There's been plenty said on the matter, and there will be plenty more said. So I shall keep the things that are on my mind very brief.
I love Australia, and I love New Zealand. They are both my countries. As a dual citizen who has had many happy memories in both countries, I can say that with perfect conviction. So I'm properly grieved that this happened in New Zealand and that it was an Australian who perpetrated the attack. There's been a great deal of insistence that "this isn't New Zealand" and "this isn't Christchurch". I would also like to say that this isn't Australia. And fourthly, despite whatever Tarrant might have said in his manifesto, this is not Christianity. Perhaps Tarrant had some links to Christianity. He certainly made a great many excuses to justify his actions.
But this is not the face of Christianity. First and foremostly, true Christianity is not a white supremacist thing. It's a walk of life that spans all nationalities over the world. But if you want to be picky, it began in the Middle East, where Jesus Christ associated with the Samaritans, the tax collectors, and the "sinners" of his day - people whom the religious leaders despised. And then He gave His life for them and many others, before being resurrected and striking death its final blow. Christianity is about compassion, generosity, grace, and new life. True Christianity has ministered and always will minister to the vulnerable.
As I write this, I know that there will be Christian brother and sisters of mine, over in China or Pakistan or other countries overseas that will be suffering intense persecution. My husband and I support a missionary group in Pakistan, and we frequently hear of Christians there who have been abused, tortured, and even killed because of what they believe. So Christians know what it is to be persecuted. And I hope that true Christians will stand by Christchurch and the Muslim victims of this attack in this time, because of that knowledge. True Christians should empathize and be compassionate.
One thing that I've seen is a lot of people encouraging others in New Zealand to wear Muslim head scarves, to show their solidarity with Muslims in this time. I personally feel that perhaps this isn't the most helpful thing we could be doing right now. If a gunman had walked into my church and shot dead a group of Christians, I should feel uncomfortable if the government or another group requested that everyone wear a cross in solidarity, or that everyone get a T-shirt that says "Jesus is the only way". The fact is, not all of us believe what Muslims do, just as not everyone believes what Christians profess. And the response to this catastrophic event should be respect for religious freedom, not necessarily requests that everyone should wear a head scarf. In the light of this, people should affirm each other's freedoms to seek out the truth for themselves and to think what they wish to think. This is a fundamental human right. Secondly, those who are able should help the victims in more practical ways than donning a head scarf. Making meals for those who have lost a loved one, for example. Walking with Muslim women who are too afraid to leave their houses after the attacks. Offering company to those of the Muslim community who need it. Offering rides to those who would prefer not to walk the streets of the CBD at this time. Writing cards expressing your sympathies and well wishes. Praying for the victims of the community (for this event has highlighted the importance of freedom to pray). But whatever anyone does, it should be a practical sign of love and compassion for others.
The resounding message should be that we are all human, no matter what we believe, no matter where we come from. And we ought to love each other and reaffirm each other's human rights.
Anyhow, these are the thoughts of a Kiwi in the Australian outback at this particular time. I shan't be wearing a head scarf on Friday, because I believe in freedom of belief for all - Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and all other religions alike. But each night, I remember Christchurch and all the Muslim victims of last Friday's shootings in my prayers. I particularly think of the family of Mucad Ibrahim, who was only three when he was cruelly shot. And I pray New Zealand will see better days as the horrible fresh pain of this event begins to subside.
God defend New Zealand.