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Rev. Koole is pastor of Grandville Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan.

Take Pastors to Court over “Vilification”

Religious vilification. At least that is the charge. As Patrick Goodenough, a Bureau Chief for the Pacific Rim news network, reports:

Two Christian pastors in Australia will appear in court next month to face complaints brought by Muslims who accuse them of vilifying Islam.

Their appearance in a legal

tribunal in the state of Victoria is the culmination of an 18-month dispute between a Christian group that organized a seminar on Islam and three Muslims who attended it. 

The three claimed a speaker at the seminar had incited “fear and hatred” against Muslims and, backed by the state’s Islamic Council, took their case to a special state commission operating under controversial new hate legislation.

The Christian group, Catch the Fire Ministries, denied the vilification claims, saying the seminar had merely informed Christians about Islam and its teachings, as set out in the Quran and other religious texts. 

Acting under Victoria’s new Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, the complainants took their case to the state commission, but attempts to resolve it through conciliation failed.

This is a case that bears watching. It is what one might call a landmark or test case. Notice the reference to “controversial new hate legislation.” (This, of course, is legislation that covers what we in the States now know as “hate crimes,” a whole new category of law in Western jurisprudence.) The Muslim accusers are taking advantage of this recently passed legislation to see how broadly it can be interpreted. Can it be used to suppress what heretofore in Western democracies has fallen under religious liberty and freedom of speech? These Muslims intend to find out.

The case is now before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a body which operates like a court and not only can impose various fines, but also, by implication, should the defendants be found guilty, declare all propagation of similar views towards the Muslim religion and teaching as “hate language” and hence illegal and punishable. This would mean that, in time, you can forget about exposing the errors and evils of the Muslim religion throughout Australia. It will be contrary to civil law.

What is of interest, first of all, is how unprovoked the complaint and accusation was, and second, who it is these Muslims are bringing the accusation against, namely, a certain Daniel Scot, who, irony of ironies, had to flee Pakistan less than two decades ago because the Muslim leaders there threatened violence against him. He was charged with blasphemy and threatened with imprisonment and possible execution for preaching Christ Jesus and then daring to call Mohammed a false prophet. This is the man they are charging with misrepresenting the Muslim religion. And it is Christianity that is the religion that promotes hatred and violence against other religions, not the Muslim religion. Such accusations are being given serious hearing by those who are now in charge of Western law. Unbelievable. I am tempted to say, “Only in America!” But I guess it is true in Australia as well these days.

Mr. Goodenough goes on to report:

Facing the complaint is Catch the Fire pastor Danny Nalliah, who has worked with the underground Christian church in Saudi Arabia, and seminar speaker Daniel Scot, an expert in Islamic studies who migrated from Pakistan to Australia to escape religious persecution….

Nalliah said in an earlier interview the three Muslims attended the obviously Christian seminar uninvited, and evidently took offense at what they heard.

“We will not bow down to any pressure, as we have the right to stand for what we believe, in a free and democratic country,” he said in a statement this week….

In its written response to the complaint, Catch the Fire ministries rejected allegations that its teaching incited hatred. “It cannot be regarded as controversial that there are passages in the Quran…[and other important religious texts] which could and do incite believers in Islam to violence and hatred of non-Muslims. These passages are well-known, and widely cited by terrorist groups,” it said.

“Exposing the roots of this problem within Islam is not the same thing as inciting hatred. Since Christians are one of the named targets of jihad fighting in the Quran, they have a right and a duty to be well informed about this aspect of Islam.”

The Barnabas Fund, UK-based Christian charity working in Islamic societies, is closely watching the Australia case. In a briefing, it said the fact that Scot was one of the defendants was “bitterly ironic,” as he was forced to flee to Australia after he became “one of the first victims of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.”

In 1986, the college he worked for threatened to bring a charge of insulting the prophet Mohammed—an offense carrying the death penalty—unless he converted to Islam. “The charge was brought after he refused to do so and explained his belief that his spiritual salvation could come only from Jesus Christ, and not Mohammad,” the Barnabas Fund said.

“Having fled religious discrimination in Pakistan, Scot again finds himself accused of a similar crime in Australia, the country in which he originally found refuge. This is an indication of the growing trend to place Islamic teaching and Muslim actions beyond the bounds of criticism, not only in the Islamic world, but also, as a result of misguided ideas of political correctness, in the West as well.”

What is taking place in Australia is alarming. It is possible that the charges will be dismissed this time (with warnings, in the interests of appearing evenhanded, that Christians watch their language from now on). Regardless, the die is cast. Law is in place to bring charges about matters that once were protected under freedom of speech, same as is taking place here in the States. The forces of Antichrist have been given a large club to wield against the sharp truths of the gospel. And sooner or later the charges now being made in Australia will stick, precedent will have been set, and anything that unbelievers find offensive about a Christian statement will be declared unlawful and worthy of legal action.

The specter of the “thought police” that raised its ugly head in Nazi Germany (with its bureaucrats and laws) and then in Communist China now raises its head in Western democracy, and all in the name of equality under law, and of toleration, and civil peace, and freedom from fear, and who knows what else.

It all sounds nice on paper. In reality we know what it is. It is the spirit of Antichrist gathering momentum as it gallops along.

Meantime, Just to the North of US

One wonders of late whether there is any headline social news that does not have to do with homosexuality in some shape or form. Worthy of note (and in connection with the above mentioned proceedings in Australia) is legislation passed in Canada September 17. Lawrence Morahan, staff writer for Crosswalk news, in an article entitled “Canada Votes to Include ‘Sexual Orientation’ in Hate Crimes Laws,” reports:

The Canadian Parliament’s approval of legislation to extend hate crimes protection to homosexuals will likely give impetus to calls for similar legislation in the United States, family groups told CNSNews.com Thursday [Sept. 18].

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said the Canadian Parliament had taken a detrimental turn Wednesday when it passed C-250 a day after it voted against a motion to affirm marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

C-250 amends the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code to add homosexuals to a list of groups legally protected from incitement of hatred. Rushfeldt said C-250 was “ill-defined” and could be used to silence free speech and even make it illegal to quote verses from the Bible.

Despite claims by the supporters of this bill to the contrary, the simple fact is that the implications of this bill are far reaching, both in regards to freedom of speech and basic morality. You can be sure it will not be long before homosexuals, like the Muslims, will be lining up in courts claiming that Christians who quote Bible texts condemning their “beliefs” and practices and then teaching their children that, apart from repentance, such are under the judgment of God, are guilty of hate crimes. Sooner than we may think, Protestant Reformed parents and ministers, along with others, are going to be warned to watch what they say about such groups and their practices. There will be another special species protected by law.

And the criticism that the bill, due to its ambiguous (“ill-defined”) language in key sections, has dangerous and far-reaching implications is valid as well. Significant is the (protective) bill’s use of the term “sexual-orientation” in key sections. This means that the bill in time can be understood and extended to protect not just homosexuality, but every defiled “sexual orientation” and practice known to man, as, for instance, pedophilia, sadism, bestiality, and all the rest. The assurances of the supporters of the bill that this simply is not so, and that such is “fear-mongering” of the worst sort, has about as much weight as Hitler’s assurances that he had no intention of invading Poland at any foreseeable date.

Let the neighbors south of Canada’s borders beware. As Rushfeldt asserts

…homosexual advocacy groups and their supporters will use the passing of C-250 to push for federal hate crimes legislation in the United States. “Of course [Sen.] Ted Kennedy, who has been pushing this for a while … will use this no doubt to try and further his hate crime legislation,” Rushfeldt said.

Alan Spears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, said laws passed in Canada influence Americans more than Americans realize. The U.S. Supreme Court cited foreign law as a guiding light in its June ruling on sodomy laws, Sears pointed out….

Robert Bork, a former federal court of appeals judge, warned in a Sept 8 speech at the American Enterprise Institute that the internationalization of law was further along than many Americans believed.

It is obvious that the pro-homosexual movement (and its silencing of all opposition) continues to gather alarming influence.

In this connection, the injury the Roman Catholic church has done to itself as any kind of creditable critic and opponent of such practices is significant.

The official, public stand of the Roman Catholic Church against homosexual practices and its condemnation of such unions has long been one of the main hindrances to legislation approving of and legalizing this immorality. Rome has been a political power to contend with. Once when Rome spoke, politicians and lawmakers listened. One would think that would be true today. According to the website—yourcongress.com, presently 24 members of the US Senate and 120 members of the US House are Roman Catholic. That’s influence and clout.

A few months back the Vatican had some stern things to say against the lawfulness of homosexual unions. It uttered strongly worded warnings to Roman Catholic lawmakers when it came to voting to legalize such unions. The trouble is that Rome, by its own recently exposed behavior both in themmoral behavior of its priests and the cover-up by its bishops, has done itself incalculable damage in being any creditable voice of rectitude in this area of life.

In a report entitled “Vatican Raises Political/Moral Stakes on Homosexual Marriage Issue,” Steve Brown, of Crosswalk News Service, writes:

[Late August], the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith released a 12-page document reiterating its stance on homosexual marriage and directed in part to Catholic politicians.

The Vatican document stated: “When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.”

The document also emphasized that there are “absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” It goes on to say: “Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.”

…The Vatican also weighed in on the issue of adoption by same-sex couples, stating that such actions create “obstacles” in the ‘normal’ development of children. “They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood,” the document stated. “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.”

But the Vatican’s rebuke prompted one political activist to respond by including the Catholic Church’s priest sex scandals in the discussion.

“The Catholic Church needs to get its own house in order before it starts admonishing Congress or elected officials on what proper behavior is,” Mark Mead, Log Cabin Republicans director of public affairs, told CNSNews.com.

Marianne Duddy [a representative of lesbian Catholics] agreed, calling the Vatican’s position on homosexual marriage “absolutely appalling” given the recent clergy sex scandals.

“The Vatican made clear that its priorities were the reputation of the Church, its priests, and maintaining its finances,” Duddy said. “Children were not the greatest concern there. The Vatican has no credibility on this issue whatsoever.”

With Rome’s ability to influence its “own” lawmakers’ stand on the legalization of same sex unions all but gone, the floodgates appear about to open. And with that inevitably will come the right to adopt children. What that will mean, one does not even care to think about.

Talk about handwriting on the wall.