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Religion, politics, and the Global Village Idiot

Alexander Downer, Australia's foreign minister for the past eight years and a certified Global Village Idiot, has made this country an international laughingstock yet again.

Downer has named ten religious figures to represent Australia in a delegation to Indonesia next month for a summit on Islamic terrorism. The Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Taj el-Din al Hilaly, is not among the ten.

Downer, exercising government by radio on 2UE this morning, told former country and western artist John Laws that, as quoted by AAP, "We have chosen people who are people of moderation and it's very important we have the right sort of people involved."

"We don't want to have a provocative forum, we want to have a conciliatory and consensus-building forum."

The Voice of Moderation representing the Roman Catholic Church is the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell. Read what the Catholic Voice of Moderation had to say in his annual address to the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 12.

His address, entitled Is there only secular democracy? contains the following gem of moderation:

It is still very early in the piece, of course, but the small but growing conversion of native Westerners within Western societies to Islam carries the suggestion that Islam may provide in the twenty-first century the attraction which communism provided in the twentieth, both for those who are alienated or embittered on the one hand, and for those who seek order or justice on the other.

Curiously, this did not attract any attention until reported by the Fairfax press on November 11.

The summit, entitled the Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation, will be held in Yogyakarta on 4-9 December. Fourteen countries have been invited to send ten delegates each. Australia is sending six Christians plus one each from the Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic faiths. Islam is being represented by the President of Islamic Councils in Australia, Dr Ameer Ali, who is not a cleric.

Catholic News has a report on the controversy, while Islamic Sydney reproduces two items on the subject by Cynthia Banham at the Sydney Morning Herald. ABC radio's The World Today ran a story yesterday.