need a systematic interpretation of God’s nature and modelling for humanity. Grace and mercy, with justice and righteousness are characteristics at the heart of God’s nature, while force and compulsion are not. […]
If we cherish our own rights, then we must have regard for the rights and sensitivities of others. We have a collective responsibility to each other in a world created by God for our dependence upon Him and on one another. Jesus reminded us that our fullest expression in creation is in loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and in loving our neighbours as ourselves (Luke 10:27). Where the Church is not acting on this commandment to love, it is not the Church. Jesus went further in clarifying that our neighbours are not just the people we identify with ethnically, nationally or religiously, but are in fact anyone we encounter and especially those in need.
Jesus inaugurated a kingdom which was relational, attractional and non-violent. The kingdom was open to all who received and responded to God’s invitation. To coax, coerce or compel people to swear allegiance to this kingdom confounds and contradicts the very nature of the kingdom itself. Too often the Church has taken this route in its long 2,000 years of history. We are called to seek the common good of all because we are called to witness to the emerging kingdom which we believe brings the promise of renewal and restoration to all.”