Anti-Religious Vilification?

There’s been some lively debate, including a contribution from Rowan Atkinson, over planned British government moves to criminalise religious vilification. You can read about it here at Crooked Timber. It looks like we might soon be having an antipodean version of this debate.

Judge Michael Higgins of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found in favour of the Islamic Council of Victoria, in a ruling that the evangelical Catch the Fire Ministries and two Pastors (one an unsuccessful Family First Senate candidate) have breached the Religious and Racial Tolerance Act:

Judge Higgins said the seminar run by the ministry, a newsletter on its website, and a website article written by an author identified as Richard all breached the Act. In a summary of reasons for his decision, Judge Higgins said Pastor Scot had throughout the seminar made fun of Muslim beliefs and conduct. “It was done, not in the context of a serious discussion of Muslims’ religious beliefs,” Judge Higgins said. “It was presented in a way which is essentially hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people, their God, Allah, the prophet Mohammed and in general Muslim religious beliefs and practices.”

ELSEWHERE: I’m inclined to agree with The View from Benambra that religion ought to be open to criticism. He’s correctly worried about the influence of dispensationalists over the Republican Party and wants to say so. My personal view is that restrictions on “hate speech” should be limited to speech calculated to incite violence or other serious abuse. I must say I think that the comments condemned by Judge Higgins might meet this test. There are some very thorny philosophical, political and legal issues involved in drawing these lines, and I’d be happy to see them debated here.

CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION: Saintinastraighjacket has some thoughts on the matter at DogFightatBankstown.

Judge Higgins said that, during the seminar, Pastor Scot had claimed that the Koran promoted violence, killing and looting and that Muslims were liars and demons. Pastor Scot also had said Muslims had a plan to overrun western democracy by violence and terror and wanted to turn Australia into an Islamic nation, and he exaggerated Muslim population numbers in Australia. “I find that Pastor Scot’s conduct was not engaged in reasonably and in good faith for any genuine religious purpose or any purpose that is in the public interest,” he said.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Phil
2022 years ago

This and the Christmas tree and decorations thing is quite amusing really given the editorial in the OZ today. In it the Ed talks about re-calibrating Christmas because of the popularity of folks like the Catch the Fire crowd.

It’s all the fault of multicult and progressives don’t you know. And don’t forget the bogey man.

“For decades Australians have grown used to hearing their values denigrated by the progressive classes, but for the past three years they have seen their values come under a much more deadly attack from without”.

I wonder who they mean? Surely not the same guys the Pastors are talking about?

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

I wonder how Judge Higgins is going to react to similar charges being brought by Christian groups? Similar vilification of Christian beliefs happens every day in Australia.

Fyodor
2022 years ago

Alex,

Really? Can you provide some examples that match Pastor Scott’s vehemence?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I should add that I didn’t make my opinion clear in the original post. I’ve now done so in an update. To tease out all the complex philosophical and political issues involved, though, would require a longer post and more thought. But I’d be really happy if we could clarify some of the issues at stake in this thread.

Nic White
2022 years ago

Yeah Scot’s comments from what I can see are the kind that should not be allowed. Religion, as with everything, needs to be open for debate and not beyond reproach but can’t be villified and have untrue things said about it. Calling muslims “liars and demons” categorically is not on along with his comment about them wanting to overthrow democracy. Simply put, you cant get away with spewing out bullshit about a religion just because you dont like it.

However people should be able to make jokes about it, or critisize it and not have everyone up in arms about it, otherwise you are just cutting down on freedom of speech.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

“Simply put, you cant get away with spewing out bullshit about a religion just because you dont like it.”

I think this attitude would receive wide ranging support across the community. Some might wonder if it is evenly applied.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I am a bit intrigued by the notion that we are able to countenance the notion of criminal religious vilification, but there is no crime of public lying. Calling someone a demon is simply untrue.

Nic White
2022 years ago

“Calling someone a demon is simply untrue.”

Defamation?

observa
observa
2022 years ago

“It was presented in a way which is essentially hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people”

So what will our precious Judge Higgins have to say about ‘infidel’ and ‘conga line of suckholes and arselickers’ labelling of certain groups in our community? PC witch hunting in its purest form. Sticks and stones Higgins m’boy, or we’re in for a return of the Inquisition or the new McCarthyism.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

I agree with Mark B that comment which ”incites violence or other serious abuse” needs legal sanction in an analogous way to the tort of trespass to the person ie assault, (in common law), ”a direct and intentional creation in the plaintiff of a reasonable fear or apprehension of an imminent battery upon ”him/her”

Comments allowed by Toxic Shockjocks at the time of Tampa about throwing all the Muslim boatpeople into the sea, even allowing for rhetorical bs, would seem to qualify for inciting violence and definitely would qualify for assault if said face to face with the intended ‘villifiees’.

I would argue therefore that if the words were hypothetically spoken face to face and constituted an ‘assault ‘ then we would have a good starting point for anti-villification laws. Saying that all Muslims are terrorists (as Pastor Scot appears to have said) qualifies as a threat to deprive Muslims of their liberty, another tort of (threatened) false imprisonment ie. being ‘criminals’ in the mind of the villifier directly implies mandatory imprisonment. If one puts oneself in the shoes of the minority ‘villifiee’ for a moment, I think most would reach these same conclusions.

In summary, and please excuse my legal pedantry, anti-villification laws are in reality a combination of the common laws of assault/ trespass and defamation.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Peter, not sure where you got the idea from that Pastor Scot said all Muslims are terrorists. There is no mention of that in the article from The Age. The article does say that an article in the website article by “Richard” claimed that it was not possible to separate Islam from terrorism. However, this is not the same as saying all Muslims are terrorists.

I would agree that the statements apparently made by Scot, Nulliah and “Richard” are intemperate and foolish. But I am not so sure that they can be seen as an incitement to violence. To believe that another religion promotes violence or uses violence to further its ends is a far cry from suggesting violence in return. “Turn the other cheek” is what Christ suggested. Besides, there is plenty of evidence that Islamic regimes in various parts of the world *do* use violence to further their ends. Darfur for example.

The really ridiculous thing about what Pastors Scot and Nulliah and their follower Richard have said is that they have lumped all Muslims together. If their comments had been directed against militant fundamentalist Islam, they might never have been in court. Islam, like Christianity, comes in a myriad of subtle variations. Most Muslims in Australia seem to be moderate and willing to live and let live.

However, I am not sure that taking them to court was the wisest way of dealing with their foolishness. Far better, IMHO, for Australian Muslims to enter into dialogue with them so they could see for themselves that not all Muslims fit their stereotype.

Robert Merkel
2022 years ago

OK, perhaps I didn’t make my own position clear enough in my blog post – I think there might be a case for laws that make it a crime to advocate violence against followers of a particular religion – but, and you’ll have to excuse my ignorance here, wasn’t it already a crime to do so?

As to the shock-jock example, I don’t see what prosecuting them would have achieved. Whether we like it or not, their comments were reflective of the opinions of a very substantial fraction of the Australian community. All prosecuting them would have done was turned them into “heroes of free speech despite the consequences”. The conservative press would have had a field day at the expense of the “liberal elites”.

And does anybody really think that this particular prosecution is going to reduce discrimination towards Muslims? I think it’s more likely to fuel resentment.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Fyodor, on rereading the post and article from The Age, I agree that similar vilification of *all Christians* is rare. Evangelicals tend to cop their fair share, though. And I still think litigation is a singularly inappropriate way to deal with the issue.

On a side issue, I believe it would greatly help reduce discrimination against Muslims if the moderates among them made it more clear that, for example, they disapprove of the recent actions of their Sudanese counterparts.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

The point made when John Laws went off on his anti-gay rant was that gay people are often subjected to violence in public and a prominent figure giving legitimacy to homophobic sentiments wouldn’t help. There was certainly a large number of deplorable and regrettable incidents – including the stoning of a school bus carrying primary school Islamic kids in Brisbane, attacks on Mosques, women having veils pulled off in public – at the height of the Tampa/s11 stuff, and again I doubt that hate-filled speech would have helped here either.

I don’t see people’s political criticism of some Christian views as being analogous. There’s clearly a difference between saying “I oppose the policies of Family First” to saying “all Muslims are x”.

Peter Kemp
Peter Kemp
2022 years ago

The corollory to your last para Alex is that the Christian west ie ”we the moderates,” should constantly condemn the constant violence perpetrated by the US (and Australia by proxy) on the Muslims of Iraq. Re-electing the Howard government inferred to the Islamic world that the majority here approves of the violence. Imposing a moral duty with a double standard is simply not tenable.

How can we condemn–without hypocrisy– Islamic radicals advocating the murder of westerners without condemning our own talk back facists advocating the drowning of ”Ragheads?” The fact that there was a significant % here advocating the ”drownings” speaks for itself. Criminalising it would, in my opinion send a powerful message of our own ”moderation” to moderates in the Islamic world, and allow us more justification to condemn all unlawful taking of (or threats to) human life.

To be consistent in not criminalising people like Pastor Scot, one should then wipe out most tort law of assault and defamation.

Where is the great leap in tort law from protecting the individual to protecting a minority group?

observa
observa
2022 years ago

‘I don’t see people’s political criticism of some Christian views as being analogous. There’s clearly a difference between saying “I oppose the policies of Family First” to saying “all Muslims are x”.’

Well you’re right as far as that statement goes Mark, but some of us can recall some rather hysterical besmirching of FF during the election, particularly over at Back Pages. Now FF and the pentecostals are a minority group, albeit it appears some minorities are not as minor as some. In this sense it appears vilification laws are really selective in their application by the left, ie only certain minorities in their eyes are worthy of their PC protection. I still haven’t seen a rational case developed here as to why religious or racial vilification is more worthy of attention than political or social vilification of particular groups in our society, although again it appears that such application of law is to be dependant upon the size of the group, rather than any coherent moral or legal tenet. As for the exemption from these laws for a feral minority based on their ‘artistic licence’, what a joke! IMO these laws are really a PC attempt to enforce good manners, although it appears conga lines of suckholes and arselickers are fair game for the well mannered.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Observa, it would be open then to Family First to take an action under the Act. However, given that they denied at several points during the election campaign that the party was affiliated with any religious group, they might find it difficult to make out.

I doubt that the Islamic Council of Victoria are the “left”. Nor is a judicial determination by a Victorian judge. I’d suggest you look up the judgement – I doubt it can be considered anything other than a proper and judicious application of the law. If people don’t like the law, they can vote for someone other than Bracks and the Labor Party in the next election, or try to use the processes of democracy to see if the Victorian Parliament will reconsider. But as a legal positivist of my acquaintance once said, until then, “the law is the law”. QED.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

observa, I should add that as I said above, I’m troubled by the scope of these laws which I think should be very narrow – speaking as something of a libertarian. I’m also troubled by their necessity and the general decline of civility in our public discourse – something a lot more serious in my view than any so-called “political correctness”.

Is it just me or is anyone else missing Ken – we really need his legal touch and his passion about civility to inform this debate!

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

so my other point would be that these sort of laws aren’t easily debatable along the left/right axis. it’s more a case of what’s needed to preserve a public sphere where people can reasonably differ…

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Well I’m not so sure Ken will be too keen to get involved here according to Andrew over at Catallaxy-

“Jason is asleep in my spare room, but when he wakes up I’ll have to tell him that he is in breach of Victorian law. Back in October he endorsed these comments of Ken Parish:

The Family First mob “

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Let me put this scenario to the pro- Vilification Law advocates. Suppose the Howard Govt had a general law on the statute books which made it illegal to ‘engage in conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of’ any racial,religious, sexual, political or social group in our community and the Federal Anti-Vilification Commission had prosecuted ‘conga line of arselickers’ Latham or Ken Parish for their statements at the behest of some aggrieved Liberal or FF party member, where would you all stand on the law then?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

oberva, I think you’re argument is a bit specious. Ken wasn’t vilifying anyone, just expressing an opinion with passionate civility…

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

Sorry “observa” but Ken’s vilification of FF is of its extra-religious political activity. He didn’t vilify the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Calling a politico of whatever faith an arsehole of a politician will not attract our RDAs.

Professing a religious immunity to vigorous comment about your politics is nothing like being vilified purely because of your religion.

I happily pay taxes to deter and/or isolate, if not eradicate, bigotry. I’m not unrealistic about it eradication. Why would a bigot be any more educable than a klepto, an addict or a sex offender?

observa
observa
2022 years ago

So it appears that some vilification is more equal than others depending upon who is in power and who writes the anti-vilification laws eh chaps?

Either that or I can qualify the following-‘The Lakemba Mosque mob “

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

observa, you really should wait for Ken to resurface. It’s a bit unfair to continue to pose questions about what he wrote when his personal circumstances don’t enable him to respond…

MarkL
MarkL
2022 years ago

I have been following this case fairly closely for several reasons, one of which is that this is a scattergun law emplaced for reasons more ‘feelgood’ and political than because of the waves of religious vilification and sectarian abuse sweeping Victoria. ‘Feelgood’ or ‘trendy’ laws are usually very bad ones.

its implementation was most unusual in this case. The ‘responsible’ authorities sent out an employee (a former employee of the Islamic Council of Victoria, to boot), to find some vilification, because nobody had reported any.

The ICV then sent people covertly (in that they were undeclared) to a catch the Fire meeting, where they took rather selective notes. These were the basis of the case. The ‘muslims are demons’ words were spoken – apparently directly out of the Koran! My understanding is that the context was that those muslims who use their religion as a cover for acts of evil are ‘demonic’.

The catch the Fire submission to the court is on their website.

The court case was fascinating, the verdict is close to incomprehensible in context, and the outcome is that if you offer ANY criticism of Islam in public, the ICV may have you up before the beak.

This law is a complete ass indeed, because it is so ill-considered that its outcome is to choke off open discussion of reform in the monotheistic religion that most desperately needs open debate, and a serious religious reformation. In essence, this plays in to the hands of people like the Wahabists, and that is not a good thing.

MarkL
Canberra

MarkL
MarkL
2022 years ago

More data further to this, the following commentary on this unusual finding has been amde.

Personally, I am still at a loss to understand how non-invited Muslim attendees at a session in a Church designed to teach Christians how to reach out to Muslims can be offended by direct quotations from the Koran and Hadith… but then this is political, methinks.

MarkL
Canberra

In a classic example of the results of well-meant, but terribly flawed legislation, two pastors (Daniel Scot and Danny Nalliah) have been charged and convicted in Australia with “religious vilification”

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Mark B, I don’t need Ken to defend his words or their context as I’d defend his right to ‘go right off’ as we all do from time to time. I’d also defend Sheik Hilali’s right to the same, as with the various shock jocks from time to time. Should they plot to act or indeed act upon their words then they should face the full might of the law.

I don’t believe you can make laws to pick out ‘good’ and ‘bad’ vilification and then fine the ‘baddies’ with the full knowledge that you will have to jail them if the can’t or won’t pay. $30,000 for running off at the mouth when in my state Paul Nemer shot the the eye out of an innocent newspaper delivery man and was fined a couple of hundred bucks and given a good behaviour bond. Sweet Jesus, what the hell are Bracks and Co on about, as Mark L so rightly points out.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

“Should they plot to act or indeed act upon their words then they should face the full might of the law. ”

Generally yes, I think that’s not a bad yardstick. The right to take the piss out of others should be enshrined in any civilised country’s consitution.

On the other hand, they topped Julius Streicher (rightly so in my opinion) for actions which wouldn’t legally fit that definition.

saint
2022 years ago

Dang I just lost my comments.

Does anyone know if there is a transcript of the hearings available (not just the judgement)

I say that because MarkL’s comment about reading out the Koran as villification was interesting given the anecdotal evidence that I heard that Muslims were asked to read out bits of the Koran on the witness stand.

It makes me think: why was it seen to be vilification to read out bits of the Koran that are really there? Is it because of the content (hey you can go buy a Koran from Dymocks and read them yourself) or that they were being read out by non-Muslims? In which case are we talking a subtle introduction of the Muslim blasphemy laws here?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I can’t post a link because the Courier-Mail doesn’t put its op/ed page online, but the last couple of paragraphs of a piece by Waleed Aly, “a Melbourne lawyer” and “member of the Islamic Council of Victoria executive” are worth reflecting on:

“Surely we can tell the difference between a sincere critique of another faith, and a baseless assertion that Muslims will embark on a spree of rape, torture and killing of Australians.

This case illustrates how religious debate should proceed. By all means, let us engage in passionate, robust debate, but let us do so reasonably and sincerely so that our speech can create a well informed society so vital to democracy. If, instead, we allow misleading, hate-inducing vilification to masquerade as debate, we are actually undermining the very democracy that is so dear to us all.”

ctd
ctd
2022 years ago

Although I disagree with the laws, I think if you read the judgement you will have no doubt that the CTF ministers were making derogatory and incorrect statements about Muslims. Some of the comments bear striking resemblance to what used to be said about Jews (or used to be said openly, in some countries). But I don’t want to make too much of that – I subscribe to the Rowan Atkinson view. And with 2 SCs and another barrister vs Mr D Perkins for the defence, possibly the defence was a bit overwhelmed.

The bit about the reading of the Quran (Koran?) is interesting. As I understand it from the judgment, there were two reasons for the finding on this point:

1. not all the relevant verses were read, only those that were in support of the anti muslim argument

2. in any event, the CTF ministers mounted their anti Muslim comments based on a literal interpretation of the verses which is not the interpretation given to those passages by anyone other than radical fundamentalist Muslims. As such, it was improper (given the law) to cast aspersions over all Muslims when very few Muslims actually held those beliefs. And, from the judgment, it is obvious CTF were giving those citations for the purpose of enticing laughter from the audience.

As such, the argument that it is somehow wrong to be criticised for simply reading a Koran verse is correct ONLY if you do not then make comments or conclusions based on the verse which are wrong. I think this is an important point, in that you can criticize beliefs so long as you criticise in good faith and criticse the right people.

I guess the analogy would be to take some radical Christian view (eg Harry Potter is a satan worshipper) and then mock all Christians and laugh at all Christians.

It was quite interesting to me to see how many of the arguments made by CTF (against Muslims) are very similar to arguments made by some Christians in support of their views, in particular the taking of select (Bible) verses and basing a whole argument for/against something based on that particular verse.

(speaking of which, did anyone see that article about an academic who re-translated the Bible and shown that important words from the King James Bible were interpreted incorrectly and have quite different meanings – http://smh.com.au/articles/2004/12/15/1102787136673.html)

saint
2022 years ago

Thanks for the comments ctd. I am not talking about ctd’s use of verses in their seminar; there would be some basis for Higgins’ assessment when those statements were treated in isolation even though when Higgins read the transcripts of the entire seminar he noted that there were a considerable number of statements at the end about not hating Muslims, not ever Muslim believes this, loving and respecting them etc etc. This led to Higgins’ comments in the press some time back that seen in context, this casts doubt on the allegations. (NB The three ‘spies’ did not attend all sessions or for the whole sessions. The sessions were taped. The allegation was brought up on the basis of notes. They were new converts – no doubt so they could blend in – it was the ICV who wanted the to expand the case to cover the whole session, and this was agreed. It was then that Higgins got to read the entire transcript and make those comments which would have prompted a bit of a change of tact from the ICV end I think. Would like to see the transcripts. But see the he says/she says…what about you…and the arbitrary delineation of context in various forms…and bingo…you’re fighting…..

I am actually wondering if MarkL’s comment and the anecdotal comment I heard referred to actually reading the Koran out loud *during the hearing*.

Take your point about ‘literalistic’…and have often been critical of this approach by both Christians and non-Christians myself. But that doesn’t mean you turn every paragraph into some allegory nor do you turn every description into a prescription just because the Bible is normative for Christians…but I will leave that for a planned post on my blog. This does however give you a taste of why I personally think judges should not be judging on matters of hermeneutics etc.

However, if I was to apply the ICV argument, then I could claim villification from more than a few non-religious journos, bloggers etc for say, some of the Bible quotations they have thrown in the gay marriage debate (and in some cases I could without the help of their bible quotations). I could also do this from Muslim apologist sites. Do I suddenly take offense at the use of god-botherer on this site? Does any Victorian now want to call a Muslim a god-botherer (not that many did. Funny that).
Do we really really want to get down to that? From my reading of the Act you only have to do it once.

As to the KJV item, it’s a bit of a yawn. Many Christians use modern translations even if some of the older ones have a soft spot for the rolling cadences of the KJV’s antiquated english precisely because they recognise language has changed and because the KJV also has lots of translation errors. It is also a reason why many advocate fresh or updated translations every so often (except for some fundamentalists who insist only the KJV will do -alluded to at the end of the article. That was a huge carryon in the U.S. a few years back where most of the weirder stuff emanates).

Nevertheless the drive for new translations or new editions with fancy covers has been totally overdone for the english language. It is partially driven by

1. marketing and commerce (bear in mind too that many ‘christian publishing houses’ are now owned by non-christians – even Rupert is in there – but in any case both have an interest in selling; the christian book market is big business in the english speaking world, and the bible is a best seller)
2. an almost idolatrous view of the book itself by some evangelical/fundamentalist Christians who have a very misconceived obsession to find the perfect translation and/or desire to recover the ‘original text’ (there is no original text for any of the books in the bible) or be true to the original Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic
3. a legitimate criticism that some translations are pretty appalling….
4….etc etc.

But if you want to sell, nothing works better than a new translation of the bible. And it’s a cutthroat competition which also plays on some of those obsessed with the perfect translation. You can even see it in some of the bible edition names (e.g. …putting ‘standard’ in the title is good). And yes there is a New King James Version which was put out some time ago to address some of the language/mistranslations in the KJV and appease those who felt comfortable with the KJV

This item and the timing of it suggests a media marketing release behind it (no time to google and see if I turn up anything). Cambridge University Press has been publishing the bible for yonks. I actually use its reference edition of the New International Version more than any other translation I own.

I guess you really didn’t want to know all that.

saint
2022 years ago

Auugh. Apologies for the appalling typos, grammar, wordiness and formatting. It’s lunch time. Brain is off.

MarkL
MarkL
2022 years ago

Saint

As far as I know, the objections to CTF quoting from the Koran, and the comment that they were vilifying Muslims in doing so, was during the eharing. I think the objections were made by the ICV lawyers. Been a while since I read all this, so treat that as unconfirmed.

Reading the CTF submission to the court (available on their website) is very interesting.

This whole thing reeks of being a politically correct setup IMVHO, and a deep seated abuse of the processes of law. But then, many ‘feel-good’ laws are just that.

MarkL
Canberra

saint
2022 years ago

Cheers Mark. Will check.

Yeah I think there was a bit of a set up (if Helou was still in the employ of EOC, did she breach the conditions of her employment I wonder?) but the CTF guys, Scit in particular, was a bit intemperate with some of his remarks, and well, dashed his credibility with his authorship claims. No winners or losers here IMHO. Both parties need to have their knuckles rapped.

And still makes me think the law is an ass.

Basam
Basam
2022 years ago

What surprises me is that the Quran is riddled with vilifying verses. Verses that incite and call for hated and cursing towards non-muslims. As non-muslims, the CTF ministry could have presented verses from the Quran in a way by changing the subject. For example 8:39 reads ” And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism, ie worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (Islam) will all be for Allah alone. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.”

This verse instructs those who follow Islam to wage war and hostilities towards non-muslims.

Now let’s change the words “Fitnah” and “Allah” to “Belief (belief in Muhammed’s Allah)” and “Appollo” respectively.

8:39 ” And fight them until there is no more Belief (ie the belief in others besides Appollo) and the religion (Appolloism) will all be for Appollo alone. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Appollo), then certainly, Appollo is All-Seer of what they do.”

In this example, If I was a non-Appollo, I would be concerned about what is being said about me, my family, my friends. In fact, if there was a common theme of divisiveness and hatred through the entire Appollo writ, I would be very concerned.

Surely the CTF ministries defence could have included a “you muslims better get your own Holy manual of hatred sorted out before you ask it of others” routine. Thus the reason for CTF making those so called “vilifying” statements. To bring light upon the issue of concern.

These Anti-vilification laws border on the insane because they make it illegal for us to tell the truth about religions, politics and so fourth. Try telling any Australian, be they black blue white or what, not to tell the truth. Ho ho.

Oh, and the other thing about defamation mentioned above. Muhammed was, at some time those things mentioned. Paedophile, assassin, bringand etc. There is nothing defamous in saying so. It can all be proved by combing through Islamic resources.

If is was’nt all so sad, I’d be laughing :-)

Bassam
Adelaide

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Basam, all the world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc) have verses in their scriptures which call for the destruction of enemies etc. It’s a reflection of the culture of the Axial age when these religions arose to contest paganism and animism. It’s also a result of the link between religion and national or ethnic identity. What we need to do is read them in their context, and pay attention also to the way they’ve been understood traditionally (which – for instance with reference to the concept of Jihad in Islam) is usually in a spiritualising sense – ie conquering one’s own doubts, lack of faith etc.

Bassam
Bassam
2022 years ago

Mark, that was quick. You must have a bell that goes off :-)

What you say about all the world religions is sort of correct if you only look at the four you mentioned. I do not recall any mention in Buddhist or Jain religion about calling for the deaths of others. Nor do I recall anything about Jesus Christ calling for the deaths of others. This is where Islam is different. In this case with CTF, the members have seen this difference. To them, Jesus appears to have taught love and compassion, whereas Muhammed appears to have taught Jihad. Yes, I know that Jihad can mean either Lesser or Greater. Lesser refering converting and waging war to expand Islam, Greater refering to overcoming the inner obstructions on the path to Allah. The Greater one is fine, but the Lesser one is a concern to any non-muslim.

I hear what you are saying about reading things in context, but if you were to ask the Pagans and the Infidels at the time of Muhammed about their concerns, there would be no different today. They would be fearful of Muhammed and whatever his ideology stood for.
Today, we have other concerned parties such as CTF, and basic people like me. Should I be arraigned for my concern? Concern about hate speech, be it written today or 1400 years ago.
Followers of Islam will tell you that the Quran is infallible and immutable.

Is what I have said in my first post illegal? Is it caught in the new Law?

I might get time tomorrow to check this discussion.
Until then, May you live long and prosper :-)

Bassam

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“Nor do I recall anything about Jesus Christ calling for the deaths of others.”

“I come not to bring peace, but a sword.”

“I come to set the world on fire. How I wish it were consumed already.”

That’s out of context, of course! But the Christian scriptures aren’t just the Gospels – check out the Apocalypse of John.

I don’t know enough about the Buddhist and Jain faiths to comment. I’d query the distinction you make between Islam and the other Abrahamic faiths, but don’t have time to expand now.

As to whether your comment is illegal – I have no idea. Maybe one of the resident lawyers can enlighten us?

Bassam
Bassam
2022 years ago

Howdy Mark

“I come not to bring peace, but a sword.”
“I come to set the world on fire. How I wish it were consumed already.”

Are you suggesting that these verses are comparable to the verses in the Quran? If so, who’s deaths is Jesus talking about? Which world did he set on fire? I think we might be reading a bit too much into it. There is plenty of room to. Anyway, I thought this was a discussion about the Anti-vilification Laws and those who want to use them to silence truths, and how it effects our society.

“I don’t know enough about the Buddhist and Jain faiths to comment. I’d query the distinction you make between Islam and the other Abrahamic faiths, but don’t have time to expand now.”

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“Unless you can provide a verse, tradition, or source backing up that Jesus called for the death of others, I think you are trying to divert my attention or you are getting confused with Christ’s teachings and Christiandom.”

We only know Christ’s teaching through the Christian tradition. There are no other sources which are close to the time he lived, and the Q tradition (one part of the corpus which was later redacted and canonised as the New Testament and the hypothetical source document for the synoptic gospels) arguably is at one generation’s remove from Christ himself. Thus, it is impossible to access Christ’s teaching outside the way it was intrepreted through the early Christian community – and the Apocalypse of John is accepted as a canonical book by all Christian traditions, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike. I really don’t have the energy to do an exegesis of it for you, but you’d be well aware I imagine that it’s the basis for many current justifications of war in certain circles of the Christian Church in America. The notion of the just war as developed originally by Augustine and then Aquinas was only meant to apply to wars between Christians (in mediaeval times de jure condemned but justifiable in certain circumstances). The concept of the crusade was directed both against the Islamic world and against heretics within Christendom and none of the canons of honourable war applied. The injunction by the Popes was to slaughter all the infidels.

The error you are making is the same as that made by Islamist radicals – taking verses by Muhammad and interpreting them outside their context. The same lack of historical and contextual sensitivity leads fundamentalist Christians to interpret parts of the Old and New Testaments so as to justify pre-emptive war.

I think the Pastors in this matter are to be condemned, but as I said originally, I am very loath to criminalise speech. There are some fine lines and some complex issues. But I’m no lawyer and I can’t comment on the legal issue of a particular comment’s status.

I think I’ll leave others to this debate – I’m tied up with other things at the moment, and don’t really have the time to do it justice – the post was a long time ago, but if there’s life left in it, maybe you’ll find some other interlocutors.

Basam
Basam
2022 years ago

Correction, sentence in last paragraph should read:

“In the CTF case it appears as though they spoke the truth about Muhammed, but spoke some true and some false things about muslims. This is ………………….”

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’ll make one more comment – the historical context of the verse you cite is the struggle against the pagans at the time of the inception of Islam. If you do some reading in the history of Islam, you’d be aware that Mohammed and his followers were themselves subjected to violence and some of their initial actions were in effect self defence (to start with). The tradition of interpreting the Holy Q’Uran would see it as illicit to stretch the meaning of this verse beyond pagans stricto sensu. Again as you may know in the Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire Christians and Jews were tolerated to a much greater extent than in contemporary Christian Europe, where often they were either killed outright or subjected to forced conversions. It’s simply historically wrong to extrapolate some violent essence of a whole religion based on one period of its history or the behaviour of a minority of its adherents. Though I’m a Catholic, if I wanted to I could make the same argument in the same form about Christianity but it would be intellectually dishonest to do so. Every salvific religion has a tension between universalism and particularism and thus an inclination to violence. But only an inclination – there is a Christian pacifist tradition, and in both Catholic and Islamic theology, a nicely gradated ethic for evaluating the ethics of particular actions in war.

It’s also wrong to speak of Islam as if it were a monolithic entity – rather than an incredibly large group of people most of whom are peacable and who have different religious traditions and different cultural histories. George W. Bush accepts this, and has said so publicly, I believe.

But that’s enough from me on this topic tonight and for the moment. I’m going to sleep.

Basam
Basam
2022 years ago

Mark

“We only know Christ’s teaching through the Christian tradition. There are no other sources which are close to the time he lived, and the Q tradition (one part of the corpus which was later redacted and canonised as the New Testament and the hypothetical source document for the synoptic gospels) arguably is at one generation’s remove from Christ himself. Thus, it is impossible to access Christ’s teaching outside the way it was intrepreted through the early Christian community – and the Apocalypse of John is accepted as a canonical book by all Christian traditions, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike. I really don’t have the energy to do an exegesis of it for you, but you’d be well aware I imagine that it’s the basis for many current justifications of war in certain circles of the Christian Church in America. The notion of the just war as developed originally by Augustine and then Aquinas was only meant to apply to wars between Christians (in mediaeval times de jure condemned but justifiable in certain circumstances). The concept of the crusade was directed both against the Islamic world and against heretics within Christendom and none of the canons of honourable war applied. The injunction by the Popes was to slaughter all the infidels.”

Basam
Basam
2022 years ago

Mark

You go on to say:

“I’ll make one more comment – the historical context of the verse you cite is the struggle against the pagans at the time of the inception of Islam. If you do some reading in the history of Islam, you’d be aware that Mohammed and his followers were themselves subjected to violence and some of their initial actions were in effect self defence (to start with).”

Jenny Stokes
2022 years ago

The remedy/penalty was handed down yesterday 22 June 2005 in this case against Catch the Fire Minsitries. For full details see our website at http://www.saltshakers.org.au/html/P/265/

The Judge may have said that Pastor Scot said “Muslims are demons”. HOWEVER, the truth is that Pastor Scot DID NOT say that – he read from the Qur’an the verse that says that jinn (demons) came to Mohammed and became Muslim (submitted to Allah).
This is NOT the same thing at all.
See an article with references “Daniel Scot’s incredible testimony” at http://www.saltshakers.org.au/html/P/265/B/291/

See the decision, a transcript of what Pastor Scot ACTUALLY said, etc etc at our website.
http://www.saltshakers.org.au/html/P/265/

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

“All the world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc) have verses in their scriptures which call for the destruction of enemies”

Having studied Buddhism for many years, I can assure you that there is no verse in its scripture which calls for the destruction of its enemies. Buddhist believers are specifically instructed to bear no thought of ill-will towards others, even if they are being murdered by them.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Here is an interesting snippet from today’s news.

http://heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,15714027%5E2862,00.html

LITERATURE filled with hatred of Christians, Jews and non-Muslims is being sold at a mosque near a Melbourne home raided by ASIO.

Books sold at the store attached to the Brunswick mosque tell Muslims they should “hate and take as enemies” non-Muslims, reject Jews and Christians, and learn to hate in order to properly love Allah.

The texts say Muslims should learn military tactics and suggest that if a person speaks ill of Islam it is acceptable to kill them.

They urge Muslims to strike back against “the barbaric onslaught from their enemies — the Jews, Christians, atheists, secularists and others”.

Pages are devoted to legitimising episodes of violence against Jews who insult Islam.

“A Jewish woman used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah declared that no recompense was payable for her blood,” one book recounts.

A similar example is given of a man killing the mother of his two children because she “disparaged the Prophet”; he also was declared clear of any crime.

“When they (non-Muslims) meet you, they say, ‘We believe’, but when they are alone, out of frustration and rage, they bite off the tips of their fingers because of you,” one says.

“O you who believe! Do not take the Jews (Yahood) and Christians (Nasara) for friends (Awliyaa). They are Awliyaa to each other. And the one among you that turns to them is one of them.”

Readers are instructed by the books not to feel compassion for non-Muslims, not to trust them, and not to speak well of them.

trackback
2022 years ago

Religious verification laws get their first workout…

At the time I thought the religious and racial vilification laws introduced in Victoria were a dumb idea.
Now, with the first prosecution under the laws, the pointlessness