Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Christian cleric incites terrorism: prosecute him!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-10

UPDATED: Includes scary comments by readers of the 2008-11-11 "prophecy" blogpost by Nalliah

SEE ALSO NEW POST: Internet pastoral responsibilities of clerics: Nalliah and Trevor

The Christian Taliban claim the bushfires are a divine message, and thereby, by extension, that the arsonists are "messengers of the lord", and thus praiseworthy.

Given the way politicians and public have equated these arsonists to terrorists, how different is this from when a Islamist cleric talks of suicide bombers and matyrdom?

I think changes to law a year or so ago meant that it was possible to charge people for careless utterances that incited violence or terrorism… careless in the sense that you had not only to worry about what a reasonable person would infer from your words, but what a nutter would infer.

If this interpretation held up in court (any lawyers out there remember details??), then clerics like those at "Catch the Fire Ministries" should be at least charged with inciting terrorism the next time an arsonist is arrested and discovered to be Christian.

Will we see the tabloids saying Christians are anti-Australian and promoters of terrorism: why not?  Christian Pentecostalists/Fundamentalists are the major growth demographic, at the expense of more liberal Christian theologies, and especially humanism.  The Christian nutter sects are a far greater proportion of the Christian demographic than the Islamist nutter groups are among Islam (but less than the Zionist nutters are as a proportion of Judaists).

I don’t have much of a problem with Liberal Judaists, Sufi Moslems, Salvos, "Liberation Theology" Jesuits and Rowan Williams Anglicans.  I do have a problem with the "Christian Taliban" like Pell, Jensen and the Fundies that uses a blinkered interpretation of scripture to push their own regressive and power-seeking agenda (and especially for the Pentecostalists, the financial agenda of the head honchoes) on liberal democratic societies as a whole.

If we go hard on Muslims because of a few immoderate clerics we should go hard on Christians because of their immoderate clerics.

Perhaps we should have some clear-cut guidelines to determine if a religious subgroup is of benefit or at least neutral to the principles of liberal democracies and separation of church and state (in which case, those subgroups ought to be permitted)… and those subgroups that advocate positions or act in ways that are damaging to our type of society, in which case, they ought to at least have tax concessions removed.

See Also/Notes:

And now, stuff from the Catch The Fire website:

  • "Abortion Laws to Blame for Bush Fires" from "Catch the Fire" Media Release (2009-02-10)

    He said these bushfires have come as a result of the incendiary abortion laws which decimate life in the womb.  … … unfortunately the “Decriminalization of Abortion bill” went through parliament and was passed, thus making many people call Victoria ‘the baby killing state of Australia,’” Mr Nalliah said.  …  The Bible is very clear, if you walk out of God’s protection and turn your back on Him, you are an open target for the devil to destroy.

  • "Stop Press! Urgent prayer needed regarding Australia and especially the state of Victoria" (2008-11-07 a.k.a Nalliah’s "Prophecy Post") should be read, INCLUDING SOME OF THE COMMENTS.  From the main post:

    Then the scene changed and I saw fire everywhere with flames burning very high and uncontrollably. With this I awoke from my dream with the interpretation as the following words came to me in a flash from the Spirit of God, ‘My wrath is about to be released upon Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of the innocent children in the womb. Now, call on My people to repent and pray!’”

    But some of the comments are much scarier: (my bolding)

    The Indigenous people were conscious of the forces of evil and symbolically produced smoke to rid the area of the evil spirits.  I sense that there will be a smoking ceremony produced by God on a massive scale to purify particularly the land and the people of Victoria until we collectively bow the knee.  Anne 2008-11-11

    Fire will indeed come but not for the reason you have said.  … (incoherent rant trimmed)  … I will save you and not as an urchin from a house fire. When you see the fire I start you will smell your clothes and they will be fresh.

      – Trevor 2008-11-11

    Nalliah should turn over to investigators details about scary comments: the IP numbers, emails, etc, and indicate whether ANY comments were expunged/moderated to cover himself, and assist recovering any such comments from caches, RSS feeds of comments, etc.
    Indeed, having written software used for psych assessment in a clinical setting, albeit 20 years ago, and even further back, a psychiatry unit when a med student, Trevor looks like a deeply troubled individual IN MY LAY OPINION.  If Nalliah had any sense of pastoral responsibility to his readers, he should at least have considered chasing Trevor up to see if help was warranted back in November.  After the condemnation of Nalliah in the last few days, Nalliah should have gone through comments to such posts and offered assistance to investigators.

Others around the traps on the nutter "Bushfires a message from God" types:

There is a group of articles on how the religious nutters should be treated, especially if they believe in miracles like this "Catch the Fire" idiot who claims to have raised someone from the dead through prayer (oooh, the theological significance of that, undermining the significance of Jesus), and how we secularists should set the "decent" Christians against the nutters.

  • "Dawkins should promote quackery" (2008-05-12) argues that those who believe in miracle cures should be encouraged to use them rather than evidence-based medicine, rather than Richard Dawkin’s counterproductive railing against anti-scientific health treatment… social darwinism in a nice way!
  • "Dawkins v God 1" (2007-05-28) criticises Dawkins for NOT being conciliatory enough to the liberal theologists who don’t claim infallibility
  • "Dawkins v God 2" (2007-05-30) criticises Dawkins for not going at the hypocrisy of the Christian nutters rather than the simple idiocy of their views.  The hypocrisy of our state in the way it indulgences Christian nutters amazes me.


16 Responses to “Christian cleric incites terrorism: prosecute him!”

  1. Jacques Chester said

    I don’t think it greatly matters much if they’re a fundie nutter or a regular firebug nutter. What matters is the intent to light the fire.

    Stuff like this just exposes them to ridicule. Go after them for it and you turn them from peddlers of a sick joke to martyrs in their own eyes — and you might cause some to become sympathetic to them.

  2. Dave Bath said

    JC: I wasn’t expecting these nutters to actually BE prosecuted, in fact I’m not sure that the “you are responsible for what a nutter THINKS you said” interpretation held up on appeal (I think Ruddock was pushing for it… can’t remember). The point is, that they WON’T be prosecuted (or even chastised by pollies) because they are CHRISTIAN nutters.

    But I haven’t seen anyone pointing out that this sort of message from Nalliah could egg on the next arsonist (or other atrocity), especially those who have psychiatric problems and more likely than the general population to believe that the voices in their head are gods and angels.

    But these religious types DO need to be pulled back… and ridicule is a start. Warning about the consequences of their statements is another necessary step.

    Actually, the REAL thing to watch for is whether this Nalliah nut, and his sect, get ripped to shreds by the politicians.

    If the politicians DON’T come down hard in this instance, but DO when the cleric is a Moslem, it’ll mean the hypocrisy of the way they deal with such idiocies is a form of religious discrimination.

    Hmmmm…. this gets better by the minute for we rationalists and secularists who also are skeptical about why politicians say things to the public or push through policies.

    And I’m ESPECIALLY interested to see if Family First Senator Fielding says on this… and here saying nothing is saying something!

  3. […] who are the first to break ranks? Danny Nalliah, a self-appointed messianic figure who dreams messages from God, well you hardly expect anything […]

  4. Dave Bath said

    I’ve done some checking. The laws I spoke about were the proposed changes to the Criminal Code in 2005 that specifically widened the definition of incitement. I think those amendments didn’t get through. There is a good discussion of the proposed changes at

    the Bill appears intended to extend the law to cover indirect incitement or even apologie (condoning, justifying or glorifying terrorism after the fact or in the abstract)

    Examples of indirect incitement or apologie might include distasteful or reckless comments such as: ‘Osama is a great man’; ‘9/11 was a success’; ‘America had it coming’;

    Nalliah was saying "Victoria had it coming".

    I raise this distressing possibility: what if an arsonist is convicted, that arsonist was either sympathetic to Nalliah’s position on abortion or a member of the “Catch the Fire” nutters? What if the arsonist admits to hearing of Nalliah’s position about the dream of Victoria on fire some time back?

  5. Dave Bath said

    At least Fielding from Family First cracked it at Nalliah, who was also on the Family First ticket according to the almost always well informed and cautious Possum at Crikey: Fielding responds to Nalliah’s ghoulishness

    According to the SMH, Costello has slammed Nalliah’s comments as “beyond the bounds of decency”

    Tried looking for relevant comments from Rudd at 2009-02-11 20:39 AEDST: No luck.

    By the way, I was alerted to an earlier post of mine by a friend, which is eerie considering the conjunction of the fires and the stimulus package: "Arson and obesity good for the economy" (2008-12-02) which of course was pointing out how ridiculous the GDP can be at times for assessing economic health.

  6. Appalled Atheist said

    I am disgusted that they still say a xtian invocation in Parliament before each session, and that religious imagery is included in their rhetoric (pray, bless, etc.). This is hardly separation of church and state.

  7. Dave Bath said

    Apalled Atheist @ 6:

    I too condemn to the religious imagery in parliament, as I explained in "Parliamentary Incantations", where instead of prayers, the pollies should simply say

    "I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

    If you are implying a link between Nalliah’s comments and prayer in parliament, then I must in large part disagree with you. As I said, progressive theists aren’t too bad, even if I do think they are silly.

    It’s also worth noting that Costello and Fielding, both “cuddly” with the pentecostalists, have slammed Nalliah. I’ll give them credit for that, especially as I can find nothing about Rudd coming down hard on this dangerous moron.

    And by the way, I don’t think separation of church and state is in the constitution. The only real separation is merely traditional, at state level, and relates to the education system which back in the late C19 had the catchcry "Free, universal and secular".

    Religious belief varies inversely with an index of education. It’s no wonder Christian politicians don’t do anything to get our education system right, or idiots like Nalliah and his flock of sheep wouldn’t exist.

    I’ve tried to find a differential diagnostic criteria religious experience from psychosis, given that they are phenomenologically the same and have no differences in the reported internal experience. But that’s another story.

  8. […] Posts Christian cleric incites terrorism: prosecute him!OMG! I’m kinda on the side of Microsoft!Great submissions to Stimulus InquiryNature on bushfire […]

  9. Yeah, Nalliah is an idiot. I think you’d need clearer incitement, however, and for the arsonist to be a member of his church or someone who was proven to be influenced by his “prophecy”.

    Nalliah just said he’d had a dream of fire rather than exhorting people to go out and light fires. Fortunate for him that the original broad-brush anti-terrorism laws never made it past the post, perhaps!

  10. Dave Bath said

    LE@9 said:

    and for the arsonist to be a member of his church or someone who was proven to be influenced by his "prophecy".

    That’s why the "Trevor" bit (highlighted in yellow in the article, the "When you see the fire I start" guy, and see his full comment here), and perhaps any other comments that have been "moderated" should be treated as evidence.  Backups and logs (not only of his wordpress, but httpd access logs) could be considered evidence.

    I was against the "indirect incitement" provisions of the 2005 proposed changes to the Criminal Code, like your esteemed colleague SL…. but…

    Nalliah had already been involved in a big incitement case a few years back, found to have broken the law, appealled, counter-appealed… it was message.  A reasonable person would have been MUCH more cautious about the possibility of incitement since, and sensitive to comments from any audience. As a cleric, there is the possibility of an implied pastoral duty to the audience.  Does a cleric, who claims to assist people’s spiritual and psychological well-being, have a "duty of care" when a member of his flock (e.g. "Trevor") shows signs of distress. What if a clinical psychologist were to say that Trevor exhibited "strong warning signs", even from the short nature of his communication?  What would clerics of more reasonable denominations (who criticized Nalliah when N was in court) about any inferred pastoral duty and how well N undertook any such duty.

    Hmmmm…. such notions should probably be explored more in a future post about pastoral responsibilities of clerics in the web age.

  11. Paul at Intelligent Design has come to the same conclusion as you re “Trevor”, Dave.

    I presumed the “When you see the fire I start you will smell your clothes and they will be fresh,” was an obscure quote from the Bible, but no, seems to be Pure Trevor. Worrying. If there was a connection between instances of arson and “Trevor”, then I think there could be a stronger nexus. I would think a pastor would have a duty of care towards his flock if one of them started indicating that they needed to take it on themselves to wreak the Lord’s vengeance. It might also depend if this was a one-off communication from “Trevor” or if there were any further signs he was disturbed.

    It certainly seems unwise of Nalliah to make these kind of sermons – but he’s not thinking logically. He’s supposedly inspired by God, and I guess he doesn’t have much doubt about his own beliefs.

    On balance, I don’t think someone should be prosecuted for indirect incitement (whether Muslim, Pentecostal or any other faith). But if there is evidence of direct incitement, or a lapse of a duty of care resulting in harm to others, then that’s a different matter entirely.

  12. Dave Bath said

    LE: I’m posting "Internet pastoral responsibilities of clerics: Nalliah and Trevor" on the following
    * Pastoral responsibilities, even across the web (consider “relationship” according to Spam Act)
    * What Nalliah should have done about Trevor
    * Civil action by victims of Nalliah’s hurtful comments
    * Regulation of clerics and religious websites by states, including licensing of clerics being required for special privileges (if only under tax acts)!

    I’d appreciate your comments.

  13. phil@vvb said

    Make that “especially tax acts.”

    Hit ’em in the only place they care about, imho.

  14. Dave Bath said

    And if there is a proselyte on TV representing a religious organization requesting funds or membership, then if that person isn’t licensed, there should be a “THIS PERSON IS AN UNLICENSED RELIGIOUS FRUITCAKE ADVOCATE”… or no tax concessions for their organization.

  15. […] The boganizing of xtianity is clearest when we remember the xtian cleric thankful for divine causation of fatal Victorian bushfires as retribution for humanizin…. […]

  16. […] "Christian cleric incites terrorism – prosecute him" (2009-02-10) […]

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