FATHER Rod Bower, the Central Coast Anglican Archdeacon renowned for his roadside morality messages, has weighed into the debate over the proposed Buchanan mosque, urging councillors to do the “socially responsible” thing and approve the development application.
The submission by Father Bower, who uses the sign outside his Gosford Anglican church to provide satirical running commentary on social issues, was one of 656 received by Cessnock City Council on the mosque development.
The feedback period closed on April 27 but due to the high volume, submissions are still being reviewed, with no date set for the application to come before council.
Father Bower wrote to all councillors and mayor Bob Pynsent saying approval of the mosque, subject to compliance with planning guidelines, would send an important message of inclusion to the Muslim community.
“If the council does not approve the mosque because of pressure from a loud minority, already excluded young men will be forced into ‘backyard mosques’ where they are unsupervised by reputable scholars and are more vulnerable to radicalisation,” he wrote.
Father Bower, who stood beside the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, as he addressed the media after the Parramatta police station shooting, said he had entered into the Buchanan debate because it was an important sociological issue.
“Along with climate change, this is one of the defining issues of the 21st century,” he said.
The Buchanan issue had not yet featured on his signboard, “but might in future”.
Supporters of the Stop the Buchanan Mosque and Keep Buchanan Rural groups indicated on social media they had made submissions against the mosque but attempts to contact representatives were unsuccessful.
A GoFundMe page started by Stop the Buchanan Mosque to raise up to $10,000 for legal representation to oppose the development had, as of Thursday, raised $1480.