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The Venerable Rod Bower[2] is an Australian Anglican priest and social activist. He is currently the Rector of Gosford, Archdeacon for Justice Ministries and Chaplaincy in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle and lives on the NSW Central Coast. He is popularly known for his controversial church signs which advocate progressive causes.[3]

The Venerable

Rod Bower
Born
ResidenceGosford, New South Wales, Australia
NationalityAustralian
OccupationPriest
EmployerAnglican church
Known forHuman rights activism
Criticism of the Christian right[1]
Liberation theology
Political partyIndependents For Climate Action Now

TheologyEdit

Bower has said:

"When we explore, perhaps, what I mean when I use the word “God” we can come close to a common ground [with atheists] because I’m not talking about some divine being. God is the very act of existing. And so there’s a point of meeting for atheists and people of faith.[4] I don’t really believe in Heaven and Hell at least not in the traditional sense. If there is a Heaven it must be a bit like Mardi Gras".[5]

ActivismEdit

Rod Bower is known for his controversial political activism in which he promotes progressive causes through the Gosford Anglican Church's message sign. He has promoted issues relating to gay marriage, refugee rights, gun control, anti-nationalism, and anti-Rupert Murdoch's media monopoly.[6][7][8] Bower also supports the right of woman to have control over their bodies.[9] He says euthanasia should be considered[10] and that there is a need for illicit drug testing.[11]

He has stated his views have been inspired by the liberation theologist Dom Helder Camara.[12]

Bower first began his activism in 2013 when he put up, "DEAR CHRISTIANS, SOME PPL ARE GAY. GET OVER IT. LOVE GOD" after delivering the last rites to a dying man whose family hid the man's partner due to fear of the Church's stance on homosexuality.[12] After an image of the sign became viral online, he continued using it as a method of activism.[3] In 2014, he begun participating in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras wearing his Anglican clerical robes.[13]

Israel Folau quoted from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Bower says, "FOLAU IS WRONG, DON'T LISTEN TO HIM".[14] Bower, along with others, set up a GoFundMe page in response to one set up by Israel Folau.[15]

In 2017, Bower was criticised for a Gosford Anglican Church sign, referring to Peter Dutton, the Australian Immigration Minister, which said, "DUTTON IS A SODOMITE".[16] Bower stated he was referring to the biblical story of Sodom, which in his interpretation was "about hospitality, or more to the point lack thereof, and particularly about the condition of the heart that leads to inhospitable behaviour". However, there is an alternative Biblical explanation for the word 'sodomite'[17] from that articulated by Bower.[18] The assistant archbishop of Melbourne said the term Sodomite was, "a very personal slur on a government minister".[19]

In 2017, Bower chained himself to Kirribilli House to protest the Manus Island detention centres.[20]

His controversial signs relating to multiculturalism and anti-nationalism has led to counter-demonstrations by right-wing groups. In 2016, The Party for Freedom interrupted his service clothed in Islamic dress to protest his "social justice agenda".[21] In April 2018, after putting up a sign stating "Lest we forget Manus & Nauru", he received a threat by a member of the Australian Defence Force that they'd "set that church on fire".[22] Later in the same year, a group interrupted the service wielding fake weaponry.[23]

In 2016, Bower was criticised by Andrew Bolt for his relationship with the Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, who had called homosexuality an "evil act".[24] In 2019, Bower was criticised by the Australian Jewish Association for comparing the Nauru processing centre to the Holocaust.[25]

Political careerEdit

In 2018, Bower announced he would run in the 2019 federal election for a New South Wales senate seat to "to give a voice to the marginalised".[26] He has expressed an emphasis on policies surrounding "climate change, refugees and basic human rights".[27] Bower ran under the Independents For Climate Action Now party ticket in New South Wales, receiving only 0.6% of the vote and was not elected.[28]

BibliographyEdit

  • Outspoken: Because Justice is Always Social (Sydney: Ebury Australia, 2018)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ McCarthy, Joanne (30 August 2018). "The hungover 'epiphany' on the way to the priesthood". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  2. ^ https://www.anggos.com.au/our-team
  3. ^ a b Bowden, Tracy (30 August 2018). "What drives the priest behind those controversial church signs". ABC News. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  4. ^ https://vimeo.com/129361594?fbclid=IwAR0itkYV5MfwleYTqnMtRnEAFcOBsRimNPZwlGyeWNgG8EsUR_RP-wG-Wsw The Bower Effect at 4:20
  5. ^ https://davidould.net/rev-rod-bower-i-dont-believe-in-heaven-or-hell/
  6. ^ Mao, Frances (19 May 2018). "A priest and his political billboards". BBC News. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  7. ^ Schafter, Monique (26 August 2014). "Priest addresses social issues in eyebrow-raising signs". ABC News. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Australian priest on gun control: 'Thoughts and prayers are not enough'". 9Honey. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Fr Rod Bower". 26 October 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Fr Rod Bower". 27 February 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  11. ^ "'Billboard priest' weighs in on festival drug deaths after conducting funeral of Alex Ross-King". 1 February 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b Steger, Jason (14 December 2018). "When I look at Jesus' message, it is a political message: Father Rod Bower". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  13. ^ Collins, Terry (23 February 2014). "Rainbow rector's marriage march". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  14. ^ https://7news.com.au/sunrise/on-the-show/gosford-priest-hits-out-at-rugby-star-with-folau-is-wrong-sign-c-181056
  15. ^ http://www.jwire.com.au/magda-szubanski-and-friends-launch-alternative-gofundme-forlove/
  16. ^ Whitbourn, Michaela (30 September 2017). "Anglican Priest Rod Bower brands Peter Dutton a 'Sodomite' in social media post". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  17. ^ https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sodomite
  18. ^ https://caldronpool.com/fr-rod-bower-and-gosford-anglican-church-says-dutton-is-a-sodomite/amp/
  19. ^ Whitbourn, Michaela (30 September 2017). "Anglican Priest Rod Bower brands Peter Dutton a 'Sodomite' in social media post". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Father Rod Bower among Manus protesters released after chaining themselves to Kirribilli House". SBS News. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  21. ^ Karp, Paul (15 August 2016). "Far-right protesters interrupt Anglican service clothed in mock Islamic dress". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  22. ^ Maley, Jacqueline (30 April 2018). "Threat to church after Anzac Day message echoing Abdel-Magied's post". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  23. ^ Hitchick, Merran (21 May 2018). "Far-right activists who invaded mass would be charged with terrorism if Muslim, rector says". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  24. ^ Bolt, Andrew (4 July 2016). "Priest defends in Islam what he attacks in Christians". Herald Sun.
  25. ^ Morton, Rick. "Outspoken priest Rod Bower raises ire of Jewish groups". The Australian. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  26. ^ "Father Rod chases Senate seat". The Australian. 29 October 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  27. ^ "Outspoken Anglican rector Rod Bower announces Senate bid". SBS News. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Senate Results - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". ABC News. Retrieved 23 July 2019.