Views from other pews: Christians on WYD

Reporter Biwa Kwan from Project Eye speaks with young people from non-Catholic Christian denominations and asks for their take on WYD.


IN-DEPTH: World Youth Day mini-site

Despite the non-denominational branding of 'World Youth Day', Christian youth from non-Catholic churches felt excluded from the proceedings.

Annette Lin, 19, Mormon

For 19-year-old Mormon, Annette Lin, WYD was misleading youth by giving the impression that it is inclusive of all religious faiths.

“I don't plan on going, most of the people I know don't plan on going. It sounds like something universal, but it's not,” Miss Lin said.

“If it was for all religions I don't think they would place so much emphasis on the Pope. In my religion we have our own prophet and I know the Anglicans have a Cardinal, is he going? And I know the other smaller Churches they have their own leader and they're not invited and that way it doesn't feel universal.”

“And even going beyond the whole Christian thing, if it is World Youth Day it should be sort of invite all religions.”

On the funding issue, Lin saw the inconvenience imposed by the Catholic Church on Sydney-siders as unreasonable and unjustified.

“I am really annoyed that tax payers are paying for it when not everyone can go. My church has things, and the Church pays for it, and we don't expect people who aren't going to pay; people who don't have any interest in it, who don't even really care.”

“We don't expect them to have to go out of their way and take a day off work for no apparent reason, change their schedules or their lives just to suit us.”

Dawn Tan, 22, Pentecostal

Pentecostal Youth group leader, 22 year-old Dawn Tan is excited at the prospect of seeing the Pope and was supportive of the idea of a large youth gathering of Christians but did not feel apart of it.

“I am excited that the Pope is coming and I understand that the Pope is not really an important figure in my religious views, but I am excited because I realise that he is important in general. We've got rellos from overseas coming over, because they're Catholic, and they're coming over especially to see him or something.”

“I think it is great actually. It's kind of weird to think that everyone is going to come to Australia for it, like it is such a big event and in my world it is like a Christian version of the Olympic Games coming to Australia.”

“I do see it as more of Catholic World Youth Day, because we don't really know much of it from through our Church and I think my perception of it is that people don't know much about it unless they are Catholic.”

Vivienne Russell, 20, Anglican

Anglican Sunday school teacher, 20-year-old Vivienne Russell viewed the government's support of a religious event as important acknowledgment of the role of religion in Australian society, but said the event held no relevance for her.

“To be honest I am apathetic about it. It doesn't really bother me that much. I don't understand it very much.”

Russell does not plan on attending. “I think it has to do with disinterest. I guess the differences in religion affect that decision. I am not Catholic. I don't really feel the need to go.”

“Granted I don't share the same opinions as the Catholics, I think it is encouraging how the government is putting in funds and money…because when you think about it there's quite a bit of money put into silly kind of events.”

“I wouldn't join the protest…it has obviously caused a lot of uproar. It's a good thing for the people it attracts you know it's good for Catholics depending on their sexuality.”

Melvin Tang, 30, Asian Bible Church

Asian Bible Church attendee and Anglican, 30-year-old Melvin Tang, saw the event as an opportunity to generate interest in other non-Catholic Christian faiths.

“I think it is a good thing for the religion. I think there will be a halo effect. It's a Catholic organised event, it's not necessarily looked at as a Catholic thing but maybe people will come to question who is God and what has he done for me and why are all these people gathering to actually worship him?”

ProjectEye is a content partner for SBS providing critical news coverage of WYD08 from a youth perspective.