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Aussie bishop calls for withdrawal of ‘offensive’ Islamic billboards

Aussie bishop calls for withdrawal of ‘offensive’ Islamic billboards

A Catholic bishop has slammed controversial Islamic billboards for being “provocative and offensive” and he’s calling for them to be removed from prominent locations across Sydney.

The billboards carrying the slogan “Jesus: a prophet of Islam” were erected late last week in Darlinghurst, Rozelle and Rosehill. They have been paid for by Islamic group MyPeace, which wants to encourage Christians and Muslims to find common ground by raising awareness that Islam believed in Jesus Christ.

But Bishop Julian Porteous, from the Archdiocese of Sydney, says Christians believe that Jesus “is more than a prophet”. “He is the Son of God. He is acclaimed Lord and Saviour of humanity,” he said on Monday. “In Australia with its Christian heritage a billboard carrying the statement ‘Jesus A prophet of Islam’ is provocative and offensive to Christians.”

Bishop Porteous, whose comments come a day after the Darlinghurst billboard was vandalised, said it was important religions don’t antagonise others with “provocative statements”. “For the sake of preserving social harmony and respect between major world religions these billboards should be withdrawn, along with others which carry messages directly offensive to Christians,” he said.

But MyPeace organiser Diaa Mohamed told Fairfax he had received “overwhelmingly positive feedback from Christians, atheists, Muslims, everyday Australians” while the vandalism “validates the reason they went up in the first place”. And he said he wasn’t deterred from plans for similar ads – with such slogans as “Holy Quran: the final testament” and “Muhammad: mercy to mankind” – on buses travelling through the city and in the Hills district.

Bishop Porteous believes they are having a very different impact. “The campaign organisers profess the billboard advertisements are to inform but in effect they have provoked a response reflected in the vandalism we saw at the weekend,” he said.

AAP, 30 May 2011

Of course, Bishop Porteous wouldn’t condemn advertising hoardings reading “Jesus: the son of God” for offending non-Christians. But he does condemn as “offensive to Christians” an advertisement announcing Muslims’ respect for Jesus as a prophet. According to Porteous, Australia’s “Christian heritage” requires that minority faiths should refrain from publicising those aspects of their beliefs that conflict with the teachings of Christianity.


  1. Funny.

    This bishop babbled, “In Australia with its Christian heritage…..“, but I didn’t see him quoted bragging about Australia’s criminal heritage!! That country CLEARLY wasn’t “founded on or with any Christian heritage“, the same line (lie) that some of the overzealous blokes in the U.S. claim about their country.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t any Christians in Australia or the U.S. Just keep it real and cut the revisionist history/fables.

  2. Well, Jesus is a prophet. He is also the Son of God and Savior of the World. Last I checked, Jesue didn’t come to save the so called Christian only, but everyone. So what is the problem? Stop making a mountian out of an Ant hill. Jesus IS a Prophet for everyone including Islam!!! Stop the fear and embrace the love!!!

  3. The Bishop is exactly right – for Christians; the billboard sponsors are exactly right – for Muslims. Isn’t the common ground of the two faiths the point here?

  4. I have to agree with the previous comments. It’s as if here in the US some people are incredulous when they meet other white people who do not speak with an accent and are not Christian. This myth of a common “Christian Heritage” from the fore-fathers is very strong in some circles. Of course, these circles tend to be predominantly white, Christian, less-educated, and from lower social/economical classes. This is the class I grew up in, and I grew up believing everyone was like me until I became better educated and read more and learned more about the world beyond my own neighborhood. Then I chose to leave my previous, ultra-limited world-view behind.

    People here (in the US) also tend to believe there are no ‘classes’ in America — another myth! People prefer to not admit it, as if it is gauche. Everyone is supposed to be Middle Class — that’s okay to admit to being, Middle Class and Christian. But working class and non-christian? Look out!

  5. Ah, the ignorance of this Catholic Bishop. He is out in left field on this one, not to mention a narrow-minded bigot. How pathetic to read that American narrow-mindedness about Islam is a contagious disease of the mind and how quickly the weak-minded of our society who need a mythological crutch to explain their existence will subvert freedom of and from religion to exert their own inferiority complexes.

  6. …as the vast majority of Australians roll their eyes at the sheer stupidity of the Bishop’s comments. He’s just trying to make religion relevant again to Australians, but he is fighting a losing battle.

  7. The Bishop needs to study his Bible more closely. Jesus was more than just a Son of God, but the Messiah, the Word of God, and of course the Prophet that Moses foretold of. If the Bishop had checked his NT, he would have read the following:”And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God had visited His people” (Luke 7:16).
    “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
    “And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19). So either the NT is true and Jesus was also a prophet, or the NT was not truthful in it’s stating of Jesus as a prophet.

  8. The most frightening part of the story for me was the bishops’s belief that the billboards should be removed because they might offend Christians. Let’s assume that they do. In fact, let’s assume that they offend Christians terribly, causing them to get angry, lose sleep, and yell at their spouses. So what? Since when does anyone, Christian or not, have a “right” to not be offended?

  9. How does that Catholic Bishop think about Judaism. They ignore Jesus altogether and some say he was a drunkard that consorted with harlots. Yet Islam reveres him as a great profit and respects his mother Mary.

  10. kathyrn hill,

    “tend to believe there are no ‘classes’ in America”? really? how can there be a middle class without at least two other classes?

    as for the article, why would this supprise anyone? this is the nature of the abrahmic religions, belief of their belief being right. and for the billboards’ author to say he is looking for common ground, that’s hilarious. so he starts the dialouge with one of the biggest differences between the two faiths? i got some for him, hey you christians: jesus was never crucified, jesus didn’t rise from the dead, your holy bible is corrupted, why are you blind to the “TRUTH”, THE HOLY KORAN? a great fire awaits you..

    this guy is a moron. you have to go back farther than jesus to find common ground. he should have thrown up the ten commandments.

    2prez, you are hilarious as well. isn’t that what religion is? “revisionist history/fables”

    [9.29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
    [9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

  11. Why differences over Christology serve as divisive features of common Christian-Islamic dialogue is surprising to me. Certainly Christians differ among themselves(virgin birth, real presence in Communion, etc)and the ecumenical movement is decades old; Christians and Jews certainly disagree over Jesus (historical and otherwise) and that inter-faith dialogue is also decades old. Even encouraged by the USCCB.

  12. dueceprez,

    looks like some consider muhammad to be the revisionist?

    p.s. don’t eat the cucumbers!

  13. I really don’t see why this billboard is “controversial”- it’s only stating an accepted fact. It’s not any more offensive than to say “Moses, prophet of Judaism”. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share common prophets- and a a common God for that matter- although the conceptualization differs. Judaism and Islam are similar in being truly monotheistic, whereas Christianity considers God to constitute a “trinity”. But Islam, like Christianity accepts Jesus as a man sent from God with a special status, and the virgin birth- both outside the bounds of Judaism.
    Unfortunately, some Christians, like the Bishop here, seem to think that Jesus belongs to them! He’s happy for Muslims to claim the Qur’an and Mohamed, cuz that’s outside the bounds of Christianity- that’s why he has no complaint about the other billboards. But then he’s like “But leave Jesus alone- he’s OURS!” hehe He’s only willing to share Jesus with others on Christian terms, ie he’s “the Son of God” and not a prophet. I think this all boils down to defensive territorial behaviour under the sense of a perceived threat to Christianity from Islam- ie you can become a Muslim and STILL believe in Jesus?!- oh no! There goes my congregation… all three of them…

  14. Population
    – Total


    i’m confused? you can be a muslim and still believe jesus is “the son of god”? really?

  15. No, Mike, sorry. You can be a Muslim and accept Jesus (Issa) as a prophet with a special status, but Not as the “Son of God”, obviously. I thought I made that clear.

  16. halima,

    ah i see, can STILL believe, as in as a prophet. my christain childhood prejudiced the concept of “believing in jesus” as in believing in him as a god. jk, i know you didn’t mean as the son of god. don’t you have to accept jesus as a prophet in islam? is he not in heaven with allah waiting to return to earth to prepare for the day of judgement?

    [4.157] And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.
    [4.158] Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
    [4.159] And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them.

  17. I guess Christians are offended by this sign because it infers that Jesus is merely a prophet and that would give him lesser status than Muhammad. Christians do not recognize Muhammad as anything other than the founder of Islam, thus the sign is very insulting as we believe Jesus is the son of God and the founder of the Christian church which predates Islam.
    Now I believe in freedom of speech so I support Muslims putting up their billboards but I would also support Christians putting up billboards stating such things as: The Holy Bible-Gods only Testament; Muhammad-not a Christian; Jesus-The world’s only Savior: Jesus the son of God-Muhammad the son of Abdullah.
    As a Christian I believe all the above items are true in the same sense that the items the Muslim leader states is true. Do these statements further interfaith dialog or interfaith arguments?

  18. criley,

    i think you are a crazy christian because of your beliefs, but at least you are willing to stand up and state your beliefs.

    maybe crazy is too strong of word, i think you are wrong though.


    you say ““controversial”- it’s only stating an accepted fact”, looks like christians disagree with your “accepted fact”. do you not see how christians would be upset with you lowering their god to the level of prophet?

  19. Well Mike: I have never been called crazy before. I think your still remembering my Union comments which were not very christian.

  20. jk.. i mean crazy in the best sense of the word. my mother and father are crazy christians, they believe in angels. they have much in common with the muslims.

    21.Hadith: (According to Lady ‘Aaishah): In the story of Taif, the Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) suffered more than in the battle of U’had from his enemies, the polytheists. The arch angel Gabriel came with the angel in charge of the mountains who saluted the Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) and said “O Mohammad ! I’m the angle of the mountains. Allah has sent me to obey your orders. If you wish, I can bring the two mountains together & cause them to die in between”. But the Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) said, “No ! I’m hoping that Allah may produce from their progeny (Muslims) who work ship Allah alone & who do not make partners with Allah”. The Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) was right & all the people of Tai (and Arabia) are Muslims now, thanks to Almighty God & His compassionate Prophet.

    maybe he should have taken the help. wasn’t he outflanked by khalid al-walid (later to become “the sword of allah”) and almost killed in the battle of U’had? perhaps the angel could have just made sure the muslim archers stayed on the mountain and not broke ranks to retreive spoils, leaving the flank exposed?

  21. the only reason christians are mad at muslims is not because jesus was “downgraded” from son of god to prophet. if this were the case then christians themselves would not ridicule their own propthet. i have seen so many jesus parodies and moses jokes forwarded to my by my sunday church going christian friends. and because of that the only reason that comes to mind is that christians are now feeling ashamed because all they have ever had for the prophet of islam is hate and when muslims finally decide to speak up on the subject of a significant figure of the chirstian religion, they’re not really saying anything offensive, or vile or disrespectful and that, reveals alot about the christian faith and its teachings. furthermore, there should not be any sort of common grounds between the two religions, then people would know what islam is actually about.

  22. Where did anyone get the idea that Jesus founded Christianity? He was a Jew, a Rabbi who wanted to bring the Jews back to the worship of The One G-d. His followers established the Christian church after his death. After all, his resurrection is the founding tenet of Christianity. The doctrine and practice of Christianity itself was established by St. Paul of Tarsus who was born several years after the death of Jesus and certainly never heard any of the words of Jesus uttered aloud. His letters to the early Roman churches comprise the vast majority of the accepted English Christian Bible, although there are differences among other Orthodox sects. The Christian Bible and the rules for Canonization were primarily established by the emperor Constantine in an effort to bring unity to the Roman Empire as it faded. Many different people had a hand in “founding” Christianity, but Jesus wasn’t one of them.

  23. I agree with kate on on this one

  24. I’m not going to go into the history of jesus, Islam and our people. I’m a proud Bosnian Muslim that would give my life for my beliefs and my country. I don’t really care who created the billboard signs. The only thing on my mind is how to take it off, and keep it off. It’s disrespectful for all my people who went thru the civil-(religious) war and fought back against the christian infidels…
    There is 1.4 Billion Muslims in the world, Do you really think they would all have the same positive thinking about the billboards…

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